New Orleans Saints star quarterback Drew Brees is taking heat from left-leaning media after he was featured in a recent video clip shared by the socially conservative Christian organization Focus on the Family encouraging kids to bring their Bibles to school.
Founded by the conservative evangelical leader and psychologist Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family shared the video in question on Facebook last week as part of its promotion of the Oct. 3 “Bring Your Bible to School Day.”
Bring Your Bible to School Day was launched in 2014 by Focus on the Family to encourage students to “celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends.”
Since its launch, thousands of students have taken part and the Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom has vowed to provide pro-bono legal support to any student who is prevented from participating.
In the 22-second video titled “Shout Out From Drew Brees,” the 12-time pro-bowler encouraged kids to take part in the national Bible movement.
Brees tells the audience that one of his favorite verses in the Bible is 2 Corinthians 5:7, which states “For we live by faith not by sight.”
“So I want to encourage you to live out your faith on ‘Bring your Bible to School Day’ and share God’s love with friends,” Brees concludes in the video. “You’re not alone.”
Left-leaning websites contend that Brees should not engage with an organization that has funded campaigns in the past to advocate for traditional Christian teachings on marriage and sexuality.
The video was first reported on by Big Easy Magazine, an “unapologetically progressive” New Orleans-based outlet that covers a number of topics including race, politics, environment and LGBT issues.
The magazine was critical of Focus on the Family’s support for so-called “conversion therapy,” also known as sexual orientation change efforts.
Focus on the Family, which aims to equip parents, children and spouses “thrive in an ever-changing, ever-more-complicated world,” supports the idea of providing assistance to gays and lesbians who desire to “live according to biblical truths” by reserving sex for marriage between a man and a woman.
Although medical experts at the APA argue that sexual orientation change efforts can cause harm to those who go through it, a study published last year suggests that sexual orientation change efforts have improved the mental health of mostly Christian men struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction.
However, that study, titled "Effects of Therapy on Religious Men Who Have Unwanted Same-Sex Attraction," was later retracted from the The Linacre Quarterly journal at the request of the journal editor and SAGE Publishing “based on unresolved statistical differences." Following a statistical review and additional information provided by the study’s authors, the editor “concluded that in spite of this additional information, the original review still required retraction of the paper.”
Proponents of these therapies argue that critics are wrong to claim that these efforts are harmful, and contend that the term "conversion therapy” is derogatory language to discredit professional efforts to help people with unwanted same-sex attractions in talk therapy.
“This would be like white supremacists calling the Civil Rights movement the ‘Negro Aggression Movement,’” conservative radio host and Messianic Jewish radio host Michael Brown wrote in an op-ed.
The Big Easy Magazine launched the Twitter hashtag #SaintsDon’tHate in order to pressure Brees over his support for Focus on the Family. Pro-LGBT outlets such as The Advocate, Patheo’s “Friendly Atheist,” Queerty and Newsweek have also published articles critical of the video.
Focus on the Family President Jim Daly expressed gratitude for Brees’ participation in a statement provided to The Christian Post.
“We have deep respect for New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and appreciate him encouraging students to ‘live out’ [their] faith on ‘Bring Your Bible to School Day’ and share God’s love with friends,” Daly said.
Other celebrities who have expressed support and promoted Bring Your Bible to School Day include “Duck Dynasty” star Sadie Robertson, singer Tauren Wells, the Christian rock band Newsboys, singer Francesca Battistelli and rock artist Zach Williams.
In 2010, Brees talked about "finding faith, strength and hope in the face of hardship" during a broadcast with Focus on the Family Radio.
He was also featured in 2015 on Focus on the Family's "Marriage Successes" section.