Pastor Robert Jeffress, the leader of First Baptist Church of Dallas, denied today that his ministry is one of hate, according to an article in the Christian Post. He was the recipient of considerable criticism after his announcement he had invited NFL quarterback Tim Tebow to speak at his church in April.
Jeffress, who is pastor of the 11,000 member congregation, went to the radio waves on station 106.7 to defend his ministry against the attacks.
"We have been mischaracterized and misquoted as being a hate-spewing church," he said during his radio interview.
He said the criticism directed at him "really shows you not that the Word of God has changed, but society has changed."
NBC sports writer Rick Chandler wrote among other things that Jeffress is "a controversial evangelical Christian who has made quite a name for himself by referring to other religions as heretical."
The New York Daily News also jumped into the fray saying, "Tebow's peace and love message could be tested by the megachurch's evangelical pastor, the Rev. Robert Jeffress."
Tebow's appearance at the huge church on April 28 will coincide with the opening of a new $130 million campus in Dallas. The money has been raised since Jeffress left First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls, Texas, and assumed the helm of the Dallas church.
Jeffress praised the former Heisman Trophy winner from Florida, saying, "A lot of people appreciate Tim Tebow and his strong Christian testimony."
Tebow first made his name as a Christian on the world stage when he painted Bible verses underneath his eyes while leading the University of Florida Gators to a national championship. He also has received considerable attention in the NFL for kneeling on the sidelines during football games in an attitude of prayer.
Tebow has also authored a book about his Christian beliefs and is the son of missionaries.
He led the Denver Broncos to the playoffs in 2011 before being traded to the New York Jets for whom he played this year.
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