Todd Starnes

Gay rights activists are demanding Tim Tebow back out of a speaking engagement at Liberty University just two weeks after pressuring the New York Jets quarterback to cancel a speaking engagement at the First Baptist Church of Dallas.

Tebow is expected to speak this weekend at Wildfire – a men’s conference hosted by the conservative Christian university. His remarks will be closed to the general public.

The professional football player is well-known for sharing his faith in Christ – but in recent weeks he’s come under fire from the national media and gay rights activists for speaking in churches that follow biblical teaching.

Huffington Post called Liberty a “notoriously conservative private college with an anti-gay reputation.” And more than 10,000 people have signed a petition launched by Faithful America calling on the quarterback to cancel his speech.

“Liberty University isn’t just another conservative Christian college,” the group stated. “its ground-zero for a global assault on the legal rights of gays and lesbians – and a symbol of everything that’s wrong with the religious right.

A Liberty University spokesman refused to comment.

Faithful America said Tebow would give his “Christian faith a bad name” by speaking at the university founded by the late Jerry Falwell.

Several weeks ago Tebow canceled a speaking engagement at the First Baptist Church of Dallas – citing “new information” he had received.

He never elaborated on his comment – but sources close to the church told Fox News he backed out in part over the uproar surrounding the church’s position on traditional marriage – and salvation.

Pastor Robert Jeffress has been an outspoken leader in the nation’s culture wars – affirming from the pulpit traditional marriage and salvation through Jesus Christ.

The national media labeled the pastor as anti-gay and anti-Semitic – charges that were vehemently denied by the church and the many national religious leaders.

“To me, the real issue here is the controversy this has generated,” Jeffress said at the time. “It’s amazing that a church that believes faith alone in Christ is what saves a person and that sex should be between a man and a woman in a marriage relationship – that somehow those beliefs are considered hate speech? That is historic Christian doctrine for the past 2,000 years.”

Right Wing Watch suggested Liberty University was actually more extreme than FBC Dallas and listed a litany of alleged offenses.

They claimed Liberty University bans gay students and shut down its College Democrats chapter over the party’s views on gay rights. They also alleged the university hosted anti-gay conferences and that professors have made anti-gay comments.

Again, the university declined to address the controversy.

“If Jeffress’ anti-gay remarks were too extreme for Tebow, they pale in comparison to the things regularly said by representatives of Liberty University,” Right Wing Watch stated. “Perhaps it is time for Tebow to take another look at some of this ‘new information’ about Liberty.”

Huffington Post wondered if Tebow was giving hints about his position on homosexuality by making an appearance at Liberty.

“Due to Liberty University's reputation for intolerance toward the LGBT community, some might interpret the athlete's appearance as a tacit acknowledgement of similar values,” they opined. Peter LaBarbera, of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, is urging Liberty University and Tebow to stand firm – and warned that homosexual activists cannot be appeased.

“Their goal is to marginalize and to discredit Christians,” he told American Family News. “If he cancels this appearance at Liberty University under pressure from the gay lobby, I think his credibility is going to suffer a ton.”


Todd Starnes

Todd Starnes is the host of Fox News & Commentary – heard daily on 250+ radio stations. He’s also the author of “Dispatches From Bitter America.” To check out all of his work you can visit his website or follow him on Twitter @toddstarnes. In his spare time, Todd is active in his church, plays golf, follows SEC football, and eats barbecue. He lives in New York City.