Last week, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees filmed a relatively innocuous commercial for a religious organization urging kids to bring their bibles to school. The commercial was even more boring than that description. And had that been the whole story, even the sports world wouldn’t have paid much attention. Football players who celebrate Christianity are a dime a dozen.
The problem is the group sponsoring the Bible event: Focus on the Family.
Drew Brees didn’t just film a commercial urging kids to bring their bibles to school. He filmed an ad for one of the most vehemently anti-LGBTQ organizations in the country. One that believes transgender people are just lying to themselves, one that promotes gay conversion torture, and one that actively opposes LGBTQ rights.
How much criticism does he deserve for that? The best thing he can do is plead ignorance. But c’mon, how do you not know what Focus on the Family does?! It wasn’t that long ago that quarterback Tim Tebow was roundly condemned for filming an anti-abortion Super Bowl commercial for the same organization. (The commercial that aired on TV wasn’t explicit about that, but it directed people to the group’s website.)
Maybe Brees could play dumb. After all, his entire career is dedicated to a sport that leads to traumatic head injuries. Hurting kids’ brains in a different way isn’t much of a stretch.
But yesterday, Brees responded to the backlash by insisting he’s not that kind of Christian. He didn’t even know Focus on the Family was the worst.
Hopefully this sets the record straight with who I am and what I stand for. Love, Respect, and Accept ALL. I encourage you not to believe the negativity you read that says differently. It’s simply not true. Have a great day. pic.twitter.com/4RdTahE7EZ
— Drew Brees (@drewbrees) September 5, 2019
There’s been a lot of negativity spread about me in the LGBTQ community recently based upon an article that someone wrote with a very negative headline, that I think led people to believe that somehow I was aligned with an organization that was anti-LGBTQ and so on and so forth.
I’d like to set the record straight. I live by two very simple Christian fundamentals — and that is: love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. I think the first is very self-explanatory. The second one, love your neighbor as yourself, what does that mean? That means love all, respect all, and accept all. So that is actually how I live my life. That is what I try to do with my family, with my teammates, with the people in my community, with my friends — all people, no matter your race, your color, your religious preference, your sexual orientation, your political beliefs, it doesn’t matter.
The fact that these rumors have been spread about me are completely untrue.
What I did, is I filmed a video recently that was encouraging kids to bring their Bibles to school for National Bring Your Bible to School Day. To be able to live out your faith with confidence. And I even gave one of my favorite Bible verses. It was as simple as that. So I’m not sure why the negativity spread or why people tried to rope me into certain negativity. I do not support any groups that discriminate or that have their own agendas that are trying to promote inequality. So, hopefully that will set the record straight and we can all move on, because that’s not what I stand for. Have a good day.
That doesn’t set the record straight.
He didn’t condemn Focus on the Family. He didn’t condemn their stances on LGBTQ issues, generally or specifically. He didn’t even seem aware of why people are actually upset with him. (Telling kids who are Christian to be confident in their faith is not the issue here.)
I suppose it’s nice that he doesn’t support discrimination, but even Focus on the Family would say that. Then they would add they support religious freedom, which includes the “right” of a Christian baker to serve only certain customers. (See?! That’s not discrimination! That’s just pro-Jesus!)
Brees isn’t being persecuted for his Christianity. (If that was the issue, most of the NFL would be targeted.) He’s being rightly criticized for lending his name and fame to an organization he apparently didn’t even bother to Google — one that actively destroys lives.
By the way, it’s not like Bring Your Bible to School Day is harmless. The whole idea is “sharing your faith with others” — which, for Focus, amounts to “saving” all those Jews and Muslims and atheists. I know people give Christians a pass for that, but if a Muslim group urged kids to tell their Christian peers about the Qur’an, FOX News wouldn’t stop complaining about it for weeks.
For the record, non-Christians are fine. We don’t need or want “saving.” We don’t appreciate the idea that we have a Jesus-shaped hole in our hearts or that the only thing preventing us from accepting Christianity is getting a copy of the most ubiquitous book in the world. (As atheists will tell you, we’ve read it. That’s why we’re atheists.)
Brees doesn’t care. He just wants to play victim.
One of the (many) criticisms of the NFL is that it doesn’t do enough to penalize flopping. Kickers and quarterbacks can effectively pretend to get hit on a play to draw a penalty for the other team. It’s a form of cheating. That’s what Brees is doing with this video: He’s pretending to be a victim even though he brought this penalty upon himself.
Own it. Take responsibility. Fix it. That’s what a real leader would do. Brees is screwing up a mess he created for himself.
***Update***: A reader points out that Brees has been working with Focus on the Family since at least 2015, all the more reason it’s disingenuous for him to say he doesn’t know much about what this group represents.