Then-Denver quarterback Tim Tebow prays on the sideline during a 2012 playoff game.
DALLAS – New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow has backed out of an appearance at a Baptist mega church in Dallas run by a pastor who has created controversy with his remarks about gays and other faiths.
Tebow tweeted Thursday that he canceled a scheduled April 28 appearance at First Baptist Church due to "new information that has been brought to my attention."
"I will continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those needing a brighter day," Tebow wrote.
The Rev. Robert Jeffress, First Baptist's pastor, confirmed in a phone interview that Tebow called him Wednesday night to cancel.
Jeffress said Tebow told him he would like to speak at First Baptist at some point, but "he needed to avoid controversy right now for personal and professional reasons."
Jeffress has preached that gay sex is sinful, Mormonism is a cult and Islam promotes violence and pedophilia. He said Thursday that First Baptist was being mischaracterized as a "hate church," and that the church's teachings were consistent with historic Christian beliefs.
Tebow wasn't going to speak about anything controversial, Jeffress said.
"We had planned for him to speak very positively about the difference Jesus Christ had made in his life," Jeffress said.
Tebow won two BCS championships and the Heisman Trophy at Florida, but he has struggled to make it in the NFL. He barely played last season after the Jets traded for him from the Denver Broncos, where he started much of the season in 2011 and won a playoff game.
Tebow is a devout Christian who has addressed church audiences before. Last year, he spoke to about 15,000 people gathered at an outdoor Easter service north of Austin.
Gaga sings fans' praises following hip repair
NEW YORK - Lady Gaga says she's had surgery to fix her hip.
The 26-year-old singer posted on her blog late Wednesday that she had hip surgery and it "happened so fast." She canceled her "Born This Way Ball" tour last week.
She thanked her fans in the post, saying they gave her "a lot of strength." Lady Gaga said that as she was wheeled to surgery, she reflected on her fans. She wrote: "Sometimes you are so brave that it terrifies me. I wonder how it's even possible."
Lady Gaga canceled more than 20 dates on the remainder of her tour, which began last April. She originally postponed four dates last week after experiencing difficulties during her concert in Montreal. She explained to fans on Twitter that she'd hurt herself while performing some time ago.
Rapper trades state prison for federal cell
ALBANY, N.Y. - Platinum-selling rapper Ja Rule left an upstate New York prison Thursday morning after serving most of his two-year sentence for illegal gun possession and headed straight into federal custody in a tax case.
U.S. Marshals escorted the 36-year-old musician out of Mid-State Correctional Facility at 9:30 a.m. He was being held at the Oneida County Jail in central New York as he awaited word from the Federal Bureau of Prisons about where he'll serve time in the tax case.
The rapper, who had been in protective custody because of his celebrity, has some time remaining on a 28-month sentence for tax evasion that ran concurrently.
Ja Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, may have less than six months left and may be eligible for a halfway house, defense attorney Stacey Richman said. Back taxes that exceeded $1 million are one of the main reasons he wants to get back to work, she said.
– From news service reportsTweet