New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees fired what we can only hope will be an incompletion on the first day of the 2019 NFL season when he released a video promoting Focus on the Family’s “Bring Your Bible to School Day.” The event encourages kids to “live their faith,” which is fine, and to listen to James Dobson, which is not. The quasi-cult leader of Focus on the Family, Dobson is known for two things:
- Founding the Family Research Council, an evangelical political group that — as numerous actual scholars have pointed out — does not engage in real research on families, but does lobby for conservative causes.
- Really hating gay people.
Focus on the Family has a very narrow focus. Dobson has claimed that “Same-sex relationships undermine the future generation’s understanding of the fundamental principles of marriage, parenthood, and gender.” The only thing defensible about that statement is the grammar. But that’s pretty par for the course with Dobson and his lot. But don’t take my word for it. The Southern Poverty Law Center offers an apt description of the Family Research Council’s activities.
The FRC often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science. The intention is to denigrate LGBT people as the organization battles against same-sex marriage, hate crime laws, anti-bullying programs and the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
The fact that Drew Brees, who looks like a thumb, but plays like he’s tall enough to ride rollercoasters, has chosen to associate himself with Dobson organization is bizarre given that the guy made an impassioned anti-bullying video during the “It Gets Better” era. That video that debuted on the Ellen show. Which makes it seems like he’s trying to eat his cake and throw it at gay kids too. (Maybe it’s time for him to take a cue from Andrew Luck, go home, and re-read the Bible bit about throwing stones.)
Is it possible that Brees didn’t understand that Focus on the Family was anti-gay? He says so, but not really. Dobson isn’t a subtle guy and Brees isn’t a moron. He’s got a degree in Industrial Management from Purdue! He can find Indiana on a map!
Which makes the awkwardness of him trying to walk this thing back all the more painful to watch. Shortly after his debut as Focus on the Family’s Who Dat Nation gimp, he clarified on Twitter that the problem was a headline written by a journalist implying his explicit connection to James Dobson. “I live by two very simple Christian fundamentals,” Brees explain. “Love the lord with all your heart mind and soul and love your neighbor as yourself.”
That’s a nice message, but there’s a difference between thumping a bible, which is your prerogative, and thumping a kid with your bible because he wants to borrow mom’s copy of Vogue. Brees made a video for a bigot and then tried to hide behind an alter instead of apologizing. It’s not the worst thing an NFL player has done since… five minutes ago, but it’s not great.
By all accounts, Brees isn’t the worst guy in the world. But he’s also the guy who went to Guantanamo Bay and suggested the prisoners the had it “ten times better” than people in U.S. mainland prisons (which was either dumb or sort of intermittently correct, come to think of it). He’s incredibly charitable, particularly to kids and people in his hometown of New Orleans. Dude even worked for Obama as co-chair of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. Brees does not suck, but he did a shitty thing and he should own that.
I get that Brees has always been vocal about his Christianity. And, hey, more power to him. I’m not shy about being a Catholic. But I’m also not hanging out at Harry Potter book burnings or picketing drag bars. Brees probably isn’t, but his latest PR choice didn’t reflect that.
In the “Bring Your Bible to School” video Brees quotes a passage from 2 Corinthians where Paul writes, “We live by faith, not by sight.” My sight is telling me that Brees supports an anti-gay agenda espoused by the evangelical pharisee James Dobson. My faith is telling me that he and Michael Thomas are gonna score some touchdowns. I won’t be rooting for it.
That’s a shame because there was once a pretty great quarterback who said of gay kids, “Appreciate people for how they are different from you: That’s what it takes to be a friend.” That quarterback was Drew Brees, who should really listen to Drew Brees. You know what Drew Brees would tell Drew Brees? Apologize and distance yourself from the bigot. Then go make a video for NyQuil, Wrangler, Tide, UNTUCKit, BiggShot, FedEx, USAA, Mission Hydroactive, Can Am, EnduraCool, Verizon, Campbell’s Soup, Biofreeze, NFL Game Pass, Xbox, DraftKings, Walgreens, Pepsi, AdvoCare, Sling TV, Chase, or Microsoft. You know, football stuff.