NFL journalist Lindsey Prather sorts out the controversy surrounding the New Orleans quarterback regarding his affiliation with anti-LGBTQ Focus on Family.
Two weeks ago, the religious group “Focus on the Family” released a video promoting their “Bring your Bible to School Day,” featuring New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. In the 30-second video clip, Brees quotes 2 Corinthians 5:7: “For we live by faith, not by sight,” and encourages kids to bring a bible to school on Oct. 3. Although the video itself is relatively harmless, Brees has been the subject of scrutiny because of the reputation of Focus on the Family as an anti-LGBTQ group.
On Sept. 5, Brees addressed the controversy on Twitter in an attempt to defend himself. He claimed he was entirely unaware of Focus on the Family’s anti-LGBTQ stances.
“Unfortunately, Christian organizations out there…are involved in that kind of thing, and to me that is totally against what being a Christian is all about. Being a Christian is love, it’s forgiveness, it’s respecting all, it’s accepting all,” Brees said.
“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 have their own agendas that are trying to promote inequality. Hopefully that set the record straight and we can all move on, because that’s not what I stand for.”
Brees’s claim of ignorance is tenuous, at best. Focus on the Family is not a new organization; founded in 1977, the group has maintained the same socially conservative political trajectory since its early days. Given its history of anti-LGBT lobbying, a simple Google search would have turned up a page from the Human Rights Campaign, describing the extensive homophobic reputation of the group. The bare minimum of research would have uncovered the same stance that Brees claimed to know nothing about.
Primarily focusing on fundraising and public awareness campaigns, Focus on the Family has raised over half a billion dollars, investing in a variety of campaigns against LGBTQ rights. For example, in 2010 FOTF accused school anti-bullying programs of promoting homosexuality and sought to mobilize parents and other school groups against them.
They specifically fund a political arm of their organization, CitizenLink. This group must remain technically distinct from Focus on the Family for the latter to maintain its religious tax-exempt status. Citizenlink funds more radically anti-LGBTQ candidates who seek to enact legislation against legal protections for LGBTQ, and the organization promotes “cures” for homosexuality. This includes practices such as conversion therapy.
Focus on the Family has made no attempts to obscure their stances, beliefs or methods. Drew Brees has been the face of anti-bullying campaigns and continues to preach about Christian love and acceptance. Obviously, there are conflicts between the two parties’ public beliefs. Brees’s video clip has been removed from FOTF’s Facebook page, but it’s still available on YouTube. The video itself is harmless until one does basic research on Focus on the Family. Drew Brees is one of the most likeable quarterbacks in the NFL, and his claims of ignorance fall flat in the face of the two possible scenarios.Either he was aware and shot the video anyway, or he did not conduct basic research into a group that was seeking to use his sponsorship to further their messaging. Neither are negated by his lackluster Twitter response.