New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees responded Thursday to the backlash he’s received over a video he shot promoting a Christian event organized by a group considered by many to be anti-LGBTQ, saying he would never knowingly link himself to an organization with such beliefs and suggesting media outlets created the controversy to serve as clickbait.
Brees, 40, appeared in a 22-second clip last month encouraging students to participate in Bring Your Bible to School Day. The Oct. 3 event is organized and promoted by Focus on the Family, a group described by the Human Rights Campaign as “one of the most well funded anti-LGBTQ organizations in America.”
Focus on the Family is not mentioned in Brees’ video, nor does its name or logo appear, but the organization did post the 11-time Pro Bowler’s promo on its Facebook page.
Big Easy magazine noticed the clip and published an article about it Tuesday with the headline “Drew Brees Records Video for Anti-LGBT Religious Organization.”
Brees seemed to reference that headline in a video posted to social media two days later.
“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,” Brees said in the video. “I’d like to set the record straight. ...
The Instagram video cuts off, this should be the full video: pic.twitter.com/Shqnbhkduh— Katherine Terrell (@Kat_Terrell) September 5, 2019
“I do not support any groups that discriminate or that have their own agendas that are trying to promote inequality. … That’s not what I stand for.”
Later in the day, Brees told reporters in an apparent reference to Focus on the Family: “I was not aware of any of the things they said about them lobbying for anti-gay-type of messaging or inequality or any type of hate-related stuff. I was not aware of that at all. And again, the video itself was just focused on national Bring Your Bible to School Day. It was not promoting any group, certainly not promoting any group that is associated with that type of behavior.”
Drew Brees addresses his “National Bring Your Bible To School Day” video that appeared on Focus on The Family platforms.— Amie Just (@Amie_Just) September 5, 2019
He said he was not aware of the group’s anti-LGBT views. He says hate goes against everything being a Christian is all about. pic.twitter.com/Jjhexqljo0
Brees, who appeared on a Focus on the Family Radio broadcast in 2010 and was the subject of an article on the “Marriage Success” page of the group’s website in 2015, added: “What’s a shame is that people will make headlines just to get hits, just to get views, and all of a sudden these rumors spread that are completely untrue. Shame on them.”
In an open letter to Brees on Thursday, Big Easy publisher and founder Scott Ploof wrote:
“We actually fully believe you when you say you respect people regardless of race, gender, sexuality, etc., but instead of attacking an independent, local publication that has covered the Saints extensively for publishing an article with a ‘very negative headline,’ and going on to accuse the publication of publishing clickbait, you should have spent your time sincerely apologizing to the LGBTQ community for aligning yourself with a group that is known for their anti-gay stance.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, Focus on the Family has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to help oppose same-sex marriage and to support candidates with anti-LGTBQ views.
In a page on its website titled “Foundational Values,” Focus on the Family states that “marriage is intended by God to be a thriving, lifelong relationship between a man and a woman” and “God created humans in His image, intentionally and immutably male and female, each bringing unique and complementary qualities to sexuality and relationships.”
In a statement released Friday, Focus on the Family president Jim Daly defended his organization and suggested the Brees controversy is simply a ploy to distract from Bring Your Bible to School Day, set for Oct. 4.
“It’s unfortunate that mean-spirited antagonists have attempted to draw attention away from this event by mischaracterizing the beliefs and positions of our organization,” Daly said. “Like Scripture teaches and Drew Brees referenced, as Christians, we believe we’re called to love God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind — and love your neighbor as yourself.”