Earlier this week, the Blaze reported on Pastor Wanye Hanson's alleged comments to TMZ about Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. Based on TMZ's initial report as well as subsequent articles from countless other outlets, we reported that Hanson is Tebow's pastor and that he believes Broncos' recent wins are the result of "God's favor."
Hanson, the faith leader at Summit Church near Denver, Colorado, has since denied both of these notions. So, in the interest of fairness, we'd like to explore the issue further, while debunking and fact-checking the story.
First, let's tackle the first assertion -- that Hanson is Tebow's pastor. While the media, including the Blaze, initially reported that this is the case (the original title of the TMZ article was purportedly, "Tim Tebow's Pastor: 'God Is Saving the Broncos"), TMZ writes that Hanson is "a pastor at a Colorado church with ties to the Tebow family." The entertainment outlet's headline now reads, "God Is Saving the Broncos...Says Colorado Pastor."
Apparently, the connection to the Tebow family is relatively weak, as the football player has, according to sources, never attended the church. In 2010, Tebow's father apparently spoke at a youth rally there, but this is apparently the only time a Tebow family member has ever been to Summit Church since its founding in 2007.
"It's not that we have no connection, but it is offensive to them (The Tebows) to call me their pastor because I'm not," says Hanson (as per the Denver Post). "If Tim has a pastor at all right now, it's his dad."
So, with that cleared up -- Hanson is apparently not Tebow's pastor, though he admits to supporting some of the family's humanitarian initiatives. But that's only a small factor in the story, as the real controversy surrounds the words TMZ claims the pastor used to describe the Almighty's role on the football field.
According to TMZ, Hanson claimed that the team’s wins since putting Tebow in as quarterback are “not luck.” "Luck isn’t winning six games in a row. It’s favor. God’s favor,” he was quoted as saying. “God has blessed his hard work.”
Hanson says these quotes were taken out of context. Additionally, he says that he was originally told he would be interviewed along with seven other pastors in the area about Tebow's faith; when the article was published, he was the only faith leader mentioned. The Post recaps how the story developed:
The TMZ story got shortened and distorted on social media and picked up by media outlets all over the country — including The Denver Post — and inaccurately tagged Hanson, a Green Bay Packersfan, as "Tim Tebow's pastor."
On Wednesday, Hanson replaced his Facebook profile picture with a shot of the Rev. Tim Lovejoy, the preacher on "The Simpsons" TV show "because that's how I am being portrayed — as this symbol of Christianity that's ridiculous."
"I don't think God cares about who wins a football game," Hanson explained -- a statement that starkly contrasts the words that were published by TMZ. "I do think he cares about people and people care about football. I think Tim has favor from God in his life, but that is there win or lose."
Interestingly, in an article by Houston Chronicle web producer Kate Shellnut earlier this week claimed that a post on Hanson's Facebook page reads, "Hometown boy does it right!” and that it goes on to say that sports reporters can only call Tebow “lucky” for so long. No such posts is currently present on the page as of Friday morning.
In another post, which is currently visible, Hanson wrote, "The Packers are 13-0, Tebow keeps sharing Jesus and it's only 12 Days til' Christmas...Am I DREAMING? Or is Heaven gonna be just a little bit like this."
At this point, we're not sure who's telling the truth, but we wanted to present all of the facts, especially considering the intriguing debate. Whether TMZ manipulated his words is yet to be seen, but in the spirit of fairness, we wanted to bring you Hanson's side of the story.
In other, more light-hearted news, GOP presidential contender Rick Perry wants to be the GOP's Tebow. If you missed that one, read about it here.