Last week, the New York Giants announced that they were bringing former player David Tyree back to the team as the franchise's director of player development. In that role, Coach Tom Coughlin said, Tyree would be responsible for mentoring the players -- to keep them out of trouble, and "to aid them in their continuing education, their development as young men, the opportunities in the business world and in networking in the city that they happen to be playing in."
A controversy immediately erupted due to anti-gay comments Tyree made during the 2011 push to pass freedom-to-marry legislation in New York state. In a video message recorded for the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage, Tyree said that he'd gladly trade his game-winning Super Bowl catch for stopping marriage equality. He also endorsed the discredited and dangerous "pray away the gay" myth on Twitter, erroneously claiming that there is "no scientific data to support the claim of being born gay" and that he's met "former homosexuals."
Tyree's hire earned a strong rebuke from the Human Rights Campaign, intense backlash from the LGBT media, and outrage from Giants fans who were disappointed that such a move could come from one of the most pro-LGBT franchises in the National Football League.
It sent Tyree's allies and the team's PR machine into overdrive, and before long LGBT sports advocates like Wade Davis of the You Can Play Project and Cyd Zeigler of OutSports were coming to the embattled star's defense. Davis reassured America's LGBT community that he had personally spoken with Tyree, said Tyree's views on the gay community were "evolving," and that he was confident that they wouldn't hamper his ability to create an LGBT-affirming atmosphere or support a gay player.
In a blog post and video message this week, Ziegler -- who has also apparently spoken with Tyree -- declared with "crystal clear" certainty that Tyree "does not support gay conversion therapy" and "didn't even know what gay conversion therapy was." Ziegler also condemned what he called "inaccurate portrayals" of Tyree and the Giants in the LGBT community.
Tyree, for his part, has been publicly silent during this entire episode, so I guess Davis and Ziegler want us to take their word for it that Tyree has evolved, is no longer the enemy of LGBT equality that he was in 2011, and will be able to mentor young football players appropriately and free of bigotry.
But new information about Tyree's own mentors and business associates has come to light that casts doubt on claims that he's evolved. Details, after the break.
According to an explosive new report from Political Research Associates fellow and Religious Right watchdog Rachel Tabachnick, David Tyree is closely tied to the New Apostolic Reformation -- a vehemently anti-gay and militantly political Christian movement that believes literal demonic beings are responsible for the world's problems and vows to use so-called "spiritual warfare" to vanquish them and reclaim all sectors of society and government for Christ (well, their charismatic evangelical version of Christ, anyway). The NAR, Tabachnick writes, is "on the cutting edge of activism and incitement against gay rights in the U.S., Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America."
"Tyree's mentors, and at least one business partner, are apostles in a network of modern-day, self-declared (or, in their view, God-ordained) 'apostles' and 'prophets.' An invitation-only list of prominent apostles, the International Coalition of Apostles, has included Tyree's mentor and co-author, Apostle Kimberly Daniels, and his business partner, Apostle Frank Duprée. They maximize their impact through loose relational networks in a religio-political movement that has been dubbed the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR).
"Tyree describes Daniels as his 'spiritual mother' and the person who prophesied his role, over the phone, on the evening prior to the Giants' 2008 Super Bowl win. In the New Apostolic world of modern-day apostles and prophets, one's spiritual father or mother not only acts as a mentor but also provides spiritual authority and protection. Tyree's spiritual mother is nationally known as 'the demon buster,' a specialist in expelling what are supposed to be literal demons and in 'healing' homosexuals. Tyree claims that he himself has been possessed by a demon that caused him to exhibit symptoms of mental illness and to spend four days in a psychiatric hospital."
Remember Kimberly Daniels? If her name sounds familiar, it's because she gained notoriety during her successful 2011 campaign for the Jacksonville, Florida City Council for outrageously claiming that the Jews "own everything," Halloween candy spreads demon curses, and that slavery was a gift from God without which she "might be somewhere in Africa worshipping a tree." Here's Tabachnick again:
"Like other NAR apostles and prophets, Daniels and Duprée promote the concept of the 'Seven Mountains Mandate,' or the belief that Christians should take 'dominion' over the seven power centers of society and government. The sports industry falls under the categories of the entertainment, media, and business mountains, areas aggressively targeted by NAR leaders. In her book of spiritual warfare prayers, Daniels describes 'gatekeepers of the sports industry' as being 'strategically set in place for prophetic evangelism throughout the industry.'"
What better way to spread the NAR's toxic, far-right, anti-gay brand of militant Christianity than by installing a strategic sports industry "gatekeeper" on a football team in a position where he'll be able to propagandize and proselytize directly to the players? If you think this sounds far-fetched, think again: Tabachnick writes that Tyree has "repeatedly voiced his willingness to use his access and position to advance his worldview" and notes that during Tyree's football days, he placed a letter in his teammates' lockers claiming that God had called him to remove a "spiritual dark cloud" that had come over the team and inviting them to a Bible study at his house.
Daniels, Tyree's mentor, is also a member of a charismatic evangelical group called the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders (because she's a prophetess, remember), which has included such anti-gay luminaries as Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., Cindy Jacobs, and Lou Engle. (Engle is one of the key figures involved in stoking the fires of homophobia in Uganda that ultimately led to the passage of that country's infamous "Jail the Gays" law.) Duprée, the business partner, is also involved with other "apostolic" networks, serving alongside Joseph Mattera, the U.S. head of the International Coalition of Apostolic Leaders and one of the most vicious theocrats in the country.
To bring us full circle, here's a video from 2011, produced by the National Organization for Marriage, where Mattera introduces Tyree and praises him for his outspoken opposition to marriage equality:
As you can see, Tyree is right in the thick of some of the most insidious, aggressive, hardcore anti-gay activism in the country. But LGBT advocates are supposed to ignore all of that and believe, on blind faith, that he's "evolved?" Color me skeptical.