The National Football League is cracking down on churches that have traditionally aired the Super Bowl on big-screen TVs, saying the practice violates the NFL copyright.
“There’s a part of me that says, ‘Gee, doesn’t the NFL have enough money already?’” said Steven Holley, executive pastor of Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, Mo., which has aired the big game in past years.
Noting that bars are permitted to air the game on big-screen TVs, he added: “It just doesn’t make sense.”
The NFL bans public exhibitions of its games on TV screens larger than 55 inches because smaller sets limit the audience size, the Washington Post reports.
The federal copyright law dealing with the NFL exempts sports bars, according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. He said the ban against other uses of the game is in place because large Super Bowl gatherings lower TV ratings and can affect ad revenue.
In the past, Super Bowl gatherings in churches have replaced halftime show with Christian DVDs and prayer, as churches “use the event as a way to reach members, and potential new members, in a non-churchlike atmosphere,” the Post observes.
John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute — a civil liberties group in Virginia — is seeking sponsors for federal legislation to exempt churches from the big-screen ban.
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