It's that time of the year again and many churches around the nation have organized viewing parties for congregants and general members of the community to gather together and enjoy the annual Super Bowl game. While some are capitalizing on the event as a means of outreach or evangelism, other congregations are using the Patriots-Giants matchup on Sunday as a fundraising event — which could be a violation of the law.
Many churches, such as the late Zachery Tims' New Destiny Christian Center now headed by Pastor Paula White, have organized viewing parties for congregants, providing food and fellowship and perhaps a boost to their finances.
Although NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell has relaxed regulations against religious groups desiring to host a Super Bowl get-together, the provided guidelines require strict adherence.
There are several rules related to the NFL's policy, the most important ones requiring churches to:
- show the Super Bowl on in-house equipment and avoid renting special equipment for the screening
- avoid charging a monetary fee for admission (although donations are allowed to cover expenses)
- use careful phrasing for the event name, such as avoiding the phrase "Super Bowl party" (both "NFL" and "Super Bowl" are trademarked terms)
The NFL first came up with guidelines in 2007 after an online announcement from Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis for its "Super Bowl Party" caught the league's attention. An agreement was eventually hammered the following year when members of Congres became involved.
The main issue of concern with the NFL's restrictions on churches and Super Bowl parties is protecting licensing agreements the league makes with certain groups to show the game and use its trademarked term "Super Bowl."
New Destiny Christian Center had been advertising its Sunday game gathering as a "Super Bowl Party" on flyers with $10 and $5 listed for adults and children, respectively. Friday morning, NDCC announced on its Facebook page that the Super Bowl party had been "sold out."
When The Christian Post called and inquired about tickets to Sunday's game event, an NDCC representative explained, "Before they were $10, now they're set to be free, but they're sold out."
The New England Patriots and the New York Giants face off this Sunday, Feb. 5 at 6:30 p.m. NBC will broadcast the game live from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.