[anzac] SUPER BOWL & The CHURCH

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From: "REVIVAL List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2007 11:25:44 -0700
NOTE:  An interesting comment - from a guy at the Rutherford Institute-


SUPER BOWL & The CHURCH
-by John W. Whitehead

The Rutherford Institute
February 5, 2007

The Super Bowl has become America's new church gathering.

When I was a kid, the Super Bowl was the ultimate football game. 
You turned the TV set on to watch two teams battle it out for the 
championship title. But there was none of the buildup that now 
surrounds the big game.

Today, the football game is merely a sideshow to the glut of 
television advertisements promoting everything from beer and soda 
to cars and candy but, in essence, sex and materialism. As one 
reporter noted, "The hype for Super Bowl commercials has 
reached the same ridiculous proportions as the orgiastic hoopla 
over the game itself." At a going rate as high as $2.6 million for 30 
seconds of broadcast time and with a viewing audience estimated 
at 90 million (making the Super Bowl the most widely viewed
television program), it's no wonder that the advertisers are the 
ones running the show. The old maxim about television has 
become an undeniable truth: the programming now exists for the 
commercials. 

The entire Super Bowl experience has, in fact, become akin to a 
religious experience. Americans approach the Super Bowl with 
much the same religious fervor as the Romans had for the lavish 
games held at the Circus Maximus. And it is this mingling of 
religion with entertainment that brings us to the recent brouhaha 
over the National Football League's efforts to prevent churches 
from holding Super Bowl viewing parties on large-screen or projection TVs. 

People who heard about the dispute were of two minds: First, 
there was outrage that the NFL felt it necessary to bully churches 
into compliance, especially when sports bars and restaurants 
were granted exemptions. Second, there was bewilderment that 
churches would even want to participate in what has become an 
exercise in hedonism. Both reactions are completely understandable.

It goes beyond the pale for the NFL to dictate that churches 
shouldn't gather together - even if it is to watch the Super Bowl. 
The league's suggestion that church viewing parties might 
adversely affect their Nielsen ratings (which are used to leverage 
more advertising dollars) or cause the league to lose money is a 
testament to the corporate mindset that has overtaken what once 
was considered a relatively wholesome, all-American-albeit-violent 
sport. Greed has become the king of the Bowl.

Clearly, the NFL has little to no respect for Americans who watch 
the game. But it was a little disappointing that so many churches 
were willing to - and did - give up without a fight. If churches won't 
even fight for their right to watch football together, one has to 
wonder what they would be willing to fight for. For early church 
leaders, their mission came first, even when that mission 
conflicted with the state. Thus, they were considered 
troublemakers because they wouldn't toe the line, which is in
sharp contrast to the church today, which aims to be law-abiding. 
Lacking the moral and spiritual strength of their predecessors, 
many of today's religious leaders try to force their agendas through politics. 

But that's a whole other can of worms. For the purpose of this 
discussion, it might be enough to ask whether churches should 
be aligning themselves with the Super Bowl in the first place. 
How can a church preach against materialism, sexual immorality 
and drunkenness and participate in a cultural event that glories in all three?

Reportedly, these Super Bowl church bashes are increasing in 
their popularity. For the churches that planned to host viewing 
parties, the events were justified as ways to tap into the so-called 
"social magic" of Super Bowl Sunday by reaching out and 
ministering to members of their communities. And while there 
were supposedly churches that planned to invite the homeless 
and provide a meal, clothes-washing and a bed for the night and 
others that intended to accept donations from the crowd to fund
a food pantry, community social services or other good causes, 
there were also church events that differed only in location (and 
alcohol consumption) from the bacchanals taking place in homes 
and sports bars across America.

What would Jesus do? Would Jesus, who overturned the tables 
of the moneychangers in the temple because they were turning 
his father's house into a place of business, have condoned turning 
his father's house into a sports bar?

Are churches trading in their birthright for increased attendance? 
It may seem like harmless fun and sound marketing, but there are 
larger spiritual ramifications at work. For example, when you turn 
the church into the site for a Super Bowl party, have you altered 
your priorities and become a hedonist first and a Christian second?

By allowing itself to become a part of the greed-driven culture that
surrounds the Super Bowl, the church completely erases the line 
between the sacred and the profane.....

[Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder 
and president of The Rutherford Institute. He can be contacted at
johnw@.... Information about The Rutherford Institute is
available at www.rutherford.org ].
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