Can churches host Super Bowl parties and escape the wrath of the NFL?
In 2005, the National Football League (NFL) threatened churches with legal action for holding Super Bowl parties and charging admission. According to a Rutherford Institute press release, the League said churches who viewed Super Bowl broadcasts on big-screen televisions at church-sponsored gatherings was a copyright infringement.
However, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently stated churches can now watch the Super Bowl live as long as they do not charge an attendance fee. John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute is thankful for the change.
"Well, churches can now have football parties and show the Super Bowl on a screen larger than 55 inches," he explains. "It's taken two years, basically, of the Rutherford Institute harassing them."
Whitehead notes the conditions. "As long as the viewings are free and they're on the premises of the church," he points out. "So it's legal now and you can do it. The NFL will not harass you."
However, as non-profit organizations, churches can accept donations to offset the cost of the event. "Well, you can ask for donations, in my opinion, for any event in a church," Whitehead concludes. "I wouldn't charge at the door, but sure you can ask for donations. It's a church, it's a non-profit organization, and that's just fine."
Whitehead believes the NFL's decision is a good public relations gesture to the church.