NFL Cracks Down on Church Super Bowl Events
Today's Top Ten
It's been a while since we've updated, so we'll give you more than the usual five.
1. NFL lawyers searching church web sites for copyright infringements
Like many churches, Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis was planning a group viewing of the Super Bowl. Its "Super Bowl Bash" was to include an evangelistic element: a video of Colts coach Tony Dungy and several of his players talking about Jesus.
NFL lawyers found the announcement on the church's website and FedEx'ed a cease-and-desist order. The church's large screen (only screens 55 inches and smaller are allowed), use of the words "Super Bowl," and other plans violated copyright laws, the lawyers said. So does the evangelistic video. NFL assistant counsel Rachel L. Margolies wrote to the congregation, according to The Indianapolis Star: "While this may be a noble message, we are consistent in refusing the use of our game broadcasts in connection with events that promote a message, no matter the content."
There's no word on how many other churches have been contacted by the NFL, or whether Lovie Smith's own church, which was planning to show the game on a projection screen to up to 1,000 people, has special dispensation. But given the quotes from multiple NFL representatives in the Star article, this isn't just the case of one overzealous attorney. This may be the end of a very common annual church practice across the country. Already, some churches are scrambling to cancel or change Sunday's events. Others say they'll keep holding events until they get their own letter from NFL attorneys.
2. Episcopal Diocese of Virginia sues 11 departing churches
Bishop Peter Lee also recently declared the churches abandoned property and prohibited the priests from officiating at worship services. At least two churches say they'll press trespassing charges if officials from the diocese "set foot on either congregation's property without express permission from that congregation's vestry." And for some real vitriol, check out this editorial in the Falls Church News-Press, the hometown paper of the most prominent of the departing congregations.
3. U.K's Catholic adoption agencies must place children with gay couples
But Prime Minister Tony Blair gave the agencies 21 months to comply. "There is no place in our society for discrimination. That's why I support the right of gay couples to apply to adopt like any other couple," Blair said. "And that way there can be no exemptions for faith-based adoption agencies offering public-funded services from regulations that prevent discrimination."
Catholics aren't the only ones outraged. "The idea that New Labour can come up with a new morality which it forces on the Catholic Church after 2,000 yearsI am sorry, this is amazing arrogance on the part of the Government," N.T. Wright, the Church of England's Bishop of Durham, told The Times of London.
4. Measuring spiritual growth
Inside Higher Ed has a lengthy article today on one of the most important contemporary issues in Christian higher education: assessing spiritual development. Elizabeth Redden writes:
As the accountability pressures on higher education grow, and words like "measurable outcomes" become common parlance in academe, religious colleges are increasingly embracing a need to measure the spiritual and moral outcomes they promise in their mission statements to deliver. They're seeking ways not only to measure their own students' spiritual commitments and how those commitments might change from freshman to senior year but also how they as institutions stack up, spiritually speaking, relative to peer colleges.
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