Beliefnet News

By Paul Walsh
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

After churches in Minnesota and elsewhere in the nation were warned by the NFL about showing the Super Bowl telecast to gatherings, the league has relented and will allow religious organizations to display the telecast under certain circumstances, a U.S. senator said.
The league’s reversal comes after it received a letter last week from Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. Hatch said he was responding to reports that the NFL had challenged the church screenings.
“I am grateful that this accommodation was made to allow the NFL to protect its copyrighted material, while respecting the interests of churches,” Hatch said in a news release Wednesday.
In a written response to Hatch, the NFL said it will no longer object to live showings — regardless of screen size — of the Super Bowl by a religious organization when such showings are free and on premises used by the religious organization on a routine and customary basis.
Two days before the Big Game on Feb. 4, the Rev. Mark Shockey of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Edina said he was unaware of the restriction and said his Super Bowl gathering was little more than “an excuse to have some snacks and enjoy the game together” on the 5- by 7-foot screen. Other churches in the Twin Cities held similar events.
The issue came to a head last year after the NFL sent a letter to Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis, warning the church not to show the Super Bowl on a giant video screen. For years, the church had held a Super Bowl party in its auditorium, attracting about 400 people and showing the game on a big screen usually reserved for hymn lyrics.
Copyright (c) 2008, Star Tribune, Minneapolis
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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