For years, as many as 200 members of Immanuel Bible Church and their friends have gathered in the church’s fellowship hall to watch the Super Bowl on its six-foot screen. The party featured hard hitting on the TV, plenty of food — and prayer.
But this year, Immanuel’s Super Bowl party is no more. After a crackdown by the National Football League on big-screen Super Bowl gatherings by churches, the Springfield church has sacked its event. Instead, church members will host parties in their homes.
Immanuel is among a number of churches in the Washington area and elsewhere that have been forced to use a new playbook to satisfy the NFL, which said that airing games at churches on large-screen TV sets violates the NFL copyright.
Ministers are not happy.
“There is a part of me that says, ‘Gee, doesn’t the NFL have enough money already?'” said Steve Holley, Immanuel’s executive pastor. He pointed out that bars are still allowed to air the game on big-screens TV sets. “It just doesn’t make sense.”