From rejected religiously-themed TV ads to players kneeling in prayer, Super Bowl XLV had no shortage of faithy moments.
Even before opening kick off there were faith-based controversies.
An ad uploaded in a make-your-own-Super-Bowl-ad competition featured a priest swapping out communion bread for Doritos and wine for Pepsi — which owns Doritos and sponsored the contest – in hopes of boosting church attendance.
USA Today reported that the ad was widely criticized and pulled from the competition’s website.
Next came JesusHatesObama.com, a political novelty t-shirt company that had dueling bobble heads of Jesus and Obama. The company said Fox rejected its ad. Fox didn’t comment.
The Fixed Point Foundation, a group that promotes Christianity in the public square, told CNN that Fox rejected its proposed Super Bowl ad last June.
In the ad, people watching a football game spy the phrase John 3:16 — a New Testament verse popular among evangelical Christians – on a player’s eye black. A man in the ad says he’s going to look it up, with the ad directing viewers to lookup316.com.
Fixed Point Executive Director Larry Taunton said Fox told him his commercial was rejected because it contained “religious doctrine,” though he said the ad avoided featuring the actual words of the verse.
“Everyone we dealt with at Fox couldn’t have been more gracious or professional. I talked to them the day after last year’s Super Bowl,” Taunton said.
“Increasingly religion and Christianity is treated like smoking — you can do it but only in designated areas,” he said. “They were saying there’s no place for (faith) in the public square. There’s a place for the soft core porn of Go-Daddy, violent movie trailers, and irresponsible drinking, but not for faith.
As a workaround, the Fixed Point Foundation ran its ad on Fox stations in Birmingham, Alabama and Washington, DC.
Taunton said his group will try again or a Super Bowl ad next year.
At the Eatocracy DC Super Bowl party I attended on Sunday night, there was consternation that during the halftime show, Usher appeared to be changing the lyrics to his song OMG from “Oh my God” to “Oh my gosh.”
The move was resoundingly denounced by party guests as an overly politically correct move. Turns out the song has always been “Oh My Gosh.” No controversy here.
The game itself saw plenty of touchdown end zone kneeling celebrations, including Green Bay wide receiver Greg Jennings kneeling and bowing his head after catching one of his two touchdown catches.
And there were plenty God shout-outs in post-game coverage. A jubilant Jennings repeatedly told Fox’s Pam Oliver, “To God be the glory.”