As some of you may know, the Fox Sports has rejected a 30-second ad designed to familiarize viewers with the content of the John 3:16, the Bible verse that says “for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Politics Daily religion writer David Gibson reports:
…Moreover, in the case of the Fixed Point Foundation’s ad, it’s hard to see how a commercial whose only religious reference is a brief shot of a player’s eye black and “John 3:16” could offend an audience of sports fans.
Evangelical Christians who consider the verse a kind of motto for their faith have been holding up signs displaying the verse at televised sporting events for years, starting in the 1970s with the “Rainbow Man,” a.k.a. Rollen Stewart, who wore a distinctive, multi-hued afro wig to draw attention to his placard.
Taunton acknowledged that John 3:16 is by now part of the scenery in sports, and especially football, which has a reputation as a culturally conservative sport. There are on-field prayer circles after games, players thanking Jesus after every score, and big-time, publicly professing Christians like Kurt Warner, Drew Brees and Sam Bradford are commonplace.
But Taunton believes the John 3:16-themed ad was needed for that very reason.
“Our thought was this: We’re not trying to import Christianity into a sport or into part of the culture where it isn’t,” he said. “We’re trying to draw people’s attention to the fact that it’s already there . . . John 3:16 has become so ubiquitous in the game that people sort of become numb to it.”
“It’s sort of like seeing the Nike swoosh,” he added. “How many people know what that means?” (Good question. Answer: it apparently represents the wing of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. But that’s not the kind of religious reference to get Michael Jordan ads barred from the airwaves.)
Taunton also noted that commercials airing during NFL games for the new exorcism movie, “The Rite,” are loaded with religious imagery, though the intent seems to scare rather than convert viewers.
Indeed, it is religion itself, with its potential to incite furious reactions and its association with political divisions, that really seems to give broadcasters a fright.
Taunton agrees, which is why he said the ad was apolitical by design and “not in your face” with the faith message.
The ad’s rejection, he said, sends the message that “religion, and more specifically Christianity, is increasingly being treated like smoking — you can only do it in designated areas. You may not bring it into the public space.”
In case you haven’t seen the ad yet: