If you were watching football this past weekend, you may have seen the ad from Focus on the Family ; a reading of John 3:16. (see ad embedded below) The ad was purchased by Focus on that Family and aired during a game in which Tim Tebow played. This verse was what Tebow used to write under his eyes in paint before games and it also happened to be the same number of passing yards he had during last week’s game. This naturally sparked interest leading many people to go looking up the verse to see what it actually said. That in itself is remarkable. Recognizing an opportunity here to share what the verse said, Focus on the Family wisely pulled together a short video that shared the verse. I thought it was a wise investment of the limited resources of a non-profit organization.
But, that’s me. The militant atheists are out in full force again denouncing this as offensive and polarizing. One comment on the Facebook post of the video said, “leave your religion out of my football.”
This got me thinking because comments like that are loaded with assumptions about religion and the proper place for it. But all that aside for a moment, I can’t see how this verse could be offensive to anyone. What is offensive about God loving the world and saving them from sin? Even if you don’t believe in God, there is no way this is a polarizing message. No one is forcing religion on anyone or making any group of people feel less important. The video was of kids reading the verse. There was nothing else said and no appeal to convert to Christianity.
If people are so upset over a verse of the Bible being read while their kids watch football, fearing it might corrupt their minds, what about all the other ‘religions’ that are being fed to them during football games? As I watched this weekend, I did not have to wait long to notice offensive beer commercials. My kids are young and don’t understand it all, but these ads are filled with innuendo and a false reality that shows how ‘awesome’ life is with that product.
This is a hot topic for me as the Super Bowl is only a few weeks away. The Super Bowl has long been the venue where companies put out some of their best commercials. Unfortunately in recent years the quality of these commercials has been in steady decline. This year I wonder how many times will I have to change the channel? The commercials of the scantily clad women, inappropriate jokes and movies that have offensive content are a certainty. Why can they put their ‘religion’ in my football? Why does it not offend people that beer commercials have a ‘polarizing’ message? If I don’t drink it will I really not be accepted or have adequate man points? The one I saw this weekend seemed to say that. Are they selling a product? Really? These advertisers have their own agendas and have paid for their spots, just like any religious group would have to.
My point is that I would much rather have positive messages during commercial breaks than a bunch of lies about products that will really not perform as promised. But, if the company wants to purchase an ad, then the network has every right to run it. If a Christian organization wants to run an ad, why can’t they? If an atheist group wants to buy an ad, then I say go for it. Focus on the Family purchased the advertisement slot just like everyone else. Calling for a boycott or sending hate mail to the network is ridiculous and a waste of time.
With the amount of junk on television, it is getting harder to find anything that I don’t have to apologize to my kids for. It is a challenge to watch supposedly innocent programs, knowing that it will just be ruined during a commercial break.
The nice part about that, though, is that if you don’t like the product,you don’t buy it. If you don’t want to watch the commercials, then don’t. Of course, with a DVR the only commercials we see are during sporting events. For this John 3:16 ad the same is true; if you don’t like that God sent His son for you, then go get a snack during the commercial or turn it off for a minute. We still have freedom of speech in this country and it is important we defend that right.
Thank you Focus on the Family for stepping out and using the resources wisely. May God increase your influence and reach people with the Gospel as a result of your ministry.