CHARLOTTESVILLE (BP) — John Whitehead is aching to take the National Football League to court but can't find a church willing to take on the influential pro football colossus.
“You go to any bar on Super Bowl Sunday and they'll be showing the game on their [big screen] TVs,” the president of The Rutherford Institute said.
The conservative nonprofit legal organization in Charlottesville represented Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis, Ind., last February in its legal tussle with the NFL.
“They want to restrict it to a 55-inch screen, which in a big church you'd need binoculars to see,” Whitehead said. “It's designed to prevent churches and groups like that from doing this. If churches en masse wanted to do this, they could get the law changed.”
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the reason bars and sporting establishments are permitted to show the game on larger screens is a legal exemption for organizations that use them year-round instead of for a one-time event. Baptist Press knows of at least one unidentified church that called the NFL earlier this year and cited the exemption for those who use large screens year-round. The church argued that because it uses its screen year-round, it should be exempted. The NFL allowed the church to hold the party without interference.
Measured against the increased size of home TV sets, not only is the screen size stipulation absurd, Whitehead said, but the law cited by the NFL is vague and silly.
Though he hasn't discussed the issue with any congressmen, Whitehead said he is sure some legislators agree the law is obsolete and would overturn it if church members organized a grassroots campaign.
The pastor of Fall Creek Baptist said the church didn't proceed with a lawsuit last February because they decided a legal case would create a distraction from their ministry.
Even a church with the financial muscle of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky., which is among the 10 largest churches in the nation, decided it didn't want to have the reputation as the church that brought litigation, its minister of single adults said.