The Super Bowl's faithy moments
Green Bay Packer Greg Jennings knees and bows his head after scoring a touch down in the Super Bowl
February 7th, 2011
11:35 AM ET

The Super Bowl's faithy moments

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."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Sports

soundoff (107 Responses)
  1. TheRationale

    Really? God plays sports? Really? *facepalm*

    This entire religion business is just nonsense all over the place.

    February 7, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
  2. Katie

    About the original post: Faithy is not a word. How ignorant and offensive your broadcast company seems by using this word to describe people, companies, and organizations who are unafraid to thank God for their blessings and profess their faith. These players have every right to profess their faith and I might add, most of America is Christian. Freedom is still precious to many of us Americans. That you cannot take away.

    February 7, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      Some people are always looking to be offended, and they usually are if they look hard enough.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
  3. Joel Weymouth

    Have you ever noticed that atheists will take the outrages of Muslim terrorists and somehow apply it to Christians? Atheist don't hat "God" – they Resent Christianity. It is also interesting to note that the MSM will ridicule a football player thanking God for the touchdown, but not in any way condemn a bomber murdering innocent children and sometimes justify it. Remember Obama apologizing to the Muslim world and boldly proclaiming "I AM ONE OF YOU" – see HaAretz – Israeli Newspaper. It just shows how twisted liberals and the media is in this country. They lover Muslim murders but hate Christians.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • Joe Bag-a-dougnuts

      You're nutty – 99% of our elected officials are Christian – clearly an oppressed segment of our population, how do they make it through the day?

      February 7, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  4. Chewbacca


    February 7, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  5. gracey

    first of all, I'm a christian.
    but i honestly think that commercial made for that John 3:16 verse is a bit too much. as much as i embrace and love the verse myself, unless you are someone who naturally believes or wants to believe in Christ, just to throw a verse out like that doesn't give too many options for the viewer in what to believe. If I were to live my life based on any other philosophy or religion other than christianity, then seeing that would probably irritate me – because it pretty much tosses out whatever my beliefs are. As christians, I think we need to worry more about what is going on within our own community, rather than spreading the word – the Lord knows we got A LOT of bad apples making the rest of us look bad. anyways, i better stop ranting before my foot gets stuck in my mouth.
    BUT, as for the John 3:16 commercial, I've been noticing a few tweets about another commercial that seems to go hand-in-hand with their message. It is rather weird though, imo. but alot of truth to it too.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • Lydia

      I thought the point of that commercial was for people to lookup the verse and decide for themselves whether they believe it or not. So you couldn't even say they forced scripture on someone, because it's not like the commercial included the actual verse or had someone reading it. That's the part that trips me out...even the mere suggestion that someone pickup a Bible is religious doctrine?

      February 8, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  6. Fiona

    "Faithy"? Are you kidding me, CNN? Speaka' de English, eh?

    February 7, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  7. Gaven

    Pairing religion with ANYTHING other than what religion dictates (going to church to worship, getting married, etc.) is ridiculous. Your God had nothing to do with your touchdown nor does your God take sides when it comes to who wins and who loses. Keep your Jesus/God/Allah/et. al worship where it belongs – IN THE CHURCH – and quit prosthelytizing at sporting events!

    February 7, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • W247

      So are you advocating that we should only be "Sunday Christians" ? Isn't that what a lot of Non-believers complain about Christians being? Either we are "too Christiany" or "Not Christiany enough".

      February 7, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Who are you?

      WHO are YOU to tell people when, where and how they can thank God, pray, or worship as they see fit?? Is God interested in the outcome of football? No! He is very interested in the people though, and it's none of your business if they choose that time to pray/give thanks.

      I hear non christians wailing about Christians telling others how to live their lives...look in the mirror.

      February 7, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • Gaven

      You wouldn't want me coming into your church making insinuations there is no God, would you? Then why bring that kneeling crap or pointing to the sky on national TV during a sporting event that has NOTHING to do with religion? Thank your God on your own time off the camera! You can thank him night and day in the privacy of your home, your place of worship, etc, 24/7 and do nothing else with your life if that is what makes you happy. However, nobody is interested in your religion or your faith when you score a touchdown, hit a home run, dunk a basketball, or win the 100m in the Olympics. It's a sporting event, not Sunday worship. It's not about me telling people what to do; it is about pointing out the obvious that religion is personal and does not belong on the national stage during a sporting event. A person's faith is their own – NOBODY should be subjected to someone else's religion without their permission. You wouldn't want Muslims forcing Sharia law on you here in America, now would you? or, wait...maybe you do. Maybe to you it is OK that people force their religion or faith on you without your permission. Sorry, to me, and millions of others just like me, it's not.

      February 7, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • W247


      There is a HUGE difference between Sharia law and publicly thanking the Lord. You made a huge jump there that is really a bit ridiculous.

      Are you suggesting that people should be conforming their selves to what society dictates? That's a little bit border line Orwellian don't you think? Should we now outlaw everyone who thinks that Coke is better than Pepsi, or that Gatorade is better than water? I see a lot of Gatorade slogans at football games and it "is offensive to me". I thought the whole premise of the USA was based on Freedom. We are free to be who we are and free to not be suppressed.

      Keep your football off of my primetime TV! How's that for a statement? If you want to watch the game, buy a ticket and go there! Do you see how disrespectful that would be if I truly meant it? You are free to watch your game, we are free to thank our Lord.

      And for the record, I would welcome you into my church to discuss this, if you can communicate your opinion in a respectful manner.

      February 7, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • W247

      .. and just another small point. I do like football, but just as you have to sit through and watch people thank the Lord, I have to sit through and watch tons of commercials that are really not "family friendly" (IE: Go Daddy), I have to sit through and watch a half time show with a chick "go-go" dancing on stage (IE: Fergie and Slash) and other numerous examples. So please, you are not the "only one" to have to bear through something you don't like.

      February 7, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • CatholicMom


      Sorry if we offend you but you don’t own the world out there or time. Most Christians live their faith no matter what they are doing or where they are, and those millions have as much 'right' as you do. Close your eyes while the game is on….

      February 8, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Lydia

      I believe that God blessed me with the gifts of physical and mental health, that he blessed me with a talent that I was able to parlay into a a career which pays for a comfortable lifestyle for me. So while I know God does not much care whether I choose to go to Puerto Rico or Hawaii for my vacation, or whether Troy Polamalu makes an interception or Greg Jennings gets the touchdown, or if Denzel Washington wins an Oscar or any of those things, I do believe that none of us would be able to do those things were it not for his blessings of sound mind and body, and when those gifts bring us fortune or praise, it is not unseemly to give him credit for that. You believe what you want, but that's what I believe.

      February 8, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  8. vel

    well, let's look up John 3. Let's look at what it really says in context "16 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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil." So anyone who doesn't believe in JC is damned. No choice in the matter. If you dared to be born in the wrong time and place, you are out of luck. Not exactly the same message you get if you edit it to only the happy fuzzy verse. I wonder if the Fixed Point folks would have been okay with the whole message being their commercial, in the interest of truth, of course.

    And always good to know that people think God has time to watch football and cares who wins rather than helping people who really need it.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • pete

      Did someone say that God was interested in football? I think some people posted something about it to try and be funny but i don't think that anyone has actually said something about God making the Packers win.

      February 7, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  9. Dizzyd

    @Jeff – amen, brother! If only we who claim the name of Jesus would live like it – that's a much better witness to a hurting world than hatemongering or huge church buildings. You're close to the kingdom, my friend!

    February 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  10. Ironic

    I just find it kind of funny that the majority of posts on here come from cynical atheists

    February 7, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  11. Colin

    Ok, so the idea is that an invisible, infinitely-old, all-knowing super-being, powerful enough to create the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, has a personal interest in the American Superbowl.

    Can you Christians get any sillier?

    February 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • W247

      First of all, it is CNN that's making a big deal out of it. The MSM is the biggest instigator of mud slinging then ANY other group I know. God's not interested in goofball, He is interested in the people playing goofball desiring a personal relationship with Him.

      February 7, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      @ W247

      Nicely said! You just mis-spell football! Other than that Kudos!

      February 7, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      And I just mis-spelled "mis-spelled"

      February 7, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Ian

      Brilliant Colin

      February 7, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  12. Nothing New Here

    This is a non-story, CNN. Haven't Christian athletes always done this? They may not always show it on TV, but don't some teams have a "prayer huddle" just before each game? Many players participate. I'm atheist, but I would never presume to tell a Christian, or anyone of any faith, when they can or cannot thank their deity if they are moved to do so. It's none of my business what they believe, I just like to watch a good game.

    February 7, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • pete

      Nice post

      February 7, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  13. Jeff

    I wonder when they will start having Christian pride parades with people toting around crosses and stuff. Its like they think that everyone needs to see them and realize that they are still in control with their moral majority. Its a a form of insecurity on their part and I think it is pointless. I wonder how much that commercial would have cost, and how many homeless and needy people, especially right now in our country's present condition. I have no problem with the verse they all point to about letting your light shine, but I also like the city on a hill verse. If Christians will be that city on the hill, that shining example to all, then they will not be hidden and won't have to do things like this. The rest of the let your light shine verse goes , that they may see your good works. Do good things, help others, and be what Christians are supposed to be and people are going to wonder how they can be that happy. Thats the best way to minister to people.

    February 7, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • vel

      agreed. Why is it more important for some Christians to shout their faith from street corners (or on the Super Bowl) just like JC said *not* to do, than use that money to help people? Why do we see each sect of Christianity trying to get more "team members" for their nonsense, when if their claims are indeed true, the vast bulk of Americans are already Christians? Are they lying about that, or is it that those "other" Christians aren't "real" ones in their estimation? I would love for each sect to show how many believers they have that can do the miracles that JC said they'd be able to do. We'd then at least know which one was the "right" one.

      Three million for 30 seconds of "believe in my particular invisible friend" is rather sad.

      February 7, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • W247

      Vel – it's called "the Great Commission" – to spread His word, make disciples of all nations. What you may see as someone being arrogant about their religion, is just someone living out their faith in humility. However if it is not done in a loving and humble manner than that person is erring on the side of ego ( matt 6:5, I think someone already quoted that here).

      Should we profess to believe in a faith, then not have it shown through how we live our lives? To outwardly acknowledge and be thankful for the talents and the blessings that the Lord gives us is actually us living our faith and nothing more. If that is looked down upon, what should we do instead? Be unfaithful to our Lord so that we can blend in with a society that may or may not hold the same values that we do? Compromise our values and what we respect and hold dear?

      When a society say's it is ok to have commercials on TV that are obviously not "family friendly" ( Go Daddy) but than gets upset by a player that refers to God, than it is time, as a society, to really re-evaluate what is important in our lives.

      Sorry for the soapbox moment.

      February 7, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  14. Godless

    I guess god likes the Packers better than the Steelers?

    February 7, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • W247

      He gives you a talent, it's up to you how you use or abuse it.

      February 7, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Colin

      It always makes me laugh seeing Christians thanking their god whenever they have a victory in sports. It's like their god prefers them over the opponent. Hokey and silly. My favorite, though, is when two nations of the same faith go to war, both claiming god is on their side.

      I guess that, when you create your gods, you can give them whatever personalities and affiliations you wish.

      February 7, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      Colin – I went to war and God was not there. I saw a few young men die screaming God don't let me die, God didn't show up, I did. I held them until the life left their eyes and I wrote their Mothers and Fathers letters about how they died. God wasn't there on the battle field and any of you stupid Christians that believe in a God that would send you into war are sick and ignorant. I found a God for me after Vietnam and it sure wasn't a blood thirsty god of the Israelites that condoned genocide. The idiot right wing Christians in America are why there is still no peace in the Middle East. Ask yourselves a question "why does this make sense"? No Christian has ever answered that question for me, they just tell me to read the bible.

      Don't give God credit for my hard work, and I won't blame him when I screw up.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
  15. Lisababy

    I love to see athletes who wear thier faith on thier sleeve. Kneeling,bowing thier head, sign of the cross. After all God is everywhere and i see no harm in bringing God into an awesome personal/shared moment. What better way to thank God for the gifts of life, fitness, talent and fame? What a wonderful feeling to share your gifts with the Creator and those who appreciate those gifts with you! When did religion become a dirty word? Very sad.

    February 7, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Jeff

      Its not a dirty word, but the way Christians act has made it seem that way. 3 million dollars would feed a lot of hungry people. Jesus didn't care for these yelling on the street corners type, he felt that they were hypocrites.
      When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
      But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. Matthew 6:5

      February 7, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Steve the real one


      Impressive (I am being honest here) that you know this scripture! One thing missing is the context! Both men in the scripture were in public! One was praying how great he was and how superior he was to the other. The second guy simply acknowledged his need for God and his grace. That is the context. Nothing wrong with the player praying! I don't know what was i his heart, I just hope he was simply acknowledging the grace of God!

      February 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Rachel


      Jeff is quoting Matthew. The story you're thinking of is in Luke I believe. Two totally separate verses with two separate meanings.

      But the point is if you believe in the Bible then you shouldn't be prideful. That includes recoginizing your weaknesses, the passage you're talking about. But also not using your faith to call attention to yourself, the passage Jeff is referring to.

      February 7, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      @Rachel. Thank you, I will look it up! You and Jeff are correct about pride, it caused the former Lucifer to fall!

      February 7, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      When watching football…and things go right for the team….I prefer seeing someone bend his knee and bow his head in thanksgiving to his God, than see someone gyrate and pound his chest.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
  16. Joe Bag-a-dougnuts

    Sweet!!!! Can I place a $3 Million ad for my religion? It's the same as every other religion – believe in what I tell you and you'll live forever....

    February 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  17. Ykcyc

    I guess "their" version of God has nothing better to do, than grant points, yardage, and more money to those poor, "underpaid" atheletes. God gets what God wants, God help us all.

    February 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • W247

      Don't judge them, you don't know what their faith is like off the field or how they contribute ( time or money). Only God can judge the hearts motive, not man.

      February 7, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Fred Evil

      Great, now can god get on with it? Cuz too many jerks are getting away with being jerks down here. It's like he's not even paying attention....

      February 7, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • W247

      I am pretty sure He is paying attention, and I am pretty sure that the jerks down here will find out just how much He is paying attention to what they are doing when the time calls for it.

      February 7, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  18. Reality

    The reality of the Super Bowl: 44 overpaid jocks give us another reason to eat and drink too much!!!!

    February 7, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • pete

      Not overpaid. They are paid what the market will bear.

      February 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • wydok

      44? So the other 62 aren't?

      February 7, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Reality

      Ok, 106 overpaid, most of them overweight jocks give us an opportunity to eat and drink too much.

      February 7, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  19. Steve the real one

    At least we will not hear from the "seperation of church and state" crowd! Maybe not though as the Packers play in the "State" of Wisconsin and the Steelers play in the "State" of Pennsylvania! I think I just burst my own bubble here! Dang!

    February 7, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Bob

      You're right, you won't. Private money can do whatever it damn well likes.

      February 7, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Steve the real one



      February 7, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Steve the real one


      Oh, you mean like Chik-fil-A? Take a look at the hell they are catching and it is PRIVATE money!

      February 7, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Megan

      Steve, no one is telling them they can't though, they're simply refusing to spend their money there, AS IS THEIR RIGHT. People who chant separation of church and state know the difference between state-sponsored and privately funded, and you don't seem to be making the same distinction.

      I can't tell if you just don't get it or are being sarcastic. I hope the latter.

      February 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • W247

      shhss.. we are talking about the Superbowl today, not CFA. Their old hypocritical news now...

      February 7, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  20. W247

    SO how many people are going to ban the Superbowl now that there are obvious Christians associated with it?

    February 7, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      Steve, no one is telling them they can't though, they're simply refusing to spend their money there, AS IS THEIR RIGHT. People who chant separation of church and state know the difference between state-sponsored and privately funded, and you don't seem to be making the same distinction. I can't tell if you just don't get it or are being sarcastic. I hope the latter.
      Sarcasm! Wasn't just a bit funny?

      February 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Megan

      Oh goodness. I'd hoped so, but you never really know with some people. They always surprise you, but not always in the best way.

      February 7, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)


      Sorry for the scare! I was just trying ti be funny. I guess it didn't work so well! Back to to drawing board!

      February 7, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.