During last year’s Superbowl halftime show families got the finger. In 2004, they got flashed. This year, many families will put an end to the mid-game debauchery, thanks to a few religious programmers who saw a need for family-friendly halftime alternatives.
It all started back in 2005 when Sky Angel, a national Christian television network, responded to Janet Jackson’s breast-baring the previous year by offering a halftime special that included a testimony from Christian athletes, as well as a commentary about the Patriots-Eagles matchup, Religion News Service reported.
In subsequent years, Catholic TV and the Eternal Word Television Network have aired the Faith Bowl at halftime. Produced by the Catholic-oriented Family Theater Productions, the show featured Catholics in sports sharing about how faith can inspire an athlete.
Last year, Yeshiva University, the Orthodox Jewish university in New York City, got in the game with its “Torah Super Bowl Halftime Show” online. The Internet-only episode got more than 3,000 hits.
In this year’s show, scholars from Yeshiva, which doesn’t have a football team, plan to go up against Beyonce by relating the finer points of the sport to the Hebrew Bible—all in good fun—mixing in some Jewish football-related trivia, RNS reported.
“We won’t be lip-syncing,” Rabbi Kenneth Brander, head of the Center for the Jewish Future at Yeshiva University, and one of the featured hosts in this year’s YU video, quipped, referring to Beyonce’s inaugural performance.
Churches also are getting in on the action, seeing their members’ Super Bowl parties as evangelistic opportunities, or “pre-evangelism opportunities” in the case of First Baptist Church Dallas, which will host more than 20 Super Bowl parties around the Metroplex.
During halftime, First Dallas party hosts will play a five-minute video in which the church’s pastor, Dr. Robert Jeffress, talks about the opening of the church’s new $130-million dollar campus on Easter Sunday. Jeffress will then invite people to attend one of four Sundays of celebration in April featuring David Jeremiah, James Dobson, and Tim Tebow.
“We use our Super Bowl parties as a pre-evangelism opportunity to invite prospective guests to an event at the church where they will hear the Gospel,” Jeffress said.
For churches that can’t produce their own videos, or individual families who would like to take advantage of the evangelistic opportunity the Super Bowl offers, outreachdepot.com boasts several heart-winning films that believers can share with their friends during halftime. The site’s offerings include 2013 Power to Win: Giant Faith, featuring the testimonies of NFL players Chris Canty, Justin Tuck, and Chase Blackburn, and Perseverance in Pain, featuring Christian NFL coach Tony Dungy.