The Tim Tebow-Tom Brady showdown during the Broncos-Patriots game might have absorbed all attention Saturday night, but a 30-second commercial might have piqued some interest as well.
CBS aired a commercial, sponsored by the Colorado Springs-based Christian ministry Focus on the Family, featuring adorable young children reciting the biblical verse John 3:16. Tim Tebow, though not mentioned in the commercial, is the man who inspired it, said Focus spokesman Gary Schneeberger.
Tebow is the cultural phenomenon who had millions of people Googling John 3:16 after the Broncos clinched a near-impossible win against the Pittsburgh Steelers. God's Quarterback, who wore the lettering John 3:16 inscribed in his eye black during his college days with the Florida Gators, threw a season-high 316 yards and set an NFL record with an average 31.6 yards.
The Bronco is no longer allowed to wear the 3:16 inscription. The NFL does not allow the under-eye message. However, many still associate the player with the biblical verse. After the Steelers win, many speculated the presence of multiple 316s must mean something, but Focus president and chief executive Jim Daly said he does not read into the supernatural.
God does have a sense of humor, Daly told The Denver Post, but I think sports are something we're more interested in than God is. It just hit us when there were something like 100 million Google searches on it: 'Why not make it easy for people? Why make people get off the couch during the game to look for it?'
Schneeberger said Focus on the Family faced a series of budget shortfalls and layoffs in recent years. The group used earmarked donations to pay for the Saturday night ad that aired during the Broncos-Patriots game.
He expects criticism from individuals who are opposed to religious messages in sports. We will hear about shoving religion down people's throats, Schneeberger said. But if it's OK to shove Doritos down people's throats, and cars and everything else, we have the right to advertise too.
Schneeberger supports the message of the ad and Focus on the Family, which uses radio and other broadcast outlets to counsel families on marriage and child-rearing. We also have to introduce people to the author of the family, Daly said. It's a message that transcends politics. That's a great place for people of faith to be.
Many Christians consider John 3:16 the most important biblical verse of all. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Whether or not this ad will spark further criticism has yet to be determined. Focus on the Family has faced reproach before. In 2010, the group aired a 2010 Super Bowl ad featuring Tim Tebow that touched on anti-abortion sentiment. CBS faced criticism for airing it.
Last year, Fox Sports refused to broadcast a John 3:16-themed spot for the Super Bowl stating that the network does not accept advertising from religious organizations for the purpose of advancing particular beliefs or practices.
What do you think of the Focus on the Family ad? You can view it below.