With Super Bowl Sunday only a few days away, millions of Americans are focused on getting ready for the Big Game.
Among those, are members of Sports Fan Outreach International (SFOI), a Christian ministry that facilitates short-term mission trips to major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, and College Bowl games.
Right now SFOI and its grid-iron ministry team are busy preparing to hit the streets outside U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
So what does football have to do with defending religious liberty? The answer is simple: in both cases, you need to put together a winning game plan before calling your first play.
GAME-TIME: SHARING FAITH WITH SUPER FANS
For nearly twenty years, SFOI has brought volunteers together and provided them with opportunities to share their faith peacefully and lawfully with sports fans at nation’s biggest sporting events.
“The Super Bowl is a rare opportunity because it gathers thousands of people from all over the country,” said longtime SFOI leader, Bill Adams. “Everyone on our team is deeply passionate about sharing their faith, and this game is one of the most important outreach initiatives we do all year.”
Adams started SFOI’s Super Bowl outreach over a decade ago, and averages about 100 ministry volunteers per game. This year, Adams and a group of 52 volunteers are heading out into the crowds in Minneapolis.
THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE
It might seem odd – or even impossible – that religious liberty could be attacked at a sporting event.
In the past, however, government officials have attempted to silence or prevent ministries like SFOI from expressing their religious beliefs during games. Often times, they’ve even used “solicitation bans” to stop ministries from sharing their faith and distributing free religious literature.
To fight against these infringements, First Liberty attorneys and our network attorneys work closely with host city officials and local law enforcement in the weeks leading up to the games to confirm that religious free speech and the free distribution of religious literature will not be impeded.
After guidelines are finalized, First Liberty attorneys are on stand-by to consult with police and security personnel on religious freedom issues, as well as to ensure the laws are fairly enforced.
“First Liberty’s preemptive legal work allows us to go into the games with the confidence to stand our ground,” Adams explained. “We know the law is on our side and having the support of First Liberty attorneys makes all the difference in the work we do as a ministry.”
First Liberty’s proactive involvement has helped guide SFOI successfully through several major events, including every Super Bowl dating back to 2011 in Dallas.
VICTORIES BEYOND THE COURTROOM
Today, hostile groups try to recruit bureaucrats into stifling any kind of public religious expression. In many cases, SFOI and hundreds of other similar ministries become the targets of harassment and intimidation.
And that is where First Liberty steps in to work behind the scenes – beyond the courtroom – to deter antagonists from violating the Constitution.
As Adams and the SFOI team prepare for Sunday’s game, First Liberty will work to ensure that the First Amendment rights of SFOI volunteers are protected and that federal and local laws are fairly enforced. With First Liberty’s assistance, SFOI can successfully share their faith with thousands of sports fans without fear of retribution or disturbance from local law enforcement.
And that’s something to cheer about.
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