NFL Threatens to Deprive Atlanta of Hosting Super Bowl Over Religious Liberty Bill

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s dream of hosting numerous Super Bowls in the team’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium to open in 2017 may turn into a nightmare if Georgia House Bill 757  becomes law.

Known as the “religious liberty law,” the bill protects “social, educational or charitable services that violate such faith-based organization’s sincerely held religious belief, from prosecution by the government for discrimination.” The bill, already passed by state lawmakers, needs a signature from Republican Governor Nathan Deal to become law in the Peach State.

Friday the NFL issued a statement from spokesman Brian McCarthy that the proposed law runs contrary to the league’s values of “tolerance” and “inclusivity.” The full statement reads as follows:

NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites.

The NFL demonstrated in 1992 that they will change venues on principle, when the league moved the Super Bowl to the Rose Bowl in California from Arizona because the state did not recognize MLK day.

Esquire, which refers to the legislation as an “anti-gay bill,” reported that the Falcons owner Blank agrees with the NFL’s statement and that “it’s nice to see the NFL standing on the right side of history—on this issue at least.” He continued by saying that House Bill 757 “would have long-lasting negative impact on our state and the people of Georgia.”


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