In "Mr. Griffin Goes to Washington" (S3E3) Peter takes the whole family to a Baseball game where the Boston Red Sox play against the Yankees.

Chris made a sign to cheer them on which reads John 3:16. Puzzled by what this means, Brian looks up the according part in the bible and reads the verse.

Here is the excerpt from IMDB:

Chris Griffin: [the family is heading to a Boston Red Sox game] Look at what I made!
[Chris holds up a 'John 3:16' sign]
Meg Griffin: What does that mean?
Brian Griffin: [reading John 3:16 from the bible] And the Lord says, 'Go Sox.'

While I find this pretty funny, because it implies that God is a Red Sox fan, I don't really understand the joke.

I looked up the original verse, believing that maybe it was some sort of pun:

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.

If it is a pun, I don't see it.

Can somebody explain the joke to me? Why did they choose this specific verse?

The fact that many Family Guy jokes are references to pop culture makes me wonder if this really is just some arbitrary part of the bible that is altered for the laugh itself. Maybe I am overinterpreting it.

  • I'm of the opinion that this is not just 'some arbitrary part of the bible'. It is the foundation of Christianity, and is an easily-recognized embedded Christian message to the audience. It uses the correct bible citation, but changes to a humorous text to soften the religious message to those not in the know.
    – wbogacz
    Apr 29, 2014 at 13:44
  • (To reduce the harshness of the above - trust me, I'm not a strident Christian...) This was certainly an intentional Christian message. See this Wikipedia page for this bible verse in other cultural references.
    – wbogacz
    Apr 29, 2014 at 13:53
  • So you are saying that Family Guy (i.e. the producers) wanted to make a christian statement, but dressed it up as a joke to be able to better fit it in the show? Sounds a bit unusual for Family Guy to me, but if you can find anything to back it up I guess it would be an adequate answer. Maybe a prducer statement or other examples where FG transports Christian messages?
    – magnattic
    Apr 29, 2014 at 14:12
  • Any joke that you have to explain is not a very good joke. Apr 29, 2014 at 17:57
  • Wouldn't agree with that. Insider jokes can be especially funny. And most jokes that are based on pop culture can only be understood if you know the thing they are referring to. (Which in this case, I didn't.)
    – magnattic
    Apr 29, 2014 at 18:00

2 Answers 2


I think the joke is about Rollen Stewart, the person who's famous for bringing the "John 3:16" signs to sporting events. He first appeared at sports games wearing rainbow-colored wigs and was frequently seen on Television, but then later started bringing the signs to promote Christianity.

Apparently at first just in it for the publicity, Stewart became a born-again Christian determined to "get the message out" via television.

I think Stewart might have been a Red Sox fan, but haven't been able to confirm it yet. He did appear in the 1986 World Series with his wife, though -- which was between the Mets and the Red Sox.

During the 1986 World Series, Hockridge said that Stewart tried to choke her for standing in the wrong spot with a John 3:16 sign.

So, based on this I'd say that the joke is that Rollen was, after all, just trying to cheer on the Red Sox.

It's a "What if the guy with the John 3:16 sign is really just trying to cheer his team on?" joke, so it doesn't necessarily have to be about Rollen Stewart, or the Red Sox for that matter. It also doesn't have anything to do with God, or the Bible itself, but for the joke to work the verse John 3:16 had to read how it read when Brian looked it up.

  • I think if the joke was purely about Rollen, the bible would have been an unnecessary element. For me the Bible was intentionally added for the religious touch.
    – wbogacz
    Apr 29, 2014 at 15:41
  • 4
    It doesn't have to specifically be about Rollen, but about "the guy with the John 3:16 sign" and that he after all just tries to cheer his team on. The bible is necessary since the entire joke is based around the sign with that specific verse. It's a "What if the guy with the sign isn't trying to spread a message but just wanted to cheer his team on" joke.
    – Tom
    Apr 29, 2014 at 16:20
  • 1
    The answer is in the verse John 3:16, hence why it had to read how it read when Brian looked it up. It doesn't have anything to do with God, or the Bible itself, just that he uses John 3:16 to cheer his team on, and for that to work that specific verse has to be just that.
    – Tom
    Apr 29, 2014 at 16:40
  • 1
    Not living in the US, I did not now about Rollen Stewart and his sign. With that knowledge, your explanation makes perfect sense to me.
    – magnattic
    Apr 29, 2014 at 17:24

The joke is 100% about Rollen Stewart, the guy who made the "John 3:16" sign famous. Most people never bother to look up the actual quote until they go on late-night Wiki train rides and eventually discover the inspirational quote. However, in the context of Family Guy, a show that lampoons religion at every opportunity (McFarlane is a noted Atheist), the joke in question is squarely pointed at Stewart and the phenomenon he created with that sign.

As a side, Stewart has never officially mentioned a favorite team or sport, so the idea that they used it because of the Red Sox is not valid. Perhaps it's McFarlane's favorite team, since he's originally from Maine?

  • 3
    Since the Griffins live in Rhode Island, it's geographically appropriate (perhaps even essential) that they are Red Sox fans. Apr 29, 2014 at 20:23

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