Eagles fans aren’t the only ones expressing their post-game rage.
A Christian campaign called “He Gets Us” aired two commercials about their favorite dude during the Super Bowl Sunday night. The ads’ reported $20 million price tag, as well as their ties to Hobby Lobby founder and billionaire David Green, among others, is sparking backlash online.
Those behind “He Gets Us” told Christianity Today in March 2022 that they were putting $100 million toward the campaign’s national launch. Yet, the head of the branding firm behind the campaign told the same outlet this month that the campaign plans to spend $1 billion on “He Gets Us” over three years.
The idea behind the campaign is to target millennials and Gen Z “with a carefully crafted, exhaustively researched, and market-tested message about Jesus Christ: He gets us,” per Christianity Today.
But, a search on Twitter shows that users are receiving a completely different message.
“Something tells me Jesus would *not* spend millions of dollars on Super Bowl ads to make fascism look benign,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted Sunday night.
Other Twitter users agreed, while pointing out that the ads’ simplistic messages of kindness are funded by people with not-so-kind agendas. Others compared the commercials to Kendall Jenner’s controversial 2017 Super Bowl Pepsi ad.
The two spots — which aired amid ads for mayo, beer and Ben Affleck’s attempt to indoctrinate more Americans into the cult of Dunkin’ — featured lessons Americans should remember about Jesus during our divisive times.
The first ad featured photos and clips of children deploying acts of goodwill while backed by Patsy Cline’s “If I Could See The World (Through The Eyes of a Child).” It concluded with a line of text that read: “Jesus didn’t want us to act like adults.”
The second spot presumably featured “us” acting like adults with images of people — often of different races — engaged in conflict to emphasize a message of inclusion. This ad ended with the line: “Jesus loved the people we hate.”
Although most of the donors for “He Gets Us” are anonymous, Green — whose craft store Hobby Lobby has denied insurance coverage for contraceptives and tried to control which bathrooms employees can use — has been public about his involvement in bankrolling the campaign. The campaign’s website also says that it is run by Servant Foundation, a Kansas-based nonprofit that claims to be “not ‘left’ or ‘right’ or a political organization of any kind.”
Yet The Lever reported that the Servant Foundation donated more than $50 million to the Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit known for fighting abortion rights and nondiscrimination laws, from 2018 to 2020.
Bob Smietana, a national reporter for Religion News Service, told NPR that the ads are targeted toward those who feel at odds with modern-day Christianity like members of the LGBTQ community, those who lean left politically or those repelled by current scandals of abuse.
“I think spending that much money, again, is a kind of admission on their part that there’s a problem,” Smietana said. “And, you know, there is a problem for organized religion in America. It’s declining, congregations are declining. And these ads, too, are a way to chide their fellow Christians to say, ‘This is what Jesus is like, and maybe we know it, and maybe we’re not acting like Jesus.’”
“The problem that American evangelicals in particular face is that their political ambitions and their deeply held religious beliefs and ethical beliefs are in conflict right now,” he added. “So the things that will help them win politically will alienate people.”