'He Gets Us' Jesus Campaign Ticks Off Left and Right

A look at the group behind the ads putting Jesus in the spotlight
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2023 9:40 AM CST
'He Gets Us' Jesus Campaign Ticks Off Left and Right
A screen shot from one of the 'He Gets Us' ads.   (YouTube)

One of the ad campaigns during the Super Bowl that continues to draw attention pushed neither beer nor snacks. Instead, the two "He Gets Us" spots pushed none other than Jesus Christ. A look at the continuing reaction:

  • The spots: One shows Latin American families heading toward the US border and declares, "Jesus was a refugee." (See it here.) Another shows Americans bitterly opposed to each other and declares, "Jesus loved the people we hate." (See it here.)
  • Left, right: The BBC notes the campaign has achieved the rare feat of earning critics from the left and right. Progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, "Something tells me Jesus would *not* spend millions of dollars on Super Bowl ads to make fascism look benign." Meanwhile, Charlie Kirk on the right complains that the "woke tricksters" behind the ads have "done one of the worst services to Christianity in the modern era."

  • Behind the ad: The spots are part of a campaign—it actually launched last year—from the nonprofit Servant Foundation, also known as the Signatry, per the New York Times. Jason Vanderground, president of the Haven ad agency behind the spots, tells the Times the campaign's purpose is to make Jesus relevant in today's culture. They're aimed at "spiritually open skeptics," he says, and aren't affiliated with a particular branch of Christianity.
  • The backers: The Servant Foundation doesn't name its donors, but David Green, co-founder of Hobby Lobby, has come forward to say he's one of them. As CNN notes, Hobby Lobby has backed anti-LGBTQ campaigns and the fight to allow companies to deny paying for contraception on religious grounds. The foundation also has given money to a conservative Christian group called the Alliance Defending Freedom, which also has fought legal battles to curb LGBTQ rights, per CNN.
  • The split: As the BBC sees it, all of the above boils down to this: Liberals generally don't like the campaign because of who's behind it, while conservatives don't like it because of some of its messages. As Kirk complained, "Do you think open borders are biblical?" And conservative Erick Erickson tells the Times, "I honestly think the biggest issue is: You want to share Jesus with an unchurched crowd, that amount of money on TV ads is probably not the way to do it."
  • Evangelicals: The "He Gets Us" website declares that it's "not affiliated with any particular church or denomination," adding, "We simply want everyone to understand the authentic Jesus as he's depicted in the Bible—the Jesus of radical forgiveness, compassion, and love." CNN digs into the campaign's strong ties to evangelical churches and the influence of the late Billy Graham. And the story includes this line from a skeptical pastor and biblical scholar: "Young people are digital natives who understand the difference between slick marketing and authenticity," says Dr. Kevin M. Young.
(Read more Super Bowl ads stories.)

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