The 'He Gets Us' Jesus ads that ran during the Super Bowl preached a message of unity. Instead, they just made everyone more angry.
- The "He Gets Us" campaign has ties to anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion causes, according to CNN.
- Some conservatives have bashed the ads for their depiction of Christianity.
Two black and white ads cut through a barrage of color and celebrity during the Super Bowl's commercial breaks on Sunday, each touting a simple slogan — "He gets us. All of us."
The commercials, whose slogans referred to Jesus, aimed to promote Christianity through depictions of both unity and division, according to the campaign website. The $20 million pair of Super Bowl ads are part of a larger, $100 million campaign launched last spring, The Washington Post reported.
But the campaign, called simply "He Gets Us," has spurred backlash in some circles, as both right- and left-wing figureheads question their background and depiction of Christianity.
The campaign has ties to anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion causes
In the first ad shown during the game, a photo montage of children helping each other is shown before ending with the statement "Jesus didn't want us to act like adults." In second ad, there are contrasting images of protests, fights, and arguments, before words appear onscreen stating "Jesus loved the people we hate."
The ads are part of the campaign's efforts "to reintroduce people to the Jesus of the Bible and his confounding love and forgiveness," according to the "He Gets Us" website. Yet, as the campaign pushes a message of unity, the ads have been called out in left-leaning circles for their ties to conservative, anti-LGBTQ, and pro-life causes.
The campaign's parent organization, The Servant Foundation (also known as the Sigantry), has connections to a legal group which has worked to push legislation diminishing LGBTQ rights, CNN reported. Additionally, Hobby Lobby co-founder David Green claims to be a large contributor to the campaign, and discussed the ads in an interview with conservative radio host Glenn Beck.
"He loves who we hate, and I think we have to let the public know. And create a movement, really," Green told Beck.
But many on the left have rejected the campaign, putting a sharp focus on its ties to conservative causes.
"Something tells me Jesus would *not* spend millions of dollars on Super Bowl ads to make fascism look benign," Congresswoman Alexandria Ocassio-Cortez wrote in a tweet Sunday.
—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 13, 2023
Jason Vanderground, a spokesperson for "He Gets Us," told CNN the campaign's funds come from people with diverse viewpoints.
"Funding for the campaign comes from a diverse group of individuals and entities with a common goal of sharing Jesus' story authentically," Vanderground told CNN.
Still, the campaign's connections to The Servant Foundation have been noticed by more than just members of Congress.
"Just FYI, the same group that is financing the 'He Gets Us' Jesus ads is also helping finance the lawsuit seeking to ban abortion medication nationwide," independent journalist Judd Legum tweeted.
—Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) February 13, 2023
"With the money the 'He Gets Us' people spent on their right-wing Jesus ads, they could permanently house 1,563 people experiencing homelessness," Democratic strategist Sawyer Hackett chimed in.
—Sawyer Hackett (@SawyerHackett) February 13, 2023
Some conservatives aren't all that happy, either
In some conservative circles, the campaign has been the target of criticism for its depiction of Christianity. Many far-right influencers and figureheads have attacked the ads on Twitter for their fundamental messages.
"While I pray God uses the He Gets Us ads to bring people to Christ, the campaign presents a false, worldly Jesus instead of pointing people to the true gospel," Christian-conservative influencer Allie Beth Stuckey tweeted during the Super Bowl.
—Allie Beth Stuckey (@conservmillen) February 12, 2023
The backlash extends beyond the two commercials that ran during the Super Bowl, and into the campaign more broadly.
Ahead of the game, Turning Point USA founder and conservative commentator Charlie Kirk called into question the premise of one "He Gets Us" ad which depicted the plight of refugees.
"He Gets Us is running a $20 million ad on Sunday," Kirk tweeted last week. "Do you think open borders is biblical?"
—Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) February 10, 2023
In the days following the Super Bowl, the campaign has responded to some of the backlash. In an interview with Fox News, spokesman Jason Vanderguard reinforced the call to unity presented by the campaign.
"He [Jesus] cares about our problems because he has experienced them. He gets us," Vanderground told Fox. "We believe that investing in efforts to ensure more people consider his life and movement as inspiration for their own, will in turn, help improve the lives of those listening — and begin to create the kind of cascade of love Jesus himself sought to generate."