The Super Bowl's Jesus-Centric Ads Have Insidious Anti-LGBTQ+ Roots

He Gets Us

If you also saw the words “foot washing” trending and assumed it was a foot fetish thing, only to be met with a Jesus-themed Super Bowl commercial, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, the context behind last night’s commercial — which advertises the Christian non-profit Come Near’s “He Gets Us” campaign — is far more sinister, given the organization’s well-documented anti-LGBTQ+ ties.

This is the second year in a row that He Gets Us has aired a series of commercials during the Super Bowl. The first 2024 ad, titled “Foot Washing,” showed a series of photos of people washing others’ feet. The images include two women surrounded by tense protestors holding signs with vague messages like “Shut Him Up” and “Silence Hate”; a woman with a “Clean Air Now” sign sitting near an oil rig; and two women outside a “family planning clinic.”

The commercial ends with the slogan: “Jesus didn’t teach hate. He washed feet.”

“He Gets Us’” second 2024 Super Bowl commercial, “Know Your Neighbor,” once again showed still images of various people, ostensibly encouraging viewers to show compassion for the people around them (a la Jesus’ famous refrain to “love thy neighbor”).

“Who is your neighbor?” the ad’s text reads. “The one you don’t notice/value/welcome.”

On a surface level, these commercials seem to hint at a more progressive, social justice-oriented approach to Christianity (a previous ad shows images of real-life refugees facing persecution alongside the slogan “Jesus was a refugee”). And yes, it would be great if He Gets Us was trying to espouse the actual values of Jesus, a Palestine-born Jew who broke bread with sex workers and railed against a capitalist “den of thieves” who were more concerned with making money than following the tenants of their religion (sound familiar?).

The “He Gets Us” website even explicitly states: “Jesus loves gay people and Jesus loves trans people. The LGBTQ+ community, like all people, is invited to explore the story of Jesus.”

Unfortunately, this branding conceals the fact that the “He Gets Us” campaign has insidious roots in anti-LGBTQ+ movements. Although the campaign is now managed by Come Near, it was founded by another Christian nonprofit known as the Servant Foundation/The Signatry, which donated $65.9 million to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) between 2018 and 2021, according to openDemocracy. These donations occurred well after the Southern Poverty Law Center first listed the ADF as a hate group in 2016, due to the organization’s support for numerous anti-LGBTQ legislation, including laws criminalizing homosexuality and requiring the forced sterilization of trans Europeans.

While USA Today reports that “He Gets Us” is no longer managed by the Servant Foundation, it’s still reportedly linked to billionaire Hobby Lobby co-founder David Green, who is one of the campaign’s key donors and whose son, Mart Green, is a Come Near board member, according to Rolling Stone. Hobby Lobby has a well-documented history of anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-reproductive rights controversies, from sending a 2014 letter to the White House begging to be exempt from laws prohibiting LGBTQ+ discrimination to waging an unsuccessful decade-long legal battle after violating Illinois’ anti-discrimination law by denying a trans employee access to the women’s bathroom in 2010.

The Alliance Defending Freedom appears to have founded companies and staged fake weddings to claim their clients’ religious rights were being violated.

During a June 2023 appearance on the podcast The Lifestyle Investor, Green explained that the “He Gets Us” Super Bowl ads were an attempt to rebrand Christianity in the public eye.

“As Christians, we’re known as haters,” Green said. “[...] We hate this group. We hate that group. But we’re not. We are people that have the very, very best love story ever written, and we need to tell that love story. So, our idea is, let’s tell the story. As a Christian, you should love everybody. Jesus loved everybody.”

Jesus might love everybody, but the Super Bowl’s “He Gets Us” commercials serve as an important reminder: Billionaires and bigots don’t have a magical solution for the United States’ problems, and their ability to spend millions on morally dubious ads certainly isn’t a testament to their character.

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Originally Appeared on them.