Mysterious donors are paying millions to run commercials for Jesus during the Super Bowl

January 30, 2023, 5:04 PM UTC
A screen shot from the "Did Jesus have fun?" 15-second ad.
He Gets

Does Jesus need an ad campaign?

A group of anonymous donors seems to think so and will run two ads in Super Bowl LVII, paying the millions of dollars that Fox is asking for each ad spot. It’s the latest in a series of commercials that have run for the past 10 months under the banner “He Gets Us.”

The ad series spotlights Jesus as someone who is patient and loving and understands the human condition, especially as society gets more divided. But as the cost and profile of these ads increases, more questions are coming up as to who is paying for them.

The website for the campaign says the campaign is backed by Servant Foundation, a Missouri nonprofit whose donors have largely remained anonymous.

In November, however, Hobby Lobby founder David Green told talk show host Glenn Beck that his family was helping fund the ads. That has raised concerns that the far right could be using the ads as a recruitment campaign.

The He Gets Us campaign rejects those theories, however, saying on its website “We’re not ‘left’ or ‘right’ or a political organization of any kind. We’re also not affiliated with any particular church or denomination. We simply want everyone to understand the authentic Jesus as he’s depicted in the Bible—the Jesus of radical forgiveness, compassion, and love.”

While they’re raising eyebrows and questions, don’t expect the ads to stop after the Super Bowl. Organizers say they hope to spend $1 billion over the next three years to continue the pro-Jesus ads.

While a commercial with strong religious themes is unusual in the Super Bowl, it’s not unprecedented. A decade ago, the Church of Scientology ran an ad encouraging people who were curious about that religion to “dare to think for yourself…to make up your own mind.”

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