A Christian nonprofit has spent $20 million promoting Jesus during the Super Bowl as part of a three-year, billion-dollar campaign to rename the biblical saviour.
Ads for the “He Gets Us” project, whose affluent donors include Hobby Lobby co-founder and billionaire David Green, have popped up on social media, billboards and TV screens over the course of of the last year.
But the decision to advertise at the Super Bowl has drawn backlash from the Christian community, with one woman saying “Jesus would want money to house the homeless.”
A billboard shows a “He Gets Us” advertisement. The project is spending $1 billion on advertising over three years
Hobby Lobby co-founder and billionaire David Green, pictured, is a confirmed He Gets Us donor
The “He Gets Us” project is run by the non-profit The Servant Foundation which operates as The Signatry.
He claims not to be “left or right” and is not affiliated with any particular church or denomination.
According to his nifty website, his mission is to make people “see how Jesus experienced challenges and emotions just like us.”
Campaign slogans include “Jesus was a refugee” and “Jesus let his hair down too”.
His ads have appeared everywhere, from billboards in Las Vegas to – most recently – during the NFL playoffs.
A nifty website for the movement claims its mission is to ‘reintroduce’ people to Jesus
The campaign is based on the idea that Jesus had the same “challenges and emotions” as ordinary people
However, the organization has ties to a host of controversial right-wing organisations.
His accounts for 2020, the most recent available, show he gave more than $16 million to Alliance Defending Freedom – an advocacy group that has worked to restrict the rights of LGBT people.
In the past, its funding had remained secret.
But in November, entrepreneur Hobby Lobby made his involvement in the project clear when discussing The Glenn Beck program.
He told the host: “You’re going to see him at the Super Bowl – ‘He got us’.
“We want to say – we are a lot of people – that he understands us. He understands us. He loves those we hate. I think we need to educate the public and create a movement.
Green, whose net worth was valued at $13.7 billion by Forbes, was a major financial supporter of evangelical organizations across the United States and funded the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC.
Signatry’s board appears to be made up of wealthy businessmen. Gary Nagle, left, is chairman while Steve French, right, is listed as chairman and CEO
Tax records for the project show its donors also included pro-life group Mission Pre-Born which gave The Signatry $4 million in 2020.
Meanwhile, the American Endowment foundation donated $3.8 million in the same year, while the Schwab Charitable Fund donated $1.6 million.
“He Gets Us” confirmed to DailyMail.com that Green was a donor. He also confirmed that Super Bowl ads cost the organization $20 million.
He did not reveal his other donors, but said they were “a diverse group of individuals and entities.”
The organization also confirmed that its goal is to invest approximately $1 billion over three years.
A “He Gets Us” commercial shown during the NFL playoffs was titled “On This Day”.
It tells the story of an innocent man being executed before ending with the statement: ‘He got us. All of us.’
Its board of directors is made up of wealthy businessmen under the leadership of Chairman GAry Nagel, who founded Kansas City’s Wealth Management Group.
The president and CEO is Steve French, who claims to be the founder and CEO of a legal spend management company called Quovant.
The expensive ad campaign raised eyebrows in the Christian community.
“He Gets Us” dumped $20 million in Super Bowl advertising alone. Religious ads have only appeared in-game a few times in the past
Its ads include slogans such as “Jesus let his hair down too” and “Jesus was a refugee”
A Facebook user said: ‘I think Jesus would have supported using your advertising funds to help those who need help, not to push your agenda’
Another wrote: ‘Jesus would have you use all this money to house the homeless, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the sick…not put fucking adverts on TV.’
Religious ads have only appeared at the Super Bowl on a few occasions.
The Church of Scientology has run ads there in the past and in 2018 Toyota ran an ad with the message “we are all one team”, featuring a rabbi, priest, imam and monk in saffron robes. who attended a football match. , seated next to a group of nuns.
Jason Vanguard, spokesperson for ‘He Gets Us’, told DailyMail.com: “Our research shows that many people’s only exposure to Jesus is through Christians who imperfectly reflect him, and too often a way that creates a distorted or incomplete picture of his radical compassion and love”. for the others.
“We believe that investing in efforts to ensure that more people view his life and movement as an inspiration to themselves will in turn help improve the lives of those who listen to him.”