Last Sunday one of the biggest sporting events in the world took place: the Super Bowl, the grand final of the American football championship, was watched live by more than 113 million people.
During the breaks, viewers are confronted with a message that is peculiar to an event of this type: one of the most striking ads was not that of a big company, but that of an organization called “He Gets Us.” , in Portuguese), a platform dedicated to the promotion of Jesus Christ, with a message of inclusion aimed mainly at the younger generations.
There were two ads in total, one 30 seconds long and the other one minute long, which may have represented an investment of around $20 million (close to €19 million): a half-minute ad during the break in this edition of the Super Bowl it sold for an average of seven million dollars.
In one of the ads, He Gets Us suggests viewers be more “like kids” as the screen shows photos and videos of young people engaging in acts of solidarity and friendship. One of them shows two children on a bus sharing a pair of headphones, another a young woman leaning against a dog listening to the animal’s heartbeat with a stethoscope.
The second, one minute long, shows a series of photos of people arguing in various scenarios, particularly in large-scale protests such as those that have devastated the US in 2020 after the death of George Floyd. At the end, the phrase “Jesus loved those we hate” appears on the screen, followed by: “Jesus. He understands us. All of us”.
“He Gets Us” – self-described as a “movement to reintroduce people to the Jesus of the Bible and his disarming love and forgiveness” – in the US media space is continuous through 2022. an advertising campaign worth more from 100 million dollars, as noted by the American station CNN.
It is not clear who is behind the movement, or if it has any intentions beyond bringing the message of Jesus Christ to North American audiences, particularly political ambitions. One of the only dedicated donors is David Green, a Kansas-born billionaire and well-known conservative activist who has spent millions of dollars in the past to support anti-LGBT and anti-abortion causes.
Officially, “He Gets Us” is affiliated with a non-profit organization, the Servant Foundation, which is also said to have donated nearly a billion dollars in the past to various political, legal and educational projects aimed at limiting abortion rights and contraception.
Several journalistic investigations, such as this one on the Jacobin website, have highlighted the connection between the two groups, suggesting that this wave of pro-Jesus publicity will only serve to promote the ideology of the evangelical cause in the country, closely associated with the more conservative wing of the Republican Party. Party.
What is certain is that some groups of evangelical Christians are not comfortable with this campaign, arguing that it would be better to use the money instead of supporting the most disadvantaged. Kevin M. Young, an evangelical and biblical scholar who discusses Christianity on social media, said in an interview with CNN that the publicity will do little to moderate criticism of the church.
“Young people understand the difference between marketing and authenticity,” he said. “Big events and excessive marketing spending are seen as money that could have been used to fund community and advocacy programs for the most neglected – such as refugees, LGBTQ+ people and abortion rights – and for the poor.”
In turn, Ed Stetzer, a consultant to He Gets Us, responded, “If millions of people are touched and perhaps even influenced, become more like Christ, there are indeed many resources that will flow from their changed hearts.” he told The New York Times.