The Jesus Super Bowl ads funded by Hobby Lobby can’t hide the hate that fuels the Christian right
Of the many strange, disturbing or confusing ads that will run at Super Bowl Sunday, one stands out as particularly surprising: an attention-grabbing ad from the “He Gets Us” campaign. The ad showed a series of images of people washing someone else’s feet, most of them presenting an attention-grabbing role that reflects the oppressor and the oppressed: a policeman washing the feet of a young black man, a white woman serving an immigrant, a person washing the feet of a black man, and a white woman serving an immigrant. Made me laugh out loud, an anti-abortion protester kneeling in front of a supposed patient at a Planned Parenthood clinic. “Jesus did not teach hate,” reads the slogan as an INXS cover plays. “He was washing feet.”
The sponsors of the ad were mysterious to the audience, leaving open the question: Are the people behind this ad simply gullible? Are they the last remaining liberal Christians trying to convince Donald Trump-obsessed evangelicals to stem the tide of hate? Or is this ad just bait and disinformation, trying to lure non-compliant people with a false message of love and acceptance, just to get them to join the MAGA movement?
There’s no point in false excitement here: it’s option number three. Jesus may have been against lying, but his richest, self-proclaimed champions in American society do not hesitate to use deception to build their army of MAGA Christians.
Want more Amanda Marcotte in politics? Subscribe to her newsletter Standing room only.
As many journalists have mentioned in detail, The “He Gets Us” campaign is funded largely by the Green family, who owns Hobby Lobby. Their life mission, besides getting rich by selling cheap bits and pieces, is to do just that Push their brand of far-right Christianity into the country. The green-funded group that ran the “He Gets Us” ads last year did just that .inside Anti-LGBT hate groups and organizations Opposition to women’s rights. the The family funded initiatives to expand religious propaganda To public school classrooms, demanding the right to fire people for being gay, passing off fraudulent “Dead Sea Scrolls”, stealing antiquities from Iraq, and of course refusing to comply with COVID-19 restrictions for fear of losing profits. them too They successfully sued to detain their employees of using their health insurance to cover contraception.
Although they are against birth control, Hobby Lobby isn’t too keen on women with children either. When a Hobby Lobby employee got pregnant in 2010She claims she was fired because she asked for time off to have the baby. Losing your job is the Christian “mercy” offered by the people behind the Super Bowl ads.
The Green Party has been open about its donations to the “He Gets Us” campaign, but other donors have remained anonymous. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the layers of deception the campaign uses to lure unsuspecting people with the attractive but false promise of love and acceptance offered in ads. The group behind the ads, for example, is the newly formed company Come Near. The far-right Servant Foundation ran it last year. This shift in administration not coincidentally allows the campaign to further hide its financing and leadership because its tax documents are not yet available to the public.
The malice gets worse if one goes to the “He Gets Us” website. In the FAQ sheet, they claim “Jesus loves gays and Jesus loves transgenders.” This may lead queer people to mistakenly believe that they will find affirmation from this group. In fact, as the record of anti-LGBT donations indicates, this is the game right-wing Christians play where they say that “loving” gay people means telling them they are sinners and should give up their “way of life.”
The site also offers an opportunity to “connect with someone near you who can help you learn more about Jesus and his life or join a group where you can ask your questions about life and faith.” But when I clicked on the link, there was no searchable list of churches or Bible study groups that someone could search on their own before reaching out. Instead, the user is asked to fill out a form and is told that someone will contact them. This is a giant red flag. There is no way for the user to know who this information will go to. Instead, they will be contacted by someone whose affiliations and agenda are hidden and will likely use high-pressure sales techniques to manipulate someone who was lonely enough to click on those links in the first place.
This has all the hallmarks of what psychology experts call “spiritual abuse,” where a person’s longing for faith or higher meaning is evident. It is used as a weapon to control them. I interviewed experts on this topic for an upcoming investigative report, and they repeatedly emphasized that highly controlling religions often use bait-and-switch techniques to deceive vulnerable people. First, the person is subjected to “love bombing,” where they are repeatedly told that they are safe and cared for now that they have joined this community. However, once they become emotionally dependent on the church or group, they are bullied and insulted. If they were queer, they would be told they would go to hell unless they tried (and always failed) to fundamentally change their identity. If they are female, they are told that it is their duty to give up their ambitions and even self-esteem, in order to become a man’s “helping ground.”
There is no doubt that that is exactly what is happening here, which is why there are so many layers of confusion about who is behind the “He Gets Us” campaign. For someone who sees the ads and is not aware of the malicious politics of the people behind them, the packaging is very attractive. It’s easy to see how gay people, young women or progressives could think this is the religious community for them, only to discover long after they’ve been recruited that, no, it’s actually the same right-wing Christianity they’ve embraced. was avoided. The tactic is to ingrain them so deeply that by the time they find out, they’re so afraid of losing the community that they can’t leave.
Evangelicals claim to believe in “truth and light,” yet they exist, using dual techniques borrowed from the world of tricksters. But this is sadly unsurprising, in an age when white evangelicals have convinced themselves that they are at war with the larger culture. The “holy war” framework creates permission to violate all kinds of moral rules. more 60% of white evangelicals support Trump’s big lie about the 2020 electionNearly a third say they believe political violence is justified to achieve their goals. (Chances are that the real number is much higher, but there is a reluctance to admit that to pollsters.) White evangelicals feel they have the right to use lies and violence to gain political power. So of course they are good at using deception to trick more people into becoming MAGA Christ Warriors.
(tags for translation)Hobby Lounge