Religious and Racial Equality

The Christian Nationalist Donor Behind The Super Bowl ‘Jesus Ad’

  Rob Boston

The commercials that air during the Super Bowl have become almost as popular as the game itself. If you tuned in yesterday, you probably chuckled at a few. You might have noticed among the ads for goods and services, there was one that was a little different: the “Jesus ad.”

A Kansas-based group called the Servant Foundation (AKA the Signatry) spent $20 million to place the ad during the big game. And that’s just the start. Over the next three years, this fundamentalist Christian group plans to spend “about a billion dollars” toward a slick public relations effort called the “He Gets Us” campaign. The group has hired a PR agency to address, in the firm’s words, the problem of “How did the world’s greatest love story in Jesus become known as a hate group?”

Backers Of The “Jesus Ad” Also Fund Hate Groups

Well, one reason this has happened is because groups like the Servant Foundation, which espouse fundamentalist Christianity, have spent years throwing money at hate groups.

HAVEN, the Michigan-based PR firm the Servant Foundation has hired to execute the He Get Us campaign, has represented key Shadow Network organizations like Focus on the Family and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which have spent decades spreading hate against LGBTQ Americans. The ADF works in court to strip LGBTQ people of their basic rights and argues that religious freedom is a license to discriminate. In fact, ADF has such a case pending before the Supreme Court right now.

The Servant Foundation Is One Of Alliance Defending Freedom’s Biggest Donors

The Servant Foundation is also one of ADF’s biggest financial backers. A recent exposé reports that “between 2018-20, the Servant Foundation donated more than $50 million to the Alliance Defending Freedom” and that those contributions “were among the five largest donations given out by the foundation in each of those three years.”

Other Religious Extremists Supported By Servant Foundation

The Servant Foundation has supported other religious extremist groups:

  • It gave nearly $8 million went to Answers in Genesis, creationist Ken Ham’s fundamentalist ministry behind the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter.
  • Over $1 million was designated for the anti-LGBTQ Campus Crusade for Christ (rebranded as “Cru” since 2011).
  • The foundation awarded $374,800 to Al Hayat Ministries, an organization that seeks to “respectfully yet fearlessly unveil the deception of Islam,” and runs an Arabic-language Christian satellite TV station with the goal of converting Muslims to Christianity.
  • In 2020 alone, the Servant Foundation made donations to prominent Shadow Network members American Center for Law and Justice, First Liberty Institute and Liberty Counsel.

The “Jesus Ads” Are A Front For Christian Nationalism

Just to be clear: Any religious organization has the right to buy television ads and spread its views. But in this case, the ads aren’t telling the whole story. A big-bucks marketing campaign can’t hide the fact that the Servant Foundation isn’t proffering a tolerant form of Christianity led by a hip Jesus who loves everyone. What’s really being sold here is an attempt to suck even more Americans down the rabbit hole of hateful Christian Nationalism.

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