They Don’t Get It

He Gets Us Fumbles on the Biggest Possible Stage

With wokeness visibly in retreat across America, one ad stood out at this year’s Super Bowl for its in-your-face wokeness: the evangelical one.

He Gets Us put out a $14 million minute-long ad with a montage of foot-washing images, finishing with the message “Jesus didn’t teach hate. He washed feet.” A later 15-second ad answered “Who is my neighbor?” with pictures of the “unnoticed,” “undervalued,” and “unwelcomed.”

I won’t speculate about the motives of the funders and creators of the He Gets Us campaign, which may be many and varied. I’ll also avoid deeper theological analysis of practices like foot washing. But I will note a few ways it epitomizes legacy institutionalized evangelicalism—and highlights the need for reform. If the objective of He Gets Us is to reach a range of unbelieving Americans by making Christianity appearing attractive and relevant, He Gets Us fails miserably.

All else aside, the message is simply stale. In a year when other advertisers recognized Americans are weary of woke preaching and backed off of it, evangelicals are once again behind the curve, and put out an ad that looks like it was designed for 2021. Perhaps nothing more defines evangelical attempts at cultural relevance.

The ads will drive away those who might be most receptive to Christianity. Millions of Americans—particularly young men—are alienated by wokeness and the prevailing liberal cultural message, and seeking something different. Christianity offers a true alternative, and has great potential to appeal to such people. The He Gets Us ads may as well have been perfectly scripted to drive them away from Christianity (and to anything from a Musk-style techno-optimism, to the pagan right or the likes of Andrew Tate).

The He Gets Us ads will not just fail to attract people to Christianity: they baptize the values of our dominant regime with a veneer of Christianity.

We are told to embrace the “unwelcomed,” but only those the current regime champions—whether for their race, gender, sexuality, drug addiction, or politics—are featured. Where were the MAGA hat wearer, the Confederate flag-waver, the incel, and others truly unwelcomed by elite culture? Likewise, nearly every example of foot-washing showed someone who would be labeled “privileged” (most often a middle-class white person) washing someone the left would treat as “oppressed”—an explicit submission to the left’s demand that we reverse their “intersectional” hierarchy of oppressor and victim classes. By embracing the leftist posture of pure acceptance and intersectional inversion, He Gets Us adopts a syncretistic tone in place of the gospel message that calls all people—regardless of wealth or status—to repentance.

“Jesus didn’t teach hate” perfectly encapsulates the baptism of regime virtues. “Hate” is widely used today to refer to anything short of full affirmation of LGBTQ+ and other “victim” agendas. He Gets Us adds Jesus’s name to such messaging without even suggesting a difference with this definition.

Finally, the most subversive aspect of the He Gets Us campaign may be how it inverts the message of Christ, making “us” the focal point instead of him. This reflects the therapeutic ethos that defines contemporary liberal culture, and is the antithesis of Christ’s call to forsake ourselves and follow him.

He Gets Us epitomizes an approach that is pervasive today in institutionalized evangelicalism. If the goal is to attract people to Christianity, it will fail. If the goal is to bend Christianity to support the interests of the regime, it is well-designed.

American Christians need a different approach. This is why American Reformer exists. Our hope is that by boldly offering a clear alternative to an unstable secular culture, we can reach millions of people alienated by that ideology, point them to the true hope of the gospel, and inspire them to pursue a renewed Christian vision for our society.

Image Credit: Unsplash

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Nate Fischer

Nate Fischer is the Chairman of American Reformer. He is also the founder and CEO of New Founding, a venture firm focused on the American right. He lives in Dallas with his wife and four children.

2 thoughts on “They Don’t Get It

  1. Yes. “Where were the MAGA hat wearer, the Confederate flag-waver, the incel, and others truly unwelcomed by elite culture?” The trope of all-inclusiveness never fails to expose its design when it embraces only its darlings and shuns the people they themselves despise.

  2. My critique is twofold:

    1. You say, “The ads will drive away those who might be most receptive to Christianity.”

    And you are correct. But is there not another group who is repulsed by the MAGA Christians that would be attracted to Christianity by this ad? And are they not correct in being repulsed by Trumpism? I do not understand how you can cherry pick the unsaved as you do.

    The MAGA hat-wearer and the incel are already welcomed by American Christianity. They don’t need commercials to advertise that.

    2. Christ reached out to those in need. The helpless. The destitute. This ad portrays the same thing. Indeed, Christ attracted them to himself by solving their worldly problems. This ad portrays that and encourages Christians to do as Christ did.

    I respect your vision for American Reformer. But the church must be reformed first. As long as we are platforming abusers and supporting Trump, we will turn people away. The church will never be perfect. But the lack of orthopraxy in the church is debilitating. We need to be courageous enough to criticize people with whom we agree on doctrine. True Christianity does two things which are not being done at all. A) it *systematically* prevents abuse in the church. Anyone with an ounce of wisdom and a modicum of power would develop systems to prevent future abuse. B) it exposes Trumpism for what it is. A man who slanders soldiers is an enemy of God. We had choices in the primary and the Christian world said *nothing* about their superiority to Trump. Fix this first.

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