He Doesn’t FREAKING Get Us – Part 3: A Bait-and-Switch Jesus
- Bait and switch occurs when a prospective buyer is enticed by an advertised deal that seems attractive.
- However, the advertised deal does not exist or is inferior in terms of quality or specifications, where the buyer is then presented with an upsell.
- The practice is considered unethical, and in many jurisdictions is illegal.
The billion-dollar “He Gets Us” (hereafter: HGU) ad campaign for Jesus and Christianity is a classic “bait and switch” scam. It advertises an appealing Jesus who is a loving, tolerant, liberal feminist who rejects racism, but in reality, the ads are promoting conservative white evangelical Christianity and the racism, sexism, bigotry, and intolerance for which conservative white evangelicals are known.
THE “BAIT” JESUS: A LOVING, TOLERANT, LIBERAL FEMINIST WHO OPPOSES RACISM
First, the HGU ads describe a loving, tolerant, liberal, feminist Jesus who rejected racism:
“Jesus was a refugee” and this experience gave him “compassion toward others who were labeled outsiders…”https://hegetsus.com/en/jesus-was-a-refugee
(This historical claim is probably false: https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2023/02/he-doesnt-freaking-get-us-part-1-jesus-was-a-refugee/ )
“Jesus promoted women’s equality”https://hegetsus.com/en/four-ways-jesus-supported-womens-equality
(This historical claim is clearly false: https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2023/02/he-doesnt-freaking-get-us-part-2-jesus-supported-womens-equality/ )
Jesus expressed “outrage at injustices” and was a “voice for the voiceless“. Jesus was a “revolutionary figure who challenged the status quo of his time, who spoke out against the religious and political leaders of his day, and advocated for the marginalized and oppressed…“. Jesus “always, always, always loved others despite their identity, beliefs, or values.” Jesus “loudly proclaimed…that the love for others, the compassion for another’s lived experience, the empathy for their position, and the respect for their dignity were the most important values we all could hold…“.https://hegetsus.com/en/love-your-enemies
(I admit that such a liberal and tolerant Jesus is appealing to me, but I have serious doubts about the historical accuracy of this characterization of him. This seems to be an attempt to make Jesus appear to be hip and admirable by modern American standards, with no regard for historical accuracy.)
Jesus defined our “neighbors” (the people who we should love) as including those who have a “different background and race” from ourselves.
Jesus “shared meals with outcasts.” and he “crossed racial boundaries to the shock of many around him. He invited everyone to the table.“https://hegetsus.com/en/what-does-it-mean-to-love-your-neighbor
“Jesus didn’t judge others by their looks. He looked at their hearts.”https://hegetsus.com/en/how-would-jesus-be-judged-today
Jesus denounced “hate, bigotry, and pride“.https://hegetsus.com/en/jesus-didnt-feel-welcomed-by-religious-people-either
Jesus “spoke truth to power” and “defended the marginalized“.https://hegetsus.com/en/be-childlike
THE “SWITCH” JESUS: A RACIST, SEXIST, HOMOPHOBIC CHRISTIAN NATIONALIST
It turns out that the HGU advertising campaign is a project of the Servant Foundation. The HGU website claims they are not a political organization and are not part of a particular church:
Be assured, though, we’re not “left” or “right” or a political organization of any kind. We’re also not affiliated with any particular church or denomination. We simply want to tell everyone to understand the authentic Jesus as he’s depicted in the Bible–the Jesus of radical forgiveness, compassion, and love.https://hegetsus.com/en/about-us
But this is a very inaccurate and misleading statement.
First of all, the Servant Foundation has given tens of millions of dollars to a right-wing extremist organization (“Alliance Defending Freedom”) that promotes HATRED of, and DISCRIMINATION towards, and even the IMPRISONMENT of gays, lesbians, and transgender people, not only in the USA but around the world. In short, the Servant Foundation is a BIG supporter of a right-wing Christian hate organization. (The Southern Poverty Law Center correctly categorizes the Alliance Defending Freedom as a hate group).
Second of all, although it appears to be correct that the HGU project is not coming from a “particular church or denomination”, it is clearly coming from White Evangelical Christianity, which is known for having strong tendencies towards racism, sexism, and hatred of gays and lesbians. White Evangelical Christianity has been enthralled with Donald Trump and has leaned heavily towards White Nationalism in recent years.
The main HGU website provides no indication that it is the product of White Evangelical Christianity, but an HGU website that was set up for Churches to access, does provide an indication of their theological viewpoint:
He Gets Us has chosen to not have our own separate statement of beliefs. Each participating church/ministry will typically have its own language. Meanwhile, we generally recognize the Lausanne Covenant as reflective of the spirit and intent of this movement and churches that partner with explorers from He Gets Us affirm the Lausanne Covenant.https://hegetsuspartners.com/about
The 1974 Lausanne Covenant is an important unifying document in evangelical Christian churches, while the Lausanne movement itself was started by the prominent evangelical Christian leader Billy Graham.https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/11/us/he-gets-us-super-bowl-commercials-cec/index.html
It is not just the Lausanne Covenant and Billy Graham that connect HGU to White Evangelical Christianity, it is also the fact that a number of speakers and partners of HGU are from organizations named after Billy Graham or are affiliated with Wheaton College.
White Evangelical Christians tend to be Christian Nationalists:
Among white evangelical Protestants, nearly two-thirds are either white Christian nationalism adherents or sympathizers. Support for Christian nationalism is significantly smaller among Asian American, mixed race, Black and Hispanic Protestants. Majorities of white mainline Protestants, Catholics, Jews, members of other non-Christian faiths and unaffiliated Americans, on the other hand, reject or mostly reject Christian nationalism. (The survey calls them “skeptics” and “rejecters.”)https://religionnews.com/2023/02/08/a-third-of-americans-are-christian-nationalists-and-most-are-white-evangelicals/
According to one expert on Evangelical Christianity in the US, Evangelical Christianity has been defined by racism and right-wing politics for the past 50 years:
[Anthea] Butler, a professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania, provides a strong historical overview of the depth and breadth of racism in American evangelical culture since the early 19th century. A strong work of synthesis designed for a popular audience, White Evangelical Racism deftly weaves together cutting-edge scholarship on evangelicalism from the last 20 years.
While prominent scholars of evangelicalism such as Mark Noll, George Marsden, David Bebbington, and Thomas Kidd define the movement theologically and historically, Butler argues that it is “not a simply religious group at all” but rather a “nationalistic political movement.” Evangelicals, she writes, have defined themselves by their “ubiquitous” support for the Republican Party and its conservative quest to retain America’s “status quo of patriarchy, cultural hegemony, and nationalism”—and this has made evangelicals, for all intents and purposes, culturally and politically “white.” She argues that racism and a quest for political power have defined evangelicalism for approximately the last 50 years.https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2022/february-web-only/anthea-butler-white-evangelical-racism.html
In conclusion, HGU is a project of the Servant Foundation which supports an extremist right-wing hate organization to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. And HGU is clearly dominated by White Evangelical Christianity, which is known and despised for its support of racism, sexism, homophobia, and right-wing nationalism.
If there is one thing that the historical Jesus truly hated, it is HYPOCRISY, so Jesus would truly hate and condemn HGU and their unbelievably HYPOCRITICAL bait-and-switch advertising campaign.
HGU offers us an appealing and hip hero who is a loving, tolerant, liberal, feminist Jesus who rejected racism, but in reality what they give to us is the Jesus of White Evangelical Christianity and all of the hatred, intolerance, right-wing Christian nationalism, sexism, and racism that make that form of Christianity disgusting and despicable.