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Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez raised eyebrows after the Super Bowl when she wrote a tweet criticizing the $100 million Jesus campaign, “He Gets Us,” of supporting fascism. “Something tells me Jesus would *not* spend millions of dollars on Super Bowl ads to make fascism look benign,” AOC wrote. She did not specify what in particular from the ads made fascism look benign. The campaign aired two commercials during the Super Bowl, with the first ad showing children of various backgrounds hugging and helping one another with the tagline “Jesus didn’t want us to act like adults.” The second commercial showed various scenes of unrest and added with the tagline, “Jesus loved the people we hate.” 

Responses to AOC’s tweet seemed mostly confused as to what was causing such ire. Joshua Niday, a candidate for the North Carolina House of Representatives, responded by saying, “Agreed. Of course, he would also not support unlimited abortions, transing kids, open borders or socialism. So since you are talking about things Jesus wouldn’t do, I wanted to add a few others since you seem to support all of these things he wouldn’t support.” Tyler O’Neil, managing editor of The Daily Signal, wrote, “How, exactly, did the ads promote fascism in any way? They were promoting Jesus Christ.” Jason Vanderground, a spokesman for the campaign, addressed the remarks to Fox News Digital. He stated the aim of the campaign is not fascism but love. “[Jesus] cares about our problems because he has experienced them. He gets us. We believe that investing in efforts to ensure more people consider his life and movement as inspiration for their own will, in turn, help improve the lives of those listening — and begin to create the kind of cascade of love Jesus himself sought to generate.”

The campaign has received criticism from both conservatives and progressives. CNN’s AJ Willingham criticized the financial backers of the campaign. Although the campaign’s website states it is neither “left or right,” Willingham noted that the campaign has received contributions from Hobby Lobby co-founder David Green. She accused the company of being behind anti-LGBTQ legislation and for denying women contraception coverage based on the company’s religious beliefs, which was upheld by the Supreme Court. When CNN asked Vanderground if the campaign supports LGBTQ+ rights, he said, “The debate over LGBTQ+ issues is a great example of how the real Jesus too often gets lost, overlooked or distorted in debates over political and social issues. Our focus is on helping people see and consider Jesus as he is shown in the Bible … He gets us, and he loves us, and that includes people on all sides of these issues.”

Conservatives have accused the campaign of “rebranding” Jesus and taking away from His divinity. Apologist Natasha Crain outlined her issues with the campaign on her blog, criticizing the campaign’s way of presenting Jesus as an example and not the example. “Whereas the campaign is seeking to give people a fresh picture of Jesus, all it really does is reinforce the feel-good image culture already has,” she wrote. She added later that, “Of course, Jesus welcomed everyone around His table. And surely people need to hear that. But He welcomed everyone because everyone needs to hear His message about people’s need for repentance and salvation! Meanwhile, He Gets Us presents Jesus’s actions as though they merely represented an example of how to get along well with others…” The Babylon Bee, a Christian satire website, mockingly entitled an article “God Hopeful The Millions Spent On ‘He Gets Us’ Super Bowl Ad Will Finally Give Him Some Exposure.” “Sources say the Alpha and Omega is thrilled to see that teams of hip millennial writers and graphic designers are finally able to show the ‘kinder, gentler’ side of the one who sustains the life of every living soul while offering his free gift of forgiveness and salvation to everyone who trusts in him,” the article went on to add. It more pointedly ended, “At publishing time, the PR team for Satan reminded everyone that Satan’ gets them’ too.”

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