‘Fascism’? It’s Not Just AOC: $1 Billion ‘He Gets Us’ Campaign to Rebrand Jesus Gets Slammed and Its Funders Get Exposed
Promoting Christianity at all costs – be it the Bible or Jesus himself – while attempting to impose their personal religious beliefs on American society, the Green family’s efforts are seen as unwelcome by some.
The religious-right billionaire family who founded Hobby Lobby and the Museum of the Bible is one of the main funders of a billion-dollar campaign to “redeem Jesus’ brand,” which crescendoed with multi-million dollar ads declaring “He gets us” during Sunday’s Super Bowl. But unlike other right-wing dark money efforts to change the culture, it appears many Americans are aware of the massive money behind the efforts to polish Christ’s image, tarnished, it appears, by some including those who are trying to clean it up.
“The advertisements seem to recast Jesus for a new era, but their real purpose is rehabilitating pro-Trump evangelicals,” writes MSNBC columnist Sarah Posner, who has written about right-wing religion for over a decade. “To explain why Jesus needed the Madison Avenue treatment, Green cited standard right-wing falsehoods about the government’s supposed persecution of Christians.”
The “He Gets Us” campaign reportedly spent $20 million to help “redeem” Christ’s image, but some, like Posner and others, are pointing to the people behind the campaign, while others are calling the ads fascist or christofascist.
READ MORE: ‘Compelling Public Interest’: Judge Orders Release of Portion of Georgia Probe Into Trump’s Efforts to Overturn Election
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) Sunday evening in a tweet seen nearly 10 million times declared, “Something tells me Jesus would *not* spend millions of dollars on Super Bowl ads to make fascism look benign.”
AOC wasn’t the only one to level accusations like fascism against the “He Gets Us” campaign, including exposing the types of groups and efforts they’re funding.
Popular Information’s Judd Legum notes, “Just FYI, the same group that is financing the ‘He Gets Us’ Jesus ads is also helping finance the lawsuit seeking to ban abortion medication nationwide.” That’s actually the topic of Monday’s Popular Information newsletter.
“Specifically, the group behind the ads, The Signatry, also donated $16.7 million to Alliance Defending Freedom,” Legum says on Twitter. “Alliance Defending Freedom is providing legal representation to the plaintiffs in the lawsuit seeking a nationwide ban on abortion medication.”
Alliance Defending Freedom also appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups, and has argued and won several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including Burwell v. Hobby Lobby – the same Hobby Lobby founded by billionaire David Green who donated millions to the campaign to rebrand Jesus Christ. That case became a landmark decision finding that, for the first time in the history of American jurisprudence, private, for-profit corporations have a right to religious beliefs.
READ MORE: Jack Smith Has Now Signaled to Trump He Will Leave ‘No Stone Left Unturned’: Legal Analyst
“The historical-artifact-smuggling, anti-reproductive-rights family behind Hobby Lobby is also one of the largest donors to the ‘He Gets Us’ Jesus Ads in the Superbowl,” tweeted Missouri 2022 Democratic congressional candidate Randi McCallian Sunday night, tagging her post “#Fascists.”
The Green family including Hobby Lobby President Steve Green, funded and founded the Museum of the Bible in 2010. One year before it opened its doors in 2017 questions arose about the provenance of some of its items, while others blasted it for a lack of transparency.
“The Museum of the Bible in Washington, which has been working to regain credibility by giving back tainted objects in its collection,” The New York Times reported in August, “returned a handwritten gospel that is more than a thousand years old to the Greek Orthodox Church on Tuesday afternoon after determining that it had been looted from a Greek monastery during World War I.”
Two years earlier, in 2020, Christianity Today reported, “Steve Green announces 11,500 more items will be returned to the Middle East.” That same year National Geographic revealed: “‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ at the Museum of the Bible are all forgeries.”
The jaw-dropping hubris to try to rebrand Jesus has been met with not only anger, but information. Multiple news outlets, including NCRM, reported on the Green family’s ties to the campaign, which is much larger than David Green — although he appears to be the only one to admit funding the billion-dollar three-year efforts.
The Lever‘s Andrew Perez one week ago reported: “He Gets Us says: ‘We are also about sharing Jesus’ openness to people that others might have excluded.’ Its parent foundation donated $50 million to a right-wing group pushing to ban abortion and allow businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ+ customers.”
Indeed, Perez reports at The Lever, “The Alliance Defending Freedom says it helped draft the 2018 Mississippi abortion law at the heart of the Supreme Court decision last year allowing states to ban the procedure — and also helped argue that case before the high court. This term, the Alliance Defending Freedom is leading a new Supreme Court case arguing that businesses should be able to discriminate against LGBTQ+ customers.”
READ MORE: Legal Experts Say Pence Subpoena May Signal Special Counsel ‘About Ready to Make a Decision’ on Indicting Trump
“The decline in American Christianity is not because Americans don’t know who Jesus is or his values,” observes Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, author of a book on progressive Christianity, Just Faith. The decline is rooted in the most visible forms of American Christianity not looking anything like Jesus. #HeGetsUs reinforces the hypocrisy and will contribute to decline.”
American Atheists’ president Nick Fish on Sunday warned, “As you’re watching the #SuperBowl, just a reminder that the ‘He Gets Us’ campaign is bankrolled by the same people who have funded anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice, anti-immigrant, and anti-democracy extremism from the Christian Nationalist movement.”
CNN two weeks ago reported on the He Gets Us campaign “to market Jesus.”
Watch below or at this link.
Enjoy this piece?
… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.
NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.
Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.
Evangelical Pastor With Ties to DeSantis Denies He’s Endorsing Biblical Call for Death to Gays
A Florida pastor with ties to GOP Governor Ron DeSantis insists his recent remarks attacking U.S. Senator Ted Cruz should not be viewed as an endorsement of the biblical call for gay people to be executed. But he’s not saying he is opposed to it either.
As The Daily Beast first reported, Tom Ascol, the senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida, blasted the Texas Republican Senator, who surprised many when he called Uganda’s new “Kill the Gays” law “horrific & wrong.”
“Any law criminalizing homosexuality or imposing the death penalty for ‘aggravated homosexuality’ is grotesque & an abomination. ALL civilized nations should join together in condemning this human rights abuse,” Cruz actually tweeted.
That would be the same Ted Cruz who in 2015 claimed gay people were waging a “jihad” against Christians.
Pastor Ascol, who delivered the invocation at Governor DeSantis’ second inauguration, has been called the man who could bring evangelicals from Donald Trump and deliver them to Ron DeSantis.
On Tuesday Ascol tweeted, “Tell it to God, Ted.”
READ MORE: Watch: Ron DeSantis Travels to New Hampshire to Claim Kids Are Being ‘Forced’ to Choose Pronouns
He then quoted the Book of Leviticus, writing: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”
“Was this law God gave to His old covenant people ‘horrific and wrong’?” Ascol asked.
Ascol two hours later tweeted, “Amazing how many professing Christians, even self-designated ‘conservative’ ones, are embarrassed by God’s Word. Just quote some unpopular words of God & watch what happens. Many so-called Christians react the same way that unashamed unbelievers do. It’s a commentary.”
Cruz did not reply, but some others did.
David Smith, whose Twitter bio reads, “25 yrs trusting Jesus!” replied: “We no longer live under the Levitical laws @tomascol.”
“If so, we would have to apply the same standard to adultery. (Leviticus 20:10) I agree that all of these things are sin, but where does grace come in? Jesus was clearly in no hurry to condemn in John 8:1-11.”
Pastor Ascol apparently liked the reply from Steven Hasty, which reads: “Many of you are missing the point. If you’re understanding this Tweet to mean Pastor Tom thinks we should start executing homosexuals, you’re missing it. Instead, he’s challenging the standards of Cruz. Where does Cruz derive his standards?”
READ MORE: ‘Barking’: DeSantis Mocked as His Crew Races to Protect Him From Criticism After He Attacks Reporter
Apparently whether or not it’s acceptable to execute LGBTQ people isn’t an issue (except it is, since the entire “debate” its based on Uganda’s new “Kill the Gays” law.)
“Pastor Tom” told Hasty, “You are exactly right. Some people don’t read carefully. Others, evidently, don’t reason well. Thanks for clarifying & accurately expressing what I *actually* wrote. Keep pressing on.”
Ascol didn’t say whether or not he supports the execution of LGBTQ people, he’s merely debating, as Hasty put it, “standards.”
The Daily Beast also reports, “Ascol’s tweet…certainly seemed to suggest that the execution of gay people had a biblical blessing,” and notes that “even on careful reading, most reasonable people would assume Ascol was suggesting that Uganda’s anti-gay law is not intrinsically ‘horrific and wrong.'”
Ascol, The Beast adds, “has repeatedly called for homicide charges against any woman who has an abortion for whatever reason. He has compared choosing to terminate a pregnancy to retaining a killer for hire.”
“’It’s like saying if I don’t murder someone, but I just contracted a murderer to murder someone, I’m not culpable,’ Ascol said on a Christian radio show in 2022.”
The tweet posted to the top of Ascol’s Twitter page says, “If your commitment to the authority of Scripture is limited by cultural sensitivities then it’s not really Scripture’s authority to which you are committed.”
Supporting or opposing the execution of LGBTQ people isn’t about “cultural sensitivities.”
‘Leaning Into Weird’: DeSantis Presidential Launch Panned Before It Starts Because Who Even Knows What Twitter Spaces Is?
Some time this evening Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to finally announce he is running for president, an announcement that has been seen for years as all but inevitable. NBC News broke the story Tuesday afternoon that not only would the far-right authoritarian, anti-LGBTQ, anti-woke, anti-social justice warrior finally throw his hat into the ring, he would do it with Big Tech billionaire Elon Musk in a Twitter Spaces chat.
While some saw it as an interesting move initially, 24 hours later the decision to announce in a Twitter Spaces chat is being widely panned, for many reasons including that even regular, active users of Twitter have little to no idea what Twitter Spaces is, or how to access it.
More importantly, most Americans don’t use Twitter, so they will not bother to tune in. Nor – since Twitter Spaces is audio – is there expected to be video, and certainly not live video.
Former Republican and former U.S. Congressman from DeSantis’ home state of Florida, David Jolly, sums up what many seem to be thinking.
READ MORE: It’s a Day That Ends in ‘Y’ So Trump Is Once Again Going After E. Jean Carroll
“The DeSantis decision to announce with Musk is a serious miscalculation. A launch with three missteps,” he tweets. “1. He’s leaning into the ‘weird’. 2. He’s doubling down on being the candidate who needs a safe space. 3. He’s promoting his association with regressive ideology.”
“Dumb move,” he concludes.
Political strategist and Lincoln Project senior advisor Jeff Timmer agrees with Jolly.
“Every single thing about the DeSantis campaign has been a stupid not-ready-for-primetime misstep,” he writes. “Every. Single. Thing. The paper tiger has feet of clay and a glass jaw. The most overrated stock in the history of POTUS campaigns.”
READ MORE: Chief Justice: Harder Deciding to Erect a Fence Around the Court Than Deciding to Rescind Right to Abortion (Video)
So why Twitter Spaces?
The Atlantic’s David Frum, the Bush 43 speechwriter who reportedly came up with the 2002 State of the Union phrase “axis of evil,” served up an on-target take not even mentioning the Twitter Spaces event.
Criticizing a DeSantis pre-launch video (below), Frum wrote: “Fascinating how every DeSantis message raises some barrier between the candidate and the target audience. In previous ads, the candidate’s face was mediated through screens; here, somebody else’s voice is substituted for the candidate’s own. He himself is always missing.”
America is worth the fight… Every. Single. Time. pic.twitter.com/lWNQ3DIXgp
— Casey DeSantis (@CaseyDeSantis) May 23, 2023
That’s a good description of how it will likely be on Twitter Spaces.
Attorney, former Republican, former DeSantis administration official, former federal prosecutor Ron Filipkowski mockingly tweeted, “With a couple of dynamic personalities like Musk and Desantis, the audio-only announcement tonight should be real compelling.”
There’s been a lot of criticism, from Democrats, independents, and yes, Republicans.
“This announcement is a symptom of thinking random conservative Twitter personalities are the GOP base,” a Republican strategist who is “working with a rival campaign” told the website Semafor.
Another told them, “I couldn’t think of a more terrible way to spend my time than watching two socially awkward introverts talk about themselves.”
As it turns out, according to this two-year-old Twitter “how to” on Spaces, it is only available on iOS – Apple’s iPhone and iPad platform – so if DeSantis was hoping for a massive draw, he’s unlikely to get that. (Turns out Twitter didn’t update that How To — it’s also available on Android and in a web browser.)
There’s also been remarkably little effort via Twitter or the DeSantis campaign to promote the event. If you are a Twitter user you may not have even seen anything about it.
Even scrolling on my Twitter app, I see absolutely nothing about the event.
Earlier today I tweeted, “I’m not a marketing expert, but I am on Twitter a lot, and I have no idea what time Elon Musk and Ron DeSantis [are] going to be on Twitter ‘Spaces,’ I have no idea how to access it, and I’ve seen nothing telling me about it, other than it’s supposedly happening.”
Two people responded, one of them later pointing me to a USA Today article apparently originally titled, “How to watch: Gov. Ron DeSantis announces presidential bid on Twitter.” The current title, since it’s audio, reads: “Elon Musk will host Ron DeSantis on Twitter Spaces. How to listen on iPhone, tablets or desktop PC.”
Oh, and it is slated to start at 6 PM ET.
After I complained it was “just bad execution from Musk, as usual here,” the other person who responded wrote, “It’s such loser behavior all around.”
Watch the video above or at this link.
Twitter’s New CEO Sure Seems a Bit Like Elon Musk
Back in December, amid tremendous outrage from users over how the social media platform’s new owner was managing Twitter, Elon Musk posted a poll asking if he should step down as CEO and hire a replacement. The results were overwhelming: 57% of the 17.5 million users who responded said “Yes,” with some begging him to go away entirely.
The man who scraped together $44 billion to purchase and take private what is arguably the most impactful and influential place on the internet was not about to quit – as owner or CEO. It took six months, but on Thursday he tweeted an announcement.
“Excited to announce that I’ve hired a new CEO for X/Twitter. She will be starting in ~6 weeks!”
“X” is now Twitter’s parent company, one of several owned by the disruptive 51-year old South Africa native who until recently was the richest person on the planet.
Musk, by his own admission, has crashed Twitter’s value. If it was worth $44 billion when he bought it, it no longer is. Musk recently admitted Twitter – which he gutted, allegedly to cut costs –is now worth less than half of what he paid: a mere $20 billion.
READ MORE: ‘One of the Worst Hours I’ve Ever Seen’: Critics Explode at CNN for ‘Spectacle of Lies’ Trump ‘Spewed’ for His ‘MAGA Zombies’
Experts can argue why the man who is the head of Tesla, the Texas-based electric vehicle and energy storage company, and SpaceX, the spacecraft and satellite company, can’t seem to just keep the social media platform running smoothly. In addition to losing more than half its value, it’s lost users and advertisers.
“Twitter lost more than 1.3 million users in the week after Elon Musk bought it,” a USA Today headline from November read.
Last month The Washington Post reported, “Twitter has been dramatically transformed under Musk and few — even among some in the billionaire’s corner — say the changes have been for the better.”
“Advertisers have fled in droves over Musk’s policy changes and erratic behavior on the site, causing advertising revenue to recently drop by as much as 75 percent, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share sensitive internal information,” The Post reports. “Rounds of layoffs have left Twitter operating with a skeleton staff of 1,500 — an 80 percent reduction — and so riddled with bugs and glitches that the site goes down for hours at a time.”
So Musk has finally hired, he says, a new CEO.
Not surprisingly, someone who appears to have similar – right wing – tastes.
“NBCUniversal’s head of advertising, Linda Yaccarino, is in talks to become the new chief executive of Twitter, according to people familiar with the situation. NBCU said Friday morning that Ms. Yaccarino was leaving the company, effective immediately,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
Musk (just as this article was being published) confirmed it is Yaccarino.
Journalist Yashar Ali puts it this way: “In Linda Yaccarino, Elon Musk gets a CEO who is a seasoned ad executive who generally shares his political leanings. But she’s also the Chairman of a World Economic Forum task force so she can comfortably liaise with Twitter’s current investors and advertisers around the world.”
READ MORE: DeSantis Just Made It Illegal for Doctors to Refuse to Treat Unvaccinated Patients – But Legal to Refuse LGBTQ Ones
CNBC reported the news on-air.
NBCUniversal global advertising chief Linda Yaccarino resigns as sources say she’s in talks to be the new CEO of Twitter. @JBoorstin reports. https://t.co/6yUqcoe8fW pic.twitter.com/HMF1qUSF12
— CNBC (@CNBC) May 12, 2023
So who is Linda Yaccarino? Twitter users were quick to want to know.
When the Yaccarino rumor started Thursday evening, as usual, Twitter users went to work.
What they found is someone who appears to “like” and “follow” arguably some of the worst yet popular, right-wing elements on Twitter. Some who Musk seems to have embraced.
Max Berger, a liberal activist whose bio says he co-founded two organizations, did some digging.
(A tweet from May of 2022 that Berger pinned to the top of his account reads: “Elon Musk is really doing an incredible job educating the public about how capitalists end up aligning with fascists to maintain their wealth and limit the power of the working classes.”)
“Linda Yaccarino,” Berger wrote Thursday night, “the woman who is reportedly the new CEO of Twitter, follows: – Chaya Raichik – Jesse Watters – Michael Shellenberger – Ron DeSantis – The Babylon Bee – Giorgia Meloni – Maye Musk – Catturd – Vivek Ramaswamy – Tulsi Gabbard – Bari Weiss.”
“New Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino seems like a certified MAGA supporter,” he adds. “She also follows: – Sidney Powell – Lin Wood – Jack Posobiec – Libs of TikTok – Ian Miles Cheung – Andrew Sullivan – Richard Grenell – Tim Scott – Mike Pompeo.”
Columnist and former Obama administration official Brandon Friedman writes: “This long list barely scratches the surface. There’s a lot more. She’s ingesting a fire hose of content from the absolute worst people in the world every time she opens the app. And, as Max notes, she’s a former Trump appointee.”
Many of those names are likely familiar, but some are not.
For those who don’t know, Chaya Raichik is the founder of the far-right extremist social media account Libs of TikTok.
“Libs of TikTok reposts a steady stream of TikTok videos and social media posts, primarily from LGBTQ+ people, often including incendiary framing designed to generate outrage,” The Washington Post last year reported “Videos shared from the account quickly find their way to the most influential names in right-wing media. The account has emerged as a powerful force on the Internet, shaping right-wing media, impacting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and influencing millions by posting viral videos aimed at inciting outrage among the right.”
READ MORE: ‘100% MAGA’ Alabama Senator: Democrats Call Them ‘White Nationalists’ – ‘I Call Them Americans’
More recently, the suspected Allen, Texas mass shooter who slaughtered eight people, reportedly wrote one of his posts on a Russian social media site was “inspired by Libs of TikTok.”
Jesse Watters is a far-right, incendiary, misogynistic Fox News propagandist deemed a “Racist, Sexist Frat Boy.” He’s also rumored to be in the running to replace the now-fired white nationalist Tucker Carlson.
“Catturd” is the anonymous pro-Trump pro-Musk Twitter account with 1.7 million followers that Rolling Stone calls “the Sh-tposting King of MAGA Twitter” – and who “Elon Musk likes to talk to on Twitter.”
Vivek Ramaswamy? An “anti-woke” GOP presidential candidate whose tweets (or, at least one tweet) Yaccarino has “liked.”
Yaccarino also follows a lot of right-wing media people, including Sean Hannity, Ben Shapiro, Dan Bongino, Sebastian Gorka, and Michelle Malkin.
And she follows Franklin Graham.
But she also follows Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Marc Benioff.
Some may say it’s unfair to judge someone by their Twitter likes and the folks they follow on social media. That depends.
(If you look at mine you’ll probably see a lot of right-wingers who I follow because I often write about the extreme right. And because in the days of early Twitter I used an auto-follow bot that followed anyone who followed me.)
But there are patterns and looking at these landmarks at least offers insight into who and what they are looking at and interacting with.
And what’s clear is Yaccarino certainly seems to be all-in on Musk. She’s retweeted posts about Tesla, and even interviewed the billionaire earlier this year, an interview coincidentally posted to NBC Universal’s website.
So why does all this matter? Because what happens on Twitter directly influences what people who are and are not on Twitter see, read, hear, and ultimately think. It is an influencing platform. And it’s important to know that the person (rumored) to be the incoming head of arguably the greatest influence platform in the world is following the right.
This article has been updated to reflect Musk’s confirmation Yaccarino will be the new Twitter CEO
- News3 days ago
‘Barking’: DeSantis Mocked as His Crew Races to Protect Him From Criticism After He Attacks Reporter
- News3 days ago
Grassley Admits He Doesn’t Care if GOP’s Accusations Against ‘Vice President Biden’ Are True or Not – He Vows to Pursue Them
- COMMENTARY3 days ago
Evangelical Pastor With Ties to DeSantis Denies He’s Endorsing Biblical Call for Death to Gays
- RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM3 days ago
MAGA Christian Nationalist Plans to Mobilize GOP Voters in 17 Counties ‘Where Demonic Strongholds Have Corrupt Control’
- RIGHT WING EXTREMISM1 day ago
‘No Longer the Lord’s Chicken’: ‘Christian Woman’ Says She’s ‘Grieving’ Over ‘Woke’ Chick-fil-A Hiring a Diversity Officer
- CRIME2 days ago
Former DOJ Official Says Audio of Trump Admitting to Keeping ‘War Plans’ Makes it ‘Inconceivable’ He Will Not Be Charged
- News2 days ago
‘Objectively Amazing’: Economists Cheer ‘Extraordinarily Robust’ and ‘Close to Unprecedented’ Jobs Report
- News2 days ago
Decision to Not Charge Pence in Classified Docs Probe Is ‘Prelude to DOJ Seeking Charges Against Trump’: Legal Expert