What Is The Servant Foundation And Why Is Everyone Talking About Them?

Super Bowl advertisements get nearly as much hype as the actual football game itself, and viewers are used to seeing eye-catching ads for everything from candy to chips to cars. This year, people watching Super Bowl LVII were treated to the usual onslaught of celebrity-heavy showstoppers — but perhaps gave pause upon witnessing an advertisement for ... Jesus Christ? Who was responsible for the heartstring-tugging commercials, one featuring children embracing, shielding cats from rain, and sharing headphones as Patsy Cline's sweet vocals about the eyes of children played under the touching scenes; the second showcasing scenes of arguments, conflict, and tension as Rag'n'Boneman's "I'm Only Human" underscored the strife and anger on the screen? 

It turns out that the He Gets Us project, which ended the ad titled "Be Childlike" by telling viewers "Jesus didn't want us to act like adults" and the ad titled "Love Your Enemies" with "Jesus loved the people we hate," is funded by the Servant Foundation, which is based in Kansas and does business as The Signatry. Per its website, The Signatry is "a global community and ministry dedicated to creating eternal impact through generosity across generations. Since our founding, we have facilitated more than $4 billion in transformational grants for nonprofits around the world." They go on to explain, "We are supporting discipleship and outreach efforts, Bible translations, cultural care, church plants, anti-human-trafficking missions, student ministries, poverty alleviation, clean water initiatives, and so much more."

Who else does the Servant Foundation fund?

The He Gets Us website notes on its About page, "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 everyone to understand the authentic Jesus as he's depicted in the Bible — the Jesus of radical forgiveness, compassion, and love." The Servant Foundation also funds the Alliance Defending Freedom, donating over $50 million between 2018 and 2020. The Alliance Defending Freedom has contributed to public policies that have curtailed abortion rights and has fought against anti-discrimination legislation at the federal and state levels. 

The Alliance Defining Freedom organization highlights the passage of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Heath Organization in Mississippi, which the Supreme Court used to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that guaranteed federal protection for abortion rights, noting, "ADF was honored to work with Mississippi to help draft and defend its pro-life law all the way to the Supreme Court." The ADF is currently leading the Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval of the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol for use in medication abortions.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has classified the Alliance Defending Freedom as an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group since 2016, noting the organization has "linked being LGBTQ+ to pedophilia and claimed that a 'homosexual agenda' will destroy society" and participated in the passage of religious exemption laws that are used to legalize discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.

Hobby Lobby's David Green donated to the He Gets Us campaign

He Gets Us spokesperson Jason Vanderground told Newsweek that funding for the ads "... comes from a diverse group of individuals and entities with a common goal of sharing Jesus' story authentically" and regarding the ads' style and message, he noted, "He Gets Us is the perfect example of that vision to see the Jesus of the Bible represented in today's culture with the same relevance and impact he had 2,000 years ago to provide hope and comfort to people facing their own daily challenges." Ministry Watch reported in 2022 that He Gets Us planned to spend $100 million on its media campaign.

Most people who donate to He Gets Us have remained anonymous, but David Green, the co-founder of the craft store conglomerate Hobby Lobby, spoke out about his participation in the project with conservative radio host Glenn Beck in November 2022: "You're going to see it at the Super Bowl, he gets us. We're wanting to say 'we' being a lot of different people that he gets us. He understands all of us. He hates who, he loves who we hate so I think we have to let the public know and create a movement, really." 

Green has been an activist for years. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby, and therefore other "closely held corporations," did not have to provide its employees with health insurance coverage for birth control, as the use of birth control went against David Green's personal religious beliefs.