On February 12 2023, Judd Legum tweeted about “He Gets Us”/Jesus advertisements, claiming that the campaign was financed by the “same group” that is “seeking to ban abortion medication nationwide”:
What Happened on February 12 2023?
The Kansas City Chiefs played the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII; advertisements during Super Bowl games are generally a popular topic of discussion on the Monday after the event.
What is ‘He Gets Us,’ and What Does It Have to Do With Jesus?
On February 12 2023, CNN.com published an article about the “He Gets Us” ad campaign, describing it and reporting that two commercials were scheduled to run during Super Bowl LVII:
“He Gets Us,” a campaign to promote Jesus and Christianity, is running two ads during the game as part of a staggering $100 million media investment. To many, the spots will be nothing new: “He Gets Us” content has been peppering TV screens, billboards and social media feeds since a national launch in 2022.
The campaign is arresting, portraying the pivotal figure of Christianity as an immigrant, a refugee, a radical, an activist for women’s rights and a bulwark against racial injustice and political corruption. The “He Gets Us” website features content about of-the-moment topics, like artificial intelligence and social justice.
A New York Times article published the same day noted that David Green, the founder of Hobby Lobby, said that he donates to the campaign. The story further reported that the campaign involved a nonprofit group called the Servant Foundation and the ad agency Haven:
The 30- and 60-second spots are part of a multimillion-dollar campaign from the nonprofit Servant Foundation, which also does business as an organization called the Signatry. The 30-second ad, featuring images and videos of children playing and embracing, ran after the first quarter of the game. The longer one is scheduled to run in the fourth quarter, and will show a series of photographs of people arguing and confronting other people. At the end of the ad, the message “Jesus loved the people we hate” appears onscreen.
Since its national introduction in 2022, the “He Gets Us” campaign has paid for billboards in American cities and has run spots during a variety of sports events … The campaign aims to increase the relevance of Jesus in American culture, said Jason Vanderground, the president of Haven, the agency behind the ads.
In short, “He Gets Us” referenced a series of advertisements created in 2022, designed to introduce Christianity to new audiences.
What About the Lawsuit and ‘Abortion Medication’?
On February 1 2023, NPR published “A Trump-appointed Texas judge could force a major abortion pill off the market,” explaining that 2022’s Dobbs v. Jackson ruling led to a lawsuit filed in Texas intended to block access to abortion-inducing medication mifepristone nationwide:
A case before a federal judge in Texas could dramatically alter abortion access in the United States – at least as much, some experts say, as the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision last year , which overturned decades of abortion-rights precedent.
A decision is expected soon in the case challenging the Food and Drug Administration’s approval more than 20 years ago of the abortion drug mifepristone, which a growing number of patients use to terminate pregnancies.
Jenny Ma, senior counsel with the Center for Reproductive Rights, says the outcome of the suit brought by a coalition of individuals and groups opposed to abortion – could amount to a “nationwide ban on medication abortion” with a greater impact than Dobbs.
“That decision [Dobbs] left the decision about abortion up to the states,” Ma says, “but this would be one court in Texas deciding whether or not medication abortion could be allowed across this country, even in states that have protected abortion since the Dobbs decision.”
NPR reported that the suit was filed by “a coalition led by the anti-abortion rights group Alliance Defending Freedom,” and noted that the decision could affect all fifty states. On February 10 2023, CNBC published “Republicans back lawsuit to overturn FDA approval of abortion pill and pull the medication from U.S. market,” regarding debate between states’ attorneys general:
Democratic and Republican attorneys general squared off on [February 10 2023] in dueling arguments over an attempt by anti-abortion physicians to pull the abortion pill, mifepristone, from the U.S. market … The dueling arguments are part of an escalating federal court battle in Texas over a lawsuit filed by anti-abortion physicians last November , which seeks to overturn the FDA’s more than two-decade-old approval of mifepristone.
“For two decades, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has acted to establish a nationwide regime of on-demand abortion by licensing sweeping access to chemical abortion drugs—in defiance of federal and state laws protecting life, health, and safety,” the Republican attorneys general argued.
Later [on February 10 2023], 67 Republican members of Congress filed a brief calling the FDA’s approval of mifepristone “unlawful,” arguing it should be overturned. They claimed that the agency’s actions subverted Congress’ safeguards for patients. But the FDA has had regulations in place for years to monitor the safety of mifepristone, which it has gradually eased as more evidence has come in.
NBC News also covered the “dueling arguments” on February 10 2023, adding details about the suit and identifying the plaintiffs as “an anti-abortion group called the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine.” Noting that there existed “little legal precedent for a court to overturn an FDA drug approval,” the story added that the plaintiffs sought an interim injunction to “reverse” the FDA’s approval:
The suit was filed in November  by an anti-abortion group called Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine. They allege that the process the FDA used decades ago to evaluate and approve the drugs used for medication abortions — mifepristone and misoprostol — was unlawful and should be revoked.
The plaintiffs sought an injunction requesting that the FDA’s approval of mifepristone be reversed while the case plays out.
[In February 2023], the maker of mifepristone, Danco Laboratories, legally intervened in the case, joining the defense.
The District Court judge overseeing the trial, Matthew J. Kacsmaryk in the Northern District of Texas, was appointed by President Trump. His decision is expected to come sometime after Feb. 24 . If he rules in favor of the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, access to medication abortion could be thrown into question.
Medication abortion accounts for more than half of all abortions nationwide, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.
CNN’s explainer excerpted the complaint filed in November 2022. It appeared that the drugs in question were targeted when used for abortions specifically:
The lawsuit, filed [in 2022] by a coalition of anti-abortion national medical associations under the umbrella of the “Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine” and several doctors, is seeking a number of actions by the court, chief among them a preliminary and permanent injunction ordering the FDA “to withdraw mifepristone and misoprostol as FDA-approved chemical abortion drugs and to withdraw defendants’ actions to deregulate these chemical abortion drugs.”
“After two decades of engaging the FDA to no avail, plaintiffs now ask this court to do what the FDA was and is legally required to do: protect women and girls by holding unlawful, setting aside, and vacating the FDA’s actions to approve chemical abortion drugs and eviscerate crucial safeguards for those who undergo this dangerous drug regimen,” the complaint reads.
A Google search for “Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine” restricted to results published on or before August 30 2022 yielded 32 results in total for the group. We located what looked to be a hastily assembled website for the “Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine,” created in October 2022, just before the lawsuit was filed:
To recap, a November 2022 lawsuit seeking to “reverse” FDA approval for the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol was filed by the “Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine,” a group with very little web presence before the filing of the suit.
Are the ‘He Gets Us’ Ads Linked to the Abortion Pill Lawsuit?
The above-linked February 12 2023 CNN.com article about the “He Gets Us” ads included a section (“The campaign has connections to anti-LGBT and anti-abortion laws”) linking The Servant Foundation (or the Sigantry) to Alliance Defending Freedom, the organization that NPR reported was behind the “Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine”:
The chain of influence behind “He Gets Us” can be followed through public records and information on the campaign’s own site. The campaign is a subsidiary of The Servant Foundation, also known as the Signatry.
According to research compiled by Jacobin, a left-leaning news outlet, The Servant Foundation has donated tens of millions to the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal group. The ADF has been involved in several legislative pushes to curtail LGBTQ rights and quash non-discrimination legislation in the Supreme Court.
CNN has reached out to the Servant Foundation for comment.
CNN cited Jacobin’s February 6 2023 article, “The Far Right Is Funding Evangelical Super Bowl Sunday Ads.” In it, Jacobin described He Gets Us as a Servant Foundation subsidiary, identified donations by the Servant Foundation to the Alliance Defending Freedom between 2018 and 2020, and attributed the lawsuit filed in Texas to the Alliance Defending Freedom:
He Gets Us is a subsidiary of the Servant Foundation, a Kansas-based charity also known as The Signatry that says it “exists to inspire and facilitate revolutionary, biblical generosity.”
Between 2018 and 2020, the Servant Foundation donated more than $50 million to the Alliance Defending Freedom — a nonprofit that’s led big policy fights over abortion and nondiscrimination laws at the Supreme Court and in states around the country. The nonprofit is designated as an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
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.
While the Servant Foundation reported having nearly $1 billion in assets and making $390 million in grants in its 2020 tax return, its contributions to the Alliance Defending Freedom were among the five largest donations given out by the foundation in each of those three years, according to our review … The Alliance Defending Freedom is now leading a federal court case in Texas seeking to end the long-standing federal regulatory approval for the drug mifepristone, which is used in more than half of abortions performed in the United States.
Jacobin provided specific figures, financially and in terms of parties involved. However, the links between organizations were somewhat indirect — possibly to discourage claims like the one in Legum’s tweet.
“He Gets Us” ads existed as a topic of social media discussion when spots aired during Super Bowl LVII on February 12 2023. On that day, Judd Legum said on Twitter that “the same group that is financing the ‘He Gets Us’ Jesus ads is also helping finance the lawsuit seeking to ban abortion medication nationwide.” Legum presumably referenced the Alliance Defending Freedom, a far-right legal group frequently behind lawsuits that are religious in nature. Earlier reporting identified some links between that group and the ads, primarily through donations. Broadly, the claim benefitted from context about all its complicated elements.