Scroll To Top

For Lent, Hobby Lobby and #HeGetsUs should give up making self-righteous feet-washing commercials

HeGetsUs Superbowl commercial priest washes feet queer person
via He Gets Us

The Jesus Super Bowl ads made a mockery out of a solemn Easter tradition, treating the marginalized like criminals and dissing the humility of Jesus.

Now that the Monday morning quarterbacking is fading over the buzzworthiness of Sunday’s Super Bowl ads, and as Lent begins, I thought we should have a frank and timely discussion about foot-washing.

Notably, the #HeGetsUs Super Bowl ad featured foot-washing, toeing the line of hypocrisy and irreverence. The ad trampled through social media, with many stepping on it as stinky, saying that the ad maker should stick their foot in their mouth.

Some thought it wasn’t appropriate to drag Jesus into the middle of the Super Bowl. Others didn’t understand what the point was. Did Jesus have a foot fetish? I read a comment that wondered how a nonprofit that can afford a $7 million Super Bowl ad buy should pay taxes. Then there were those, like me, who saw right through the false piety being preached by the ostensibly Christian group.

The group behind the ad is Come Near, which has succeeded the Servant Foundation in that capacity.

OK, back to foot-washing. Let’s run through a couple of the scenarios in the ad in case you missed it. The first scene is a bleach-blond white young guy presumably washing his conservatively dressed father’s feet. Are we to assume that this boy is queer because of his Marilyn Monroesque locks?

Next was a cop washing the feet of a Black man who is made to look like a stereotypical criminal type in a back alley. Are we to assume that the man lives in a back alley? And the cop washed his feet on skid row so as not to debase himself on Main Street?

Let’s skip to the white girl in overalls getting her feet washed in front of a family planning clinic, replete with protesters in the background next to a seedy motel. Are we to assume that the overall-clad girl was assaulted by a family member in that motel? That she walked past the protesters to try to get an abortion? However, she couldn’t get one if this happened in a red state, so a “Christian” offered to clean her feet instead of saving her from having her uncle’s child?

Finally, there’s what can only be assumed to be a Black queer person having their feet washed by a minister with a giant cross around his neck. If you are queer, that should be insulting to you. The assumption is that you are a sinner, like the maybe-queer son, the Black criminal, or the woman seeking an abortion.

The ad ends with “Jesus Didn’t Teach Hate. He Washed Feet.” And the implication in all of these scenes is that the Christian right is Jesus and will wash your feet. Sure, but after stabbing you furiously in the back.

The ad should have closed with “The Christian Right Teaches Hate. They’d Never Wash Our Feet.”

Here’s what washing feet is really about, for those uninitiated. On Holy Thursday, prior to Easter Sunday, it’s tradition – if that’s the right word – for Chrisitan clergy to wash the feet of some congregants, which harkens back to when Jesus washed the feet of his 12 apostles. It is supposed to convey the humility of Jesus.

Last Easter, for example, Pope Francis went to a juvenile detention center in Rome and washed the feet of 12 young incarcerated people. True to his custom of humility, the solemn occasion was closed to the general public.

No one would call the pope sanctimonious – he truly embodies the humility of Jesus. He does not preach hate, and he does not make judgments. When asked about queer people, the pope once said, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” He also said queer people should not be marginalized.

Pope Francis can wash feet.

However, Come Near or the Servant Foundation or whatever aren’t worthy to step anywhere near the pope’s buckets of holy water. Their hell-bent duplicity with the marginalized, pretending to care for them while funding initiatives against them, is hell-worthy.

These groups and the Super Bowl ads are funded by Hobby Lobby, the arts and crafts chain that is famous for supporting anti-LGBTQ+ efforts and political candidates who seek to marginalize us. And it also supports anti-abortion measures.

For more about the horrid family that owns Hobby Lobby and how they use their nearly $12 billion fortune to spread hate, primarily about our community, check out this excellent piece in Rolling Stone. I’m not here to delve into the intricacies of their demonic destruction.

Before he became speaker of the U.S. House, Mike Johnson represented some Christian right groups’ legal interests. And there’s no one in America right who seethes with more hatred toward the LGBTQ+ community than Johnson. He and his family claim to love the sinner but hate the sin – which is really what the subtext of those foot-washing ads is all about.

As I wrote last year, Johnson and his wife think that there’s no disconnect between what they and their “Christian” groups preach and a trans woman being beaten, an LGBTQ+ youth dying by suicide, and a Southern mayor and pastor outed by a right-wing news outlet, who took his own life.

There’s a direct correlation between their conflating terms like bestiality, incest, and homosexuality and their hatred toward us. And there’s danger behind the implication of the ads portraying queer youth, a Black man dressed like a stereotypical criminal, a woman seeking an abortion, and a queer person as sinners and bad guys. And the gross misperception of the Christian right as Jesus’ foot-washers.

Would someone like Mike Johnson wash my feet? Yes, because his wildly religious vanity would make him feel like a deity; however, his mind would be full of judgment about how I will burn in hell. Or, given his obsession with gay sex and interest in porn, would he be thinking filthy thoughts about my dirty feet?

Yes, #HeGetsUs, because the God who loves me created me and gave me the gift of being a loving gay man. That God loves the marginalized and doesn’t take away their dignity by making them feel like sinners in an ill-conceived foot-washing ad that makes a mockery out of Jesus’ humility.

My God also knows that Hobby Lobby is a discriminatory company and that the Servant Foundation and Come Near are deceitfully dangerous, sanctimonious, and hypocritical organizations. My God would want them to spend their largesse not on a Super Bowl ad but in ways that actually help people.

John Casey is a senior editor at The Advocate.

Views expressed in The Advocate’s opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, equalpride

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

John Casey

John Casey is a senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the United Nations and with four large U.S. retailers.
John Casey is a senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the United Nations and with four large U.S. retailers.