The agency behind the viral Jesus ads that played during Sunday night’s Super Bowl explained why it welcomes the controversy surrounding its campaign, after the ads sparked backlash from both the right and the left in social networks.

He Gets Us, a campaign that says it wants to help everyone “rediscover the love story of Jesus,” ran two ads during Sunday’s game; a 60-second ad called “Foot Washing” and a 15-second ad called “Who’s My Neighbor?”

BrandHaven spokesperson and president Jason Vanderground told Fox News Digital that the ads were intended to invite people intrigued by the “unconditional love, kindness and generosity” of Jesus to explore his message. The campaign also sought to “shatter” “preconceived notions” about Jesus and Christianity, he said.

“Foot Washing” shows unusual people washing the feet of others, including a police officer washing the feet of a young black man and a pro-life activist washing the feet of a woman outside a family planning clinic. It ends with the motto: “Jesus did not teach hatred. He washed the feet.”

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a police officer washes the feet of a young black man, a high school girl washes the feet of another girl in an advertisement

“Foot Washing” commercial for “He Gets Us” that played during Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday nights. (Courtesy of He gets us)

“Who is my neighbor?” shows images of people from various backgrounds, including a homeless woman begging for money. The ad ends by describing the neighbor as one whom “you do not notice, value or welcome.”

Vanderground said this year’s ads were crafted with the election year in mind, but were not intended to be political.

“We see a lot of division, but we also see heightened isolation and anxiety,” he said. “As we looked back through the Scriptures, we were seeing what Jesus’ unique message would be in an environment like this.”

Last year, the campaign spent $20 million on two Super Bowl ads that portrayed Jesus as someone with empathy for immigrants and the poor, who was also tired of the divisiveness of politics, Fox News Digital previously reported. This year, the focus was on what it really looked like to “love your neighbor,” Vanderground explained.

“What we’re trying to offer people is this invitation from Jesus that even if you have differences, even if you have different beliefs and strongly held convictions, there is still a way that we can treat each other that transcends all of that. And it’s actually very helpful for us as Americans,” he continued.

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President Joe Biden speaks, divided with former President Donald Trump pointing out

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. (Getty Images)

The campaign spokesperson touted the ads’ impact, calling it “the biggest campaign for Jesus we’ve ever seen.”

Their site has surpassed 700,000 visits since the game, he said, adding that they have had greater engagement and more people have signed up for their Bible reading plans.

“We’re just (trying) to give people an idea of ​​’What is the way of Jesus?’ And we’re really trying to disrupt their preconceived notions about Jesus and many times their views on Christianity to say, ‘Here is this person who lived and demonstrated perfectly for us: unconditional love, radical forgiveness, grace and kindness,’ Vanderground said. . saying.

Some conservative Christians have criticized the ads on social media, saying they missed the mark at best and were blasphemous at worst.

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screenshot of photo from He Gets Us commercial

Still from “Who is my neighbor?” from the “He catches us” campaign (Courtesy of He gets us)

The ads also faced attacks from the left, because the family that owns the Hobby Lobby craft store allegedly helped finance the campaign.

Vanderground said he found the rejection “actually very reassuring.”

“A lot of times, we’re trying to spread such a disturbing message about Jesus where people are changing their understanding of who He was and what it means to follow Him, that a lot of times we have that reaction, that people everywhere are surprised at first,” he began .

“But the more they explore our message, the more they read about it on the website, I find other Christians saying, ‘Those are the Gospels.’ So we see at the Last Supper, for a Christian, there is Jesus, on all fours, washing the feet of Judas, who is going to betray him, washing the feet of Peter, who is going to deny him. He was not making decisions there at the table about who was going to wash the feet,” he said. “We think that’s something we can take and apply today.”

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He Gets Us also took aim at critics on the left who argued that the millions of dollars spent on a Super Bowl ad would have been better spent helping the poor.

“The opportunity to showcase the message of Jesus in the middle of the biggest cultural event we have and make his love clear and then invite people to explore further and read the Bible. We feel it’s a great investment because it’s going to unleash all kinds of of generosity,” Vanderground explained.

That generosity was further demonstrated at a community service event He Gets Us hosted in Las Vegas on Saturday with a local faith-based nonprofit and the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Organizations with different beliefs came together to give away bags of food and provide health services to underserved communities, he said.

This year’s ads were funded by a new nonprofit called Come Near, which is not affiliated with “any individual, political position, church or religious denomination,” according to the He Gets Us website.

Come Near’s CEO is Ken Calwell, who was previously marketing director at Compassion International. He also worked for years as an executive in the food industry, most recently as CEO of Papa Murphy’s Pizza.

Fox News’ Landon Mion contributed to this report.

By Sam