Religion Took Center Stage at Super Bowl 2024—Here’s Why It Matters

America is religious. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. In a country of 334 million, 36 percent of us attend religious services at least once a week. That’s 120,240,000 religious people.

America is also crazy about football. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Super Bowl LVIII boasted an audience of 123,400,000—football exceeding faith, then, by an amount just shy of the population of Los Angeles.


Moreover, people are religious about football. If you ask 10 people if God has a hand in what happens when it’s fourth down and your team is behind by six, three of those 10 will say yes.

So it should come as no surprise that the most watched television show of all time—an American football game that aired February 11, 2024—would also be a platform for religious messages. Five ads stood out from the sales pitches of insurance companies, snack foods, soda and sundry others, for they promoted faith. Two bade us love one another, one encouraged prayer, one charged us to renounce the haters of an ancient religion and one welcomed us to a new one.

The success of this quintet of faith-based ads may just be a wake-up call for companies.

Jesus was also positioned in a modern setting for the second year in a row. The “He Gets Us” campaign’s latest ad places people of different ethnicities, genders and points of view in a series of still images highlighting “opposing” segments of our society—an inner-city cop washing the feet of a Black youth, an oilman washing the feet of a protester, a priest washing the feet of a gay man. Under the video is the explanation: “The night before he died, Jesus got his friends and followers together and washed their feet as a symbolic example of how they should humble themselves while dignifying and valuing others.” A second ad, just 15 seconds long, asks, “Who is my neighbor?” answering it with cuts of people with off-putting expressions of annoyance, antagonism, boredom and the like. One looks like she’s ready to pulverize anyone who even says hello. Another looks like he may have a concealed weapon. All in all, the sort of people you’d go out of your way to avoid. The moral is that we are all neighbors and should treat each other as such, no matter what. The two ads garnered 715,000 visits to the He Gets Us website overnight.

Many Super Bowl ads featured celebrities in various gag situations, often spoofing themselves or some familiar old role they played. Not so Mark Wahlberg. A devout Catholic, Wahlberg joined fellow actor Jonathan Roumie (who portrayed Jesus in the popular streaming series The Chosen) in a 30-second ad for the American Catholic prayer and meditation app Hallow. For the first time in history, an ad is a prayer. Just that. A prayer mid-Super Bowl thanking God for His blessings of family and country. Then, facing the camera, Wahlberg says, “Join us in prayer this Lent. Stay prayed up.” Wahlberg and Roumie’s simple message resonated. The Hallow app exploded in clicks, its downloads surpassing even those of Netflix.

Another first of its kind was “Silence,” presented by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, featuring Dr. Clarence B. Jones, who drafted Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. While the other religion-inspired messages urged love and prayer, “Silence” centered on anti-religious hate and its prevention. Dr. Jones, age 93, opens the ad saying, “Sometimes I imagine what I’d write today for my dear friend, Martin. I’d remind people that all hate thrives on one thing: silence.” Images of hate flash—graffiti, swastikas and the like. Counterpointing them are people painting over the graffiti. Others bear signs proclaiming “Stand Up to Jewish Hate” and “Stand Up to All Hate.” Over it all, Dr. Jones tells us that those who will change the nation are those who refuse to be bystanders and who, instead, speak out.

The ad garnered nearly 4 million views on YouTube in its first few days.

The Church of Scientology’s “Decide For Yourself” ad also struck a chord with viewers—earning a spot on YouTube’s top 10 most-viewed Super Bowl ads list and now surpassing 13 million views on that platform. The 60-second message begins with a voice saying, “Every day millions of people ask, ‘What is Scientology?’ Here’s an idea: What if you just take a look?” As World Religion News writer Tami Lang noted, “Scientology consistently presents uplifting messages that have set it apart. And now, this year, we are told, ‘Hey, the door is open. Take a look.’ Doubtless, many will.”

The success of this quintet of faith-based ads may just be a wake-up call for companies marketing their products and services, who may be missing out on a huge—possibly the hugest—American demographic of them all: those who believe and those who want to believe.

It has been said that to understand the American mind, you must first understand football. That may be true for understanding the American mind.

But to understand the American spirit, look to its religions. Tens of millions did just that on Super Bowl Sunday.

Norm Shannon
Norm loves writing and helping people through the wisdom of Scientology. He recently moved to Florida where he was delighted to learn they have air conditioning.