home
RSS
January 19th, 2012
05:27 PM ET

'Hate religion, love Jesus' video goes viral

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - With so many atheists coming out of the closet, it’s not difficult to imagine a video decrying religion racking up millions of hits on YouTube.

But a video along those lines has been viewed 15 million times and liked more than a quarter-million times since it was posted on January 10, featuring an enthusiastic young Christian from Washington state.

[youtube= http://youtu.be/1IAhDGYlpqY]

“What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion?” 22-year-old Jefferson Bethke says in the video, reciting a spoken word poem he wrote. “What if I told you getting you to vote Republican really wasn’t his mission?”

“I mean if religion is so great, why has it started so many wars?” he says later. “Why does it build huge churches but fail to feed the poor?”

Bethke's video is emerging as a symbol for many young evangelical Christians who are calling themselves “followers of Jesus” rather than overtly identifying with institutional Christianity. Many of the country's fastest-growing churches are nondenominational.

“Religion is man-centered,” Bethke writes in a post accompanying his YouTube video. “Jesus is God-centered.”

In the video, Bethke talks about what he calls his own spiritual rebirth, saying he went from being a self-righteous religious person to an admittedly deeply broken believer.

The video has provoked an avalanche of response, including other YouTube videos, like "Why I hate religion but love Jesus, Muslim Version" and "Why I Dislike Your Poem, But Love God," which includes these lines:

I see where you’re coming from but there’s insanity in your vision
You overlook the fact that Christianity is religion
You’re like the van who claims to hate diets
Or astrophysicists who reject laws of science.

That response video has itself been viewed 390,000 times. Not bad.

Many religious bloggers echoed that video’s criticism on Bethke, alleging he’s trumpeting tenets of Christianity while purporting to blast organized religion. Critics called Bethke’s take on religion overly simplistic and dangerous.

“Anyone who does just a little digging on Bethke's YouTube channel or on Google will quickly learn that this young poet is a conservative Christian and member of the Mars Hill Church led by controversial pastor Mark Driscoll,” writes Patheos blogger Brian Kirk, a Missouri-based pastor. “All this seems to me an odd résumé for one who lambastes organized religion.”

Yet Kirk marvels at the national conversation that Bethke has provoked around deep questions:

Certainly one can agree or disagree with Bethke's take on religion but it's difficult not to admire the way he has stirred up those of us who may have been slumbering comfortably in our own faith without really thinking about why we do what we do. Some times the best way to wake up a sleeping giant is to poke it with a stick and Bethke has done just that.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity

soundoff (3,716 Responses)
  1. fred

    Jesus was not only God but he was man. As man we could look, see and understand the perfect role model for Christians. Jesus did not hate religion. Jesus blasted the religious leaders and what they had done to the truth. Note today the problem is what religious leaders have done to the truth.
    The example from Jesus was to attend "church" which he did and participate which he did. The example from Jesus was a close small group (12 apostles) and a larger group (70 disciples) that surrounded him. The summary from the New Testament is that the church of Christ is His bride. All those who are in Christ have gifts they use individually in context of the body of Christ. It is bigger than the 4 walls but occasional meeting inside of walls was modeled for us.

    January 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Prior

      "The power and the greatness of the Ori cannot be denied."

      "Hallowed are the children of the Ori."

      January 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  2. james

    Im Sold !

    January 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  3. Phil

    WHY ALL THE ARGUING!!!??? If you could reason with religious people, there would BE no religious people.

    January 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • this is simply too stupid to comment on

      Phil...excellent quote. I may use that someday.

      January 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      Glad you have all of lifes answers. How'd you get so smart fooktard?

      January 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Peter

      Putting down people that believe in something that you do not believe in is not reasoning. What you're really saying is you can't help them. Or to be perfectly clear, you've got nothing to offer. We're helping people find eternal life through Jesus Christ our LORD. You can't even come close.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  4. BoldGeorge

    Though it is true that Jesus Christ denounced and scolded religiosity, He did promote (along with His disciples) the gathering and organizing of people of like-faith, believers of Him and his doctrines. So, it is safe to say that Christianity is an organized belief system and religion. In 1st Thessalonians, we find the organization of church leaders and believers, gathering under one roof. True religion is Christianity according to Scripture, not according to what we feel or think is best for us.

    Those who think they don't have to congregate with others in a set environment or building have got it all wrong. According to Scriptures, we are to be an "organized" body of Christ and we should be rehearsing here on earth our future gathering in His kingdom. People who claim to be christians should stick to scripture, not our own feelings or human wisdom.

    January 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • tony

      But Christians will be a tiny minority in the future kingdom of heaven. Every human that died before about 33AD should be there as well.

      January 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Tony: according to Christian belief, not everyone before Christ is saved. Hebrews 11 says that Old Testament believers are saved because they trusted in God's promises (which would one day come to fulfillment in Jesus).

      January 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • yeahalright

      Russ – so what about all the poor sob's the world over who didn't hear of either testament before 33 AD???

      January 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  5. Thomas

    This person is confusing people who worship the Lord in a place where the Lord has commanded us to go and partake of the sacrament, which replaced the burnt offerings of the old law. Christ is the new law and His teachings. Christ also established His church on the earth with a Prophet (His mouth piece as was Moses) to reveal His will to all of His children here on the earth. To imply that one who engages in worship at a church and that that person has no personal relationship with Jesus Christ is just plain false. I go to church and my relationship is only strenghened when I associate with other Christians. The Lord established His church on the earth to help all of His children progress in His Plan of Salvation. The organization of His church is perfect, but the people aren't. Is is essentially a church for sinners to come and partake of his covenant and receive the blessings He has in store for us. So don't confuse a "structure" with no being able to develop and have a meaningful relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

    January 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  6. tony

    The really difficult question is "who" set the crazy limits on God's powers that meant he couldn't act directly in the old testament, but had to mess with the weather and peoples' emotions to get anything done.

    January 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Russ

      @ tony: have you considered the possibility that God chose exactly when & how he would reveal himself?

      January 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • yeahalright

      @Russ

      Well then he's a horrible messenger. Especially considering the dire, eternal consequences for people who don't grovel to him before death.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Egon Crezellus

      @ Russ, the suspense is killing me! When, oh Lord, when will we know? In my life time? Last Oct 21st in 2011. No, that didn't work. The poor mayan waited, what, 500 years for some reveleations, but now they have been dead for so long they could probably care less.
      Now then, Mr. God, you need to give us some kind of a schedule as to when you reveal yourself. Cause if you don't, I might be too old to care, before you come. Deal?

      January 20, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Russ

      Jesus' life, death & resurrection are the pinnacle of God's self-revelation. God has made himself known. He came & revealed himself.

      January 20, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  7. Rimmy

    All religions are divisive and exclusive and false. If there is a supreme being, it's obviously not interested in man's suffering.

    January 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      Actually, God was interested enough in the human condition to take it on Himself. No matter how deep we go into human misery, there is Jesus on the cross.

      January 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Rimmy: that's a pretty broad brush you're painting with – especially when this video is talking about the only God who claims to have come to suffer in our place.

      January 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  8. Megan

    Someone earlier posted that atheists are de-converted Christians. That's funny, because I know plenty of Christians that were atheists.

    January 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • tony

      Every baby born is an atheist 'til someone messes with his/her mind

      January 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      @tony I grew up in the 60's and 70's. If you think religion messes with young minds, you should have seen what popular culture did to them then.

      January 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • yeahalright

      I don't remember pop culture ever threatening me with eternal torment if I didn't buy hook line and sinker into some pretty incredible dogma.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • CosmicC

      Yeah, them hippies had it all wrong; peace, love, kindness, simple living, questioning authority. The '80's were so much better for youth being led down the path of materialism and greed.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  9. Joe

    Religion is just a bunch of fake religious leaders who control and take advantages from gullible people.
    Religions HATE the others.
    God loves us.
    I believe in god but I avoid religion.

    January 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  10. danny

    organized religion is the biggest fraud in human history

    January 20, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Fred

      Amen!! (no pun intended 😉 )

      January 20, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  11. PC

    If no one stands between you and Jesus,then there is no profit,no paid jobs,no control,no group of followers to sustain your lifestyle.Of course there will be critics.The professional religious leaders need us to keep listening to their version and to keep paying them.

    January 20, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  12. MIXXBEATS

    PEOPLE SAY CHRISTIANS ARE WEAK MINDED BUT THEN THEY BELEIVE IN THE BIG BANG THEORY...HOW ARE YOU SO SURE IT REALLY HAPPEND THAT WAY??? I AM 100% SURE THAT GOD(JESUS) IS REAL AND I HAVE PROOF.

    January 20, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Tr1Xen

      I'm 100% sure that if you press that the key directly to the left of the "A" on your keyboard will work wonders for you. Try pressing it once more before you post again. Some of us would appreciate it! 😉

      January 20, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Tr1Xen

      *it will work wonders =P

      January 20, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Ironicus

      If your "proof" is all in your head then say no more – you are full of crap.
      If your "proof" is something you can show everyone where it can be tested, examined, analyzed by everyone, then bring it forth and quit bogart-ing that stuff.

      January 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • this is simply too stupid to comment on

      So...you reject the Big Bang theory (which is based on empirical evidence) but accept jebus which is based on a book that was written a couple hundred years after he supposedly walked the earth. So what color is the sky on your planet?

      January 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • aaron

      uhhh, i believe it is called hard facts. religion has none, just the "but I know it true".

      January 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • N1ck

      You're making an assumption that anyone viewing Christians critically automatically buys into another theory/belief system. Making fewer assumptions may help you further along your journey.

      January 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • JImbo

      No. You have no proof that any religious figure or doctrine exhists. It is a belief, an acceptance by the mind that something is true or real, often underpinned by an emotional or spiritual sense of certainty. Once you realize this, you will understand.

      January 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • benefit

      You dont have proof.. Get over it

      January 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • yeahalright

      Fork on over that proof anytime.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • CosmicC

      I have proof that my religion is correct. I'm a frisbeetarian (the central tenent is that when you die you don't go anywhere, you're just stuck on the roof for all eternity). My proof is the myriad frisbees stuck on my garage roof.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  13. studdmuffins

    Another member of organized religion purporting to despise organized religion. Okay.

    As I said elsewhere; Religion, meaning belief, should be free. Unfortunately it is used to control, manipulate, betray and enrich.

    January 20, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  14. GaryS

    This kid is an embarrassing hypocrite. He decries "self-righteousness" but is himself self-righteous to the point of nausea. He talks as if he knows all about Jesus, yet fails to understand that Christ came to rectify the church – not condemn it. Jesus attacked the religious aristocracy of the times. The Jewish leaders had become heretics who used God's law against God's own people, and was misleading them. Jesus was all about sound doctrine, moral fiber and Godly law. Jesus is the Law! He is the Word! Jesus hates religion? I think not. Jesus hates false religion, false doctrine, false teachings. Jesus commanded Peter to build His Church, and Paul went around and around forming churches based on doctrine and law. Peter and Paul and John condemned all those who would subvert the law and bring in a different gospel. These men gave their entire lives bringing True Religion to a world of false gods and false idols and false doctrines. The youngster in this video needs to close his mouth and open his Bible. He has a lot of reading, praying and studying to do. A heavy does of humility wouldn't hurt him one bit.

    But that's where this is leading. People like the kid in this video are leading people to a new gospel. He smells like "Emergent Church" to me. Tread that water carefully, my fellow Christians. The Law is still The Law. Cling to the Bible, cling to the Christ of the Bible. Shun all others.

    January 20, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • lulu

      The word "church" in the bible means more than one thing. In that passage it stands for the body of christ,in other words the people that declare Jesus as lord are referred to as "the church". Jesus clearly stood against organized religion and even stated not to be like the church leaders that were hypocrites that wanted to be seen and heard by the world and did not stand for the true meaning of god's purpose.

      Read Matthew 6:5 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • benefit

      "But that's where this is leading. People like the kid in this video are leading people to a new gospel. He smells like "Emergent Church" to me. Tread that water carefully, my fellow Christians. The Law is still The Law. Cling to the Bible, cling to the Christ of the Bible. Shun all others."

      You prove the hatred and corruption Religion and God brings. God would be ashamed of you and you should be ashamed of shaming your own beliefs. Disgrace is the only word to describe your moral fiber

      January 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  15. On the Other Hand

    If G'd was so displeased with religions why would he allow it?

    Even if you're an Aetheist .....the Big Bang came from somewhere: where did the particles come from? Was it the first Big Bang or Nth?

    January 20, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Ironicus

      Everything is dimensional energy including the precursors to the Big Bang which may not have been quite what is assumed by many due to dimensional possibilities.
      In none of it is there any need or requirement for a "being" of any sort to explain how things progress using physics and other dimensional constructs.
      So it doesn't matter whether the "Big Bang" was the first or last or 23rd manifestation for this particular spacetime.
      Your "god" doesn't exist as described and this can be proven in many ways.

      January 20, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      Maybe 1st, maybe the nth. But they weren't particles, it was just a massive amount of energy (E=mc^2) meaning the particles come from the energy. There are many theories about where that energy came from. I'd Recommend looking up a few before you show your ignorance again.

      January 20, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • SB

      The history of human knowledge shows that there are no questions without answers; only questions that have not yet been answered. You implicitly state that there must be god(s) because there are still outstanding questions in physics. I remind you that there was a time when people didn't know why the sun gave light and warmth, or why there was night and day, or why any number of things are the way they are. People used to think that was the work of god(s), too. But eventually we learned that wasn't the case.

      January 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • D. Green

      Why would God allow religion? Why does he allow pedophiles. Surely, that displeases him, doesn't it? Unless there is no God. To your point, what about the Big Bang? That's a great question, and I can accept a belief in a supreme power of some kind. I just can't accept the fairly tales written by man that "good people" are supposed to swallow, like a virgin birth, son of God, burning bush, Noah and the flood, Jonah and the whale, turning water to wine/water to blood, parting of the Red Sea, etc, etc. Really, who can believe any of that. Saying that there must have been a maker of our universe, I can at least accept that as an intelligent argument, even if I don't believe it (and I'm not sure).

      January 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • this is simply too stupid to comment on

      ...then where did god come from?

      Look up "parsimony" in the dictionary, apparently the word doesn't exist in your vocabulary.

      January 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Test

      "Everything is dimensional energy including the precursors to the Big Bang which may not have been quite what is assumed by many due to dimensional possibilities.
      In none of it is there any need or requirement for a "being" of any sort to explain how things progress using physics and other dimensional constructs."

      Weak thesis with tons of assumptions.

      January 20, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • David Arth

      Where do gods come from?

      January 20, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  16. Mmmkay

    I think George Carlin sumed up Religion pretty well, if you havent seen his video google it. I think god falls into the category of Mythology, just like other civilizations have had their gods we have ours. Has anyone every seen any of the gods, no of course not, and you wont because they dont exsist.
    Great stories, i mean look at what they did during the plague, we see it as foolish now because we know better but at the time they were convinced that it was a punishment from god. Im sure 300-500 years from now they will look at us the same if we havent killed ourselves off.

    January 20, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  17. emmodelee

    Interesting video. Who is Jesus ? http://www.desposynichurch.org has amazing info that rings and sounds true about Jesus Ben Panther. His autobiography and lost years are in CDs. Each is $12 of which $5 will be donated to Africa AIDS orphans. There are podcasts too.

    January 20, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  18. Alex G

    Here is a better version: Why I love Religion and Love Jesus
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ru_tC4fv6FE

    January 20, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • GaryS

      Catholics have no place in this debate. This white collar dude mentions inquisitions and such. The Catholic Papal Church has so much innocent blood on it hands... Run. Run fast and hard away from Catholicism. Don't look back. Get yourself a Bible and a small simple church. Pray daily. Live as free of sin as is humanly possibly. Shun the Catholic church and it's false regent. YOU DO NOT NEED THE POPE! YOU DO NOT NEED HIS "CHURCH." It's laughable that a Catholic Priest would wade into this arena. Laughable.

      January 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Tom

      Awesome job!
      GaryS is gay – He is the one that is in the wrong place.

      January 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • aaron

      ya, catholics...riiiight. look at that enormous church behind him. jesus would puke if he saw that. he would be like, "um, wow, did you guys miss the point or what?"

      January 20, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Tom

      ...as opposed to the ones that totally ignore His existence, and disrespects Him... sure. He would be happy with atheists also... not!
      About the video: Why does he says the church does not help the poor?? It seems to me this guy is just a rich kid that watches too much rap (more specifically, Drake)

      January 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Last Call

      Creative video but focuses on religion. It's not about religion, it's about a Personal Relationship with Jesus. That's what the original video emphasized and that is why it has gone viral. Religion complicates. Put your trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins. That is why He died on the cross for you. If religion worked then why was it necessary for Him to die? He did so to fulfill the scriptures. He gave access to the thief on the cross next to Him when He accepted what was offered. That thief had no time to get "religious." Follow Him as his disciples did. Accept his gift of eternal life. Learn, serve and reach the lost through the Gospel.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  19. Billy Brasky

    It’s an interesting take, and for the most part I agree. My only caveat would be that you don’t need to believe Jesus was divine to listen to and understand his message. But I do agree religion has nothing to do with Jesus or faith.

    January 20, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • CosmicC

      I'm an atheist/Unitarian Universalist (if you think there's a contradiction, you don't know much about UU's). I was raised Jewish. Here's my take on Jesus: He was a Jewish guy who had a lot of really great things to say. I doubt he thought he was God. I know from historical evidence that his words were twisted to create a new religion for the Roman empire. His core message holds true, but many of the miracles assigned to him and the narrow, exclusive thinking were later additions.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  20. Al

    Religion is spiritual laziness. Why believe another's revelation/hallucination?

    January 20, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • sabrina

      Religion is mental laziness, not spiritual.

      Think about it for a second. The Bible already has stories, theories and ideas written by others. People who read and believe the Bible do not have to THINK for themselves. Someone is doing the thinking for them. The majority of people in this world are just mentally lazy and would rather not tap into their own minds. This is why we only use 10% of our brains.

      January 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Tom

      Sabrina – don't think too hard or you might fart
      Seriously, how do you plan to understand what is infinitely greater than you?
      Better yet...tell me, if you were God, how would you write a book that would pass on your message in such a way that MOST people would understand , and would transcend through thousands of years with the 'same' meaning??
      Since you seem to use more than 10% of your brain, why don't you write something better??

      January 20, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • sabrina

      Tom – geez, is the only alternative to thinking too hard, the possibility that I might "fart"? o.o
      I don't have a plan to understand what is infinitely greater than me (assuming there is something that is infinitely greater than me). However, if I did have a plan, my plan would be to attempt to understand that infinitely greater being on my own terms and in my own way so that I can ensure that I truly do understand it. However, what I just said and am pointing out again, is that Christians who follow the Bible do not try to come to understand the infinitely greater being on their own. Rather, they use the words of an authority figure or just read what's already been written.

      You are now asking an finite being like me to pretend to be God? Isn't this all ironic or is there no such thing for you? Same meaning? Whatever do you mean?? Does not the Bible have thousands of interpretations (literal, symbolic, etc.) and DIFFERENT branches of Christianity all throughout America. Please explain why Catholics and Christians are separated. Why would God write a book where there is so much separation and misunderstandings between fellow believers? Shouldn't they ALL come to the same meaning and conclusions??

      Finally, I said WE only use 10% of our brains. Where is your basis that I ever said I use more than 10% of my brain? Your counterargument is out of scope, my dear.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.