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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. cyberCMDR

    People want to keep the churches and organized religion, because they are so effective at sustaining the brainwashing. If beliefs were individual, it would be up that that individual to keep up the illusions religion provides when confronted by real world evidence. Astronomers can see objects farther than 10,000 light years away and I believe the earth is less than 10,000 years old? No problem, our pastor said God just made it look that way to test our faith. New genetics research shows how evolution selected for certain genes in related species? No problem, our pastor says evolution has no real evidence to support it. We must believe in the stories in this holy book, that were written back when people didn't know where the sun went at night. Beliefs would fragment without the constant reinforcement that organized religion provides.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Martin

      The belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie can make you live forever if you accept a blood sacrifice and symbolically eat his flesh and drink his blood, and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a woman made from a rib was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  2. Peter B. Long

    After reading a lot of these comments, it would seem that a lot of people could use a good whoopin with the "majority" stick.

    Unfortunately, these people hide behind the cloak of internet anonymity.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • God

      Yes, definitely persecute the minorities. That is totally my word.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • cloaked

      Pretty bold name ... Peter B. Dumb

      Thanks for stating the obvious M0R0N.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  3. FreeYourMind

    This is not original ... He may have rhymed it, but the genius George Carlin already beat him to it ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeSSwKffj9o
    RIP George Carlin. Although, even his sun god would eventually collapse into a black hole... Ha!

    Why stop at Christianity? What about the other 66% of the world that doesn't believe in Jesus? Stop for 5 minutes and think about what I wrote, before you hate on the comments here. Have you ever stopped and thought about why you believe in god? Was it because you have always since your parents took you to church since you were a kid? Or is it because you feel the need to give thanks for something in your life or to pay for the sins you keep committing? Just think how often do you go to church to be comforted and to be told that you have been forgiven. Who ever invented a revolving door was a genius, at least until people realized that a door wasn't needed at all.

    People tend to believe what they "need" to believe to make it through their lives. If you're a sinner, you "need" to be forgiven by a forgiving Jesus. But what if someone doesn't need to be or want to be forgiven? Then what?

    How about just loving your fellow humans before loving a being that no one on earth can provide proof of. Isn't that what a true god would want anyhow?

    Hope you treat strangers like family, keep your beliefs to yourself, and aspire for science. Question everything and your mind will be freed.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • growthehellup

      People are too afraid to go at life completely alone. Those of us who live fearless lives have to understand that. As long as they don't interfere with my freedom or my family I let them be. It's going to take a long, long time to undue the reliance on deities.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  4. katmoondaddy

    We can't forget that the fellowship of a church is helpful in strengthening your bond with God. I know religion has gotten a bad rap because of dogma and corruption but that is due to certain individuals. The teachings are still the same and you can embrace God your own way in the church of your choice.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  5. Mimi

    As long as you are a good person, I don't care what your religion is./

    January 20, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  6. GianCarlo

    WOW!!!!!!!!! So refreshing.............so enlightening..........a breath of fresh air..................

    Keep it up dude, your right on...................lets expose all of those Republican hypocrites, and the "Christians" that follow them.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  7. cdn1951

    I dread the day when one of these religious zealots gets into a position where the ycan push the button to eliminate everyone that is wrong and deserves to die because they don't believe in the same thing.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Jon

      We already have that. The entire Middle East.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • cdn1951

      I was referring more to a nuclear armed country

      January 20, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Martin

      These blood sacrifice believers cannot see the moral disconnect in the idea of a father having his son murdered. Abraham/Issac Jehovah/Jesus it's just another mythological story, and humans love stories, especially if it offers immortality and forgivness for raping and murdering e.g. Jeffery Dalmer

      January 20, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  8. guest

    This kid is way off. It was Jesus and the split between Christianity, Judaism and Islam that have caused the wars.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Mimi

      I agree

      January 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • DoNotWorry

      Religion in all forms has caused wars throughout history. Christian/Judaism/Muslim is just one version of that.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  9. JG

    Imagine if it's the year 1 AD. You're a practicing buddhist somewhere in Asia. All of the sudden you hear stories of some dude walking on water, turning water into wine, etc etc etc. You'd probably say "BS". Now imagine that being perpetuated over and over again. There you have it.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      I prefer 1 CE (Common Era), gets rid of the jesus related year count.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Have what? That some theoretical ppl didn't believe something they heard.
      Wow...shocking.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  10. God

    Attention Christians – I bring you the 12th Commandment – thou shalt try to convert people on the internet. That always works. Trust me. It's as likely to work as it is likely that you get to live forever after you die. So, like, 100% we're talking here.

    And don't forget the 11th commandment – mo money, mo problems. I really wish I wrote that down the first time.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • YesMatt

      Don't bring up the Commandments God, Christians don't follow the Old testament anymore.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      Like Hitchens said about death that it's like you're at a party and told that party is going to go one forever but you have to leave, the idea of eternal life is much scarier, it's like you're at a party and told that it's going to go on forever but you can never leave.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  11. YesMatt

    So, more christians practicing the values that are shared in the bible...

    How's treating women like slaves and killing working people on sundays?

    It tells how the practices and laws of god are constant, for ever...

    Why is it that many christians pick and choose what to believe from the bible instead of all of it.
    Basically all you're doing is only following god to a certain extent.....not true believers.

    People who are opposed to the Old testament, seem to follow god's ten commandments....which are from the old testament.

    Atheists are not hypocrites....we just read the bible from cover to cover.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  12. Anon

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBo7Z_abiLE

    January 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Dave

      Great piece. I'm just surprised that CNN flags typing curse words but allows them in videos! LOL

      January 20, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  13. Bill

    Want to know why religion and Christianity are a contraditction? Research the Jesuits and their infillitration into every denomination, and government organziation. Sounds crazy right? Trust me, I thought the same thing.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  14. Rich

    Some people just don't understand how a person can hate religion, yet still love Christ and the church. Jesus didn't teach religion, He came to set us free from religion. The origin of the word religion = to bind; to tie up. Look it up.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  15. JG

    All religion is, and has been, conjured by man. Ever played the game "telephone" as a kid...? "God" used to be the Sun and the Stars, which actually made more sense. The Sun is real, you can see it sometimes, and without it we're all dead. Sounds good enough for me.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • george

      Sunworshippers, get to sacrificial for my tastes.
      Unless of course, the sacrifices are done according to I.Q. You guess what order of diminishment, I'd choose.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  16. ncastronomer

    Why would you call religion slavery then praise the Bible which supports slavery??

    January 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  17. justmike

    Many people "believe" in the big bang theory as if it actually explains something in opposition to creation. It is not possible to get any parts to make any bang from absolutely nothing including space itself. So as far as we know today according to any existing science, everything always existed at some level in the actual beginning and somehow those things decided to form and act upon each other on their own without anything in front of them? Multiple big bangs? It doesn't matter, it's still the same FACT! We know almost nothing.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • go4it

      See "A Universe from Nothing" by physicist Laurence Krauss

      January 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Marcus

      Creating a deity to explain things we don't understand is as old as mankind itself. However, science has slowly and methodically found explanations for a great many things, and will continue to do so as it searches for more answers. Meanwhile, turning inwards to determine our own beliefs is far better than organizing under someone else's roof and espousing messages that are often divisive and harmful...

      January 20, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • silliness

      I agree that in the larger sense we know almost nothing. Yet there are those (religious people) who claim to know exactly how the universe began. A bit arrogant, no?

      January 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Douglas

      Most big bang belivers do still believe in God. It is the fundamentalist, literalist, that must have everything in nice black and white terms and think that if the big bang exists that it threatens Christianity and God. It's true that scientist know very little for sure... in fact, the more we look into why anything exist at all, the weirder it seems to get. Even Steven Hawking recently said that he is begining to change his view, and considering that we may never know the real nuts and bolts of existence.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • justmike

      Of the two, what has more supporting facts?

      January 20, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • justmike

      Yes, this is true, the more we know, the more we see there is to know. But, that's not an answer is it?

      January 20, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • justmike

      "See "A Universe from Nothing" by physicist Laurence Krauss"

      "A" Universe, so this still does not explain how something or well, everything comes from nothing. I've seen that, and it still doesn't explain how, and or space. I've also seen the one about space being cut-out, and that one was a good read.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Brian

      Actually, Stephen Hawking recently explained how it is mathematically possible to "make something out of nothing". I believe it was on his show "curiosity". The metaphor used was "if you shovel some dirt, you make a pile. Where did the pile come from? Well, there is a hole. The hole is equivalent to the mound of dirt. It is very interesting, I would recommend researching it!

      January 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • justmike

      "Where did the pile come from? Well, there is a hole."

      Well, the answer would be "All existing parts and forces of the pile always was, or was created". Another way of saying the exact same thing. People just accept these things, for no actual reason, it's what they choose to believe.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • justmike

      Hawking said: “Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing."

      Well, that would be great, if we didn't already have explanations on gravity cause and effect that supports, well, everything most people want to believe today. Take away the cause and effect at the beginning point in time, and you have nothing. This in no way means that there are millions of almost laws of gravity, nor only one. It actually says nothing at all.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • justmike

      Once upon a time, a man figured out how to create life and challenged God, who much to his suprise, showed up.
      The man recovered quickly, and God said “Show me what you got, hot stuff.”
      The man grabbed a test tube and said “Watch this, and he bent down to grab some dirt.”
      Behind him he heard God say “AhAhAh Ah. Make your own dirt!

      January 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • justmike

      "Yet there are those (religious people) who claim to know exactly how the universe began. A bit arrogant, no?"

      Not any more than people that claim to know anything else, so no. I do not know how the universe began, yet I believe, not in spite of science, or because of science, but because I simply gave it a try and read The Bible. Once I did that, everything changed in my life.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  18. Walt K

    James 1:26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • justmike

      Yes, this is truth. I keep seeing people post as Christians using words such as ignorant, fool, stupid, and the list goes on..

      Mat 5:22
      "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

      The Fruits of the Spirit are what shows others Christ in Christians.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  19. ALEX

    DONKEY PUNCH!!!!!

    January 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  20. StuffUrMamaShudaToldYa

    I believe the Bible to be truth. I have questions about it too. I dont think its contradictory. If i read in the original language in its original text and still had the same questions well...i dunno. Either way, life is lived in faith. Whether you are a believer or not. There are contradictions in our existence. There are questions in every belief...religious and non religious. Those of saying the Bible says the earth is 6000 years or and "who was cain afraid of?" just need to use your logic to get over that. The Bible never says the age of the earth. And perhaps there were other people on earth that cain was affraid of...or factor in how long people lived back then. future sons and daughters of Adam and Eve would eventually migrate... they would certainly know about cain and what he did. So cain could fear for his life even if their were only 3 people on earth at the time. There are greater mysteries in the Bible for which logic is more difficult to apply. My question to you all is, "how much about the world around you or the technology you use do you comprehend?" we are all inventors. We arent all scientist and mathematicians. how many of us are religious about our public/private education? But how much can we prove to be truth independently? one of the princliples in the Bible that rings true about all of humanity from the beginning until present is that man will seek knowledge first. Even if it leads to his ultimate demise. Life is all about the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. believers choose life, and non believers choose knowledge. Both live by faith. No one knows how we exist for sure. No one knows what was going on before we existed. We are limited in the knowledge we can achieve, so faith is absolutely necessary. Knowing the absolute truth in this short lifetime is like seeing your own face without a picture or a reflection. Its not gonna happen. Its fun to debate, but in the end we are all in the same boat. we are alive now, and we will die later. but be humble enough to admit that life is lived by faith. faith in man, or faith in God.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Huh?

      Yeah, the age old argument everything can be answered by using the word god. DUH! So what created your god?

      January 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • silliness

      Ye of little faith. Flying Spaghetti Monster is the One True Creator of the universe. Woe to those who do not believe! RAmen!

      January 20, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • YesMatt

      Nothing jumps out at you..?

      The fact that the bible implies the world being flat...jumps out at me....I use my logic to get past the whole book.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @silliness

      May you be blessed by his noodly apendage. NOODLES!!!!!

      January 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • justmike

      Flat Earth? Isaiah 40:22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in

      When is Isaiah said to be written?

      January 20, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
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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.