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. bill

    Finally! A bible that's educational and worth reading:

    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/index.htm

    January 20, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Hillel the Elder

      So what your saying is that the bible from which you draw your beliefs is not worth reading? What have you guys been doing all this time reading that crap!

      January 20, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • george

      I would criticise this post. but I would have to read the above bible first to be fair.
      That's not happening.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • george

      Hey Hilly. that crap as opposed to?
      The Torah? Does your G-d, play on that team?

      January 20, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • george

      Oops< religion fails, again!

      January 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • latix7

      @george – so you'd rather be unfair and take measures to keep away from any information that doesn't fit into your pre-approved reality? Sounds pretty religious to me. Religion is Santa, basically – be good and God will give you presents and keep you safe. Jesus is the opposite of religion – Jesus was the child of God that we could never be. He took our lumps and we get His blessing. Simple. If you're an atheist who requires empirical evidence I give you four thousand years of Judeo-Christian influence, the best-selling book of all time, and a four-thousand year-old nation called Israel that everyone just can't seem to get rid of, which is supported by the words in the book, which is completely about Jesus, New and Old Testament.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • george

      Latix, that's all well and good, I wish you peace on your journey.
      If one is earnest in his pursuit of G-d, then one will earn entry, re-entry maybe, whatever.
      Is your heart good, my friend?

      January 20, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Doyouwantmore

      The totality of all the information points to Christianity being completely true when you look at Jesus' influence on society's morality and structure, the Bible's status and contextual accuracy compared to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the inherent design of DNA and molecular structures and the admission of people like Richard Dawkins that God ultimately can't be 100% disproven. But the truth is even more evident when you look at the lives of people who really humbly devoted their lives to the Lord – and most of them are not famous. Maybe none of them. Those people who are out in the world saving lives and leading people to the truth are the real evidence that there is something different about this whole Jesus-follower thing.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • george

      People, the debate is only relevant if it moves you towards G-d. Let, the First Commandment, be primary in your movement towards that which is divine.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • george

      You either believe or you don't. The reward comes from trying to believe. It's, it"s own reward.
      not complicated. It would be my wish for everyone.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  2. Doyouwantmore

    You're missing the point of the poem – It's a challenge to re-think what secular society thinks of as religion. The mainstream media and secular liberals in general won't speak to the actual point of the video, and its hilarious. Christianity is not a religion when its about Jesus. Christianity as an organized group draws its value from Jesus and what He did and does. Jesus does not gain or lose credibility based on the assets or actions of the Church, and that is why the mainstream media and secular liberals in general will try, ironically, to bury the Jesus part of this story under a pile of religion and phony controversy. Kudos to CNN for putting it front and center – Jesus is glorified again, like it or not.

    January 20, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • latix7

      I know what you mean but you didn't articulate it very well. You're saying that because Jesus is real and alive and speaks to those of who are humble and willing to listen that He transcends organized religion. You're saying that CNN and commenters here won't and can't really put the video in context because, as the Bible says, Christianity makes you a fool – and God uses the foolish and weak things of this world to shame the wise. But to those who are still firmly attached to the world they can't be blamed for thinking Christianity is no different than any other religion. Its just awesome that people are seeing this video and God is being discussed. The truth will win out.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Ivan Demanis

      You obviously missed out on Jesus' missions too: the way you dumbly and ignorantly bash 'secular liberals' you're doing the very UNchristian thing this young man talks about. And to tell you the truth, a lot of secular folks, even atheists, have no bones with the idea of Jesus in general: goodness, grace, forgiveness and all.
      Those secular folks take fools like you apart, because you're showing yourself as part of the religious hypocracy that you just heard about in this rap poem. Amen.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Christian

      I was so happy to read your post. I worried after reading this story that it would discourage some people from watching this video with an open heart and mind. Ii couldn't agree with you more.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  3. LuLu

    Umm, Bill. Buddhist don't believe in heaven or hell unless you think of "Nirvana" (aka ending the cycle of rebirth) as "Heaven". And we study his teachings and attempt to be more like him, we don't worship him.

    January 20, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • lold

      thats the problem, buddhism is a contradictory belief where u dont believe in god but u bow to a stupid statue of some fat guy with extra large ears. no heaven? how about buddhist book of the dead and their gods and goddesses ..again proves buddhism is just another dumb belief

      January 20, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Hillel the Elder

      @lold
      You know nothing about buddhism

      January 20, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • lold

      really/ then disprove me on what i said. try

      January 20, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @lold

      Very well then. Do you perchanse know what the statue represents, assuming of course your speaking of the most commonly known image of The Buddha where he is sitting with his legs crossed and a single hand raised? Do you even know what the name Buddha signifies? As far as I'm aware there are no gods or godesses in Buddhism. As for the "Buddhist Book of the Dead" (the translation being The Tibetan Book of the Dead or the Bardo Thodol), the main purpose of this book for the Buddhist is to detail the experiences the consciousness will go through in the time between death and rebirth. In the book are also chapters on what rituals to perform when death draws closer.

      You say to disprove you, yet you said nothing but incomplete and ignorant facts. I have corrected those as best as I can with what I know of Buddhism. Perhaps you should make an assertion of something before you tell someone to disprove you.

      January 20, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  4. Chris

    This quandry was revealed to me when census described those who don't call themselves Christians or belong to a religious sect as 'none's. 'None' is the box that was checked when given the option of 'Protestant', 'Catholic', Jewish', etc. I think the percentage was 18%?

    January 20, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  5. littleriver2

    He isn't an athiest. He is just richeously indignant about all the missed opportunity the "church" has to do good and help people. I'm sick of giving money to a church and then have a church buy a new carpet or pew cushions. The church I attend has just bought a new VAN, for God's sake they say. They make no runs to pick up the poor nor do they deliver food to hungry families. It is for SHOW!!!!!!!! To take our own spoiled brats to "youth retreats" and such. I got what he said.

    January 20, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  6. LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Don't like your odds atheists 🙁

    There are about 1070 atoms in the observable universe. There are only 1090 seconds in the 15 billion years generally said to be the age of the universe. The probability of spontaneously forming the smallest replicating protein molecule by chance is 1 in 10^450. The probability of spontaneously forming proteins and DNA for the smallest self-replicating ent.ity is 1 in 10^167,626. The probability of a simple living cell reassembling itself under ideal natural conditions if all components were present but chemical bonds were broken is 1 in 10^100,000,000,000. Mathematicians consider events in nature with a probability of less than 1 in 10^50 to have a zero probability, i.e. to be impossible regardless of how much time is available.

    January 20, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Correction, the beginning should say 10^70 and then 10^90, not 1070 & 1090.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • phelonius

      and yet here you are, imagine the odds.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Hillel the Elder

      <== engineer.

      Show me the science. We can make amino acids spontaneously form in test tubes with conditions consistent with the earth's surface 1 billion years ago. These numbers are from thin air.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • sbk

      Protein molecules don't replicate.

      Try again.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • jimbo

      "There are about 1070 atoms in the observable universe. There are only 1090 seconds in the 15 billion years generally said to be the age of the universe"

      Never mind the obvious incorrectness above. Really only 1070 atoms in the universe? 1090 seconds in 15 billion years? Really?

      No one said that DNA spontaneously sprung up. You obviously have no understanding of how things happened, and are just copying some crap you read that obviously has no idea what they are talking about. Hint:: If you want to learn what true scientists say, you shouldn't be looking at a creationist website.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Hillel the Elder

      "Protein molecules don't replicate.

      Try again."

      What does that even mean? That's not even an argument. Amino acids are the predicators of life in all context. Protien variation is the reason your eyes are blue and someone elses are brown. It's the reason that while your hair and a rhino's horn and made from the same type of protien, they are different in shape, size, and texture. Where there are amino acids there is most certainly a hospitible habitat for life.

      Go read a textbook

      January 20, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • chrism

      Hillel, no, the experiments produce both stereoisomers and only one is found in nature. Miller-Urey is regarded by many as evidence against the theory of abiogenesis. But then it did use very flawed conditions since we've learned differently about the atmospheric conditions present.

      Did you ever consider if determinism were true,, it would literally mean the early conditions of the universe were set from the beginning to produce life.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • jimbo

      "Miller-Urey is regarded by many as evidence against the theory of abiogenesis. But then it did use very flawed conditions since we've learned differently about the atmospheric conditions present."

      Uh, not quite. Creationists use the Miller-Urey experiment as evidence because they don't understand it (Pillars of Evolution). Thing is, you can modify it to what we now believe were the appropriate conditions and guess what? You get the same thing.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  7. Natch

    What his detractors, who insist you cannot be anti-religious AND Christian, fail to realize, is that Jesus wasn't a Christian, he was a Jew......and he warned people, way back when, of becoming too religious, and forgetting that the most important thing is your FAITH in God, NOT your religion! Christianity is NOT an organized religion, any more than being Muslim or Buddhist is.

    January 20, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • lold

      juda-ism sounds more like a sick cult to me as well, juda-ism isn't even an organized rleigion its a cult of deceit and evil. jeremiah 9

      January 20, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  8. Tom

    "Jesus" is Hispanic!

    January 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  9. george

    Here's the deal-ee-oh, you either believe or you don't.
    Everything before you get *There*, was just a journey of destiny.
    I keep moving, towards ( One hopes) the *There*, with only the belief that the conclusion, was worth all the effort.
    That my earnestness in seeking my God,was in fact, all I ever needed. I wish the above for all my fellow inhabitants.
    Catch you all on the upside!
    P.S. Thou shalt not kill.......... O.K.?

    January 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • littleriver2

      SNAP-SNAP!!!!

      January 20, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • george

      Wouldn't it be grand if you arrived *There*, as if akin to a lightswitch?

      January 20, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  10. John 3:16

    I Love it....You got it young man!!!!! AMEN!!!!!!

    January 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  11. lold

    jesus compared canaanite woman to dog, so much about "jesus love" bs

    January 20, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • littleriver2

      Back that up buddy. Isn't on my radar!

      January 20, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • swohio

      You obviously don't understand what Jesus was saying in that passage. He wasn't comparing the woman to a dog. She was a Gentile...a "dog"....and He was indicating how he was sent to help God's lost sheep, the Jews – not the Gentiles. The woman responded by saying that even the dogs eat the scraps which fall from their master's table. Jesus commended her for her faith, and then healed her daughter. Do you think Jesus was unloving by healing her daughter?

      January 20, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  12. bill

    Deuteronomy 22:13-22
    Glory is Gods

    January 20, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Hillel the Elder

      Tuna Sandwiches

      January 20, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  13. The Lord Almighty

    What? Jesus isn't telling people to vote Republican? I'm going to have to have a talk with that boy.

    January 20, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • chrism

      That's a false accusation. When democratic candidates embrace Christian values, such as Bob Casey Sr. You see how many Christians vote for them. It's issues not parties.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  14. joco

    Hating Religion makes you a.............Hater You need some more time with Jesus, he had a lot to say about it.

    January 20, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  15. augustghost

    Religion is for the scared and weak

    January 20, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • vincent

      True; the arrogant ones are blinded

      January 20, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • chrism

      All human beings are weak and depend on God. Admitting it is brave. Some are scared to.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • littleriver2

      Not!

      January 20, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Jordan

      Augusthost- Actually, you have no warrants or evidence to back up your claim that "Religion is for the scared and the weak". Therefore, your claim is false. This is a news outlet; comments that nobody really cares for reading just make you look like a fool. You just got owned by a high school debater, way to go.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • AdmrlAckbar

      And unsupported opinions pushed off as fact are for the uneducated and stupid.

      And yes.. FUD IS 4 TROLL!

      Happy now?

      January 20, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • *hOt ShOt LaWyEr*

      hahaha, Jordan just made my day!

      January 20, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  16. Anon

    The unabashed hatred and unkindness today is astounding. Such hatred and vitriol towards people for their beliefs. Atheists, many of you are doing exactly what you claim religion has done throughout the years with these attacks of people's liberties. Where is this ability to show restraint and employ compassion that I keep hearing does not require faith in a higher power? We are what we do, not what we claim. The end is indeed near. It has been written and even if you do not believe, it is unfolding.

    For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,

    Look for him and you will find him. Praise Jehovah

    January 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • ari

      how do you know the end is near? why should we believe you? doesn't the bible say that anyone who claims such a thing is a liar?

      oh and btw its YHWH, not "jehovah", take it from a jew.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Anon

      You are correct, it is YHWH. If I have offended you, I apologize. The bible tells us the signs of the end of the world's corruption and how it will unfold. The attack on religion is a big sign and those making the attacks are growing in number. I have no desire for anyone to believe me, believe God. Peace.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Brian Holbrook

      You are, in effect, saying: "Why all the vitriol? Why can't all of you atheists just be accepting and compassionate toward us. Oh, and if you don't believe now, you'll believe later when you're roasting in hell!" You go praise Jehovah, for all the good it does you, but don't expect me to treat you as if your views have actual merit. You are an anachronism and your religion is a poison.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Anon

      Brian,I can assure you 100% that I have never told anyone they would go to hell. I do not even believe in Dante's version of firey hell. I am also telling no one that they must do anything, but rather making an observation. I will say at risk of offending you, that God loves you even if you do not love him or believe in him. Peace.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Tanuki

      I can see your point about athiests and I a happen to be one. Please keep in mind that we tend to see and talk about only the extreme cases that either support our causes or outrage us. We tend to ignore that which goes against what we want to see. I'm sorry if you've had experiences where you felt judged or belittled for your beliefs. Those experiences have everything to do with an INDIVIDUAL's character and nothing to do with their belief or lack thereof.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  17. jojo

    I love Tim Tebow, but hate the NFL. (oh wait, they are real!)

    January 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • frank

      Jojo:

      I have never seen you nor have I known anyone that has seen you. Does that mean YOU aren't real?

      January 20, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  18. ari

    there are many reasons to hate religion (namely that it makes no sense) but the arguments that this young... "follower of jesus" gives make little to no sense. religion rarely starts wars. it is often a factor in uniting one side in a war against the other, but you truly don't see it actually initiating wars. most of modern radical islam is more about perceived colonialism than religion. the crusades were more about fortifying europe against eastern invaders than about spreading christianity.

    moreover, churches and mosques (and other religious houses) DO and always have fed the poor. not all of the poor, but some of them. if you look at the most uber-religious places worldwide, you will see that they are heavily involved in the community. look at the muslim brotherhood in egypt. people don't care about them because of their message–people care about them because they feed the poor and take care of the sick. the catholic church for all of its failings is the world's single largest source of aid for low-income areas. the evangelical salvation army is america's leading disperser of clothes and food to needy americans.

    religion is bad because it holds humanity back from scientific achievement and critical thinking... not because "men" have corrupted it. men were the ones who created it in the first place.

    January 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • DisabledVet

      @ari...this is probably some of worst reasoning I have ever seen. But is fairly standard for most ppl. You are incorrect in your statement that religion rarely starts wars. In fact many of the most vicious wars that were ever fought by man were all caused by religion. The Crusades were VERY MUCH about spreading Christianity and reach of power by the Catholic Church. South America was colonized and conquered by the Church for the same reasons. As a disabled vet I can tell you that modern radical islam is VERY MUCH about religion. Has nothing to do with 'perceived colonialism'. You may want to study the Koran a little and understand Islam more. Believing in a false God is a VERY big reason why radical Islamists are against Christians.

      I do agree with you on your statement on religion being bad and why.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • AdmrlAckbar

      @ari a whole bunch of opinions pushed off as "facts" without a shred of solid empirical support for anything you say...I see you are another devout believer in the Almighty Opinion..

      January 20, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  19. wfo808

    There are SO many holes in this not even funny. Yeah I am a democrat but I love Jesus. Too funny.

    January 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Hillel the Elder

      He is talking about Spirituality vs. Religion. They are two completely different things. Jesus defines him spiritually, the traditions and rules associated with christianity do not.

      Where in the bible does it say to celebrate Christmas?

      January 20, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  20. Red

    I'll say yes to anything that erodes religion's influence. Religious donations have been falling for decades and continue to fall. I hope the "Christianity without Religion" movement aids this trend.

    January 20, 2012 at 4:30 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.