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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. tony

    I sincerely believe that the "beliefe Blog" makes CNN a lot of advertising dollars.
    And the ads on that video are making that young man rich. Too rich perhaps to pass through the eye of the needle.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • AdmrlAckbar

      Shhh .. you'll get banned.. Now move along lil' sheep to the political forums and make a polarized idiotic statement there.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Chris

      If the belief blog was not here it wouldnt be an issue, the fact that it exists only gives atheists and non-believers a reason to attack it.

      When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you (Isaiah 43:2)

      January 20, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Nero

      I agree. He's going down the right path, but though Jesus was a good person and I agree with most of his teachings, god doesn't exist. Period.

      January 20, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  2. sasquatch

    religion is nothing more than a way to control people.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • sasquatch

      Oh, and screw jesus too, he was just some nut.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • AdmrlAckbar

      HI I HAVE AN OPINION TOO! BUT MINE IS IN CAPS SO IN THE WORLD OF INTERWEBZ MINE IS BETTER!

      January 20, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Al

      You're a dege-nerate, sub-human group-think worshipper. Had you been born 400 years ago, you'd be burning witches. 500 and you'd be supporting the inquistiom.

      You're just another st-upid animal that is only fit to be enslaved and treated like the sub-human biological waste devoid of any rational thought, that you are.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • GAW

      So is politics and entertainment.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Nero

      You are right on. Religion has created more intolerance in this world than anything. Religion is evil. You could define evil with the word religion

      January 20, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Nero

      To Al,

      You sir, should listen to yourself. You are the reason why Religion is Evil. Ha ha ha, you are so funny. Do you think Jesus wanted people who didn't believe in him to be burned at the stake??? Of course not. Jesus H. Christ, you should probably refrain from speaking... you are just making me hate religion even more!

      January 20, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Milton

      "Religion is evil. You could define evil with the word religion"

      You are incorrect Nero.

      January 20, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • sam

      Al has strong opinions based on how angry his tiny peen makes him.

      January 20, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
  3. Mark in California

    Wow, a young man ahead of his time. I also despise religion, as it takes the word of God and corrupts it to become the Whip of Man. Work to learn and understand YOUR Gods word and practices and live up to them as you see fit, as only you answer to your lord and saviour. Those that force you to follow the words of their God are false witnesses that only work for your subservience.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Ryan Meeks

      More like a product of his time...

      January 20, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  4. Tie Mie Shu

    If this guy really hates Christianity and loves Jesus, hes just one more step closer to Islam.
    This is why Islam came – to complete the religion of Moses and Jesus. They have the same message – to believe in the One unseen Creator and do good deeds for His sake. And please dont give me that "why do you have to do it for someones sake, why cant you do it just because its good". Well dumbo, the source of all good is God, so why not do good for His sake. The bottom line is, Christians, Jews, Atheists, Buddhist, Hindus, Munafiqs and other kuffar truly hate God.
    This is why they hate Islam. And this infection of hate against God is rooted deep inside the hearts of kuffar. If you truly love God, then you would ask Him for guidance and then submit to His will. Don't cry when you will be put through torment. I guess now is the time to change if thats what written for you.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Al

      Islam doesn't belong in the free, Western world, Mustafa.

      Get lost, animal.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Farhan Sherif

      I must say, the Muslim version is better of course. It almost seems that Christians and Atheists have no functioning brain cells. Both ways of life are filthy.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Mark in California

      You don't get it do you. It's not Christianity but Organized Religion that he hates. Islam is just an false a religion as Christianity is, as it takes the word of man not God. And don't try to tell me different as the Quran was written years after Mouhamed died. How many version were written before the Islam religion had to make them one, Just as the Christion religion did in the 4th centgury.

      Follow your God, not your Iman or Pope

      January 20, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Tie Mie Shu

      @ AL
      Thank you for talking like a non-Muslim.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • karlito

      How do you hate something you don't believe in? I don't hate god any more than I hate bigfoot or the Lochness monster.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  5. Abe Qutub

    I'm 74 years old , in the last 50 years inthis country,there have been two things that are taboos : first being critical of Religion and second being critical of Israel !! Thanks for breaking the first...onto the second !! It's a FREE country man !

    January 20, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Al

      Israel belongs in the bottom of the ocean and Jews, in the gas chambers along with Arabs, f-ags and pedophiles.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • sam

      Al = troll desperate for attention with a tiny peen.

      January 20, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
  6. Al

    Heil Hitler.

    That will be all.

    Carry on preaching about how great Jesus is while nearly 100% of you can't keep your legs closed until you're married - one of your most fundamental teachings.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      That and divorce. Jesus had a lot to say about divorce being a bad thing, but never said a thing against gays so, of course, most of the discussion from believers is against gays and little is against divorce. Perfect logic.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Al

      What Bible are you reading, sodomite?

      January 20, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      I said Jesus, not the Bible. Does Jesus say anything specifically in the gospels about gays?

      January 20, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • sam

      I didn't realize how much a tiny peen can account for so much fake anger.

      January 20, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
  7. W.D.

    Can't believe I wasted 4:04 watching that drivel. Why is this going viral? It's a complete copout. This fellow is dismissing centuries of evil perpetrated by religions by saying they weren't really following the faith. And as a remedy to religion, he spouts a whole lot of theological cliches that sound profound but are as empty as the religion he is criticizing. Time to admit that the belief system is what is empty, and that the corruption of religion necessarily grew directly from that emptiness.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Al

      Your head is empty and devoid of thoughts outside of the group.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • EatYouAlive

      Faith is ultimately hollow and self serving.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • AdmrlAckbar

      And your "facts" seem to be nothing more than empirically unsupported opinions... Oh the folly of the logical positivist with the education to hold their ground. . .

      January 20, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  8. latdphewl

    This was great and it made perfect since to me. He is totally correct and in some circles a genius in my book. The Bible contains the works of God. Organized religion is for the hypocrites, and self absorbed. Yet, to believe in God we don't need a religion. Haters will always hate. This was amazing to me. Finally someone was intelligent enough to put it to words.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Al

      If your version of intelligent is a half-wit twenty-something Mestizo, you're in trouble.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Problem is that the Bible was compiled and made into canon by organized religion.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Billy

      The bible is entirely man made as well. You can't separate religion from the bible, or the torah or the koran. None of it belongs in a modern society. Google Spinoza.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • ted

      does it mean Christianity is not an organized religion? the video shows a typical religious act who bashes and demonizes other religion. Religion sucks. religion demonizing other religion. and now they wont claim they are not religion. "hates religion but love jesus" its just like saying "hates fruits but loves apple" hates countries but loves Russia" .

      January 20, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  9. phelonius

    @John 3:16
    what i'm trying to say is that you are as much God's child as jesus was, jesus realized that but his disciples apparently did not.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  10. Drinker

    I may not agree with what he believes in but at least it's a step closer in the right direction.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • tony

      Only one more step to following the example of a real historical person, instead of a magician by any other name, and he is promoting atheism.

      We all know one way personal relationships go nowhere and end eventually when the admirer wakes up..

      January 20, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Well, he admitted that religion is man-made. He just hasn't realized yet that the subject that inspired religion, gods, are also man made. So, yes, he is indeed half-way there.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Entil'za

      @Oh Yeah- "..that the subject that inspired religion, gods, are also man made."

      Care to prove that with some evidence? I'll make it easier..prove with evidence that the God of Abraham was man-made. Should be easy, just show who created the concept, how, why, when and where. Good luck.

      January 20, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Entil'za
      I, or you, cannot disprove God any more than we can disprove Thor, Zeus, or Isis. Yet Christians dismiss all rival gods without evidence that any are man-made just as I dismiss your God too. So you already accept the principle that gods have been fabricated and, under that norm, it is up to you to prove that yours is a god that doesn't follow the rule. Simple really.

      January 21, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • Entil'za

      @Oh Yeah- "I, or you, cannot disprove God any more than we can disprove Thor, Zeus, or Isis."

      ~Nice dodge but the topic is the God of Abraham.

      "Yet Christians dismiss all rival gods without evidence that any are man-made just as I dismiss your God too."

      ~Incorrect. Christians have reasons just as you have yours.

      "So you already accept the principle that gods have been fabricated and, under that norm, it is up to you to prove that yours is a god that doesn't follow the rule. Simple really."

      ~Don't think I implied anything of the sort. All I asked was for you to support your statement that you believe that religion was man made. I made it easy by putting it down to just one well known deity. And you keep implying a faith I have yet to declare. Try and quit making stuff up ok?

      January 23, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Entil'za

      @Oh Yeah- "I, or you, cannot disprove God any more than we can disprove Thor, Zeus, or Isis."

      ~Nice dodge but the topic is the God of Abraham.

      "Yet Christians dismiss all rival gods without evidence that any are man-made just as I dismiss your God too."

      ~Incorrect. Christians have reasons just as you have yours.

      "So you already accept the principle that gods have been fabricated and, under that norm, it is up to you to prove that yours is a god that doesn't follow the rule. Simple really."

      ~Don't think I implied anything of the sort. All I asked was for you to support your statement that you believe that religion was man made. I made it easy by putting it down to just one well known dei_ty. And you keep implying a faith I have yet to declare. Try and quit making stuff up ok?

      January 23, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  11. ken

    Well done young blood. I agree with everything he is trying to do and say except I will be an atheist to my dying day. I dont need any proof that I should follow a God who allows all the evil that I see in this world to exist. I dont believe in the excuse that free will is the reason. I have seen and heard too many things that people should never witness to believe in a God who cares about humanity. Like I could care less about the ants in the backyard, if there is a God we are nothing more than the ants on this particular planet. As for right and wrong, do what's right because you should always do unto others the same as you want done unto you.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Brian

      Thank you Ken. I couldn't have said that any better myself.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  12. Olga Levin

    I have seen this video and he makes a few things clear. As a Christian myself I've had many people tell me things that I need to do to be a "true Christian." I like it that he brings up the line, “What if I told you getting you to vote Republican really wasn’t his mission?” That brings a lot into perspective. Whether the poet is conservative in political thinking or not, let me make something here clear on that note: Not all evangelical Christians in this country are Republicans. Not all evangelical Christians in this country use their faith to get what they want out of this countries political leaders. Sure we want a leader who the people of this country first and who is wise and all that stuff but not all of us go looking for what religion a certain candidate is to determine whether to vote for him/her or not. A lot of us know how to keep our politics and our faith separately. Another thing that I hate is when I hear from the side who are non-religious telling me what I need to do to remain a "good Christians." Like when science is brought up as a topic, so what now Christians can't be scientists or love the field of science because it supposedly interferes with our faith? So we believe in God, SO WHAT? There are lot of people who will say that they don't like being bible thumped by some Christians and I agree that there are a few those who do that and I don't like that either. But I also don't like being purposely provoked by someone who considers themselves an Atheist or Agnostic into some religious debate, have my faith ridiculed, be called a bible thumper, and then get purposely provoked to anger just so someone can point out my Christianity to me and then laugh with out having to even consider my individuality and being a HUMAN BEING. That's my 2 cents on this. Personally I think that this video makes perfect sense. Religion means rituals that tell you that you need to do this, this, and that in order to get to God. I'm not a Mars Hill member, I go to a different, but even I know that there is a difference between personal faith and religion.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  13. ATLmatt

    he makes great points based on reading this article. it seems to be that the new testament and teachings of jesus are quite simple. i dont believe jesus exists but i had much rather deal with these "followers of jesus" than sanctimonious hypocrites who think they are good because they go to church and believe everything that they are told to... in my humble opinion.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Soulnova

      What? Jesus existed. Historians agree on that. That he might not be the "Son of God" is another matter altogether. Is like saying that 1000 years from now people will doubt the existence of Michael Jackson because there is no such thing as "King of Pop".

      January 20, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  14. Jim J

    If God isn't real, how did he create man in his own image? Checkmate atheists!

    January 20, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • ATLmatt

      you argument is flawed there, Jim. no one was made in anyone's image. it is called evolution.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • thor

      if my c 0 c k is real then how come ur daddy and mommy take turns swallowing my load every weekend?

      January 20, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • ben

      I'm pretty sure Jim is joking. Relax.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • AdmrlAckbar

      And on the 8th day the Lord removed atheists' senses of humor and imbued them with extreme self-righteousness!

      January 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Tom from Atlanta

      This is too funny!

      January 20, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Momof3

      ben – sometimes, you can't tell...some people are really that stupid! 🙂

      January 20, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Cllgestdnt

      Um Jim, I am very religious (mormon believe it or not), but I do have to admit your argument is completely flawed. And to say that evolution does not exist is not intelligent at all. If you have a bunch of white frogs on brown dirt, but one had a mutation that made its exterior brown, guess who is going to be the last one jumping after the birds come by . . . . this is called natural selection and it fosters evolution.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Edward Current

      Hey... That's My Line!!!

      January 20, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Lourie

      This may be a joke... but most of us atheists will not take it as such because we get asked questions like this every day. A woman with a masters degree where I work asked me "If you don't believe in god who do You think created adam and eve?".. i laughed and explained that the question alone is absurd... and is the same as asking "If you don't believe in Santa.. who do you think flies the reindeer?"

      January 20, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Lord Omar

      Yeah, and if Santa isn't real, who left all the presents under the tree?? Checkmate unbelievers!

      January 20, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
  15. jparker77

    I can only take these topics in small doses before i have to drink.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • thor

      g0d is a dog f0cker!

      January 20, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  16. thor

    god is a c 0 c k s u c k i n g f a g g o t

    January 20, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • usmcvet

      Looks like "someone = THOR" has a propensity for the P E N I S!

      January 20, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • s2kMATTers

      I guarantee thor loves the c o c k

      January 20, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  17. Lorraine

    This cracked article sums up what I think about this comment section: http://www.cracked.com/blog/4-things-both-atheists-believers-need-to-stop-saying/

    January 20, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Lorraine

      In what may come as a surprise to the Internet, not believing in God will not, in itself, make you smart....But there is a difference between questioning the stupidity of dogmatic, close-minded zealots perpetrating insti-tutional abuses and simply mocking sincerely held religious beliefs by equating faith with stupidity. It's sort of the difference between giving a formal presentation about the inherent flaws of your company's policies and procedures, and just farting in your boss's office.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Ironicus

      No, you're pretty stupid. It doesn't take a formal presentation to show that.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Translatorbot3000

      me ironicus and me donna like what you say with so many sentences...so me call u dumb

      January 20, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Momof3

      My favorite – "Are you so impressed with yourself or so intellectually uncurious that you think you perfectly understand the will of God just by reading a book?" My main problem with people who refuse to educate themselves...on both sides!

      January 20, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  18. Peter B. Long

    Wow! This is just unreal. I have never seen so many whining crybabies in a single comment section.

    Really, religious people aren't going to change their minds because of your comments.

    Go to the doctor, get some serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and shut up and deal with it.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • ......

      pot meet kettle, kettle meet pot

      January 20, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  19. AdmrlAckbar

    Let's look at the facts (P.S. I don't need to supply any support for these facts, so shush):

    1. Science is mainly a fairytale I mean come on chemistry is just fancy alchemy. There's no way any of it could be true!

    2. Science is responsible for nothing but evil in the world, e.g. The atom bomb, biological warfare, Carrot Top etc...

    3. By NOT believing in science you are automatically somehow a better, more ethical person and more intelligent person. That's right all you have to do is not believe and POOF! That said, all believers in science are automatically idiots and hicks.. every one of em!

    4. Science has done nothing but hold back the progress of belief and spirituality... It's an active agenda people!

    5. I am somehow claiming to backup all my comments with an implied knowledge of religion and faith but most likely the last class I took on religion was most likely in high school and even then I was too busy writing the names of religious bands on my jeans. Still it's a cool word to throw around.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • ATLmatt

      science has created some bad things but it also created cars, planes, advanced health care techniques, and so many more modern conveniences. religion has been the reason for more deaths that any other – wars, genocide, terrorism. science also promotes spirituality and has found benefits to meditation (go buddhists) and yoga. you should read more, maybe watch some natgeo, etc... expand your horizons past the bible. you might learn something.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • DreSimpz

      This guy is just being sarcastic. Bravo, Ackbar, that was funny

      January 20, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  20. tony

    This guy could hate religion and love Harry Potter or "ET". They are all fictional magicians if you actually think about it.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • chrism

      "Today nearly all historians, whether Christians or not, accept that Jesus existed and that the gospels contain plenty of valuable evidence which has to be weighed and assessed critically." – Stanton, Graham. The Gospels and Jesus. Oxford University Press, 2002; first published 1989, p. 145.....

      January 20, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • tony

      Can't do your own thinking I see.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • ATLmatt

      so chrism – what is this evidence someone else speaks of? i have heard nothing put the opposite – that there is no proof.

      tony – HOGWASH – harry potter is real. i have faith so i dont need proof or you trashing him by comparing him to jesus. 🙂

      January 20, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Rowling describes 'meeting' Harry on a train ride. Perhaps she meant this literally?

      January 20, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
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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.