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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. Jesus: The White, Blond Haired, Blue Eyed Hippy From The Middle East

    Suckers.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      Yeah, was this hippie only hallucinating due to the malnutrition (fasting for 40 days) or was he also smoking something?

      January 21, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • thevibes

      That which was from the beninning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handeled, of theword of life.for the life was manifest, and we have seen it,and beer witness, and shew unto you thateternal life,which was with the father, and was manifested unto us; that which we have seen and heaerd declear we unto you, thatye also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship ia with the father, and with his son jesus christ.
      And these things write unto you that your joy may be full. this then is the message which we have heard of him, and declear unto you that god is light, and in him is no darkness at all. if we say we have fellowship with him, and walk (live) in darkness we lie and donot the truth. but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of jesus christ his son cleanseth us from all sin. if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves,and the truth is not in us. if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteouseness. if we say that we have not sinned, we make him a lire, and the word is not in us.1 john

      January 21, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Snoot

      @BadVibes; "beer witness"? Well, I guess that explains the rambling.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:08 am |
  2. thevibes

    for all you people who come on this blog and say that you do not believe that god exist and all the other bad things about true born again christians. open your eyes for a moment and look at what is happening around you from history til mordern day, then read the bible and compare what you have observed. you will find that only the bible can lay claim to what has happened befor and what is happening now. it will be hard to swallow but you will see it for yourself without any christian telling you. there is a very big mis information going on in the world today about cristianity. the true gospel is not being preached and alot of people believe that thy will go to heaven when they die but will not live according to the will of god as commanded. i will give this warning to all of you. you must repent of your sins, turns away from the world, believe in the lord jesus and live by that belief. i will tell you that the one thing that god gave us is the power of will or choice and that is why we can decide to do good or bad or follow him or not but the evidence of a true christian is that person life will change and not is a small way.my people open your eyes and do not be fools to believe that there is no god because you know in your own heart while you say it, deep inside you can see that a god do exist and i do not need to tell you that or prove it to you because you know it is true.unfortunately there are false preachers who do not teach the truth or a halph truth which has led millions down the wrong path and today we see the result of it everywhere. READ THE BIBLE PROPERLY YOU WILL SEE ......

    January 21, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Snoot

      Please, please, cram that big book of fairy-tales up your @ss.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • One one

      Translation: Believe or burn!

      January 21, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  3. One one

    This is simply an attempt to put a product that no one wants to buy anymore into a new package that young people find more appealing. But it's still the same product and the product is still invisible.

    January 21, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Snoot

      You mean like religion?

      January 21, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Mark Whittington

      Actually, I would argue that if "the product" is in any way 'religious' to you, it should indeed be invisible. Christ railed at "Religion" during His time on earth, and most of that religious yack you hear in "church" on Sunday is just that-yack.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • One one

      The product I speak of is the god/Jesus myth and all the BS associated with it including the concepts of original sin, salvation, heaven, and hell.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  4. YapChong

    I am not against religions or your GOD, but If you use your mind a bit, you will see, that:
    1. No One ever sees or witnesses if there were A GOD.
    2. No one knows if Your GOD is a woman or a man
    Now those two things, are enough to tell you... YOU ARE in denial and delusional...

    January 21, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • 1 John 1:1

      That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.

      January 21, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • filtered

      You say you aren't against religion your GOD, yet you use the word "delusional" in your comment.

      January 21, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • YapChong

      JOHN,
      What is the beginning? when was the beginning? do you ever realize that this world is 2 billions years old or even more?
      Do you realize before the human even existed, there were dinosaurs era and all others precede them?
      And on the contrary "Your BIBLE said, your GOD create the world in 7 days, and in those 7 days/(the last day) your GOD created Adam & Eve? So human were created in the very beginning of those 7 days? so I beg to differ...
      for example:
      1. where were those dinosaurs (era) that roamed the earth for many many years before even the human existed?
      2. And how could ADAM & EVE's children procreate? through incest? And why most of all who share the same genes are not really the same from the color of our skin, our eyes, our hair colors etc? Don't we all share the same ancestor & same genes?
      Now those always amaze me....But don't tell me, oooo the BIBLE SAYS! I want a logical explanation...

      January 21, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • YapChong

      Filter " Delusional" it is. Cos It doesn't make sense... So I use Delusional...and it is the right word.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Snoot

      Plenty of people have talked to 'god'. They're called schizophrenics.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • filtered

      Yap – then don't say you aren't against religion or God, because you are.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • A Little Help

      This world is about 4.54 billion years old.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Think about it

      Since God is not human, HE is neither a man or a woman. Religion, no matter which you choose, is not evil. Organized religion is. Organized religion is nothing more than the exercise of money, power, and control. Religion in itself is called faith.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Actually, you don't understande at all

      "Our" bible is chock full of analogies, inferences, euphemisms and interpretations. You cannot take it literally. e.g. God created the world in 6 days. What was a "day" if there were no people to define "day"? It wasn't a "day" at all. "Day" merely represents a period of time. Think about it...

      P.S. Yap, I apologize after the fact for using all of those big words in the first sentence. If you don't know what they mean, consult your English dictionary even if it takes awhile. You'll be the better for it. Study religion for a bit. Hopefully the concept will come to you and you'll refrain from making uninformed posts. We all hope so.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      YapChong: Be ready for more arguments since you're arguing against the "7 days" creation story. Now you'll have believers telling you that "Oh well, the original authors didn't really MEAN SEVEN DAYS..." You may also want to ask them where the "light" came from on the first day, when Genesis says it wasn't until the fourth day that "god" put "lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night." Cheers!

      January 21, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • YapChong

      @YOU DONT UNDERSTAND AT ALL:
      Of course, I don't understand cos it is nothing to understand at all!
      How could you ask me to understand by telling me, "day" doesn't mean day but period of time, who told you that?
      What do you want me to understand, when there is nothing to understand...
      And enlighten me... what do you define the "day as period of time".
      See, this telling others for "Not understanding WHAT YOU, YOURSELF can't define" is delusional. to just accept it.

      And yea, You are so awesome to tell me that you think I don't understand the big words you used in your sentence.
      Do you think I am ignorant now? LMAO. What if i told you, don't apologize for being self righteous telling me to check dictionary. It is just a question...Don't force your opinion on me

      January 21, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • YapChong

      @Religion4dolts
      LOL, yea I know.. Now this YOU DONT UNDERSTAND AT ALL
      Telling me I am stupid for posing a question, and insult someone's inteligence and assume I am not even up to his ass Standard...
      So much of a GOD's believer.... GO EAT DIRT AND SHOVE IT UP YOUR @SS where the sun don't shine-> ! @ YOU DONT UNDERSTAND AT ALL

      January 21, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  5. misty

    TRUTH – whatever it is – does not change because of what any human believes. Individual and collective human truths constantly change and die as human generations come and go.

    January 21, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • One one

      That's right. There are many ways to be wrong. There is only one way to be right. Science is the only way to truth. We see that it works every time we turn on the lights. Everything else is conjecture.

      January 21, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  6. One one

    How many gods are there to believe in?
    God has angels, Satan has demons.
    My god and religion are real and true.
    YOUR religion is just a pile of bull poo.
    They say there’s only ONE god to believe in.
    If you don’t believe, it’s the ultimate sin.
    No more Zeus, Odin, or Thor, MY hero.
    We’re just one god away from the true number…. ZERO.

    January 21, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Observer

      That's worthy of hippypoet.

      January 21, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • Mark Whittington

      Sweet! But you mistake where God resides, Zero, for God, who is One.

      January 21, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  7. Kathleen Peterson

    Got it!

    January 21, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  8. Dan

    Why are people willing to google the author but so afraid to google the pagan origins of chritianity? EVERY purported christ-miracle from virgin birth to and through a resurrection were lifted from Mediterranean religions that preceded christianity. That's how religions were created in those days.

    January 21, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • messenger

      Dan if you are so smart about this, have you tried asking Jesus to come into your life , and try to give it a mustard of faith, and accept it , if just for a moment.
      if you are chosen, Jesus will take the blinders off and let you see what us Christians see. Scared or unwilling to try? I was also. I was afraid of finding out if it was real. See ya

      January 21, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • HellBent

      The fact that your deity 'chooses' certain people should be enough to let anyone see that such a god is as petulant as the leader of a high school clique, and thus imaginary

      January 21, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      Yes, in particular, it is LUDICROUS that this "god" "chose" an arrogant people in a Middle Eastern desert at a time when there was no internet and when those people thought the world was flat and consisted of the Mediterranean Sea and its surrounding lands (i.e., they had NO IDEA about the "New World", Antarctica. Australia, and probably had very little or no knowledge of much of Asia, such as China and J-apan).

      Ooooh look, the "god" that we Jews invented "chose" us. Gimme a break! How hard is that for the inventors of a religion to claim?

      January 21, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  9. John

    The religion of atheism is the final resting place of hypocrites. The decry any religion but theirs....everyone who doesn't believe like them is a fool......hhhmmmm.....yep, hypocrite. Nuff said.

    January 21, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • Mack

      How many times do we have to go over this? The non-belief in something *isn't* a belief. That I don't believe there is an elephant in my backyard is not a belief system. Your "go to" defense that atheism is a religion is tired, old, and wildly ineffective.

      January 21, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • JohnR

      @John There are a lot of non-atheists who are not fools. You, however, are indeed a fool.

      January 21, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • One one

      I don't know of any atheist preaching that their invisible all powerful god will send people to hell to be tortured forever if they don't believe what they believe.

      January 21, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      Religious freaks appear in world history FIRST and are the original offenders - and in particular, followers of religions based on the belligerent Jewish "god," going around telling everyone to "turn or burn," "If you don't convert we'll torture or kill you," or you'll be an outcast, etc., etc. The modern, vociferous non-believer movement (commonly referred to as "atheism" though it includes agnostics, pagans, spiritual-but-not-religious, etc.) is a REACTION to the aforementioned religious freaks shoving implausible, unproven fantasy !@#$ down our throats for thousands of years.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  10. Fluffybunny

    Why can't people embrace the love of Jesus Christ? or our God? For Jesus died on the cross for our sins to forgive us and to give us freedom from the old times(the old testament). People say he is just a dream or he isn't real? For what reason do they say that? Is it because, they are to scared to get down on their knees and confess of all the bad things in their life? Is because, they believe their life is so messed up filled with hardships that they think God can't help them or change their lives? I grew up in the church all my life but I was following God's path, I didn't want to let God take control of my life but then at one point of my life I was going through a lot, stuff that a teenager shouldn't be going through but then I told God that I want him in my life to take control and to write out my path not me and right when I said that I felt happiness, I felt love, I felt and I still feel(what God wants me to do) that I have a purpose in life. Right off the bat when I did that things started to go bad with my parents(talking about getting divorced, police being involved, my depression) God was testing my faith and I tell you and you can believe this or not, no matter how hard it was to watch them be like that I kept my faith strong and my love for my savior strong and prayed for them and I fasted for 20 days now for things to change between my parents and to keep my relationships and family strong and to guide my life; I prayed the whole time for them no matter how much my mom was threatening me or how many cuss words she rang out on me, I kept my mouth shut and in my head and in that night I prayed and prayed and I knew that since God had a plan that everything was going to go good and now look! My parents are still together, they are getting along good and my family is getting a stronger bond. I know that its hard for some of you to believe but I tell you this. If I was living on the wrong path leading to death with all the dumb things I was doing like listening to bad music, goofing around in class, cussing, acting like I was a gangster, wanting to try drugs, being suicidal and being around with close friends that are doing the bad then he can change you too because, I tell you that if you think that your life will go for the worst if you accept them then you're wrong because, if you have faith in him and you accept him as your savior and follow his ways then he has your road all planned out, he's going to give you such blessings and a happiness and love that compares to none others. God is going to give you friends or change your friends for the good and my friends changed too. I pray for those every night, every day to change to see the love and embrace the happiness that I feel and let take God control in your life because, you'll see the changes before your eyes.

    January 21, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • AGuest9

      The wrong path leading to death? I hate to break it to you. Every living thing dies. The Sun, too, will stop shining one day. This is part of the problem with religion. It is followed by people who can't quite accept the fact that they will die some day.

      January 21, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • One one

      All of the things you give God credit for, you actually did for yourself. How unfortunate that religion makes people believe they are not capable of taking care of themselves, that they need an invisible big daddy to do it for them.

      January 21, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Bradley Snazz

      To quote the late great George Carlin, "Live and let live. Anyone who can't accept that should be killed."

      January 21, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Teeby

      Aguest. You are thinking of the wrong death. And we have proven with science that some things dont actually die when ey cease to biologically function.. So much left to learn for you dear boy..

      January 21, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  11. jim

    I wonder what superlative they can think up to top "super viral".

    January 21, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • AGuest9

      Way cool spiffy.

      January 21, 2012 at 9:01 am |
  12. dreama

    Christianity is not a religion – the world calls it that in their attempt to 'name' it. Christianity is a love for our God and a relationship with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. How do I know?? I have it and yes it changed my life many years ago. The great thing is I don't have to force you to believe and I won't, but i will always help you on your journey if you ask! I won't behead you or bomb your meeting places, but i will pray for you. Blessings all

    January 21, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • One one

      "Christianity is not a religion". Yes it is.

      January 21, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • filtered

      "Christianity" is a religion. there is no mention of the word in the bible.

      January 21, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  13. F.E.S.

    As an atheist, I believe Jesus (the human) did exist. I also believe his personal mission was to help people OPEN THEIR EYES. I seriously doubt he intended for people to deify him and turn his life accounts into a sequel of his own religion.

    What helped the spread of Christianity are the facts that, 1) ancient people believed myths to be true and 2) violence & brutality come in handy when enforcing law...or so they thought.

    January 21, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • dreama

      well guess what – you can believe what you want but you're wrong!

      January 21, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • AGuest9

      What, dreama, that a guy named Jesus existed in 4 BCE Palestine? No, actually it was a fairly common name.

      January 21, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • Mack

      dreama proves the point quite well.....he *absolutely* knows truths about the universe that no scientist can know. way to go, mr. wizard.

      January 21, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      Also what helped the spread of Christianity was an opportunist Roman political figure, Constantine, who needed a way to unify his failing empire. Therefore he "converted" to Christianity and made it the state religion, which is why Europe, the Americas and other parts of the world got forced into being Christian.

      "It would be an easy matter to convert them all [Native Americans] to Christianity, as it appears they have no religion." – Christopher Columbus

      January 21, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  14. Johan Fruh

    Well at least he's half right 😀

    January 21, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  15. lesan

    on the begining man created god.......

    January 21, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • dreama

      that's so dumb i can't even comment

      January 21, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • jim

      You may think it's dumb, but it's true.

      January 21, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • JohnR

      @dreama No, your problem is that you have nothing of substance to say.

      January 21, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  16. Beefburger

    I have never met or seen Richard Dawkins but I am told to have faith that He exists. I am told to believe in the words of His book though this work could be of others claiming to write for Him.

    January 21, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • Eric G

      Your statement is logically flawed as a counter to biblical criticism. You can meet Dawkins. It does not require faith. All of the arguments you reference are not valid in this case, but are valid when discussing the bible because you can present no evidence to satisfy your burden of proof.

      January 21, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • jim

      Have you been threatened with eternal hellfire if you don't believe his book? I seriously doubt it ! The only consequence of not believing Dawkins' book is that you remain ignorant.

      January 21, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  17. One one

    God wants our worship and love it seems.
    But he only appears to us in our dreams.
    You can pray for his help, but don’t hold your breath.
    For his plan for you is your inevitable death.
    They claim if you believe, you’re heaven bound.
    But a witness for this has never been found.
    No guarantees for this claim, now THAT’s a sin.
    So don’t take the bait and get hooked and reeled in.

    January 21, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  18. One one

    This is simply an attempt to put a product that no one wants anymore into a new package that young people find more appealing. But it's still the same product and the product is still invisible.

    January 21, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  19. Heyoka

    I'm not so sure that there are that may atheists out there. I thought I was an atheist until the age of 45 when I realized that I was a Deist: I believe there was a God but that He/She is long gone and has no direct influence on anything that happens today. What gets me the most are people who say : "Thank God she was saved from such and such" – Where was God when she was put into peril by such and such...

    January 21, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • Heyoka

      oops, that MANY...

      January 21, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • Feels Good

      Either you get or you don't.

      January 21, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • Eric G

      The question remains.....
      Why do you believe there ever was a god? What evidence do you have to support this hypothesis?

      January 21, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • JohnR

      Bellicose atheists like Richard Dawkins are still fairly few in number and may indeed become fewer, as that sort of stridency is a reaction to the many excesses of religion (which of course includes religions such as "following Christ") and as religion fades, so will the felt need for such stridency. But when you add up all atheists, agnostics, pantheists, the casually irreligious and self-described humanists, the numbers get large. Toss in the occasional deist and follower of spiritual/philosophical traditions that don't lean heavily on the supernatural such as certain forms of buddhism, pretty much all confucianism, etc, and we're really cooking. I would add to the "Anti-Orthodoxy" coalition a lot of neo-paganism, at least one form of neo-animism (my own – I don't hang with other neo-animists much and really can't speak for them!) and even the mystical traditions in such western religions as christianity, judaism and islam.

      January 21, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • Heyoka

      @Eric G – Look up Anunnaki, you'll understand why I believe there was a "God". If you want more precision, I believe the Sumerian's history about "Gods coming from the sky". "They" came here, played around with our DNA and then left... For those who believe that God still exist, it's their right to believe just as it's the right of an atheist to not believe, just as it's a deist's right to believe. Different strokes for different folks. I am first am foremost a HUMAN being and I respect others' beliefs and do not try to impose my beliefs on them. My intention here was to share MY opinion to which I have a right.

      January 21, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  20. sathayvrath

    Leaders don't make up a religion, followers do.

    January 21, 2012 at 5:59 am |
    • AGuest9

      Profound.

      January 21, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • JohnR

      Followers are the ultimate enablers.

      January 21, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Mark Whittington

      AMEN!

      January 21, 2012 at 10:04 am |
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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.