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)

    I personally like this guy and what Jesus taught. i think hes on the right track. I don't like organized religion, especially extremist, and exclusive ones!

    January 22, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Ironicus

      Do you even know what you want? You are like a drunk hippy....oh, no don't tell me...

      January 22, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Itstruethough

      I walked into a church one and saw allot of gold and silver all over the place in the church and outside the church was a dunkin donuts and there was a homeless man that used to come in all the time no one used to help this homeless man and most of the people that went to this dunkin donuts were from the church the older people used to talk bad about the homeless man and they would continue to talk about the man behind the homeless mans back when they would go to the church, to me that right there is part of the seven deadly sins Gossip allot of churches do this. the people in the church do this allot especially if they dont like you I know from experience i went to a church where they did the same. i quit going to that church bought myself a bible and my church is now in my heart itself, thats where this guys true religion is...

      January 22, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  2. Itstruethough

    I think his video is centered on truth though so many churches today do practice what they preach, They kick you out if you dont give to the offering plate. They dont let you in to there church if you have a child out of wedlock there is allot of things they dont axcept you for. but jesus excepted everyone into his heart, Religions are starting to become to "Rich" not in the Lord Jesus but in money that they forget who Jesus is.. but yeah there are a few churches that are maybe true but you have to decern what is the truth and what is not by testing the church you belong to God does give you the gift of Dicernment to find out what is right and what is wrong, "but dont Judge a persons character just because he says this church or this church is doing something wrong cause for all we know he maybe right. thats why he loves Jesus. He puts his Faith in God and Jesus but not the Religion itself.

    January 22, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Itstruethough

      somebody is very blind they are seeing this kid as Athiest when he bluntly says why I hate religion but love Jesus he's not athiest he loves Jesus

      January 22, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  3. Jehovah

    I am encouraged by the fact atheists just can't give up on religious debates, MAGNETO EL JUDGE CLING DEL LA SOL....lol

    January 22, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Eric G

      I consider it my duty to educate the delusional believers. They are a threat to our safety and liberty.

      January 22, 2012 at 5:52 pm |

      Aww!Jehovah! Look at it like this. crazy doesn't know it's crazy. We're just trying to point it out to ya!

      January 22, 2012 at 5:59 pm |

      Live how you want to live. But let everyone have the same right! People like different things, want to live different ways. Let them live it. Stop trying to make us all like you!

      January 22, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • gottheball

      Actually, Eric, you are a threat to our safety and liberty. You're going to educate me? Who are you to 'educate' anyone? Please just shut up. No one is interested in your crap.

      January 22, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Eric G

      @gottheball: My fan club called for you. Your t-shirt is in.

      January 22, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • One one

      Atheists don't tell believer's children that their all powerful god will send them to hell to be tortured forever if they don't believe what they do.

      January 22, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  4. fox

    The bible is a book of excuses for God not showing up.

    January 22, 2012 at 5:33 pm |

      Lmmfao! So true!

      January 22, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Rev. Parson

      I beg to differ, the Holy Bible is written to show that God did indeed 'show up'. The entire Old Testament deals with Israel discovering that God is God. The entire New Testament deals with Emmanuel, Jesus, God with us. God has most certainly 'showed up' if you do not know God guess who is at fault?

      January 22, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Jehovah

      I thought I showed up all the atheists when it came to reason, why would you want me but for revenge and to blame your short falls on?

      January 22, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Bizarre

      Rev. Parson,

      There is not a whit of verified evidence for the supernatural beings nor events told about in the Bible.

      January 22, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Prior

      @Rev. "It is the will of the Ori, that we should spread Origin to all those blessed by their creation."

      "Hallowed are the Ori."

      January 22, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  5. shane Q

    religion is for the mentally deficient

    January 22, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Jehovah

      forgive those who find it hard to understand simple truth....delusion upon you.

      January 22, 2012 at 5:36 pm |

      Jehovah? Seriously? If you were truly looking for truth, you wouldn't be losing your mind in a fairy tale. Truth exist. You're just going to have to read a different of book. maybe one that isn't 2000 yr/old.

      January 22, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  6. Former Agnostic

    Before scientists or religious leaders knew the earth was round, God had Isaiah say in Isaiah 40:22, "He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers." In Isaiah 40:28, "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom." (NIV)

    January 22, 2012 at 5:21 pm |

      Wow former agnostic...
      you should have been there back in the day to point that out to them. Apparently they weren't as bright as you are. And you are so bright, I bet your dad called you sun?

      January 22, 2012 at 5:26 pm |

      1 more point... We are born with scientist, we are taught religion!

      January 22, 2012 at 5:28 pm |

      Let me rephrase that. Lol
      We are born scientist. We are brainwashed into religion. Thats why its so hard for you to deal with truth. You're afraid. Scared to damn near death from the mass hysteria of your hell thats been forced on you by what they call religion.

      January 22, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Bizarre

      1. A 'circle' is not the same as a sphere. The ancient Hebrews had a word for 'sphere' - they did not use it.

      2. When those ancient guys took a hike to the top of the tallest hill around the area, they could stand and observe the unobstructed horizon all around them. Stand on the mountaintop... turn completely around and observe the entire horizon - guess what you have done and seen? A complete circle.

      3. The alti.tude above Earth at which people look like grasshoppers is probably around 1000 feet - I'm sure that lots of ancient Israelis hiked those hills and looked down... so what?

      January 22, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Bizarre

      *The ancient Hebrews had a word for 'sphere' – they did not use it.

      I meant that they did not use it in Isaiah (or anywhere in the Bible) to describe the shape of the Earth.

      January 22, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Isaiah 40:22, "He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth..."
      The Earth is not a circle and flat like a disc, it is a sphere, or an oblate spheroid.

      January 22, 2012 at 8:22 pm |

    Kings have to rule, because their followers are idiots!

    January 22, 2012 at 5:16 pm |

    i like their religious ads on tv. They say things like "for just the cost of a cup of coffee" you can provide a child with education, food, and medical care. If you go to a church owned hospital here, and have enough for a cup of coffee, you can't even afford their cup of coffee!

    January 22, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  9. Prior

    "...then did Tilius say to the people of the low plains: seek not the wickedness amongst your neighbors, lest it find purchase in your own house."

    "Hallowed are the Ori"

    January 22, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • MingZa

      Parerea mea este ca aceste lcitei de viata sunt necesare,nu neaparat cu un pistol la tampla dar cred ca avem nevoie de ele sa realizam ce este cu adevarat important in viata aceasta si anume implinirea visurilor sa trairea acestei vietii fara a avea regrete.Asta este cu adevarat important din punctul meu de vedere.

      March 2, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  10. Dalandar

    There's a saying that I've always lived by: I love God and Jesus; but, his fan club has a lot to be desired.

    January 22, 2012 at 5:09 pm |

    I find it funny that these religious organizations buy hospitals and use what drugs scientist have deemed effective. Why not just pray the pain away. But then again buying a hospital supports their cause. Making Money! God has blessed you with a new born baby, now here's you $100,000.00 bill. And get out and god bless you before we charge you more!

    January 22, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  12. Jehovah

    Silence atheist puke pile, this is my planet and your destiny is damnation ...

    January 22, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Eric G

      Wow. Then, forgive me.

      January 22, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin


      January 22, 2012 at 5:02 pm |

      Certified Kookoo? Miss your meds? Or has religion kept you from seeing a doctor?

      January 22, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Prior

      "Those who reject the path to enlightenment, must be destroyed."

      "Hallowed are the Ori."

      January 22, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Eric G

      You know what? I met some people that knocked on my door yesterday that say they know you.

      Actually, they didn't say they knew you. But they did say they saw you do something once.

      January 22, 2012 at 5:07 pm |

      Wouldn't rejecting science be rejecting the path of enlightenment? Prior, what should we do with you?

      January 22, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Prior

      "Priors are beacons on the road to enlightenment."

      "Hallowed are the children of the Ori"

      January 22, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Jehovah

      do you know God????.....as much as it pains me to say are you feeling well talking to a myth?

      January 22, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Prior

      "Enemies of the Ori show no mercy in their attempts to draw believers away from the path."

      "Hallowed are the Ori"

      January 22, 2012 at 5:51 pm |

    Redemption through science. Never let anyone tell you something is fact "just because" a book written by feeble men tells them so.

    January 22, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Eric G

      Science does not claim fact. Science is the method of evaluation and testing of evidence to form explanation of phenomena.

      I think a better way to say it would be this: Science claims that this is the theory that the current evidence supports.

      January 22, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Denis B.

      Guess you have to include the bible. 🙂

      January 22, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Jibs

      Eric. Unfortunately 90 percent of the rest do not undstand thatand lean on science as proven solid fact and foundation. I have heard people claim theory as fact over and over again, to the point where they ridicule any other position.. Simply because they read it in a book (sound familiar?). Some athiests even reject the existence of jesus because hes tied to religion, throwing away any historical evidence. Now thats scary. Rewriting history based on religious influence.

      January 22, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Jibs: Well said, but please consider the following from S.C. Kavassalis when using the word "theory".

      "It’s “just a theory”
      The common use of the word “theory” is something that almost all scientists have run into, and many have probably banged their heads at hearing phrases like “evolution is just a theory”, etc.. What is of interest is how and when we decide to use the word “theory” and the affect that it has on less sceptical audiences.

      The noun, theory has two main classes of definitions for our consideration within the English language, something that is concrete and well-established and something that is speculative, like a hypothesis.

      A theory in its technical usage is something that is more or less verified or an established explanation accounting for known facts or observations, like the theory of relativity or how evolutionary biology is a theory. In modern science the term “theory”, or “scientific theory” refers to a given explanation, consistent with the scientific method, of empirical observation.

      1.a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena: Einstein’s theory of relativity.
      2.Mathematics: a body of principles, theorems, or the like, belonging to one subject: number theory, group theory, etc.
      In non-technical contexts, theory is used as a synonym for hypothesis, to mean an untested idea or opinion. A hypothesis is a conjecture put forth as a possible explanation of phenomena, which serves as a basis for empirical science to uncover some fundamental laws.

      1.a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.
      2.contemplation or speculation.
      3.guess or conjecture.
      These definitions are quite different from one another."

      I am not a big fan of "cut and paste" posts, but she is smarter than I am.

      January 22, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  14. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    What does god have to do with integrity? Answer: absolutely nothing.

    January 22, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Jehovah

      I find it funny that atheists have much to say on the religious by pointing out the faults but lack the integrity to create a more ideal and truthful perspective of what is justice and the right way...

      January 22, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  15. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Evening prayer is food for the soul

    January 22, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Prior

      "Those who reject the path to enlightenment, must be destroyed."

      "Hallowed are we; Hallowed are the Ori."

      January 22, 2012 at 4:57 pm |

      Well your church hasn't been proven to be good for them either. But stick to your wicked ways. Keep walking into that same wall and expect a different result. Thats the definition of insanity. But you can try an exorcism, cuz your church would have you believe you are just possessed by a demon. Your not crazy, just occupied! Lol

      January 22, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • bringoutyourdead

      demons respond with fear and foolishness to the thought of prayer

      January 22, 2012 at 5:00 pm |

    @jehovah, just be sure to leave that judging part to your god. Otherwise youre just another religious nut!

    January 22, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Jehovah

      lol i am God....how does it feel meeting a myth...

      January 22, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  17. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    "Guide us on the path that we may triumph over the enemy of our salvation and be with you in the end of ends on the planes of enlightenment."

    "Hallowed are the children of the Ori"

    January 22, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Dee

      Please, someone tell me what an "ori" is...

      January 22, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Ironicus

      The mythology of "Stargate" the television series contains an "Ori" and I guess this is just a troll spoofing around.

      January 22, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  18. Politics can influence anything

    So wait you aren't going to blame what was obviously Politics on Religious Wars lets not forget that there were a few things involved in these "Wars of Religion" and I am sure most historians will agree with me, firstly the Crusades weren't thought up as some ideological crusade to protect Christians from some horde of Muslims coming from the east, they were in-fact land grabbing and trying to stave off the eventual fall of what is now known as Istanbul, secondly I highly doubt that most of the average religious person had any idea just how politicized the church became during this time period or up until probably John Paul the II took over, I mean the Thirty Years War could have been called a Religious war under this Videos silly assumptions. The person in this video should have made several factual checks before he blamed war on religion! Even the conflicts between the MidEast and Israel are more politically motivated than either Allah or God and if anything Religions have been overly victimized by people who are very near lacking in their understanding of situations

    January 22, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  19. Jehovah

    Integrity is non existent in the atheist, they spout to deny God existence yet wonder why they should be judged likewise, i guess you can't educate morons pity them....

    January 22, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  20. warex

    After reading these comments, this is why wars are started. Is anybody reading this? Why is there even an argument?
    Not going to say anymore, I actually have a life to live.....

    January 22, 2012 at 4:42 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.