‘Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus’ goes viral

Image via YouTube The night Jefferson Bethke, 22, posted his “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” video on YouTube, … Continued

Image via YouTube

The night Jefferson Bethke, 22, posted his “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” video on YouTube, he made a bet with his roommates about how many views the video would get by morning.

“The lowest bet was 1,000 and the highest bet was 6,000,” Bethke said in an interview.

By the time Bethke woke up the next day, the video had more than 100,000 views. Eight days after the video posted, it has been watched more than 14 million times.

The viral video, Bethke said, was not an attempt to bash all religion, but rather “to write a poem against legalism, self righteousness, self-justification and hypocrisy” — the definition of bad religion that is preached at Mars Hill, the church he attends in Washington state.

Among the lines that provoked theological cheers and jeers:

And:

And:

As he shared in the video and in an interview, Bethke’s own spiritual transformation was mirrored in the imagery of the rotten religion. Although he attended a nondenominational Protestant church growing up, he says he grew “numb” to Christianity’s message, describing himself then as a hedonist. “Lust, pleasure, greed [was] at the core of my heart.”

“I was worshipping and getting my identity and worth from pleasure.”

After his own conversion in college, “that truth, that weight and that reality just crushed me, in a good way, and led to real transformation. It wasn’t me just playing the game, it was me having a heart that was transformed by the grace of Jesus.”

Does Bethke really believe, as he said in the video to great response from many religious scholars (and armchair theologians), that Jesus came to abolish religion?

“You have to get back to my definition of religion,” Bethke says. “[Jesus] was coming to abolish self righteousness, justification and hypocrisy.”

“To me,” he said, “the church and the body of Jesus has an immense weight and immense job in carrying his mission. I think the church is a place to come to for forgiveness, as I alluded to [in the video] … I think it’s a place where there is forgiveness of sin, there’s grace, there’s mercy.”

“Essentially, whatever you find in Jesus you should be able to find in his body, a.k.a. the church. To me, that’s immensely positive. I’m a 100 percent believer in the church.”

Bethke’s video may have also tapped into a larger trend in American religion: a growing skepticism of organized religion, particularly among younger generations. A 2010 Pew Forum poll found that Americans ages 18 to 29 “are considerably less religious than older Americans,” even when compared to their parents and grandparents’ generations at the same stage of life. Despite that decline in religious affiliation, by other measures, this generation still seeks meaning in other ways.

Bethke’s message for spiritual skeptics: “My message for the people who call themselves spiritual but not religious and who would say, you know, ‘The church is some place that I don’t want to be involved in,’ I would say: Investigate Jesus.”

“Look to him — who is he? What did he do? Try to strip back all of the things that have been added over the past 2,000 years. Go to the Scripture.”

What’s next for the young video star?

“I don’t want to be famous,” Bethke said. “I don’t want to be known. I want to be [someone] obscure who makes [Jesus] known and makes him famous.”

About

Elizabeth Tenety Elizabeth Tenety is the former editor of On Faith, where she produced "Divine Impulses," On Faith’s video interview series. She studied Theology and Government at Georgetown University and received her master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. A New York native, Elizabeth grew up in the home of Catholic news junkies where, somewhere in between watching the nightly news and participating in parish life, she learned to ponder both the superficial and the sacred.
  • Annette13

    This video will certainly make more people aware that the religions of the world are not fullfilling that void in each and everyone of us. This video is also showing that only Jesus can fill that void.
    I learned many years ago that the religions of the world was full of self righteousness and hypocrisy. Each and everyone of us will be held accountable for every single word and action we take, including the leaders of the religious churches.
    Jeff Bethke is only doing what God commands His people to do. Share what has been given you.
    The word of God plainly states that the Church of Christ is not a building or a denomination. It is the body of believers. It also says that in every nation that fears Him and worketh righteousness, they will be accepted by HIm.
    Watching this video was very encouraging. So many people are being led astray by trying to go to “church” to find God and/or Jesus and they are not able to grow in Christ at all. This video simply tells people who are truly seeking our Lord that they need to look to Christ and not to institutions.

    Just because some people do not believe that Jesus is who He says He is doesn’t make Him not so. If we look for doubt we will find it. If we look for Jesus, we will find Him. The choice is ours because God doesn’t want us by force.
    May God Bless Jeff for his wonderful courageous words and his method of expression.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    The fact that there is not one shred of meaningful evidence supporting the preposterous claims of christianity is why jesus is not who he says he is. Look for doubt and you’ll find plenty of it, turn a blind eye to all of the glaring logical and moral deficiencies of your faith and then yeah, I suppose you’ve found jesus.
    Yawn.

  • ccnl1

    JC’s family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 “And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.”)

    Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann’s conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

    Actually, Jesus was a bit “touched”. After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today’s world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J’s gospel being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today’s followers of Paul et al’s “magic-man” are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and “magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

    So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher man would do or say?

  • postsux2

    Saying you
    “Love Jesus, but Hate Religion”
    is like saying you
    “Love Your Wife, But Hate Marriage”

  • TexasBornVet

    Please explain to me one moral deficiency found in scripture and I will respect your viewpoint, as currently all you seem to do is berate those who believe differently than you, the same thing you are all up in arms about with faith in Jesus.

  • Annette13

    Dear XVIIHailSkins,
    Why do you use such disparaging remarks? Do we all not want to live in a civilized society with free speech? Do we all not want all our comments to be treated with common courtesy and respect?
    I do not agree with your faith and/or lack thereof however I certainly repsect your right to beieve as you so choose. Many people fought and died to bring us out of the dark ages, I think comments such as yours could very well bring us back there.
    After reading though the lines and negativity of your comment I percieve that you believe that unless you have concrete evidence you shall not believe. That is all well and good for this earth we live on however God and Jesus live in a spiritual world. And so must His followers.
    “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen”
    We have not asked to be born. We are being asked to be born again. We choose.

    P.S. There is no salvation in proponents of reason.

  • ccnl1

    An expanded rewrite:

    How much money would the following save the US taxpayers ?:

    Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims:
    There never were and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror like 9/11.

    -One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

    -Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

    -Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

    Saving 2 billion lost Christians including the Mormons:
    There were never any bodily resurrections and there will never be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity!!!

    The Mormon empire will now become taxable as will all Christian “religions” and non-profits since there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion.

    Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
    Abraham and Moses never existed.

    Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

    All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

    Now all we need to do is convince these 3.5+ billion global and local citizens that they have been conned all these centuries Time for a YouTube, Twitter and FaceBook campaign!!!!

  • ThomasBaum

    ccnl1 wrote:

    “So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher man would do or say?”

    I suppose that your mentors have also judged that the verse/s that refer to Jesus getting up in the Temple to read from one of the scrolls is also not authentic, is that so?

  • XVIIHailSkins

    Annette – Believe me nothing makes me happier than the fact that we live in a society with free speech, what you seem to forget is that there’s no constitutional amendment that denies our right to criticize anything one of our brothers or sisters happens to say, and I think many of your fellow religious types wish this wasn’t so. Christians somehow think they deserve cultural and political hegemony in this country and if anyone suggests otherwise they throw their hands up and play the victim. Also your comment about the dark ages sort of betrays your logic entirelt, you do realize that the dark ages were simply a millenium of oppression of knowledge and resources by a combination of the catholic church and european monarchs? Bad example.

    Tex – Rather than exhaust the character limit on this thread I’ll give you the first three that come to mind.
    1). Women are a lesser species than men, made from a simple slice of a man’s rib, and should be treated as such.
    2). Human trafficking is perfectly fine, god’s chosen people in the old testament were given free reign to take slaves, murder, forcibly steal land, rape, and pillage.
    3). And here I’ll just try to group all of the perverse and unnatural preachments related to human intercourse in the bible that have amounted to psychological and physical torture for so many poor souls over the centuries. Fear of sex, fear of the genitalia (particularly the female), mutilation of the genitalia, homosexuality is a sin, so on and so on.

    Again, I realize I’m probably just throwing stones in the ocean right now, its impossible to reason someone out of a position they never reasoned themselves into in the first place. You were born, you were indoctrinated into this dogmatic worldview before you ever learned to think, and in my experience with christians, exposing the logical and moral fallacies that define their lives every day only makes them cling more tightly to the notion that they will have eternal life, that the universe was crea

  • Rongoklunk

    As far as we know Jesus died about 2000 years ago, and like people everywhere he stayed dead. There is no magic, except the magic of science (which allows us to chat and comment like this).
    We should appreciate the wonderful world we live in, without buying into the god-hypothesis and wanting desperately to believe in lifeafterdeath, even though it’s an impossible idea. Face reality folks, it doesn’t hurt at all.

  • larsonjsl

    It’s certainly important to treat others with respect and love. In fact 1 John (a book in the New Testament) argues that it is impossible to love God and hate your brother. But if Jesus is the Son of God who has come into the world to make a way for us to be reconciled to God, then that becomes a critically important issue. I have found in a relationship with my creator through his son, Jesus, forgiveness of my sins, which has given me the ability to love and forgive others. Check out Jesus, you’ll discover he is the the most important human ever to walk the face of this earth because he was both God and man sent to seek and save those who were lost (us) Luke 19:10

  • larsonjsl

    ccnl1, You cherry pick your version of NT scholars. The very fact that the Gospels contain that story of the family of Jesus, demonstrates that the authors were serious historians, not containing legend to build their case but history. The Gospels even record the doubts that followers had that Jesus had risen from the dead. Luke is widely regarded as one of the finest historians of his era. I would encourage you to expand your reading. I’ve read your guys and they begin with the a-prior i assumption that miracles cannot happen and that Jesus could not have risen from the dead. They build their views from that presumption of faith.

  • AgentFoxMulder

    There is no point in taking ccnl1′s bait.

  • Annette13

    Dear XVIIHailSkins,
    One of the reasons why I support this video is because Jeff points out the difference between Jesus and religion. There is such a hugh difference between the real Christians of God and the so called christians of the world. When people see the “religious” or the “christians”, they are assuming that these people are followers of Christ. This is not so. The whole world will be deceived so we are not to look to man, churches or religions. God’s people are not part of the the world and as such they will not be deceived. They are very few and far between. You have in error included me in this group of so called christians. I am not even in the group of real Christians. I am a want-to-be True Follower of God. I am still asking, seeking and knocking and with God’s grace, I will be found.
    Jeff’s video is showing people not be be deceived by following religion. Jesus is not in a religion.

    God’s choosen people certainly did sin. That didn’t make it right.
    This is another reason why we are not to look to man, churches or religions. We must always look to Jesus. He alone is our example.

    One more thing, If I am wrong and Jesus is not who He says he is, I will still follow after Him. He offers hope, kindness, life and love in a world full of darkness, pain, anger and destruction. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by believing in Him.

    I absolutely believe that people will be held accountable for their words and deeds. If not in this world than another.

  • ccnl1

    Continued from above:

    p.4

    “Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God’s hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus’ failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing.”

    p.168. by Ted Peters:

    Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. ”

    So where are the bones”? As per Professor Crossan’s analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

  • DoTheRightThing

    So, Bethke says the church is not religion? Sounds as if he’s twisted the meaning of the words and put up a video that says anything one wants it to mean – kind of like the definition of a “living” U.S. Constitution. Jesus didn’t come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. The Law was a religion – Judaism. So either Jesus was wrong or Bethke is wrong. Take your pick. Many of the hits on his video were probably caused by people who heard of it because it was mentioned in articles pointing out Bethke’s errors.

  • TimT2012

    Look at the very expensive cameras shown in the video and compare the quality of this video to other viral videos created by 22 year old college students. Does something seem off?

    This is a professionally done video, it’s essentially a commercial. I do not believe for one second this kid sat in his dorm room, posted it with his friends and wondered if he’d get 1,000 views.

    That’s my only problem with it. For me, the entire premise of the video is muddied by the motivations behind it that are clearly trying to be hid.

  • ThomasBaum

    Judaism is not a religion but is a covenantal relationship between God and a people, the Chosen People.

    Christianity is not a religion either but is a covenantal relationship between God and a person, these persons are individually called to be rocks, living stones, which make up the Church.

    One could say that Christianity is a covenantal relationship between God and His Church with God’s Church made up of individuals, the living stones.

    As far as the “Law”, the “Law” is God and since God Is a Being of Pure Love, that “Law” is LOVE, God is not a loving God but is a Being of Love.

    As I have said before, I cherish my Catholic Faith and if one looks hard enough into the Catholic “religion” one may find the Faith.

    Jesus did say, “I am the Vine, you are the branches”, He did not say, ‘I am the Vine, you are the branch’, you being His followers.

    And as I have also said, the Catholic Eucharist is Jesus, just as Jesus so plainly told us in the bible.

    God’s Plan is for ALL, ultimately, to be with God in God’s Kingdom, the new heavens and the new earth and God’s Plan will come to Fruition.

    If the GOOD NEWS is not, ultimately, for ALL than the Good News would not be Good News at all but would be horrific news and we have been asked to PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS.

    We have not been called and/or chosen to be clones so even tho Jesus Is The Way there are many ways to Jesus.

  • conceerdcitzen

    AMEN !

  • JustAthoughtt

    What if he is in school for film, or its a hobby of his…

  • JustAthoughtt

    Then all they have to do is find his body… It’s weird that this whole time, no one has been able to do that…

  • JustAthoughtt

    I see what you are saying, but there are not 20 different branches of marriage that think they keep closest to the original form…

    So I can see what he is saying too

  • radicalmoderate3

    I agree we need to find a suitable pretext to ignore the message without addressing the issue

  • Guidecounselor

    Bethke’s point is a correct rendering of the Biblical truth that God is the Supreme Being, and as such, must reveal himself to fallen man. God has effectively accomplished that by the display of all that He has created and by His Word, which is uniquely the sole source of truth, and in fact, perennially, and literally relevant in all things, and at all times. Carstonio still can’t see the point that humans, even at our best, fail to treat people perfectly the way we should, Christians included. The solution to that problem is Bethke’s point that in our less than perfect, fallen state, God must restore us by His death (execution on a Roman cross) which allows us to be forgiven. Jesus’ death is offered by Him as a substitution for ours because He was perfect, and therefore, an appropriate, effective remedy for the death that we each deserve for our evil deeds. Christians are still guilty of sin, but the consequences of the punishment (death) for this sin is born by Jesus. The amazing thing about accepting Christ’s forgiveness is that it clears the way for us to be restored in our relationship with Him which is what God had in mind when we were created.

  • lynnopportunity

    Odd that all this religion is supposed to bring peace and love but brings out everything but that.
    Please answer this “Why does religion want to control so many of other peoples thoughts if they are not exactly the same as their religion preaches?”
    I have been baptized 6 times because I felt it prudent for my safety. Religion can be really scary.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

Read More Articles

SONY DSC
Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.

shutterstock_186090179
How Passover Makes the Impossible Possible

When we place ourselves within the story, we can imagine new realities.

This Passover, We’re Standing at an Unparted Red Sea

We need to ask ourselves: What will be the future of the State of Israel — and what will it require of us?

pews
Just As I Am

My childhood conversion to Christianity was only the first of many.

shutterstock_186364295
This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

shutterstock_186566975
Hey Bart Ehrman, I’m Obsessed with Jesus, Too — But You’ve Got Him All Wrong

Why the debate over Jesus’ divinity matters.

shutterstock_127731035 (1)
Are Single People the Lepers of Today’s Church?

In an age of rising singlehood, many churches are still focused on being family ministry centers.

2337221655_c1671d2e5e_b
Mysterious Tremors

People like me who have mystical experiences may be encountering some unknown Other. What can we learn about what that Other is?

bible
Five Bible Verses You Need to Stop Misusing

That verse you keep quoting? It may not mean what you think it means.

csl_wall_paper
What C.S. Lewis’ Marriage Can Tell Us About the Gay Marriage Controversy

Why “welcome and wanted” is a biblical response to gay and lesbian couples in evangelical churches.

Antonio_Molinari_David_y_Abigail
How to Resolve Conflict: A Bible Lesson for Foreign Policy Leaders

The biblical story of Abigail shows how visible vulnerability can create a path toward peace.