Not being clued in to the latest Christian YouTube trends, until I read the latest issue of TIME magazine last night I'd been unaware of the super-buzz surrounding Jeff Bethke -- whose Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus has gotten almost 20 million views.
(The TIME article is only available online to subscribers, but here's an earlier piece about Bethke.)
It's a slick video.
So slick, it seems likely this wasn't solely produced by a Jesus-loving young guy whose only motivation was to draw people away from organized Christianity. But before I say more along this line, have a look yourself.
Now, I'll admit I found this video appealing at first. I didn't like all the Jesus talk, but Bethke's rhyming rapping against religion resonated with me.
However, the TIME article said:
His fans on YouTube -- on which he has more than 130,000 subscribers -- might be surprised to know that Bethke likes church. He attends a Seattle megachurch called Mars Hill and strives to practice what it preaches.
That raised some fundamentalism alarm bells. Which began sounding even louder after some Googling of "Mars Hill." It turns out that this church promotes a conservative Christian message wrapped in a hipster vibe to suck in the unsuspecting.
Mars Hill does the shunning thing on church members who engage in forbidden sex. Like the 25 year old man who, horrible sinner that he is, had sex with his fiancee. And Pastor Mark Driscoll preaches against homosexuality. Even yoga is "demonic."
So Jeff Bethke hasn't really given up organized religion. In his video Bethke is just pretending that he has, so his Mars Hill church can expand its fundamentalist talons to capture additional prey.
In fact, Bethke has publicly disavowed himself in a response to a religion-loving blogger, saying that he agrees "it's biblically inaccurate to say Jesus hated religion when, in fact, he preached a religious doctrine, prescribed rituals and worshiped in a temple."
Zinnia Jones nails Bethke to a truthful wall in her right-on YouTube response to his video: I hate religion, says man praying to God. Nice job, Zinnia.
Not surprisingly, many Christians -- who supposedly are compassionate, loving, good-hearted, and humble -- left nasty comments about Zinnia's video, some of which she shared here. I also enjoyed Zinnia's make-up tips, a subject I'm abysmally ignorant about.
(Never really knew what "concealer" was until today. Ah, the secrets women know, and men are clueless about.)
On her blog, Zinnia has a transcript of her video response to Jeff Bethke. Good stuff. Here's an excerpt.
Religion's often seen as being hate-filled and judgmental
To have that name hitched to your faith would be so detrimental
So let's just find another word - let's call the whole thing "Jesus"
And maybe it might actually change how the world sees us.
Yes, I see what you did there, Jeff, but nobody's impressed
When one religious movement claims that only they are blessed
It's nothing new when churches paint all others as a blight,
As sheer demonic heresy - for they alone are right
From doctrine, dogma, sin and Hell, you give us no relief
It's just a crafty strategy to market your belief.
So who is Mr. Bethke, and from what was he inspired?
He says it's just a home-made film. Is that how this transpired?
We know that he's a member of a church that's called Mars Hill
Where thousands gather every week to hear the holy spiel.
Mark Driscoll is their pastor, a self-styled rebel cleric
Whose stances, theologically, are really quite generic
This macho, hardcore preacher never hesitates to tell:
If you haven't heard of Jesus, then prepare to burn in Hell!
To him there's no salvation in benevolent behavior
Being nice won't help you - you need Jesus as your savior.
And no doubt Pastor Driscoll thinks himself rather volcanic,
When he tells his parishioners that yoga is Satanic
On women in the clergy, we're assured that he's no advocate
If they can't bring in manly men, that means they're inadequate.
Instructing people on how they should live their married life,
He tells a tale of how he wished to leave his pregnant wife
What would prompt a Godly man to make this declaration?
He found out that in high school, she had sexual relations
And when he goes on Facebook to mock "effeminate" preachers,
There's little to distinguish him from other Christian teachers.