Friday on GBTV, Scott Baker interviewed 22-year old Jefferson Bethke, the young man behind the viral video “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” The video has had over 16 million views on You Tube, far more than Bethke expected, causing a lot of discussion among both Christians and non-believers, and of course, the media. It seems that everyone has a strong opinion on Bethke’s message. (Watch below)
The interview, which lasted a little over twenty minutes, is a great example of GBTV bringing you the stories that you care about, and aren’t going to get the objective coverage of anywhere else. Many Christians who are critical of Bethke’s view of ‘religion’ in the message of his video seem to defensive, similar to the attacks fall down on those who speak truth outside of the establishment in the political world.
Critics seem to be afraid the video will be interpreted as an attack on the church, which it clearly isn’t, and that it will give people an excuse not to participate in the actions of the church. Again, like the establishment doesn’t trust the American people to make wise choices, some of the Christian critics seem afraid their Christian brothers and sisters, can't hear the real message of this video. A fear that often rises in people of power when someone is bold enough aim tough questions at a big institution. It's not a message of "do we need the church," it's a message that points out what is suppose to go inside the "shell" of the church.
Jefferson Bethke, a graduate of Pacific University, who works at a community center in Belleview, WA, told Scott on Friday that he went to church most of his life, but it wasn’t until college that “Jesus transformed his life, or changed his life, is a real way.” Which really is one of the points made in this video—you can mask yourself as a Christian on the outside by going to church on Sundays, but that doesn’t hold a lot of water if your heart isn’t in it.
Stated in his video like this:
“Because if grace is water, then the church should be an ocean
It’s not a museum for good people, it’s a hospital for the broken
Which means I don’t have to hide my failure, I don’t have to hide my sin
Because it doesn’t depend on me, it depends on Him.”
This interview covered a wide range of topics rarely discussed in the mainstream media—things like Jefferson’s life transformation to the topic of grace, and the role of the church, which he describes as “Jesus’ bride.” Bethke made a point to clarify what some are missing in his message, that many get so caught up in the daily motions of the church, that they forget the purpose of the church, which isn’t simply following some rules or sitting in a pew every Sunday morning.
Jefferson and Scott discuss the style of today’s young people and what their looking for it churches, or leadership in general. It’s not the traditional church or simply the “establishment” that young people are turned off by, it seems to be the lack of authenticity. If you look at the churches and organizations that are growing today in America, and even the popularity individuals like Tim Tebow, they have a couple things in common. Not only are they unafraid to publicly say what they believe, but they walk their talk—they’re authentic.
Jefferson and his friend on the other side of the camera, Matthew Viola, have already had a big rise in speaking engagements, and have been blown away by the response to this video. One thing is for sure, everyone will be on the lookout for their next video. A clearly humble, brave young man, pursuing Truth, is a great example of what many in this country seem to be looking for, someone who will be honest with them and tell them like it is. Someone who boldly lives and speaks his faith.
If you haven’t had a chance to see the full interview between Scott and Jefferson, it is available on demand here.