As of Thursday morning, the Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus.” has had over 15 million hits. Here’s the original video (on the left) in case you have missed it, but also here are three Catholic responses. Two videos below, and text from Dr. Pat Sprankle (who is having quite a day on the blog. Watch his video in the post below!)
Update: Jeff Bethke (the guy in the video) has responded to some criticism… “If I redid the video tomorrow, I’d keep the overall message, but would articulate, elaborate, and expand on the parts where my words and delivery were chosen poorly… My prayer is my generation would represent Christ faithfully and not swing to the other spectrum….” See here for the comments.
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CREATOR OF THE YOU TUBE VIDEO “WHY I HATE RELIGION, BUT LOVE JESUS”
Congratulations on your “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” video gone viral! Conveying a spiritual message by using media is similar to Jesus speaking in parables so people could understand about the Kingdom. Your hip hop presentation is catchy and fresh, and has begun a worldwide dialogue that may not have happened otherwise.
While I would agree with the premise that some human beings who lead organized religion are imperfect and even sinful, I would hesitate to make your assertions that all religion is to be hated or that Jesus did not desire us to gather in an organized way to share faith and love.
May I ask you, as a young adult, if you have a group of Christians who meet to pray and support each other? Do you ever gather to share a meal or break open the Word of God? Do you and your friends serve others by helping at a soup kitchen or on a mission trip? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, you have pretty much organized yourselves in a community to grow in faith, love and service. To me, this is church.
As a Catholic and as a Catholic youth minister, I am painfully aware of the prejudice, abuse, and judgments we can inflict on other people. But, just like the early Christian community who walked and talked with Jesus, we continually strive for His holiness and healing from the brokenness we have in our lives. And we don’t do it alone. The literal Body of Christ was and is broken on the cross for us, the figurative Body of Christ. My own experiences of healing, peace, forgiveness, joy and love as an intimate part of the Catholic community of believers is profound. I would not have the personal relationship with Jesus today without the informal and formal relationships of this organized religion.
In Matthew 7: 16-20, Jesus described how to tell true and false prophets when he said, “You will know them by their fruits.” As Catholics, there are indeed the occasional rotten apples and too ripe peaches but there are so many fruits from our church! Catholic faith formation (schools and parish religious education) develop relationships with Jesus Catholic medical institutions heal with the hands of Jesus. Catholic Charities is first on the ground to help after a national tragedy and Catholic Relief Services is organized all over the world to assist in natural disaster, upheaval or famine, both marks of fruitful work. Our deep beliefs about Catholic traditions and Sacraments and the sacredness of Scripture bears fruit that lasts in our minds and hearts. And, having a communion of saints (both living and dead) who have lived holy lives and still pray for us in heaven is a sign that fruits are not just the earthly kind but last forever.
Should we love Jesus and hate organized religion, or promote and engage in communities of Jesus’ disciples (churches) who love Jesus, serve others and change the world? I, for one, will work in my community of Catholic faithful, organized and religious though it is, to help bring about Jesus’ Kingdom here on earth.