“Religion puts you in shackles, but Jesus sets you free. Religion makes you blind, but Jesus lets you see.” If you're one of the 20 million who have seen Jeff Bethke's viral video, "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus," you've already heard these words. The 22-year-old Tacoma native posted his spoken-word poem on Jan. 10, betting a friend it wouldn't top 2,000 hits. Now he's appearing on cable news shows and facing criticism from commentators as lofty as David Brooks, the Tacoma News Tribune reports.
Bethke doesn't oppose religious feeling or even churches—in fact, the born-again Christian still attends one and is visiting churches on a new national speaking tour. But he argues against what he calls a man-made organization that starts wars and fails to meet its own standards. Anti-gay feeling and Republican affiliation among churchgoers also leave Bethke simmering. But "I've learned a lot," he says. "It's been really humbling. ... I'm just trying to enjoy it and ride the wave."