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I Hate Religion but Love Jesus - Total Contradiction!

Updated on December 12, 2012

This hub is in response to the sentiments of a poem on You Tube by Jefferson Bethke entitled, Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus. It went massively viral. At the writing of this hub it is nearing 19 million hits! The premise of this poem is that religion and Jesus are in opposition, and that having a relationship with Jesus is completely different than being religious. I disagree with this premise. I will be including quotes from Jefferson Bethke's poem and my opinions about them to clarify as to why.

Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus Poem by Jefferson Bethke

“What if I told you, Jesus came to abolish religion?”

It would be nice to hear that from Jesus. I don’t like getting my facts from second hand sources, so let’s see what the Bible has to say about that … Nothing. The Bible actually says absolutely nothing to that effect. Jesus did not come to abolish religion. As a matter of fact, He came to do the opposite. He came to establish a religion: Christianity.

"Jesus Hated Religion, and He Called them (Religious People) Fools."

Really? Let’s check the scripture on that. Nope, no statement from Jesus saying that he hated religion and that He called religious people fools. He only hated those who were pretending to be religious: “Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoreth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.” - Matthew 15:7, 8.

Jesus “was Called a Drunkard and a Glutton by Religious Men.”

Once again, it is important to remember that the religious men that were doing this were hypocrites. It is not fair to negatively stereotype the concept of religion because of the hypocrisy of some so-called religious people.

“Jesus and Religion are on Opposite Spectrums. One's the Work of God, but One’s a Man-Made Invention.”

Christianity is a religion, and it is not a man-made invention. It is the work of God—Jesus. Without Jesus, there would be no Christianity.

“Religion is Man Searching for God. Christianity is God Searching for Man.”

Christianity is a religion:


noun, plural -ties.

1. The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods.

- Google Search

“Religion, I Hate it. I Literally Resent it. Because when Jesus Said, ‘It is Finished’, I Believe He Meant it."

Jefferson Bethke makes it sound like Jesus was speaking about religion in His statement here; but that is completely false. Jesus was talking about His plan of redemption on earth being completed. Moreover, the Bible actually has some good things to say about religion: “Pure religion, undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” - James 1:27

In the biblical sense, I try and live a religious life. A religious life is nothing to be ashamed of. If you are a religious Christian, you are helping others and fulfilling God’s Word in your life. That is why I find it such a contradiction when Christians say, “I’m not religious, I’m Christian.” It’s the same thing, biblically speaking.

The Dangers of Rejecting Religion

I feel that there is a subtle danger in rejecting the notion of religion. Statements to the effect of, “I don’t believe in organized religion.” are becoming more and more common. So what do you believe in, unorganized religion? The Bible indicates that there is a true religion (Ephesians 4:5; John 10:6). The idea of rejecting religion can cause people to end up lost because they don’t recognize the church Jesus is leading and fall out of step with it.

Many people who reject the concept of religion also don’t feel the need to be a part of a church family. I believe this is another mistake, because we need the support and advice of our brothers and sisters in Christ to keep us on track and grow in our relationship with God. This reminds me of a story that I heard from my pastor:

A man attends worship less and less until he all but stops coming to church. The pastor visits him to encourage him to return. The two of them sit near a fireplace, with a pile of red-hot coals burning. The pastor uses some tongs to take a coal from the burning pile and lay it aside. Within a short time, it goes out, while the rest of the pile continues to burn red-hot. The man says to the pastor, “I’ll be back in church next week.”

Without the warmth and support of fellow Christians, we are in danger of becoming cold and indifferent, among other things.

Anti-religious sentiments seem like they're getting more and more popular. However, Jesus was in support of the concept of religion. He even started a religion of His own: Christianity. To reject the notion of religion is dangerous, because the Bible indicates that there is a true religion. Moreover, not fellowshipping with other believers on a regular basis could cause us to lose our bearings.

All Scripture references from the 21st KJV Bible.

More Christian Hubs by Greg Sereda

How can we know God's will for our life? God has a basic will for us all to know and follow. It is outlined in four simple scriptures. Read the hub to find out what they are!

Will we be able to soar throughout the universe? Will we discover life unknown? Will we have to put up with misery, pain and death? Read this hub to find out!


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    • standontherock profile image

      standontherock 4 years ago from Allentown, PA

      From the beginning of time God has tried over and over to have a relationship with humankind. We on the other hand want a false religion. If you really read and hear what Jefferson Bethke is talking about he is actually talking about false religion. If you have been in the christian faith long enough you will know what religion has become nowadays. You will actually understand what Jefferson is saying. (James 1:27 says, 27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.) What Jefferson is describing is false religion, but many people confuse religion with a true relationship with GOD

    • Greg Sereda profile image

      Greg Sereda 4 years ago from Sandomierz, Poland

      CertifiedHandy - I'm not going to go around with you in circles about this matter, brother. The Scriptures are clear on the issue. God bless.

    • CertifiedHandy profile image

      Chaplain Bernell Wesley 4 years ago from Jonesboro,Georgia

      Even if they did protest how are we to know since only a few chosen "scriptures" were decided on at the Council of Nicaea of 325. A century and a quarter after Jesus. Christians to identify those who followed Jesus teachings was first used at Antioch in today's modern Turkey under the teachings of the self appointed Apostle Paul - 1 Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? 2 If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord 1 Corinthians 9.

      "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." John 14:1-4. Once Jesus ascended He was finished here. He left us a comforter, The Holy Spirit. Why does Paul ask readers if he had seen Jesus or not? Why do you agree with Paul that he had seen Jesus if the scriptures say otherwise? His In Service

    • Greg Sereda profile image

      Greg Sereda 4 years ago from Sandomierz, Poland

      CertifiedHandy - "Jesus did not come to establish Christianity." Then how come the apostles did not protest when people started calling them Christians? Not to mention, I covered this in my hub. God bless.

    • CertifiedHandy profile image

      Chaplain Bernell Wesley 4 years ago from Jonesboro,Georgia

      Jesus did not come to establish Christianity. Jesus never gave His teachings a title because none was needed. Jesus came to do the will of His Father and to fulfill prophesy. He said - Matthew 10:34. "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.

      35 "For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law';

      36 "and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.'

      A sword is a symbol of death. Jesus came to bring death to idolatry and to separate His sheep (followers) from the world. Religion is a man made system of control. If you consider yourself religious then you are not in obedience to Jesus who only placed one requirement on His followers; Love His Father with all we have and Love each other. Anything else is religion and definitely not of Jesus. There is no such thing as pure religion outside service to others... His In Service

    • profile image

      Jason 4 years ago

      I have to disagree with you on a point that you assert a few times in your writing here: Jesus did not start a religion, he fulfilled the Jewish faith as the promised Messiah. Christianity is Judaism fulfilled as the Law is expanded to its fullness and the ultimate sacrifice is made for the redemption of all.

      I make this point because you use it to assert that Jesus was pro-religion.

      I think it is helpful to consider what we mean by religion, and to understand that the same word does not mean the same thing in all places and at all times.

      I think that religion is helpful when it is pure - it helps to give us shape to our desire to serve God and each other. And this is seen in your reference to James above. But I can sympathize with this young man's sentiments, because the people God has entrusted His Gospel to are flawed along with the rest of us and have corrupted and abused what is entrusted to them.

      I find hope in this spoken word presentation, because it highlights that Jesus does represent hope...that there is opportunity for dialogue and growth. Perhaps he will be less cynical of religion as he grows in his experience of the God who calls us to humble obedience.

    • Greg Sereda profile image

      Greg Sereda 4 years ago from Sandomierz, Poland

      Aubrey - "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." - James 1:27. This is a description of the ideal RELIGION of Christianity, from the Bible. Christianity is a religion and a faith. The Bible supports both of these concepts. God bless you.

    • profile image

      Aubrey 4 years ago

      First and foremost, Christianity is a FAITH not a religion.

    • Greg Sereda profile image

      Greg Sereda 5 years ago from Sandomierz, Poland

      FriendofTruth - Thank for commenting. And I like what you had to say.

    • FriendofTruth profile image

      FriendofTruth 5 years ago from Michigan

      I think you made good points. People are afraid to call themselves 'religious' because of all the negatives that have been associated with it. I agree with how you said we could do something 'religiously' and that just means we are committed to doing that something. As Christians, we should all be religiously running after Jesus.

    • profile image

      Follower of Christ 5 years ago

      This is shameful and ungodly.

    • profile image

      Dude 5 years ago

      You are skeptical to the point of madness. This is a poem, not a historical viewpoint. Plus you are using modern contexts and definitions to defend your argument, none of which can accurate define the truth. Not to mention that your condemnation of this man's viewpoints is intolerant at the very least, and, at a further point, sinful and ungodly.

    • Greg Sereda profile image

      Greg Sereda 5 years ago from Sandomierz, Poland

      LVidoni5 - Thanks a bunch!

    • LVidoni5 profile image

      Brian Loewer 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      This is a great article. I started reading it thinking I was going to completely disagree with you. I was one the fence about how many Christians vocally express their walk with Jesus. I've heard people at church use that exact term, "I hate religion but love Jesus." I can say, I liked that whole idea, but now you have me seeing the danger behind the entire notion. Once again, I didn't think I'd agree, but you took it to the source. I'll be Sharing this with my followers. Great work!

    • Greg Sereda profile image

      Greg Sereda 5 years ago from Sandomierz, Poland

      I did make a similar You Tube video response. Click here to watch it: However, my You Tube video making skills are amateur, so I don't think it will go viral like Jefferson Berhke's video did.

    • profile image

      Bree 5 years ago

      I just posted my response to your blog on Adventist Online. I do agree with you. I also think (and this is just a thought) how beneficial it would be for 19 million souls to know this Biblical fact. Are you thinking of creating your own Youtube video in response to "Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus"?

    • Greg Sereda profile image

      Greg Sereda 5 years ago from Sandomierz, Poland

      liftandsoar - Very good point, my brother.

      Lone Ranger - I like the insight you offer about being "religious" as being more of a state of commitment.

      secularist10 - Thanks for your background as to why many are shunning calling themselves "religious".

    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 5 years ago from New York City

      Good article.

      Much of this rhetoric from Christians about "not being religious" is sparked by the recent rise of vocal atheism and secularism. Christians, on the defensive, say that they don't have a "religion" because "religion" is being given a bad name. (Many people also prefer the term "spiritual" over "religious.") Religion is seen more and more as obsolete and excessively rigid for the modern world.

      Thus, "you have a religion, I have a relationship" and similar rhetorical nonsense. You will note that Christians were more than happy to call themselves religious before this recent atheistic trend. Indeed, "to have religion" was an admirable quality.

    • profile image

      Lone Ranger 5 years ago

      Another good Hub, Greg, thank you!

      You mentioned, "That is why I find it such a contradiction when Christians say, “I’m not religious, I’m Christian.” It’s the same thing, biblically speaking."


      I would like to splice hairs here for a second by saying that being "religious" is more a state of commitment than of practicing a particular faith.

      For instance, a person can watch American Idol religiously, but that doesn't make them a Christian or Hindu, it is just a testament to their level of commitment to a particular activity or cause.

      Unfortunately, many "Christians" are not religious in their persuit of Godliness or in their devotion to Christ. Perhaps this is why it is estimated that Christianity (within the United States) will be dead within 40 years.

      Best wishes - L.R.

    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 5 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Well put my brother in Poland. I have written hubs distinguishing between the church and our Savior. Yet many throw the baby out with the bathwater as we say here in America when they reject the church or religion alltogether.