Alumnus gains fame from viral video

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Jefferson Bethke has learned not to Google his own name.

Bethke, who graduated from Pacific last May and is now located in Washington, has become a YouTube sensation in recent months, with his video “Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus” reaching more than 19 million views at the time of publication.

The video features Bethke performing a poem that he wrote about the difference between religion and his love for Jesus. Almost immediately, the video began gaining views on his YouTube channel.

“First thing that happened is I learned really quick not to Google my name. Whether someone was calling me the anti-Christ or someone was giving me overboard compliments, both are unhealthy to the soul,” said Bethke.

While “Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus” is his most popular video on his YouTube channel, it was not Bethke’s first video performance. Bethke got his start at Pacific while earning his degree in political science.

Bethke said he is thankful for “Pacific students being so kind and gracious to me” at Open Mic nights.

At one open mic, Bethke performed his poem, “Sexual Healing,” and recorded the video for his YouTube channel. A friend saw the video and asked Bethke if he would be interested in doing a professional version, to which he agreed.

“We put it online and it started to get a decent amount of views so we said ‘hey, let’s keep riding this wave!’” said Bethke. That was when the duo got set to film, “Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus” and their third video, “Sex, Marriage & Fairytales.”

When deciding on a theme for his videos, Bethke does not shy away from uncomfortable topics. In fact, Bethke said he “tends to write poems or do videos about very sensitive or taboo topics” as a way of showing that he believes Jesus “heals, restores and loves us right where we are.”

Bethke is his main goal in writing and producing these videos “is to shake up peoples’ paradigms a little when it comes to Jesus” and judging by the responses that he has received, it would be fair to say that Bethke has done just that.

While reactions to his videos and their topics have been all across the board, Bethke has had opportunities open up for him, including speaking arrangements and his own t-shirt design, which reads “Jesus > Religion.”

In the immediate future, Bethke plans to continue doing what he is doing. “If anyone knew me at Pacific, they knew I like to talk and so now having opportunities to do that and talk about what I love, there’s nothing better!”


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