(RNS) Imagine if Martin Luther and John Calvin had YouTube.
Armed with Gutenberg’s printing press, the two reformers wrested Europe from the grip of the Roman Catholic Church and changed Christianity forever.
What would they have done with a medium that can zip text, music, and, perhaps most importantly, videos across the globe in a matter of seconds?
“The importance of YouTube, the importance of the Internet is huge for the next coming generation of the church,” Jefferson Bethke told NPR earlier this year.
The 23-year-old Christian poet should know. His four-minute video, “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus,” has been viewed more than 23.5 million times since he posted it on YouTube last January.
Bethke wasn’t the only religious figure to find an audience, or apostles, on the Internet. Indeed, among other epithets, 2012 might be dubbed the Year of YouTube -– and that’s especially true on the religion beat.
Religious videos sparked international riots, stirred up the U.S. presidential campaign, sought to comfort LGBT youth and urged Christians to rethink their religious ideals.
In chronological order, here are seven religious videos that made headlines in 2012.