Red Flags in the Spiritual Deconstruction of My Old Friends Rhett and Link: UPDATED

We’re going into the entertainment industry. That’s what my friend Link Neal said to me on the phone in late summer/early fall of 2006. During the call, we were supposed to talk about our previous time together in the spring of ‘06, and how that was going to be a launching point for me to work intentionally with Rhett and Link the next year at a spring break evangelism conference Cru puts on called Big Break. I was (and still am) a full-time missionary with Cru, and so were they at the time.

Rhett and Link on Good Mythical Morning

But during my call with Link, all of the plans changed.

Rhett and Link left Cru staff that year and went on to become YouTube’s most famous comedy duo on the internet. They created a daily show called Good Mythical Morning that currently boasts 16.2 million subscribers. If you haven’t heard of them, chances are someone you know probably watches their show online multiple times per week.

After they left staff with Cru, I kept in touch with the guys for a few years. But time and life happened, and my communication with them faded. Every now and then I’d send a message, but both Rhett and Link stopped reciprocating. I figured they probably changed their numbers and email addresses, or had too many DM’s from fans to find my random messages saying hello. After all, they now regularly guest spot on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and host celebrities all the time on Good Mythical Morning. I thought they were just too big to respond.

That made sense to me, and I didn’t really think much of it until earlier in February this year when word got around that Rhett and Link were going to talk about their “lost years” and subsequent “anti-testimonies” of how each of them deconstructed their faith in Christianity.

My stomach turned at the thought and grew even more sour as I watched their four Ear Biscuit podcasts, chronicling their younger years, time post-college on staff with Cru, and personal spiritual deconstruction stories. It suddenly made a lot sense to me why I never heard back from them.

I’ve done a lot of thinking and praying about how (if at all) I should respond to their podcasts, and I then came to the conclusion that it’s probably wise to say a few pointed, helpful things since my main audience in ministry is 18-28 year olds (a large target demographic of Rhett and Link).

It’s my conviction that every King David needs a Prophet Nathan to call them out on obvious mistakes. I still love those guys and believe Jesus loves them too. But when people boldly make claims against Christ(ianity), I think it’s beneficial to respond with some clear bold claims too. That being said, here are a few observations to look at and some red flags that popped up along the way as I listened to Rhett and Link’s deconstruction journey.

1. Rhett and Link’s collective spiritual deconstruction isn’t ultimately a deconstruction of the Christian faith but of Christian subculture.

Both guys were raised in an environment that assumed Christianity as a part of the culture, and ultimately that did them a grave disservice. At one point, Rhett asked a very good question. He said, “If I don’t have to believe this, then why would I believe it?”

In all seriousness, this is an awesome question. It’s a question that seems to be damning because of the way Rhett asks it, but the truth is that Christianity can easily stand firm under the weight of it being asked.

For many years Rhett and Link “had to believe” in Christianity because of their family/culture, and I really think they would have greatly benefited from asking this question much earlier on in life. They both lived in an environment that did not put up with much outside of the common Christian experience, and consequently, each of them had very little interaction with biblical grace.

I’m reminded here of Link’s story from high school when he got drunk the night previous and upon Link’s confession to Rhett, Rhett stopped his car and said “get out.” His reaction was dripping with cultural Christian legalism, because my first thought was, “Jesus wouldn’t have demanded he get out of the car because of his failure, shaming him in the process. This isn’t the Christ I see in the Bible at all.”

All of the guilt Link felt over his younger years seemed to be as a result of what he thought about cultural Christianity, not the biblical Christ. Sure, both of them know all the Christian slang terms and clichés, but I didn’t really hear anything that made me think about their relationship with the Living God through Jesus Christ. It much more seemed like a “relationship” with southern, cultural Christianity that looks down its nose at sinners and spreads on the guilt rather thickly if you fall out of line.

2. Internet culture has made Rhett and Link professionals at protecting themselves.

Both of the guys (Rhett in particular) were incredible at dodging punches they knew would be thrown before ever publishing their podcasts. They’ve spent the last 12 years or so up to their eyeballs in the world of YouTube, and that world is vicious. I don’t have to have a popular YouTube channel to know that people’s words can be poisonous, especially when some random “fan” thinks there are no repercussions to their words as they type a response in the comment section to a video.

No doubt Rhett and Link have been ripped open over and over again by any and every little negative comment someone has posted over the years, and consequently that’s made them fairly agile when it comes to avoiding rebuttals.

“I know what some of you are going to say…,” and “I’ve already read all the arguments for this,” and “Don’t send us article links or book recommendations,” and “I know Christians think…,” and on and on it went for the entirety of their 4-part series. There was so much time spent closing the door on future push-back that it made it nearly impossible for anyone to engage in the conversation in a way that didn’t line up with their perspective.

On the surface, this makes them look smart because it gives the illusion that they can see all the angles, but in reality, this is a glaringly huge lack of teachability. Pretending to engage with the “whole audience” by adding the EarBiscuits hashtag isn’t really a dialogue—it’s a monologue from them that resonates in the echo chamber of people who agree with them and call them brave in the comment section.

As nearly any respected older person could tell you, humble teachability is the road to wisdom, and that road is painful, not comfortable.

3. Rhett and Link both said that whatever the cost, they’re seeking the truth—and I don’t believe them.

As much as people in their Twitter comments might agree with them that their personally ascribed label of “hopeful agnostic” is fantastic, unfortunately it really doesn’t mean anything. Saying you’re a hopeful agnostic is tantamount to saying, “I have no clue.” And if someone has no clue, why should I listen to him or align myself with his worldview?

Neither of them is replacing truth with truth. Like a defense lawyer, all they’ve done is poke some holes in the case for the Christian faith…but they haven’t replaced it with another solid thing to to grab hold of. They’re replacing truth (Christianity) with essentially nothing (hopeful agnostic). 

Truth is uncomfortable and often inconvenient. It’s messy and tough. It makes people angry. Consequently, it’s easy to turn our backs on it and “just hope” things fall into place.

Let’s be honest: Rhett and Link’s spiritual deconstruction isn’t a fact-finding mission; it’s just plain old-fashioned rebellion. Rebellion against southern cultural Christianity, rebellion against the Christian narrative, rebellion against the narrow belief system that Christ is the only way to God, rebellion against the unified agreement of the 2,000 year-old biblical sexual ethic, et cetera.

Hopeful agnosticism isn’t anything more than a made up phrase like “will it taco?” This makes me frustrated because of the amount of influence they’re having on a generation of bright young people—men and women who will never find meaning in anything they’re saying. It’s quite easy to call yourself a hopeful agnostic when you have over 16 million subscribers and an online store that sells Good Mythical Morning coffee mugs, t-shirts, kitchen towels, sleep masks, and doggie hoodies (for real).

But for a generation steeped in depression, anxiety, porn addiction, and loneliness—they need something rock solid they can build their lives on, not the emptiness of “hopeful agnosticism.”

They said that they were just following the facts, and then drew the conclusion that all the facts were in…but were they? Rhett’s strong recommendations were a pair of 2-Chromosome pages on Wikipedia. Really?

Wikipedia is infamous for footnoting nearly all of their information, but the footnotes routinely get it wrong because they require online article postings as the basis for “factual information” and those reference articles themselves are frequently guilty of publishing straight-up opinion or misinformation.

Why should I trust Wikipedia pages over the entirety of work by Ravi Zacharias, Josh McDowell, or Tim Keller (all names they both mentioned and thereby threw under the bus as unreliable)?

Ravi Zacharias has written over forty books on the topics of faith and rational belief. Tim Keller has been a pastor in New York City for over twenty years and written nearly twenty books on the Christian faith and what it means to believe in Jesus Christ as God. Josh McDowell wrote Evidence that Demands a Verdict (another book Rhett mentioned with tongue-in-cheek) in 1972, before Rhett and Link were born. McDowell, Keller, and Zacharias all went to university and seminary, have taught on these kinds of topics for decades, and debated on university campuses since before Rhett and Link were in diapers. Doesn’t it make more sense to put stock in collective works like theirs than in a few footnoted collections of sentences on Wikipedia?

Follow the facts? Sure! But don’t ever pretend there’s no bias in the search. Everyone is biased, and the bias Rhett and Link have to “seek the truth” seems rather thick to me. I’m sorry to say that their perspective in seeking the truth is more an immature pursuit of rebellion than an actual quest for facts.

4. All of this “coming out” as former Christians seems rather safe on this side of their success. 

I always wondered why Rhett and Link never talked about their faith in front of the camera or even during any kind of interview. My assumption before these podcasts was that they were communicating their faith “behind the scenes” with others they rubbed shoulders with in North Carolina and Los Angeles. By their own admission though, they never really bought what they were selling when they were on staff with Cru. Both taught and trained students in the ways of evangelism, but then said on the podcast that at the time, they never really shared their faith. Link said he led worship for his church for a time, but never really worshipped himself because he couldn’t “feel it.”

All in all, I don’t believe they ever really put much stock in their faith to begin with. To them, faith in Jesus was being a good kid and not listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and consequently, they now view it like it was a sham. The way both of them spoke about “having a faith in the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ” carried the sarcastic undertone of a belief they’re clearly now embarrassed by…and it’s easy to be embarrassed when there’s not much on the line on this side of success.

When you’re trying to make it in Hollywood and become “successful,” claiming Christ is expensive. You can’t get marginalized before you’ve made it, because marginalization means you’ll never “live your dream.” Consequently, authentic Christianity is risky to ascribe to, and easier not to talk about, which essentially means you start to live a double life.

No, a believer doesn’t need to wear a button that says Hug me if you love Jesus!, but an authentic Christian shouldn’t ever shy away from questions that approach our spiritual life because he or she is afraid. Rhett and Link said they wanted to connect with an audience—but what is the value of a connection when there isn’t authenticity? Inevitably, you start to choose which face you show to people, but if you aren’t careful, one of those faces ceases to exist.

And that is exactly what happened to Rhett and Link.

But now that they’ve “made it” and are basically immune from marginalization or lack of “success” as a comedy duo that has a net worth of $23 million, coming out as hopeful agnostics is easy. Now it’s painless if you make all the Christian fans mad because there’s really nothing that can hurt them. Rhett and Link said they were never comfortable talking about their faith in Jesus back then, but they’re very comfortable talking about how they’re not followers of Jesus now? What’s that tell someone like me?

Simple: to talk about what they believed before wasn’t safe, but to talk about what they believe now is safe. On one side, they were afraid to out themselves to the media as Christians in their early years, but they also didn’t want to talk about their wrestling with doubts to other believers for fear of being marginalized there too.

They were afraid if they shared their doubts with other Christians, they’d be labeled as “someone’s project” or “that person” in church. This makes it clear to me that fear more than intellect got in their way of having a relationship with God.

Papering over their history and saying they didn’t want to talk about it because it wasn’t a “good soundbite” seems unlikely. No—to talk about your faith journey doesn’t sell when you’re trying to climb the Hollywood ladder, and that’s easy to see now because they’re famous.

Fame and money are extremely good insulation…which is why every Oscars speech is riddled with polarizing political snobbery. It’s easy to say whatever they want when they’re on this side of success—it’s a shame they couldn’t extend the Son of God the same respect twelve years ago.

5. It seems clear from the first two podcasts that Rhett and Link experienced an attraction to crowds/limelight/celebrity-status that was incredibly seductive.

Rhett and Link wanted to entertain and feel the buzz from an audience. It was super, super important to them. We gotta get on that stage! was what they were thinking in youth group.

I’m reminded here of the second podcast. I literally lost count of how many times they mentioned the word “audience” while they were talking about their younger years and time on staff. By their own admission, being on staff with Cru was about entertaining and gaining an audience. Belief? Sure, they believed in Jesus…but it was really about more of an interest in an audience.

It’s clear that they were already in the entertainment industry even as they were in Cru. Contrast that with someone who considers Hollywood their mission field. That person might say of the same opportunity, “I’m going into the mission field of Hollywood as an entertainer.” The slight difference here makes all the difference—whose glory rests at the heart of your work? Why are you doing it? “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

This is probably the most sad point for me concerning Rhett and Link. A Christian’s relationship with God is never supposed to be a means to an end, and serving him as a full-time missionary should never be considered a springboard to “something better.” Using God to get what you really want is something nearly every believer wrestles with at some point, especially when suffering comes along. Suffering is often the catalyst for discovering what’s really going on in our sinful hearts, and the good news for us is that God is gracious enough to help us see what’s really going on as we suffer…if we’re willing to trust him in the process.

But suffering equals pain…and not many in our current culture choose to put up with pain for any amount of time. For Rhett and Link, the audience was where the rush came from, and as a speaker and emcee myself, I know what it feels like to jones for another hit of applause or laughter from a crowd. When that’s what someone primarily craves, suffering as a fool for Christ won’t be tolerated.

* * *

In one way, Rhett and Link are now a success…but in a more important way, they’re not. When Elizabeth Elliot was once (distastefully) asked if her late missionary husband Jim Elliot was a success because he was killed by the Aucas before getting the opportunity to lead them to Christ, she confidently answered, “Of course he was a success—he was obedient.”

Success in life is obedience to Christ. I know they’ll probably think this is super condescending, but I’m terribly sad for both of them, their wives Christy and Jessie, and their kids. I literally cried when I thought about their families and all the kids out there who watch and listen to them and are now in the throes of doubt about Christ. Kids trust them. A lot of people watch them every day, and as the saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

They’ve squandered their responsibility, and I’m sad. I’ve been mourning for the last few weeks, and praying for both of them and their families. Sure, it’s tempting to be envious of their lives and net worth, but I’m grateful for the paths the Lord has led me down.

We must all consider the value of Rhett and Link’s successes in light of eternity. No, there’s no airtight argument for Christianity, but there’s certainly an airtight person. Jesus is the final definitive statement, and I’m praying my old friends will see that again one day.

Their ultimate success depends on it.

_______ UPDATE: 3/5/20 _______

After talking with a few trusted friends and some Cru staff, I’d like to add a couple of thoughts.

  1. When this article gained a further reach than I foresaw, it came to my attention that some people interpreted my piece to be the official Cru response, which it wasn’t. I didn’t intend for it to be perceived that way, and honestly never thought many people would even read it.
  1. In the spirit of humility and repentance, I realize that I made a few assumptions that may or may not be entirely accurate. At one point, I wrote that Rhett and Link “both lived in an environment that did not put up with much outside of the common Christian experience, and consequently, each of them had very little interaction with biblical grace.” Truth be told, I have no idea if this was accurate. I made the assumption based on the information they presented in their podcasts that they were not raised in an environment of gracious biblical Christianity, when in reality, my assumption could have been (and probably was) completely wrong. I wasn’t their friend when they were in grade school, and I didn’t know them when they were in college. I knew the guys when they were on staff, and even then only spent one full week with them face-to-face at the Big Break conference in Panama City Beach, FL. I was in no position to conclude that they never experienced authentic Christian community or godly grace from their families, church, or friends.

I apologize and ask forgiveness from Rhett, Link, and their families and anyone else whom these comments may have hurt or confused.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply to Henry Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

203 thoughts on “Red Flags in the Spiritual Deconstruction of My Old Friends Rhett and Link: UPDATED

  1. Wow! Powerful words from a friend. Sad too.
    “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”
    ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭27:6‬ ‭

  2. Thank you for your charitable boldness in this article!

    This is just what I needed to hear after having a very similar reaction to their videos – deep spiritual sadness over their spiritual lives as well as those “little ones” they were leading astray (Matt. 18:6), mixed with frustration and incredulity at their rationales for abandoning a worldview that has been more closely examined and scrutinized than any other in history.

    Nevertheless, they were willing to “strain out a gnat and swallow a camel,” adopting more fashionable, if not necessarily more reasonable positions that would cost them nothing. (And ultimately reward them with nothing).

    The one good thing about all of this, however, is how many deep worldview discussions myself and my Christian friends and family have had over the past couple weeks because of the podcasts. The topics have ranged from Scriptural reliability to Christian assurance.

    Hoping these conversations lead to a strong, but not brittle faith – one strong enough to accept what the Bible teaches, but flexible enough to admit where Scripture has not spoken (heading off legalism before it can start).

    This was the first post of yours I’ve read, but I’ll definitely be back!

    Keep it up!

  3. Thanks for writing this Shelby. Many of my kids here in the Tidewater look up to you. This response will be a helpful part of the dialogue as this topic comes up which was one of my chief concerns when I saw the podcasts. I appreciate your personal experience of them as well. I was a freshmen at UNC when they were senior emcees at NC State and I was involved in Cru with Jessie at UNC. I’ve spent decent time with her and her family but mostly know Rhett and Link from their time upfront with Cru as a student and then in my early staff years. I have great affection for them even from afar bc God used them in my life during a season when I was truly falling in love with Jesus. They feel very woven into my Cru experience and by extension my faith journey at that time. It’s incredibly sad and unfortunately there are many whom I called friend in Cru in those days who no longer walk with the Jesus of the Bible but rather have rejected him completely or have remade him to fit a more modern and liberal perspective. My prayer is that they and their families return one day to the Savior who loves them and provides them with the very air they use to speak of leaving Him behind. 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

    • I have a similar experience with a lot of my IVCF friends back in college. It’s extremely sad.

      I have a lot to say on the matter, but I’ll leave it at that.

  4. “each of them had very little interaction with biblical grace”

    How much do you know about their growing up? What they told you about it? What they tell the world about it? The stories they choose to tell about their growing up are part of their brand. Their stories are not the whole story.

    Plenty of people here in Buies Creek may have a different take on all of it, but they do not have followers who will tune in. Apparently, the fellas are now developing a reality show–and we all know how “real” those are–about life in the Creek. Lucky us.

    • You certainly have every right not to post all responses on your own blog, but would you please do me the courtesy of a reply? You are right on the money in a lot of this article, but when you dismiss Rhett’s family and church as legalistic, cultural Christians, you are way off the mark. Rhett’s family are loving, grace-filled people who continue to love their son and the one who is like a son to them. This has been heart breaking for them. Because this article is being shared on the TGC website, his father may very well read this article. You are adding heartbreak on top of heartbreak. Please stop.

      • At the onset I want you to know; I neither know or work for Shelby Abbott. But my heart saw your please I and I wanted to encourage and settle your soul as a brother who also read this article. This is just a response from someone who also wrestles with doubt especially when those from the Christianity turn away. It wrecks my soul and often sends my heart into deep sorrow. I wrestle with the fact that my own heart has always wanted to chase the world but God’s grace has always gripped me and wrestled me to the floor to realize that sin is never worth it, it wrecks and destroys and tears apart meaningful things, life giving things; it was seeing grace as beautiful that Christ used. Ironically it was a Joshua Harris book that brought me to realize I needed Christ’s work in my life and that grace was worth it; more worth it that my hidden sins of pornography and desire to an elicit lifestyle unfettered by my own cultural “Christianity” at the time. It was brutal on my soul when Joshua Harris spurned that grace this past year.

        I know this may seem like it is preaching to the choir; but I read this and do not see this as a slight against their parents or even that grace did exist where they are from; but more or less based on their perspectives and thoughts on their past it revealed that they were blind to see and interact with the actual grace Christ extends. Rhett and Link were indeed chameleons knowing the right things to say and how to behave. In this process like my own I chameleoned my way for a while; I still to this day struggle with wanting to chameleon and cower at the fact that the road I walk has been Christ leadening me through the road less traveled. Reminding myself of the persecuted and suffering church in many ways has remedied my soul.

        I feel your heart; and I see defense for the family and those around them. I hope you can even encourage them that I do not see it as a result of their failure to bring them to the feet of Jesus. I truly believe a mature Christian will read this and see that and remember the words of Paul , “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” And I hope that by this response the grace of our Lord is extended to their families and friends and that they continue to preach it to themselves and also are emboldened to know that even the best of Christian parent is not a marker for an interaction with true grace. I pray to the the judgmental-ness of mean spirited people is thwarted towards them, and that when it does come the rest in God’s unending grace.

        North American culture of the past decades has indeed been easy; especially in pockets of the United States where aspects of Christian are assumed and imparted in ones lives just because “it is.” Discipleship truly in many ways was usurped and replaced with programs, methods, youth groups, christian concerts, and Christians doing the same things that the world does just with a Christian label (I know this because I lived it and by God’s grace I waded through the noise). The repercussion has been a generation ill prepared for the onslaught of cultural peer pressure and animosity toward Christianity. But who could have actually predicted this? We can only pray for this generation and the next and next and only hope that we can be a tool in the hands of God to plant seed and let God grow the faith.

        Indeed this article was helpful for me. It settled my soul to hear from someone who interacted with them and knew them and served with them, break down their thoughts and express concern and poke holes in their Deconstruction. It was a reminder to teach my own little one grace at any turn I can. To love her diligently. And to give myself the same grace even though she may never know the Lord. Her heart is not my own, but for Christ to wrestle. I need to teach her that sin is real, and really really alluring but so so destructive and is a deep echo of our broken souls wanting to be kings and rulers of our lives.

        I know this may seem like it is preaching to the choir; but I read this and do not see this as a slight against their parents or even that grace did exist where they are from; but more or less based on their perspectives and thoughts on their past it revealed that they were blind to see and interact with grace. They were indeed chameleons knowing the right things to say and how to behave. In this process like my own I chameleon my way for a while.

        I feel your heart and defense for the family and those around them. But I do believe that North American culture of the past decades was indeed easy; especially in pockets of the United States where aspects of Christian become assumed and imparted just because “it is.” The era of Dobson form of christian parenting methods was in many ways sheltering them from a sin at ever turn preventing in many ways a “coming of age” in faith.

        • Thank you so much for taking the time to respond and to reassure me. It was very kind of you.

          As I said previously, I think the article has many good points. My issue is only with the first. While I don’t disagree that cultural Christianity presents real spiritual dangers to the believer, I do take issue with some particular statements in that section. You, a mature and kind Christian, read it with a charitable eye and did not think the worst of the family and the community.

          Sadly, some others did not. Maybe they are just less mature in their faith. Maybe they wrote without thinking. Maybe the anonymity of the internet made it easy to gossip and judge. But I think the tone of the first section invited it. Take the example of Rhett’s response to Link’s drunkenness. Good grief, if our parenting and our Christian communities were to be judged every time an immature young Christian fails to behave in a Christlike manner, we are all in a lot of trouble. I mean, do we believe that sanctification is a process or not?

          I guess this is what really gets me about that first section. The point seems to be: Rhett and Link didn’t experience grace because their culture didn’t give enough grace. But a culture is not just some vague, amorphous thing. It’s people. Real people. Families, churches, a community. Where is the grace for the people of this community? Nowhere to be found in that first section. That last sentence. Mercy!

          I don’t know if you’ll come back here and read this long, rambling reply. But your thoughtful comments deserved a response. And it did me good to write it. Thanks again.

          • Kelley,
            I’m sorry you’ve been hurt by these judgmental responses. The point of the first section of the article seems, to me, to be: “Rhett and Link were never REALLY Christians to begin with.” I’ve seen this defense made so many times when people leave their faith because it’s hard for many people to accept that someone could genuinely believe something and then find compelling reasons to change their mind. In fact, it happens all the time with ex-muslims too. It’s actually a logical move called the “no true scotsman” fallacy and is a common way of dismissing evidence that goes against a person’s worldview.

  5. I’m not a christian, but your analysis is on point. I lived in LA for a number of years, and it is decidedly unfashionable to preach or even advocate christianity there. While the degradation of their faith apparently started long before they went to LA, the culture there would heavily discourage their continued faith. The lure of fame, fortune and the denizens of Hollywood are a powerful narcotic, and have been the downfall of countless destiny-seekers. That culture is toxic in a thousand ways, and I suppose we should count them lucky that they haven’t fallen to even worse threats, like alcoholism, drug use and debauchery.

    • “I’m not a christian…” I just have Martin Luther as my avatar and am posting on evangelical christian blog posts…k brah….k.

      • Yo, not helpful man. He made really good points and is totally welcome here. You don’t need to be taking jabs at him because of his avatar.

  6. Shelby, thank you so so much for writing this! I too have spent the last few weeks processing their stories, and felt much grief & turmoil over it all. I prayed in frustration & fear over the impact this will have on their vast audience, and felt God reminding me that this is why it’s so important for me to speak truth about Him and share my story to those He’s given me influence with. My influence isn’t as wide, but for those God has placed in my life, it goes much deeper. Way to go for being a faithful steward of your platform. 👏👏👏

  7. Thank you so much for sharing. Really appreciate the insight. As I watched their videos my heart sank for the young people who will watch them out of ignorance and be duped buy a facade that appears as a humble search for the truth. Thank you again.

    After watching all the videos, my conclusion was that Rhett and Link are a product of the church environment, not followers of Jesus Christ. It seems so clear as they continued to share more about their up bringing and background that they have what many people in the church have today, a false hope.

    In one sense I’m very thankful that they come out with this, it exposes a huge underlying issue in the Church culture today. They’re opening up is a great way for us to help address it with young people.

    • What a tragedy it would be if a young person become aware of another perspective before their brainwashing is complete.

      The true facade is blind faith, if your faith is never tested how can you know it’s true.

  8. Shelby, your compassion and honesty mix to make a masterful explanation of how a broken and messy world can break the best of us. Denial, justification, backpedaling all work if it’s our reputations we’re trying to save–and not seeking to honor the One who made us. I feel sad for these two as well. But more than that, I pity them for their emptiness. Celerity will only last for so long. They will run out of people who will want to hear them, and then what? Eternity is still ahead. Thanks for your insights.

  9. This is the article I will be reading to my kids as we discuss what has happened. I’m so sad for them and it breaks my heart that they view Christ this way. Sounds like they were not shown much charity as they were growing up. Charity is the pure love of Christ. His love for us is never ending. There is nothing we can do that will make him say,”nope, I don’t want you back. I didn’t die for you on the cross” He loves us all and is there for us all if we search after Him.
    Thank you for writing this article

    • Sounds like they were not shown much charity when they were growing up? I can only speak about the family and church of one half of this duo. I know his parents well. I cannot imagine two more loving, grace-giving people. And no one could have been loved more by his church. This article and responses like these are adding heartache on top of heartache. Please stop.

      • Kelley, this must be so hard and painful and devastating. Hearing those podcasts and then seeing these ‘sons’ conclusions being the topic of articles must be ripping you (and your friends) up inside. You’re right, it can’t be right to scapegoat parents or pastors or churches for their kids’ loss of faith. Your relationship with Rhett’s parents/community is so good to hear. And it should remind us all that a kid’s faith may be influenced by mentors, but is ultimately a matter of their own pursuit. No one else can bear the weight of responsibility for another’s decisions (because the heart can respond in a myriad of ways to true things, and can do right things for a myriad of disappointing reasons). While it may not be a lack of exposure to ‘grace-giving parents,’ it doesn’t change how hard and devastating this news is!

        I think what this article and maybe people’s responses are grasping at words to describe might be that in every culture there are aspects that we can’t see. There are blind spots. The intention and presence of love (in a Christian community) does ‘cover a multitude of sins’ (and may be what many need), but it doesn’t eliminate our cultural locations. As culture shifts, the church can vividly see the difference between her biblical values and her cultural expressions. There are subtexts and practices and assumptions that, while helpful tools in one particular cultural moment, aren’t necessarily prescribed by the Bible (like dating behaviors or language choices or evangelism practices or what’s funny, etc).

        Rhett and Link did both constantly reference (in afterthoughts and jabs) the unhelpfulness of Christian-sub-cultural tools they’d relied upon in younger days as they got older (especially as they encountered a shifting cultural moment). This is no one’s fault. They are deep under the surface! Presuppositions. They’re so subtle in a Christian context we often can’t see them. Unfortunately, nonChristian deep-under-the-surface presuppositions are also hard to see. Its seems like these guys may not realize how much their search for truth (while it felt genuinely like progressive discovery for them) was largely informed by the presuppositions of a different sub-culture: post-modern pluralism. The virtues, practices and values that governed their search came from this cultural root. I really think they were being as honest as possible in their disclosure, but they couldn’t ‘own’ something they couldn’t see, mainly that they came to the discussion with some deep culturally-informed presuppositions and assumptions. Post-modern pluralism is not evil in itself, but in order for Christians to engage with it they do need different tools than the Christian subcultural ones of prior decades. That’s what I think these posts are grappling to describe.

        It is a sliver of hope that they each say they are open to change and want the conversation to continue. We must pray that their underpinning assumptions can be seen and then evaluated by them with as much tenacity and scrutiny as they have evaluated everything else. And we must also pray God reveals to us Christians how to humbly evaluate the underpinning presuppositions related to both our biblical values (which we need to cling to) and our cultural expressions (which shift with culture) without conflating them.

        Our all-knowing Father must see your heart and your faithfulness, and I really believe that as you’ve taught and loved and sacrificed in faith for these guys, His heart is so full of joy concerning you all.

        • Thank you so much, David, for taking the time to write such a kind and thoughtful response. I’ve written a lengthy response above, so I’ll just say a few words.

          I understand (and agree with!) what the original piece and subsequent comments are primarily about. I also agree with everything you’ve said in your response. My only objection is to the judgmental tone of the first section of the piece and a few of the comments.

          Thanks again for your heart and your time.

  10. Thank you so much for posting man, very very well written article, and you did a great job of looking beyond the surface conversation.

  11. Shelby, thanks for writing this article. I believe you hit the nail on the head – success and money. It has lead a many away, and will do the same for many, many more. It’s sad because I remember them emceeing Cru at NCSU in the early 2000’s, and many of my roommates and other Cru brothers imagine are saddened by this news as well. Continue in the Lord’s work brother. “He who endures to the end will be saved.” Mark 13:12
    God bless you.

    • I think that assessment is unfair to their stories. People act like it was soooo easy for them to go to LA and finally “give in to culture” and be popular. But I’m sure it wasn’t. Their whole lives, including and especially their closes family ties, revolved around their faith and community. Can you imagine how painful and scary that must have been? Most of these people obviously can’t.

  12. I fully support Rhett and Link’s decisions and have a very similar story and perspective. It’s too bad the church is so judgmental. Doesn’t seem at all spiritual or “Christian”. More often than not the things I hear from the Christian Right are condemnations and complaints. No one knows how the universe was created and to pretend you do is delusional at best.
    Also I’m a very kind person and don’t need the fear of God and the Devil in order to be so.
    Love ❤️

    • One thing we both agree on: It is too bad the church is so judgemental. We’re all imperfect and it reflects badly on the one we follow.

      BTW, being a Christian doesn’t mean I claim to “know” how the universe was created (belief is not there same thing as knowledge).

      Love you too 🙂

  13. I find myself in the unique position of being a huge Rhett and Link fan while also just having truly found Christ a couple years ago. What this seems to boil down to is something I struggled with when I was younger.

    You need to be able to come to Christ on your own. You can’t be forced or coerced into faith. From reading this article and listening to Rhett and Link talk about this subject, it seems like their rejection of the Christian life and faith is due to being forced into it as children. They weren’t given the opportunity to come to Christ themselves but were rather victims of what you mentioned — the cultural Christianity of the south, looking down on sinners and casting out those who had questions.

    It was sad to hear them say how they’ve fallen away from Christ, but it makes me even more sad that it was most likely believers and the Christian Culture of the south that pushed them away. I will pray that they are able to find Christ themselves in their own lives, and really discover the main messages of the Bible: God loves you and you should love him, God loves all others and so should you, and God commanded you to help bring others to him. I would assume those three principles were not at the forefront of their upbringing based on what they’ve said (although I could be wrong here) and unfortunately the trend nowadays is to look to undermine the Bible since it can’t be unequivocally proven as truth. Those of us who are believers and have real relationships with Christ know that it is the truth, but its almost impossible to prove anything to a non-believer. All we can do is live as best we can according to the principles of the Bible and hope we can lead by example. We can engage non-believers about the truths of the Bible and share our beliefs, but if we try to force people to Christ or try to inundate them in Christian culture, then there will be infinitely more people who end up moving away from faith like Rhett and Link.

    • “although I could be wrong here”

      You are most certainly wrong. Although I do not know Link’s family, I know Rhett’s parents well. They are loving, grace-filled and grace-giving Christians. Stop making assumptions about people you don’t know. This article and the responses to it are compounding the heartbreak of real people. Please stop it.

      • Please stop with this. Your comments aren’t helping the McLaughlin family either; it does have potential to do is further put people on the defense however.

        I think this blog post is wonderfully written and helps those who are also struggling with their faith.

        Be there for the family and the community, but you need to stop spamming the comment section because it’s not coming off the way I know you’re intending for it to.

        • I have objected to specific statements by the author of the original piece and specific statements by individual commenters. This is not spamming.

          Furthermore, defending people who are being misrepresented is not wrong. Gossiping is wrong. I do not think that is what the commenters intended to do, but that is what they were indulging themselves in–a bit of gossip. Forgetting that we are talking about real people is easy to do on the internet. Of course, that’s really what we do any time we gossip, isn’t it?

          I’ve written more extensively about my objections to one section in the original article in response to another commenter. If you have the time, I hope you go back and read it. If you do, you will see that I do not slam the article but only take exception with one part of it.

  14. You claim that they didn’t seem to have a relationship with Christ but with Christian culture. Hearing them talk about their faith as it was (not their faith now) I do not agree with this view but none of us can truly know another’s heart anyway. I see what you mean about “teachability” but I also understand from their perspective that they already fought through this and are sharing where they are now- not trying to rehash every argument again and again. They already went through the heartbreak and pain of that before for years! They are still searching for truth and both made it clear that the journey is not over… no, where they are now is not a destination of truth, but still seeking truth. I pray that they continue to seek Truth and that He will show Himself to them again in a way they will appreciate and understand!
    As far as it being safe to talk about now, I think much of church “culture” pushes people away who question “too much” or about the “wrong things”. As someone who has struggled recently with my own questions, I totally relate to that! I feel that I am “not supposed” to have questions and I am unfaithful if I ask or if I struggle. I fear that I will break my parents’ hearts and they will think I am lost and not saved, so I struggled silently and alone. That is not healthy for anyone! I now want to be a person others can feel safe be open and honest with… whether it’s a sinful struggle or questions- not because I have all the answers but because Jesus loves me (and them) no matter what I am going through!

  15. Shelby, I appreciate your post. As someone who has watched close friends as well as other Christian “celebrities” walk away and publicly renounce their faith, I appreciate your tone. I am sad that so many people have been intimately involved with church culture and leadership, all the while never having truly experienced the heart change that comes from knowing Christ. It’s hard enough for me to stay connected to Jesus as I encounter life’s trials — and I know I’ve truly experienced His grace. I can’t imagine what it would be like to come face to face with my personal beliefs, only to realize they were built entirely on superficial superstition and a list of rules. I pray for them and anyone else with a similar experience, and hope I can help others truly experience Christ in the future.

  16. “I literally cried when I thought about their families and all the kids out there who watch and listen to them and are now in the throes of doubt about Christ. Kids trust them.”

    I realize that I’m writing this in an environment of individuals that will inherently oppose what I’m about to say, but I feel it’s important to mention that Rhett and Link simply do not have the responsibility to guide people in religion that you seem to burden them with. The fact that a younger audience is being exposed to the concept of a world without a god should not worry you if that god is truly real. Is the concern that those young people who do not believe will have suffered and end up in purgatory or hell at the ends of their lives if they do not change their minds and worship? And, truly, if someone were to be introduced to their perspective at a young age who is to say that they cannot change their view later in life? I was raised Catholic, went to a school for many years of my life that had mandatory masses and religion classes. I was about 12 when I started to doubt that what I was being taught was “true”, and it wasn’t due to someone 20+ years older than me on the internet.

    The hopeful agnosticism that they mention seems a refreshing and honest view to me. It is okay not to know but to be hopeful that some day you will, regardless of the ultimate outcome. That is one of the reasons Christianity and religion in general retains such an influence in our world. It lessens the fear of the unknown we will all face at the end of our lives, and it creates a built-in community in places some might otherwise be lonely. I do not openly speak of my own lack of faith unless asked (this comment a rare exception), but to treat someone choosing to share their own experience and journey as an action that endangers the audience that may be exposed to it is foolish.

    Again, I fully realize your audience of readers will have plenty of arguments prepared for the questions I’ve posed and the statements I’ve made. I will also be open in the fact that I
    have no intention of engaging further about this. I only hope that someone may find their way here and come across this comment (if it remains posted) and be able to look at things from a different direction, even if their mind remains unchanged on the topic.

    • Thanks for sharing Anne. I used to be on staff with Cru, the ministry mentioned in this article. I recently went through a “deconstruction” of my faith and it has been the scariest, most difficult time in my life. I have list friendships due to this and felt ostracized from a community and faith I found all life and meaning in. Shelby’s article really stings s as nd hurts my heart but I understand where he’s coming from. I once wept for other prominent religious figures and friends who “lost their faith”. I can tell you this the whole deconstruction” process is largely misunderstood by many. I don’t think Rhett and Link never believed or are just trying to fit in… they are in many ways, just being honest about a very difficult and personal topic. I still struggle with the mindset that faith is found in our certainty. That when we become true believers we begin to think we are right and that we have the true answer. I don’t understand how that thinking can coincide with humility. These are just my honest thoughts. Not meant to divide, but to possibly, although probably unlikely (from my experience), help provide some perspective to the Christian community on this subject.

    • This is the exact comment I was looking for. I wholeheartedly agree with this, Anne. What I can’t get behind in the original post is the assumption that faith is the only thing making children “good people”. Rhett and Link inspire creativity, laughter, and joy in the lives of all their viewers; is that not something you want your child to experience? Simply because it isn’t based in faith? I think the podcast was an excellent lesson for everyone to learn, and that is the lesson of thinking for oneself. If we as humans want to coexist, we need to be mindful and respectful of other views. Shielding someone from a conversation such as this (out of fear they might follow suit) is damaging.
      Thank you for this response. All the best!

  17. Very nice article. Reminds me of the judgment that the world is under right now. God is not pleased with idolatry. Says so in his word “… And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: …” Many years ago, an elder counseled me that California starts a lot that is wrong in this country, not to mention Hollywood. I wonder why that geographical area? Could it be because of the Gold Rush?

    • “California starts a lot that is wrong in this country”
      Quite literally it is because of a different political view than your type supports.

      I recommend seeking less dogmatic counsel.

  18. I’m so sad with you Shelby. In college, I and several friends of mine went through very serious doubt. I put my faith on the chopping block, and wanted to pursue truth wherever it took me, even if it meant to reject the faith I’d grew up in. Thanks to Cru staff and community that didn’t ostracize me and pointed me to real answers, I rededicated my life to Jesus and am on staff now. God worked with the teeny tiny mustard seed of faith he’d gifted me and perhaps I’m an example of someone who “deconstructed her faith” but ended up putting it back together by God’s grace. But I watched so, so many of my friends end up rejecting their faith and I still mourn for them. I know they think I’m a fool. And I ask all sorts of questions about the authenticity of their faith back then and what it means for their eternal destinies… I have no idea what it means for them theologically. I’m grateful for your endurance in the faith and for a discerning voice in response to them.

  19. I found your rebuttal to Rhett and Link’s “coming out” to be rather sad and pathetic. Your closed, indoctrinated mindset is glaringly apparent. No one has the answer to what happens after we die. NO ONE! Until you can recognize in your heart that this is the only real TRUTH we have on the matter, you will never grow as a person and you’ll be eternally locked into a microcosm of untruths. I urge you to read Plato’s, “Allegory of the Cave” as it describes you and your “flock”, and all who FEAR the truth, precisely.

    • If this is the sentiment of the community Rhett and Link left: if this is the level of understanding (lack thereof) that their questioning was met with… Well then it’s pretty clear why they left.

      The small-minded, obedience focused messaging is dripping in condescension.

      Good luck to you, Shelby, in your mind-trap… but Rhett and Link (and their wives and children) will be just fine in the real world.
      They’re strong enough to embrace humanity without the pretend armor that you’re hiding behind.

      Save your tears.
      These boys are doing just fine.

  20. Shelby,

    Good thoughts, here! I think this was needed in light of their going public with their “spiritual deconstruction.” I am curious about one thing. I know you said you tried to stay in touch with them for a few years into their newfound celebrity status but that it was to no avail. Have you tried to reach out to them since those podcast episodes released, or do you even have the means to do that now? Just wondering if you even thought there was a possibility that they’d engage with you on this very topic.

    Thanks for any response!

    -C.J.

  21. Shelley, as a pastors kid and Christian who has fallen away (and experienced many of the same intellectual and emotional struggles that Rhett and Link describe in their podcast episodes), and come back many a time, I was incredibly disappointed in this piece. Your attribution of their spiritual deconstruction to fame and money was incredibly dismissive of the very real struggle and experience they endured. You are exactly what they spoke about when considering those who would gloss over the detail of the story, in favour of shaming them for all of the ways you feel they’ve gone wrong. These men clearly struggled and wrestled with their questions, and eventually came to a conclusion that may not be comforting or hope filled from your angle…. but very real for them. Pray for them. Extend your hand in friendship and compassion. Try to understand. And leave it to God.

    I have so much more to say, and many glaring red flags and concerns with each of your points… you’ve come at this from a place of bias, anger, hurt, and it shows. I am sad that this is the example and response you’ve chosen to share with the world.

    • Heather, many of us ARE sad and hurt and will sound harsh or not compassionate enough toward Rhett and Link in their personal struggles. There would be plenty of compassion, empathy and sympathy if they were shared in one-on-one personal conversation (And I’m not suggesting we “throw ’em to the dogs,” now). Instead, they unpacked and relayed all these struggles and doubts to a wide online audience only AFTER their minds were made up AGAINST faith in Christ. They have (unfortunately?) never mentioned their Christian faith; what compels them now?

      The only way a Christian could be “ok” with such widely-watched (especially by young people) “influencers,” publicly announcing their DEconversions (along with the deconversions of their wives and families) is if we do away with the “One-way, only-hope-for-humanity” exclusivity of Christ and embrace a “your truth-my truth” relativism. Are Christians being persecuted and killed around the world, and throughout history for nothing? Is Christianity really so easy to dismiss?

      Christians are, of course, to be merciful to those who doubt, but we are also to demolish strongholds, arguments and every pretension opposed to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. When Rhett and Link went public with their doubts and the rationale of their deconversions, they subjected themselves (their arguments, anyway) to the latter Christian concern. We can have compassion on Rhett and Link as individuals but still lament the influence their ‘anti-testimonies’ will have on people towards unbelief.

      • If the power of God and the Gospel is as compelling as you believe it is, two ex-Christians sharing their stories should only make a minuscule impact, right? Am I missing something about your beliefs?

        • Hi there, I believe the concern is both for others who have looked up to them and for them. I will use the Bible as my source, but your question regards to things you could be missing from the religion.

          “And [Jesus] said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.””
          ‭‭Luke‬ ‭17:1-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

          Will their denial of Jesus change His authority? Absolutely not. Do we desire to see them place their trust in Christ? Yes!

          I am a believing Christian this was more in response to your message J. E., but I hope that helps. 🙂

  22. Thank you, Shelby. I’m sad. And I agree with what you’ve written here.

    We didn’t know them up close, but they were part of my wife’s co-hort when she joined Cru at the El Caribe in 2003.

    When Rhett said (#229?), “I’m not an expert, I just read some experts on these things. So I can’t defend their positions.” I said, “What?! How could you just walk away from Jesus for reasons you can’t even defend?! Shouldn’t you rather have become an expert?” (I don’t think he realizes how hollow, thin and fake he sounds.)

    They pre-empted a sure-to-come (stereotypical) explanation: “Oh, well it’s easy: They moved from the Bible belt to L.A. What’s not to understand?”

    One young man, now a “former Christian” international student came to our very liberal campus for Judaic studies (which no one sh/would recommend unless the Christian knew he would have to “double-educate” himself to counter all the anti-Jesus teachings). He was so solid in the beginning that I trusted him to lead Bible studies in our home. At the end of four years, however, he sure enough had abandoned Christianity. He became the stereotype. We all have friends and/or know people who’ve walked away. We can’t be naïve or think more highly of ourselves than we ought. A Christian girl I knew in college began dating an avowed atheist, despite our protests. Her (‘famous’) last words were, “My faith has never been stronger.”

    I bought none of Rhett and Link’s “reasons.” I am sad. Jesus, bring them back to yourself.

  23. This is a simple case of two false converts. The world just stripped away to expose what was always there. It’s more sad, because they tasted on the benefits of Christianity, without being Christians themselves and now. They do have a big influence,, but all who are Christ’s will still come to him. Jesus is stronger than Satan. Even though it is sad to hear the truth, it is good to know their true colors. So there’s no pretending any more. Thanks for sharing your concerns.

    • Oh my gosh, did you even listen to their podcasts? I bet you didn’t. So quick to judge what was in their of someone else because it doesn’t line up with your theology. Shameful.

  24. I tried to listen to their podcast as openly as I could. It made me sad also. Rhett repeated many times how he had a true relationship with Jesus and then later goes on to explain why he doesn’t think Jesus actually existed. My question then, is who did he think he was having a relationship with in hindsight. There are only three options. he did have a real relationship with Jesus and lost his way. Or Jesus isn’t real. Or Jesus is real and Rhetts relationship wasn’t with him, it was with the idea of him as a cultural christian, and he didn’t know the difference.

    • He explains – he says near the end that he feels like those experiences are legitimate, but they are in people’s minds.

  25. Those four episodes were a tough listen. It’s interesting how we crave our entertainers and leaders to be Christian. In fairness, Rhett mentioned more than the Wikipedia page. But I do believe it was a search for validation, not truth.

  26. Thanks for your write up. As someone who went to NC State, saw them emcee more than I can count, and personally was discipled by Rhett on a summer project, my heart broke for them. On a second note, always loved your emcee work at Big Break. Was always a highlight of the week especially when I was on staff and help two students get on stage with their mustard and ketchup outfits. Glad to hear your perspective and your still working to change the lives of people.

  27. Thank you for writing this article, Shelby. I was on summer project in Santa Cruz with Christy in 1999. I appreciate your honest, thoughtful, perspective. I will be praying more earnestly for Rhett & Link and their families.

  28. This article is very well written and thought out but also comes from a heart of compassion. I especially thought your point about speaking out against Jesus now vs not sharing Jesus when on staff was brilliant and challenging to consider in my own walk with the Lord. Thanks for posting this. Will be praying for them.

  29. They are helping more people than you think they are not helping. They have thought through and have apologized for every remark that will probably hurt someone. It’s their story, let them tell it! You can hear how weary they are to even talk about this hard subject because they know the rebuttal that will entail. They are relatable and loving to 18-28 year olds. Maybe they were called to love people in a different way?

    I worked for Cru

  30. This. This was more hurtful than anything that Rhett and Link said.

    I will show who I can when I can this article and their videos to show who the real evil is. Which is you.

  31. Shelby,
    Thank you so much for writing this! My heart has also been breaking. I have been watching GMM since it started and have been a huge fan of Rhett and Link. I have been heartbroken not just because of them but because of many friends and family I have in a similar situation. I know that there is nothing that I can do for them. To know the truth and throw it away is one of the saddest things I can imagine. I am in prayer for them. Thank you for standing up for what is right and staying on the straight and narrow path even when it’s not popular. Heidi

  32. My dad was on Cru staff for seven years before I was born, and when I went to college I was involved with Campus Crusade for 7 years, attending some events as a stowaway while still in High School. I was an emcee, a worship leader, a discipleship leader and outreach leader. I went on summer project (SITC NYC ’03!), Fall Retreat five times and Christmas Conference seven times. My wife joined staff when she graduated, until I took a job as an… *Engineer* to provide for us and pay off my hefty student loans, with the intention of re-entering the mission field shortly thereafter. God had other plans, it now appears clear, yet I like Rhett and Link look on those years with Cru as singularly formational, overwhelmingly positive, and soul-shaping.

    I am an Evangelical Christian, today- yes, and one with lasting and deep misgivings about Cru, the church and it’s expression and health in our country, the presumption we Christians have to judge and shame and shutdown others, and a billion other things, besides. I often think of these doubts and misgivings as so obvious that they are universal- until I read articles like this one (to say nothing of the comments).

    Is all of this truly so black and white to the rest of you? Can we not extend uncertainty and grace and peace and space and goodwill, even to such frank and vulnerable and beloved people as these two men, even if only out of the memory of who they were- and may yet become again? Cannot we not agree with them on even the most obvious and universal of their objections and doubts? We are so shortsighted, so premature in our own rush to judgement and so blind to the many and obvious pitfalls of our own Christian expression.

    I bear your label, Evangelicalism, but I grow so weary of apologizing for you. And for myself.

    • Wow. It’s like I’m reading a comment from myself when I was still an evangelical. I still identify as a Christian, but it’s these toxic parts of evangelicalism (and other issues) that drove me from it.

  33. Wow. My goodness. What a rollercoaster of emotion.

    So, preface; I just saw a video from one of my friends with Rhett and Link in one of their old ‘What Does The Bible Say’ music numbers. I had no clue that they used to do those or that they had had a faith background at all, so I started researching. I found their Wikipedia (yeah not the best source but…) and saw that they had recently shared they are ‘agnostic’. I kept digging and found this; literally a few days after it was posted!!

    So some background on me; I’m a student leader with Cru [also I had no clue they used to serve on staff] in my Junior year at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and so could see myself falling into the same situations they did; the most apparent one for me would be looking for approval from a crowd. This article hit that one on the head. Am I laboring for the Lord or for man? Is my daily pouring out towards others ultimately for the Kingdom or for their approval? Dang. I can definitely say over my 20 years of life it has been a battle between both. But! the Lord is in control, ever redeeming my brokenness, and He has reminded me time and time again that He is all the ‘approval’ I need!

    I should probably get to bed… I write this while staying up way too late after our Weekly Gathering processing how the Lord has been so so beautiful this week 🙂 I definitely didn’t expect to be writing this (I like never write something this long, especially on a phone hahah) but I felt the Lord pulling at my heart. Your words, Shelby, are both affirming and loving. I can absolutely see your groaning heart behind it all; that you truly care for your lost brothers and that you want to see them reconnecting with Jesus!

    Thank you for this article and reminder,
    Micah Brink

  34. This is my problem with this piece and religion as a whole,
    You are completely dismissing the struggles that a human being went through simply because they fell away from something they didn’t identify with anymore. The fact that you felt the need to write an entire article in response to something it took Rhett and Link an incredible amount of courage to make, analyzing concepts of another persons life that you did not live, and are entitled enough to stick by it- sends me the wrong message about religion itself. Let love flow through you like a fountain, you have an abundance of it. Love and let love. Do not tear down people who found themselves, and did not identify with their entire young adult lives. This was a scary time for them. Let them be.

    • I agree with you Lauryn. Having seen and experienced, first hand, the ‘underbelly’ of Cru it does not surprise me to see Rhett and Link move on from the ‘Cru environment’ and struggle with their spiritual journey. Just ask any staff who has left Cru, after having been abused by their leadership, experience white supremacy by the majority culture and live under a “religious order” that fails to allow any Cru staff to hire their own attorney if they were harassed, sexually abused, verbally abused, spiritually abused, emotionally abused and the list goes on.

  35. If this is the sentiment of the community Rhett and Link left: if this is the level of understanding (lack thereof) that their questioning was met with… Well then it’s pretty clear why they left.

    The small-minded, obedience focused messaging is dripping in condescension.

    Good luck to you, Shelby, in your mind-trap… but Rhett and Link (and their wives and children) will be just fine in the real world.
    They’re strong enough to embrace humanity without the pretend armor that you’re hiding behind.

    Save your tears.
    These boys are doing just fine.

  36. You made very good points Shelby. Worldly financial success can be a great trap for sure, especially early in one’s life. Remember Satan tempted Jesus himself with all kinds of worldly success right after Jesus’ baptism, if he only compromised his mission and identity. One of the problems with some “Christians” is that their highest identity is something other than being a disciple/follower of Jesus Christ. For many, it is their political party, others their job (i.e. podcast hosts), for others how many followers they have on social media, for yet others their homes, cars, bank accounts, etc. Jesus will not share his glory with anyone else, nor should He. Peter of course is the poster child example of denying Jesus. How could he right when he walked and talked with Christ for years? For one, Peter feared for his life. He feared man more than God. Ditto for most of us. Thank goodness for grace though right? Peter repented of course, rebounded and the church of Jesus was built on the rock as Jesus termed it. Judas of course loved money more than Jesus, and betrayed Jesus for the silver. It didn’t turn out well for him as we know. Saul is another good example of a Christian hater who in the end just needed an encounter with Jesus and within three days not only did he become a follower of Jesus, but Saul became Paul, arguably the most all in follower of Jesus ever.

    Paul, Peter, and John, just to name three examples, became all in when they realized the depth of their sin; realized the pain, agony, and sacrifice Jesus endured for them; as well as the value of grace and the promise and value of heaven in eternity. Their individual Saul (sinner) to Paul (forgiven) experiences birthed out of this world acts of gratitude for the rest of thir lives. When I ask people what is the dollar value of spending eternity in heaven, 99% of the time they don’t respond. Their silence is deafening… I will then ask is it worth a million dollars? a billion? Eventually most will confess it is priceless. They are right. I then ask, “so Jesus gave you a gift worth more than a billion dollars. How are you thanking him?” #paradigmshift! Shelby, I think there are tens of millions of “Christians” here in the United States alone who actually have either never actually accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, and/or are just casual “club” Christians who really aren’t doing anthin Jesus told them to do. These “Sauls” perhaps just need an introduction to the real Jesus and they just might turn into modern day “Pauls”. My hope and prayer is that the do, because when we all stand in front of Jesus one day, there will be no place to hide. The benefits of what we did during this “internship” time we had on earth will determine not only our eternal destiny but also our eternal rewards. There will be no resume padding in heaven. Mom or Dad will not be behind us telling Jesus how good we are. Neither will our pastors, Obama or Trump be behind us to intercede for us as well. No, it very well could be a one on one performance review with Jesus himself. Will we hear, “Go away, I never knew you” or “Well done good and faithful servant.”? That fact alone should scare the hell out of all of us! Jesus himself said in Luke 12:48, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” All of us haven given different levels of time, talent and treasures.

    How we use what God has blessed and entrusted to us will determine the quality of our individual eternity. Are we burying our talents, or are we investing them well to give our master the best return possible? My prayer for all of us is that when each of us do wake up in eternity, it won’t be a Good Mythical Morning, but instead an “Awesome Eternal Reality”. We can’t love people more than introducing them to Jesus, God and their words. I know you know this Shelby. Pray for your buddies to have a three-day encounter with Jesus. They might be called different names after that. But what an orchard of fruit that could follow!

    • Did you even listen to their podcasts? I think this article is unfair to their stories. People act like it was soooo easy for them to go to LA and finally “give in to culture” and be popular. But I’m sure it wasn’t. Their whole lives, including and especially their closes family ties, revolved around their faith. Can you imagine how painful and scary that must have been? The writer of this article and many of the commenters obviously can’t.

  37. I am honestly disappointed in this article. We live in a society that scoffs at Christianity and this article makes it harder to want to seek faith. People are allowed to believe what they’d like. Rhett and Link followed a path that ultimately led them to doing something that they love. They aren’t forcing their opinions on anyone, they are clearly just stating them. I get that’s what you’re doing as well but it’s ignorant to the fact that they’re entitled to their opinion. You cast shame on hopeful agnostics even though the church in the last 2000 years has given very little to be hopeful about. In a culture full of greed and hate, the church has done nothing but give in to that. I would say that you’re spiteful and honestly a hateful person to put some wonderful people down like this. I hope you’re ashamed of yourself because this isn’t what being a Christian is about.

    • Yes! I still identify as a Christian, but it’s this Pharisaical attitude that dismisses people’s genuine doubt and questions and minimizes their pain over spiritually abusive practices that has driven me from evangelicalism. You articulated it well.

  38. Your article is so sad to me, but not because of Rhett and Link’s decontsruction; because of your response to it. They are also my friends, and it seems as though, from my vantage point, you are using your peripheral involvement in their lives as an opportunity to drop names, seek your own limelight, and not seek to understand, but cast judgment and ridicule.

    It honestly looks as though your motives in writing this piece are exactly what you’re saying theirs are. And if that seems unfair for me to say because I don’t know you, I would posit that you don’t know them, and it is equally unfair for you to assume you know their hearts or intent.

    This article in an of itself is primarily creating an echo chamber for you and getting you a lot of pats on the back (which you accused them of pandering for). If your goal is to win people to Christ and not just surround yourself with likeminded individuals, I highly recommend you switch up your strategy.

    • Thank you Grace for expressing my thoughts exactly! For those of us who have been wounded, traumatized, and/or abused under Cru leadership; while living in a white majority culture that is unwilling to give leadership over to ethnic minorities and then to read the “judgment and ridicule” of people makes total sense of the journey Rhett and Link are on.

  39. Shelby,

    You say in this post that you have a ministry to 18 – 28 year olds. A demographic filled to the brim with insecurity and life changes. These kids are making big decisions about who they want to be and how they will interact with the world. What does this post say to them about you? Does this post tell the 18 -28 year olds who are wondering if they should be Christ followers that you are a safe person to discuss spirituality with?

    You say that R&L “squandered their responsibility” of being good Christians, of spreading the good news. You say you don’t believe that they’re actually trying to seek the truth.

    Many students are in this same position as R&L. They are actively seeking the truth. They are trying to learn about God in their own time and own way. To me, this post says you are a person students can’t trust to be honest with. This post makes me think that instead of listening to questions from students, and saying “I am patiently here to discuss and listen. I love you no matter what. I want what’s best for you.”, that you would say, “If you are questioning you are wrong.”

    If ministry to students who are not yet Christians is your focus, how does this post further the ministry?

    Let us be kind, honest and truthful. But let us also be understanding and supportive. God clearly says that if we seek truth we will find it, and R&L have clearly said that is what they are trying to do. I hope Christians use social media is a place to build people up, not tear them down. I would encourage you to rethink posting and sharing these words with the whole world.

  40. Okay but why does their personal opinions bother you so much? So they stepped away from their religion, so what? Let them live their life and you live yours. It’s america. Freedom of religion, including freedom from religion

  41. Thank you. I’m 20 years old and I was one of those kids who really loved watching their videos every day/week. When I watched these EarBiscuit episodes it shook me to my core. I thought, “Yeah I’ll listen and it will help get a new perspective. It’s fiiiine!” But it really affected me. I’ve always resonated with Rhett’s analytic personality, and I’ve been genuinely doubting recently. But after talking a lot with my parents, listening to John Piper, Tim Keller, Ravi Zacharias, and now reading this article, I’m feeling much more sure of my faith, and I’m praying the Holy Spirit continues to show the hope and love of God in Christ. Again, thank you.

    • David, people like you are the reason I wrote this article. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your story with me. I’m extremely encouraged by you. It’s a battle out here on the internet!

      • Why are we battling for the same thing? It shouldn’t be a battle… I don’t think Rhett and Link wanted it to be a battle. Fighting is not a good thing.

    • I hope one day you feel brave enough to read literature “from the other side”
      If it doesn’t work for you, that’s fine. But at least you’ll then truly know your faith!

  42. Thanks for the biblical, well thought out response of truth in a time of so much cultural confusion. I was looking for something online to guide a convo with my kids about the Rhett and Link fallout from a few weeks ago. This is very helpful.

  43. Shelby,

    I say this with all due respect:

    You say that you think these guys didn’t “ever really put much stock in their faith to begin with”. This may be true, but the fact of the matter is that young people are leaving the church in droves. Speculating that their faith must have not been strong enough as a reason for why they left the church seems like it’s missing the forest for the trees. If the Gospel is so compelling, why aren’t the young people sticking around? I think instead of just blaming the people who have left the faith, we should additionally be introspective and try to figure out why our collective witness is weak enough that young people are leaving.

    “There was so much time spent closing the door on future push-back that it made it nearly impossible for anyone to engage in the conversation in a way that didn’t line up with their perspective.” I agree with this, but isn’t this kind of what you’re doing as well? You’re responding to folks who left religion by claiming they are rebellious and never had a firm foundation. If you claim that they should engage in a conversation that doesn’t line up with their current perspective, I’d encourage you to be willing to do the same.

  44. Sigh. Where to begin?

    Here, I think. Shelby, you said:

    **They’re replacing truth (Christianity) with essentially nothing (hopeful agnostic). Hopeful agnosticism isn’t anything more than a made up phrase like “will it taco?”*

    Except that’s not what “agnosticism” means. It’s not ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. It’s not “nothing,” it’s something. It’s having the humility and integrity to admit that as a fallible human being, you cannot discern ultimate truth, and that no human can.

    I realize that to you, ultimate truth is quite obvious. For most of my life, it was obvious to me, too. My own painful deconstruction process, ironically, was sparked by the toxic presence of Campus Crusade for Christ on my campus in the mid-1980s, and involved turmoil around which confession was the “right” one. But I never doubted the existence of a Creator, since a Universe without a God seemed ludicrous to me.

    I was one of those Christians who “didn’t believe in atheists,” who believed that deep down inside atheists HAD to know there was a God. Now I’m here to tell you that beliefs about obvious truths can, and do, change.

    I never heard of these fellows till a few moments ago. I read this, went to YouTube, and happened to hear the snippet at 1:17 of “Link’s Spiritual Reconstruction,” where he asserts that he doesn’t want to be an atheist, that he wants to be open to a relationship with God if there is one. Well, you said:

    *…what is the value of a connection when there isn’t authenticity?*

    I agree, and this sounded absolutely authentic to me; he speaks for my heart and for countless other ex-Christians. You quote them thus:

    *I know what some of you are going to say…,” and “I’ve already read all the arguments for this,” and “Don’t send us article links or book recommendations,” and “I know Christians think…,”*

    …and ironically, this column proves they were right. If there is one thing almost all of us has learned, it’s that Christians really don’t want to hear our experiences, but rather prefer to invalidate it by attributing it to various earthy appetites, exactly as you’ve done here. How comforting it must be to believe you can discern others’ true motivations.

    I’m confused by this:

    *They’ve squandered their responsibility*

    Are they ordained clergy? If not, what “responsibility” do you mean? It appears you actually don’t understand that keeping or losing faith isn’t usually a matter of conscious control. So if someone does lose faith, and happens to be on social media, how would they be “responsible:” Quit social media, or lie?

    *”suffering as a fool for Christ won’t be tolerated”* in entertainment, which must be why we’ve never heard of Justin Bieber or MercyMe or “The Passion of the Christ.”

    Last, your warning:

    *”We must all consider the value of Rhett and Link’s successes in light of eternity. *”

    We all know what this means. Why not just say it?

  45. this was a humorous read. your entitlement drips like honey, and you’ve missed the simplistic honesty of what they shared. More than missed it, trampled on it. your judgment of two real people’s painful, raw honesty about their transformative faith journey (which they have treated with humility and gentleness) reeks of a spiritual pride that fueled my own breakup with evangelical christianity. hope you don’t meet every person you perceive as lost with the same censure— it doesn’t exactly bode well for the faith your promoting. Wowowowowow.

  46. I am still heartbroken after listening to the podcasts, I think the idea that these two were believers, like me, is what drew me to them, and over the years of watching I’ve seen a progression of entertainment over anything else. I find it strange and also telling that these two had wives who were also in the faith who have also decided to walk away? Could it be the influence of their husbands and Hollywood has pulled them away too, and so easily. It breaks my heart and also makes me question how someone can deny Christ and the works of the Bible but study the Enneagram model and take stock in it’s tellings? I think you hit the nail on the head when you said they really don’t know what they are doing. I am still praying they will experience Jesus and not religious norms.

  47. What a stunning lack of awareness from this author. Despite explicitly assaulting Rhett and Link’s character, depicting them as dishonest, manipulative, concerned with money and fame over faith, and rebellious instead of seeking. The author goes so far as to claim their deconstruction wasn’t even intellectually honest.

    The author goes so far as to say that it was “fear” of Evangelical Christian reaction which may have driven them to be silent about this. And is that a bad thing? Is it so wrong to not want everyone and their mom to criticize you and your character? Call you a liar and money hungry? Is it so wrong to not want to jeopardize your future because of how you are questioning and changing? I have gone through my deconstruction on the not safe side of things, and yes, it was brutal. Turning down academic connections to work with Evangelical scholars or scholarship opportunities at Evangelical graduate schools. Losing grades for having the wrong opinion, not the work that went into it. Fearing on a daily basis that you will be kicked out of school, or that your parents will choose to stop helping you. Losing your first job at a church as a minister because you’re LGBTQ affirming. Losing friends. Having former mentors, family, and friends publicly eviscerating your online. It’s brutal. It’s scary. And it’s exactly the reason they should have been scared. This article is a shining example of why the *hundreds* of deconstructing Christians I’ve met and ministered to have chosen to remain hidden. They’re afraid. And people like this author are part of what makes them afraid.

  48. Good for Rhett and Link! As long as they remain honest with themselves, they’ll be better off.
    I know you “don’t believe them”, but your opinion is irrelevant.

  49. It’s confusing to me that that you say you’re heartbroken, but you deny your “old friends” the courtesy of believing them and sitting with them in their heartbreak. It seems you’re to dismissing their perspective- choosing to believe that they’re lying about where they’re at spiritually, that they’re just rebelling/chasing fame & fortune rather than being genuinely unsure and seeking truth. You also seems to assume they never had a relationship with Jesus or understood grace, which I think is not helpful when having conversation with people “deconstructing”, since it seems like it’s just theologically convenient to say they were “never real Christians” because then you don’t have to validate their perspective. You’re assigning malice where they’ve expressed gratitude even in their changed perspectives. Wouldn’t it be more helpful/loving to take them at their word (rather than assigning negative intent)? And then pray that in their “hopeful agnostic” journey they would encounter Jesus surprisingly & brilliantly, and find themselves back in a more grounded truth & hope. 💛 They and so many like them (who don’t have the support of millions of fans) are mourning their loss of certainty and truly seeking to understand what they believe, and I believe compassion towards those doubts, and humility in not claiming to understand their experiences will pave the road for stronger renewed faith (or at least the ability to have conversations in that direction), not demonizing the ones who feel they don’t belong anymore.

  50. I don’t expect everyone to understand what happens to someone when they finally find freedom from the crushing aspects of fundamental religion. These guys found that *and* success because they have unbelievably great senses of humor. If they discovered real freedom in being free to be who they are without the constant scrutiny and shaming, then more power to them.

    I would just say that if people call themselves truth seekers, and they don’t line up with what someone else thinks is truth, then that’s all the evidence one would need to wonder what the truth actually is.

  51. Shelby,

    This is a really gross article. I say this as a strong believer. While, I understand where you’re coming from, it is downright toxic. It’s dismissive of what was said throughout the whole podcasts.

    You didn’t address the actual issue, which was to me, a huge lack of grace in the Christian community. The grace that says, you can ask questions, you can have doubts. God can handle them. And even if the questions aren’t answered, that’s okay, That’s where faith kicks in. If that’s not enough, then there’s the grace that says, if you want to leave, go ahead. And a grace that says, if you want to come back, the Father will welcome you back.

    The prodigal son wasn’t just about the son coming back after squandering his wealth. The father knew what his son would do and let him. He didn’t fight him or give less of his inheritance. He said, you can go. While I can’t imagine the pain the father went through, he still let him go on his own path. And when the son came back, the father welcomed him with open arms and threw a celebration.

    Instead you dismiss them as the age old story of gaining wealth and leaving God. Did you not hear that they left the faith before they went to California, before becoming wealthy? Did you not hear the pain that they went through? The struggles? Is that what we’re called to do? To dismiss the hurting and sat, you deserved it or that it wasn’t real?

    I understand being sad, I am sad. I am praying for them. I am also praying for you. With what’s in this article, I understood their reasons, This article is just evident of the issues that plague evangelical Christianity.

  52. You claim your way is “truth” without citing evidence and you claim they are “just in rebellion” because you disagree. Sad that this is the typical Christian response but expected because they are all the same…. insular and indoctrinated, without the ability to truly listen and hear.

  53. I don’t mean to offend at all, but I do want to know why them not being Christian anymore is a big deal to you? Why do their personal journeys deserve rebuttal? Why is it such a bad thing that they pre-emptively say they do not want that rebuttal? Why is it their responsibility to not “lead astray” young Christians? Why is it such a bad thing that they might lead young kids to question their beliefs? As Rhett has said, if a thing is true it should be able to stand up to inspection.

    Also, you claim that their deconversion is because of the culture, not the faith itself, which I somewhat disagree with, but even if that were true, how is this article helping anyone? It’s more of the Christian culture you claim they wanted to get away from, blaming them for engaging their doubts, telling them they’re wrong in their judgments, telling them they and their families are not going to enjoy the Grace of God because of their beliefs, claiming their new worldview is caused by not living in the culture anymore. True Christianity is acceptance. This piece is judgmental, condescending, and even petty in places. And if you’re going to throw out buzzwords like “echo chamber”, why don’t you first cast out the beam out of thine own eye. They may be in an echo chamber (everyone is), but them questioning the first echo chamber they were in, the one you’re in now, should tell you that they’re capable of questioning the authority of other people’s opinions and drawing their own conclusions. Let them be.

    • It’s a big deal to this guy because R&L have and audience and “fame”. Christians are so goddamn hungry for “fame” and limelight of old that they will tear each other apart to get a piece of it. And why do they do this? So they can untimely make money. Every church is solely based (at its core) to make money. Why do you think they have a tithing? Why do you think they all beg for money to “go on mission” and “future build”? It’s disgusting. The writer of this article is the same. He’s trying to get clicks. He’s trying to capitalize off the very tough personal journeys of his “friends”. He’s a shit bag. Fuck you shelbyabbott you’re a piece of shit.

  54. Thank you Shelby for what you have said. This breaks my heart. We love them and will continue to pray for them! My children look up to them. What do you say when you are in the ministry yourself and your children talk of their confusion? My husband is a minister. My children are impressionable and this has rocked the Christian world especially thinking this entire tim the followed Christ. 🙏🏻🙏🏻 I stand firm by my faith! Did this really need to be broadcast for the devil to set doubts in the minds of the believers? I Know this was the devil’s intention! We will all be deceived. Why would he not use these two talent men that young impressionable teens look up to. I do not live far from where they are from. Praying the will see the light and the truth before it is too late. Please pray for my children that are now questioning their own faith.

    • So bold of you to claim the “devil” can use these two like pawns. Being so closed minded must be exhausting.

    • I am so glad your kids have the chance to question. Can you imagine living a life where things are intentionally (and effectively) held from you??

    • Oh for the love of Pete. “Rocked the Christian world”–you guys truly think you’re something special, don’t you? How fragile is your faith if you think two men sharing their stories will confuse your children? If you’re in the ministry and your children are impressionable, it’s your job to brainwash–I’m sorry, parent them.

      This comment will never be published. But you’re up your own arse and around the corner if you keep blaming “the devil” for people being human. I’ll only pray that your children get out from your cult some day.

  55. I think their doubts come from the fact that “no, there’s no airtight argument for “Christ”ianity”…

  56. I share a very similar experience with rhetts story. I used to be a Christian but now I call myself an agnostic (hopeful or otherwise).

    I was converted in high school in some evangelical event. I prayed the sinners prayer in my room alone and went searching for a church on my own. The church staff was surprised to see me(13-15yo) on a weekday night “wanting to know about the church” .

    I followed the steps, led worship, cell groups, small preaching on non-main services. Went on enough missionary type trips. I was so excited about everything jesus I bought and read so many books. Until I started finding discrepancies in most of them. Not just faith type discrepancies but biblical factual ones. Historical ones. Gap theory, the exodus, the lineage in gospels, Canon issues and others, I don’t really remmeber now. The more I dwell into wanting to make the bible the ultimate book of truth the more I was finding stories like how jesus killed a dragon in one of the rejected gospels. And are all catholics going to hell because they added extra books in their bible when John said not to?

    And why did Ken ham the dinosaur guy has millions of followers disagrees with answers in genesis and which side is going to hell?

    After nearly 3 years of answer searching, I fulfilled all my required duties in the ministry and decided to not attend church anymore.
    In my heart of hearts I know someone is there but it’s probably not jesus h christ the dragon slayer.

    I never saw evolution as a problem like rhett did because I’ve always thought maybe it was how God did it. But I can see how rhetts faith was shaken after learning of the other facts outside of the bible.

    Also, dear author, I didn’t like how you vilified rhett and link for simply sharing their story. They never once encouraged any of the listeners to abandon their faith. Earbiscuits is a platform where they share their life story. It has been for many years. I like how you approve of rhett squirting chocolate sauce from his crotch to links mouth, but when they share their life experiences you make them look like Satan.

    • I went thru this too and I really empathize with your experience. You’ll absolutely triumph and grow and experience happiness.

  57. This was an incredibly sad and dismissive response to a very hard and real journey that Rhett, Link, and millions of people go through every year.

    Your tone, cherry picking of quotes, and overall message makes it clear that you are desperately trying to defend your position without any acknowledgement that what they went through was/is real.

    The difference between you and Rhett/Link is that Rhett and Link tried to stay believers for a long time. They tried to he wrong about what they were feeling. You, on the other hand, cannot fathom a world in which you are wrong and therefore will reject any evidence that tells you otherwise.

    You are most likely doing more harm to children and families by preaching your faith of shame and fear than Rhett and Link ever will by them preaching to love yourself, be kind to others, and do good for the sake of good – not for some eternal reward.

    Hopefully you can open your mind to other world views and potentially live a happier, healthier life. Until them, keep on being your mythical best.

  58. I’ve considered myself a “hopeful agnostic” before ever finding out about GMM. Not knowing is the point. I’m not going to take anyone’s word who thinks they have all the answers. There is no way to know the truth of what happens when we die. I hope there is an afterlife where I get to see all my loved ones again but I’m not going to be so arrogant to say that I know the truth and to chastise anyone who disagarees with me.

  59. I haven’t had a chance to listen yet, but to those who have listened to the podcasts, did they say they no longer believe in God or Heaven? Do their wives and kids still believe?

    • It’s a long listening experience. But so critical that you hear it yourself. It seems their families are still unified (although I clearly cant speak directly about their wives and kids personal beliefs).

  60. Another exams of someone (you) refusing to accept a position alternative to yours and characterizing those who have that opinion as wrong/hollow/deceivers. I have religious views, opinions like this are shameful.

    • I agree. I think this article is unfair to their stories. People act like it was soooo easy for them to go to LA and finally “give in to culture” and be popular. But I’m sure it wasn’t. Their whole lives, including and especially their closes family ties, revolved around their faith and community. Can you imagine how painful and scary that must have been? Most of these people obviously can’t.

  61. This article uses a lot of nice words to say, in a roundabout way: “Rhett and Link were never REALLY Christians. They just went to California and gave in to culture. They just want to blend in and be like everybody else. It’s cowardly to be an agnostic, so don’t pay any mind to what they have to say.” The first three were all things they specifically addressed in their talks and said had been really painful responses. It’s sad.

  62. This is how I feel and.felt hearing about all this. It broke my heart as someone who’s children and I have watched since the beginning. It has just made my faith stronger. The authors you have mentioned are great ones and I would recommend any of their books but this whole situation has made me feel more betrayed by then then anything and that’s sad. So sad. Thank you for writing this and blessings to you.

  63. 1) You are in serious need of an editor.
    2) You are a judgmental asshole, jumping on someone else’s platform to inflate yourself.
    3) You don’t own the whole truth, no matter how xtian you think you are.
    4) Maybe reasons #1-4 are related to why these two men stopped responding to you.

    Self reflection, dude. And allow others to walk their path. You are – obviously – stomping down your own path.

  64. I wish you had both actually listened to the podcast (and I mean really heard it) and that you truly saw Rhett and Link as friends.

  65. This is one of the best articles I’ve read. I’ve been feeling waves and waves of sadness after listening to their “spiritual deconstruction” podcasts. They don’t know how responsible they are for leading so many astray. God have mercy. The way they laughed after stating that they used to go on mission trips. Mocking the faith. Man, it’s tragic. Also, claiming that their “evolving spiritually”…as if believers in Christ are lower than them and they’ve progressed. As much as they want to believe in “progression”, there is no new thing under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). And yes, they tried so hard to cover their tracks so as to not get any backlash. Rhett saying he knows this and that…that he expects this and that response…well, the reason for the backlash is because there are people like us that actually believe in the Gospel and want to defend it and not be attacked by your podcast, where you are leading SO many people astray. None of what I’m saying comes from hate, but rather sadness. Let’s continue to pray for Rhett and Link. Fame has gotten to them. Pride has gotten to them. Let us pray that they see the vanity in chasing these things and come (or come back to) Jesus.

  66. I’m not trying to be rude, but you mentioned “Truth” in regards to Christianity multiple times through the article. Will you please explain why you believe Christianity is objective Truth?

  67. Thank you for sharing this insightful and Word-based evaluation.
    I have watch GMM for years and I had honestly never known that they had considered themselves to be Christians at any time. I did, however, notice a gradual shift in their content towards more adult, more worldly topics and trends. It was a bit disappointing, but now I am even more saddened to hear that they have so plainly decided that Christ is not worth the trouble of faithful obedience.

  68. This blog post makes bold assertions and seems incredibly presumptuous. You straw man the duo throughout and honestly reads like you have hurt feelings more than anything else. You can respond, but you make claims on how they think and feel and that’s not logical at all. But I guess it made you feel better to write this piece. I don’t think you want to understand their process at all because of your bias.

  69. Whether voluntary or not, this type of response to people deconstructing their faith perpetuates the idea that there is no room for anything short of absolutism within the American Christian Church.

    In the same way that you would ask for someone to take your testimony and your legitimate relationship with Christ at face value, you have to take their accounts at face value.

    These are their stories and their lives, and their experience is legitimate whether it rubs you the wrong way or not.

    And if the church at large continues to dismiss the experiences of the voices that it disagrees with, we will both alienate the stranger that Jesus called us to love and miss out on seeing a more nuanced image of God through his many different children.

  70. It pisses me off that 2 White dudes with seemingly perfect & idle upbringings, BLESSED with success and fame, trade in God for “truth de juor” Like who the h*** do they think they are? Must be nice to be able to treat God like an accessory that you can leave behind when he no longer jives with your fake ass hollywood lifestyle. I look forward to the day that their fame is gone and theyll have their actual “Come to Jesus” moment. Bunch of spoiled, punk ass kids too privileged for God. Take to the people of China or Sudan or India and ask them if Jesus is real. Theyre literally being butchered for their faith in Christ and these dudes are casting Him away like a pile of left over orange chicken on your plate at a buffet. These too soft ass fools need a reality check. But the good thing about our God, He will be waiting for them to come back, if they come to their senses

    • Or maybe — bear with me here — they read all the same arguments for Christianity as you and just came to a different conclusion?

      No, that couldn’t possibly be true. It’s _much_ more likely that anyone who disagrees with your religion is just a spoiled, punk-ass kid.

  71. Is being a jerk about them selling dog hoodies your way of “being sad for them?” Like, does that have any relevance to them losing their eternal salvation (according to you)?

    You’re driving people away from your religion by being a passive aggressive meany-face. Shape up, dude. Be kind. Be understanding. Listen. Don’t listen to find a loophole to argue. Actually listen to people. If you did that, you wouldn’t have written this article that completely misrepresents what the guys stated in their podcasts.

    Take a page from Rhett and Link’s book and maybe focus on peace and love.

  72. I am not famous or rich, when I led worship as a Christian I definitely really felt it and I have read all the books and poured over the arguments. and I’m still not a Christian. and I still related to almost everything Rhett and Link said, even though I went through it long before them. They addressed the dismissive, hateful comments before they even happened because christians are taught what to say to people who go through what ex-christians go through. and it is very painful. reading your article was painful for me because it reeks of self-righteousness. if you’d like credibility with those 18-25 year olds you would so like to reach, consider humility, and maybe some therapy.

  73. Hi Shelby, Wow! Your article sure has elicited a pendulum of reaction and emotion. From total rebuke and condemnation to agreement, sadness and everything in between. Thanks for engaging in this topic. As a Christian I am commenting from that perspective. I send these words with love. I intend no disrespect to the families or neighbors and friends of Rhett & Link. Atheist and agnostic folks won’t like whatever I have to say anyway so love to you all. My reaction to Rhett & Link’s coming out as apostates was sadness, heart break and a kind of dismay. I heard Rhett rebut the anticipated rebuttals from Christians and preemptively knock down a christian response at every turn so it doesn’t sound like he’s interested in engaging with the Christian audience on this topic. Entirely his choice as it’s his story and experience. Unfortunately, their apostate story is all too common. We hear the current stats of the number of people leaving the Christian church and even faith in Christ entirely, the percentage of unaffiliated and non church-going people at all time highs. It is not unusual for Christians to have questions about the Bible, their faith and what they truly believe at some point in their lives. These questions are healthy. Jesus Christ and the Bible can withstand scrutiny from open hearted seekers. It just so happens that these beloved YouTubers’ story caught the attention of Youth ministers, parents and church leaders who are also their fans/followers. Their story and the story of others who walk away from Christ should indeed rock the world of youth pastors, pastors and parents. Their story is an affirmation that it is only a personal encounter with the living God, the risen Lord Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit that changes hearts and cements the truth in our hearts. Apologetics is wonderful, provides the evidence of the facts and has its place for sure. Rhett & Link sounded to me like at some point they truly craved that risen Christ encounter and perhaps never really experienced one. In his testimonial, Rhett said preemptively that people listening will say he never really new Jesus or God in the first place but he said he had a close relationship with God. I wondered how you can have a close relationship with someone and then decide they don’t exist. That was curious to me. Only God knows the heart of a person. It boils down to the fact that religious traditions, cool church programs, cool youth groups, missions teams , etc. as great and wonderful as all these things are, will not change hearts. Only the Holy Spirit can and will. I pray for Rhett & Link and their families. I pray they will encounter Jesus Christ in all of His love, grace and mercy in a real and powerful way. Love to all.

    • “Their story is an affirmation that it is only a personal encounter with the living God, the risen Lord Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit that changes hearts and cements the truth in our hearts.”
      THIS is what I needed to hear at the end of a long day of listening to R&L podcasts. They influence my 21 yr old and I am so sad and angry that God has allowed their confusion to be broadcasted. Is He able to confirm to her heart that she is His? I am praying that He will!!! He has been working on me for 47 years and I do (finally) see some of the fruit. HE is the one who gives faith to believe and eyes to see.

  74. Seems you missed the whole story. They were anguished with their doubts. Their lives revolves around ministry. Your response is exactly why Christians with doubts don’t speak aloud of them, we have to wrestle internally because of the judgement

    • Exactly. Seeing all of the pious dismissal of them by all the Christians in the comments here is so aggravating. I say that as someone who went through a similar deconversion as them. I know damn well I’m not just “lying to myself so I can keep sinning” or crap like that. I tried incredibly hard to keep my belief but it just flat-out didn’t work.

  75. Thank you for this article. I was on a summer project in New York City with Rhett and about 35 other kids. Several of us from that group are very disappointed and saddened by all that has happened. I’m hoping it can be a lesson to the rest of us to run our race with perseverance and get rid of those things that hinder us. We all loved Rhett so much and will continue to pray for him, Link and their families.

  76. It seems to me that God could just show up and clear this whole thing up for everybody. I mean, it shouldn’t require philosophical arguments and faith to establish if the greatest being in the universe actually exists. It’s a shame that he stopped doing that several thousand years ago.

  77. I love when Rhett quoted John 6:68: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”. He follows this with the fact that he has gone nowhere. Out of the boat into oblivion. Maybe one day the city will loose its shine in his eyes and come home.

  78. I really don’t understand all the commentary bashing Shelby. He is as entitled to give his observations to the situation as anyone else here. Those of you so tolerant of opinions don’t really seem to tolerate the opinions of Christians. I have been so sad about not just the souls of Rhett and Link, but about all those who have been affected… their friends, family,
    fans, and observers. I don’t understand why they had to so openly proclaim their disdain for God, Jesus, the Bible, and Christianity in general. I am offended at the blaspheme of who Jesus is. They have chosen to be public figures and to share this publicly. We should be able to share publicly as well…. even if you disagree with our opinions. As far as I know, the same freedom of speech and religion is ours as well as theirs. May God have mercy on all of us.

  79. I was thankful to see in the update your comments about the families that raised Rhett and Link. I know as a mom myself that I made so many grave mistakes raising my family, in spite of pouring myself into it and doing literally the best I could. It is only by the grace of God that any child comes to God, and it will always be in spite of our parenting. To Rhett’s parents, my prayers are with you. Hold onto Jesus.

  80. If I may point out here three (3) assumptions evangelicals make about people who have left Christianity to help the author and readers understand their own logical fallacies.

    1) If you only spent one week with Rhett and Link, would you still consider yourself their “friend”? Friendship suggests an intimate relationship, so the question to be answered is whether you are using this term to claim some sort of authority regarding your knowledge of who Rhett and Link are. I’m suggesting here that you used “friend” to show your readers that you knew them both well enough to comment about their lives while you really didn’t know them well at all.

    2) This issue aside, whether or not Rhett and Link “experienced authentic Christian community or godly grace from their families, church, or friends” is beside the point. What do you mean by “authentic Christian community or godly grace”? Claims of authenticity are always subjective, and such claims always vary from people to people, communities to communities. What is “authentic” and what exactly is your measure of “authenticity?” Can claims of authenticity even be used in these cases?

    3) Lastly, related to 2) if we accept people’s claims of conversion to Christianity, then the de-conversion experience, or deconstruction, must be understood and taken just as seriously as well. Social scientists and religious studies scholars have long studied conversion and secularity as well. These are real experiences for people, and to claim that their deconstruction is not real is to say that you yourself have a more accurate understand of their reality. Such claims are really unhelpful for empathizing what people are experiencing. Case and point: The #MeToo movement.

  81. Long:
    Thanks for the article! I often wondered why with such a large audience and influence, they would never broach important spiritual topics or ever once mention Jesus. I used to love watching their skits and old commercials, God really has given them a talent for comedy. Reading your article, its definitely on point despite what some in the comments are saying. Truth is in its very nature divisive, being sharper than any two edged sword and will offend someone no matter how lovingly or humbly you present it. Just reading through it, I felt you presented all the information in love and humility, and especially addressing your small error about Cru in ample humility, so don’t sweat it brother!

    Having been in Cru in college, I can certainly see how a double life can develop by feeling pressure to act a certain way without knowing why. Rhett’s reaction to Link’s mistake is very sad, almost like he was more concerned about how he would be viewed being so close to such a “sinner” instead of showing compassion as Jesus does. You can’t blame Rhett however, as he was just doing what the culture taught, instead of what the bible teaches us. Christians in general have really lost our footing in God’s word I feel, which is so detrimental to our faith. Many people I encountered in Cru were great, and really loved God understanding the relationship they have with Him and why they believed, but there were more who really didn’t. This in and of itself is not the issue as the purpose is obviously to have an environment in which friends can invite friends to encounter God if they want. The issue I saw in just my campus ministry were many of these people were in positions of authority teaching others what they themselves hadn’t quite come to terms with. They instead treated the ministry as more of a social hangout.

    It’s sad, but Rhett and Link’s story doesn’t seem to be too unique among Christians raised in the southeast US. Thier story is very similar to many I have seen unfold from the southern christian culture where temptation comes, and those who believed they had a foundation in Jesus ill equipped to give a defense of their faith wither in that heat. Instead of really asking why this happened, they just assume they were mistaken for believing in Jesus as the only Way and start looking for the real “truth”, even though the faith they thought they had wasn’t genuine and based on nothing but traditions and social pressures.

    Short: Thanks Shelby for taking time to post! God bless you brother and don’t stop praying for Rhett and Link that Jesus will open their hearts to see the truth. ( James 5:16 – The fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much!)

  82. (Full Disclosure: as a current Cru staff who self-identifies as “a follower of Jesus” I have frustrations about the religion that grew up around him. Though I know fell0w staff who know Rhett and Link I never met them personally.)

    I finally listened through the four Ear Biscuit podcasts for myself. I can now better understand and sympathize with where Rhett and Link came from and how they got to where we now find them. I come away with a couple of questions…

    1) Did Rhett or Link ever fully understand the person and role of the Holy Spirit as Jesus describes him? Especially in regard to the impossible life his followers are called to live in this broken world? 2) Was there ever a time when the guys loved Jesus more than they loved the stage and the audience?

    I also joined Cru to be on stage before an audience. I had been a professional musician for ten years before my call to Cru. But circumstances in the summer of ‘93 landed me at Cru’s national staff conference too late to take “Intro to Christian Theology” with the rest of the new staff.

    Later, in the mid-2000s, a year or so into answering inquiries on everystudent.com I got tangled up in an argument with an online spiritual predator. His challenge was on a scale similar to Rhett’s discovery of Theistic Evolution. And soon, just like Link I found myself doubting what I believed as a “professional Christian.”

    I took my crisis of faith to the Greek and Hebrew scholar at my church. I was slightly taken aback when Pastor Tim calmly conceded the Bible might not be true. He then proceeded to explain and demonstrate how deep, protracted, impartial study by people much smarter than him combined with the existing statistical probabilities make that so unlikely as to be mathematically ridiculous.

    There’s a good reason Cru’s internal theological curriculum begins with “Intro to Christian Theology.” I did myself a huge disservice by waiting so many years to finally take it.

    Like Rhett and Link I also have Cru to thank for developing me professionally. Fellow staff at Cru’s creative arts division pushed and encouraged me to become a lead singer, front man and public speaker.

    But the day I first expressed entitlement I was immediately pulled up short with a pointed question: “where do you place your personal worth?” I wonder if anyone ever blessed Rhett and Link with that question while in pursuit of their dream at Cru.

    Rhett apparently expects Christian faith to rest on an intellectual foundation. I agree that faith must be based on reasonable evidence. But I’m reminded that the fall of man hinged on the (unrealistic and unattainable) desire to know everything God knows. So…is the absence of a good or alternate explanation of a disturbing Biblical account an automatic guarantee that one does not exist?

    Rhett’s only mention of the Holy Spirit was in recounting an emotional experience at a Cru conference. And to hear Link talk, his one eloquent reference to the Holy Spirit simply rings false. They describe raising support as “persuading people to give monthly contributions” and the work of staff as “convincing people to become Christians.”

    Surely this is shorthand for the benefit of their audience, but these thumbnail descriptions by former Cru staff are pathetically inaccurate compared to how the Christian life really works.

    I am truly sorry to hear Link never connected with God in life the way he wanted. He worked very hard as a perfectionist to make Christianity work for him as a system and came up short. I’m relieved that Rhett is leaving the door open to further revelation. I pray the Holy Spirit — the only one who can make the Christian life function as Jesus intended — will tend their ways and meet them both down the road somewhere.

    What concerns me most is the part of their audience who might follow them into “hopeful agnosticism” (or worse) without NEARLY as much personal struggle and introspection. It also makes me wonder how many self-professed Christians have yet to intentionally and diligently dig down deep enough to lay their foundation on bedrock instead of sand. (see Matthew 7:24-27)

    Shelby, thank you for writing this (and thanks also to Joey S for first drawing my attention to it). I’m motivated to pray for Rhett and Jessie, Link and Christy and their kids.

  83. Fantastic, super well-written, well-thought-out commentary on these two. So sad yet predicted in Scripture. From another angle. Is it possible that some, probably not these two, younger people, especially, might “say” they are leaving Christianity so they are not help accountable (church discipline, etc.) but we might find that in the end, they were really saved, just not willing to “pay the price” like the chief rulers of John 12:42?

  84. What if we just need to learn to love ourselves and others and be content with not knowing what will happen when we die, but that we have tried our best? I think that is what we all need to learn. Work on yourself, hone your skills, love humanity and your family and friends. Be content to be here and alive. I’ve thought about religion my whole life, went to catholic school etc., but I believe we must learn to love ourselves and others and accept that we do not know the truth. Maybe this is what is meant by “hopeful agnosticism”. You’re hopeful there is something out there because it’s really damn scary and hard to accept that you don’t know the truth, you are flawed and you have to deal with that and work on yourself. In the end, most of us just want to be accepted and understand why we are here. We are all the same. We all must face ourselves however we must. Why do we argue over these things?

  85. This is gross and icky. It sounds like you weren’t really their friend at all, but rather an acquaintance. And after reading all of this, I can see why they stopped responding to you. They are in regular contact with several Christians, believers, pastors, etc. and I know this because we share several mutual friends. They did not quit responding to you because you are a Christian. If I had to guess, they quit responding because you seem quite judgmental. Why do you keep saying it’s so easy to come out as an agnostic with 16 million subscribers? It seems like you are thinking about their level of fame much more than they ever do. And why drag them for selling merch when you do the exact same bizarre thing? It makes a whole lot of sense to me for a TV show to sell tee shirts with the show’s name on it, but what doesn’t make sense is an evangelist selling a shirt of the Mona Lisa wearing 3D glasses. I mean, come on, at least be consistent. I am a follower of Jesus and it irks me beyond belief to see all of these pious responses to their deconversion. So from one Christ-follower to another, here’s my question to you: Do you think Jesus would have wrote this article? I don’t think so. This post is filled with judgement, condemnation, and rock-throwing. I can’t see Jesus saying any of this at all. You know what I see in Rhett and Link’s story? Truth. Biblical truth. A journey. Things they are saying are no different than things King David and others have said. I mean, by God, have you read any of the Psalms??? People that leave their faith are always more real to me than those that never do. They are wrestling. They are asking questions. Will they find their way back to Jesus? I don’t know, but what I do know is that I respect them much more for finding their own journey and valuing the truth enough to find it rather than to follow something they’ve been told blindly. Get off your high horse. Jesus never rode a high horse.

    • Oh! I also forgot to add something I wanted to address. Where do you get off in finding it okay to say they mentioned Keller, McDowell, etc. in a condescending way? I listened to all 8+ hours of content of them addressing these things and all I heard was respect and love. It’s sad to me that two people claiming to no longer be followers of Jesus have exhibit more grace and patience than a pastor rebuking them. They presented several resources and books on both sides of the argument and I was impressed how respectful and unbiased they were in the several times they mentioned the Christian counterarguments to their resources. You are the one being biased claiming that the only resource was a Wikipedia page.

      • Hi, Patrick. This is Paul who wrote the original comments. May I ask what I said that makes you say I do not follow Jesus? That’s a very bold claim especially when nothing I said contradicts Scripture.

        • Mt 15:17 Jesus offends the Pharisees.
          Lk 11:45 Jesus offends teachers of the law.
          Jn 21:17 Jesus hurt Peter’s feelings.
          Jn 5:14 Jesus tells a man to stop sinning.
          Jn 8:11 Jesus tells a woman to stop sinning.
          Lk 11 & Mt 23 Jesus rebukes religious leaders.
          Mk 7:8 Jesus says his disciples are mentally dull.
          Mt 8:26 Jesus rebukes his disciples for having little faith.
          Mk 9:19 Jesus calls the people an unbelieving generation.
          Mt 8:22 Jesus tells people to let the dead bury their own dead.
          Lk 13:15 Jesus calls the Pharisees hypocrits.
          Lk 13:2-4 Jesus says, “Repent or perish” like those Pilot sacrificed, or the ones the tower fell on.
          Rev 2 & 3 Jesus rebukes and corrects the churches.

          I could go on with more that Jesus sad that was hurtful, offensive, and insulting. I could go on with the old testament prophets sent by God, with John the Baptist calling out Herod, with Paul’s, Peter’s, James’, John’s and Jude’s letters to the Church bringing rebuke and correction.

          James 5:20 says, “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

          Proverbs 27:6 says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted”

          God himself disciplines those he loves (Heb 12) and if they are wise they will not despise correction but learn from it.

          The Church needs to grow a thicker skin and learn to receive correction when it is needed, otherwise sin and apostasy will grow.

          We are supposed to be like Jesus in every way, but when we are like him in the ways listed above we are labeled, “not Christlike, not loving, not showinggrace”.

          The fake Jesus of people’s imagination is the one that is scrubbed of all the above passages.

          Yes, speak the truth in love, but “love” without truth is not love. Jesus is love, and Jesus is truth. They are inseparable. Jesus is not divided.

          • Wait… Hold on… That has nothing to do with anything I said… Every passage you are trying to claim about Jesus is against people like Shelby: Judgmental religious leaders… Give me one story where Jesus says those things toward sinners/unbelievers/Samaritans/people far from God… Well, guess what… You can’t. You can’t conflate the two…

        • You said, “Every passage you are trying to claim about Jesus is against people like Shelby. Judgemental religious leaders.” I can tell you’re not going to be honest about this. Many of those passages I submitted are not addressed to the religious leaders. Some are even addressed to Jesus’ own disciples. Why do you think it’s okay to lie about this?

          Another example not in my list is when Jesus tells Peter to “Get behind Me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me because you do not have in mind the things of God.” This a rebuke from Jesus to his disciple.

          I also mentioned Jesus’ letters to the believing church in Revelation 2 & 3. Several times he says, “I have these things against you.”

          The fake Jesus you make up in your mind is the one that would never say these things He did in the scriptures.

          Paul also gave some pretty scathing rebukes to believers in his letters. And in his letters he says to “Follow me as I follow Christ.”

          Peter also gave a scathing rebuke to ordinary Jews at Pentecost and many of them repented and believed.

          Paul, what Bible are you reading? And why is it okay for you to rebuke Shelby the way you did in your original post to him, but it’s not okay for Shelby to say anything about Rhett and Link’s statements? This just makes you a judgemental hypocrite.

  86. It’s kinda funny, you would think that if something where true you wouldn’t have to devote an entire aspect of the said “truth” to defending it from doubts and tough questions. Christianity is dying. It’s hurt more than it’s helped. Rhett and Link are just sharing their story that a lot more people relate to than you think. I know for me personally it feels amazing to know I’m not the only one who grew up in a southern Christian home and realized much later that I was so, so wrong. You only help to prove that Christianity is dying and outdated when you write a hit piece like this. The whole Christian community has been attacking them like they committed some heinous crime. It’s very telling as to how the “all loving and all accepting” Christian community really works.

    • Its actual more funny how you claim rhett and link are just sharing their stories but any critique is seen as an attack or a hit piece.

    • Naturally. The mindset he displays here has to survive, to a certain degree, by sticking fingers in the ears and saying, “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” when deconversion stories like this show up that could make them question their beliefs.

  87. So I googled “Rhett and Link deconversion backlash” and found your blog. I grew up in the church, became a Christian through young life right after high school, Grew in my devotion to Christ through college and then seminary and remained faithful for the next 35 years. But then 10 years ago, I too deconverted. I’m so much happier now, but I’m so pissed about how much of my life I wasted in the evangelical church. I so look forward to the day when Christianity Is relegated to the dustbin of history. Your faith only brings harm to humanity and the world. And no I wasn’t a millionaire and established when I deconverted. It caused me great harm and took me years to recover.

  88. “Rhett and Link both said that whatever the cost, they’re seeking the truth—and I don’t believe them.”

    Okay bitchy comment but…

    First off, I just want to say how proud and thankful I am that Rhett and Link would share their journey towards agnosticism with my 18 – 28 year old audience that watches them. They really made the right choice when deciding to share their feelings on an important part of their lives, and they are helping a lot of people who felt like they were crazy or completely alone in their journey in leaving the church.
    But secondly, how dare the author of this article bash Rhett and Link by saying “they’re seeking the truth—and I don’t believe them.” I’m sorry, but why are you shaming them for believing something you don’t? Haven’t you ever imagined that maybe you could love your god and also accept that you like all others on this planet have never faced death, and don’t know what’s waiting for them on the other side? You come from dogmatic organized religion, and your making those that actually participate in any particular faith seem like assholes.

    Congrats.

  89. Great article…until the forced apology. Did CRU “set you straight”? You made accurate, if anecdotal, statements, and the groveling apology does a disservice to your original points. Whomever directed and guided your update should be ashamed of themselves. I guess the fear of all that calling out of the rich and powerful duo had the desired effect on your colleagues. Truly sad that modern christianity is as limp as a noodle. This is why your losing the culture war, never apologize for telling the truth.

  90. Good Article. It’s a shame that R&L have chosen California Progressivism over True Christianity. It really does look like they are fully opposing any traditional views. They way he talked of culture changing, and that he didn’t know where it was going yet, but that he has to change with it is scary to me. We know that the bible says that The Beast will throw truth to the ground, and stomp it to dust: That the culture in the end days will require a 666 stamp to participate. (Daniel)

  91. Bravo! Thank you for saying something about this! I knew Jessie(Rhett’s) wife personally and have been mourning this horrible news, too. I am thankful that you would take the time to thoughtfully address this issue. We know as Christians, that true disciples of Christ cannot turn from Him. It is an impossibility to know the living Saviour and to not be transformed. I am praying that someday, they will know Him, truly and be transformed for His glory.

  92. I used to watch Rhett and Link with my kids about 5-6 years ago. They seemed much more upbeat and happier at that time. I remember seeing they did some work on a video for Phil Vischer (VeggieTales) and when asked about it once they like quickly minimized it. I felt like that was weird. Over the years, I’ve felt their vibe get less light-hearted and darker…especially Rhett…everything about him now (hair, eyes, posture, mood) just seemed off to me. I only listened to their deconstruction podcasts a week ago but I had been noticing and feeling a lack of joy or happiness underlying what they do. Then I watched the episode with Phillip Defranco they recently did where they started breaking down the “success formula” of sorts for their content and I could really see that the way the channel had gone was more of a “for profit” or “business as usual” direction. I mean, they have been at this for a long time on YouTube and they’re essentially doing the same thing that they’ve always done so it’s probably feeling a bit stale. I just don’t think they’re all that light and happy as I once saw them to be. Mo’ money, Li’ problems? There are many people who were ‘Believers’ that are now falling away. It is very sad for them. I really pray God will have mercy on them and the Holy Spirit will strongly draw them to true faith.

  93. I am not here to change anyone’s minds, just as if I were to write something like this I wouldn’t want someone to try and change my mind. Despite this, a lot, way too much, of what is written about is taken out of context and assumption.

    1. Yes their deconstruction is of mostly Christian culture not actual faith, but they found and I have found something deeply wrong with the culture around Christianity. There are absolutely amazing Christians out there that are accepting and wonderful, but there is too many worshipers that aren’t that. It is not reflective of the faith as a whole but it is so worrying hat it pushed them out.

    2. Rhett and Link are absolutely great at dodging some of the backlash people face on YouTube, just like every other major creator. Them saying “they’ve read all the arguments” is really not them deflecting though. The two of them have heard and read it all they are not going to sway in their belief just as any “good” Christian would. Their four part series is absolutely a monologue more than it is a conversation, but they have a right to that. The spiritual deconstruction series is not at all phrased to be an open argument, it’s them telling their tale of how they lost faith. Basically any other Ear Biscuits episode is an open discussion, R&L should be allowed a monologue once in a while.

    3. The “hopeful agnostic” faith is absolutely not foundationally solid, just as Christianity is as soon as you take away the millions of people behind it. A lack of foundation does not at all give you the right to compare something that is deeply meaningful to these two men to one of their comedy vlogs. It was blatantly rude but I see where you are coming from.

    4. First off on this one, you talk about Christianity on YouTube and in Hollywood almost as if it’s persecuted, because “claiming Christ is expensive”. While LGBTQ+, POC, and disabled creators and actors are actually persecuted.

    That is besides the point, from an outside perspective R&L not talking about their faith is suspicious in the context of the spiritual deconstruction. When you look into it however it makes a lot of sense. During the time they were refusing to talk about their faith they were struggling with it, they did not want to open up like any person who’s struggling with the unknown. As you said “claiming Christ is expensive”, despite Rhett and Link being the forefathers of YouTube at a time they were small creators. Their career and families were riding on the success of their channel, they couldn’t afford to “claim faith”.

    5. …..that is a lot of assumptions about R&L. Framing them as some addict to the limelight, junkies for the audience. The two men are both truly amazing people that have done almost no wrong, assuming all this is because they need to feed some addiction is blatantly rude.

    I understand from a Christian perspective a lot of this article makes sense, that is why I know I won’t change any minds. I just want the people who read this article to go watch the series, look into Rhett and Link’s lived and understand the context of it all, then make assumptions.

    My perspective on Christianity is not that it is the one true faith or that anything in the Bible is truth. I truly believe Christianity is a monotheistic religion that got lucky, environmental and political factors lead to it’s rise not some one true God. With the toss of a coin and a few factors worship of the Norse pantheon could be just as widespread as Christianity, because Christianity got lucky.

    Despite this I respect the author and the Christians that commented. I apologize for getting upset and calling the author “blatantly rude”, but I am not going to shy away from the emotions I feel reading this article. I do believe this but I do not mean it as an attack on the author.

    • Greetings Olivia. Our emotions are powerful. Yours, mine and the author’s (Shelby Abbott) are indeed, very powerful. Unfortunately, values and character assessments (rude, greedy, selfish, good, loving, joyful, mean, evil, etc) are not as easily assessed as math or physics. In fact, if there is no God, these values actually don’t exist! Sure, we can define them and agree as a culture or as the human race to a general set of behaviors that can be classified under these various values, but in fact, they do not exist in the absolute if there is no God. Thus, if there is no God, our feelings and assessments (someone being blatantly rude or having our emotions impact our assessment of truth) are all relative. This is the idea of moral relativism and justice is not blind either, but relative. However, if there is a God, then we all must struggle to arrive at the moral absolutes that are indeed absolute. We may get it wrong, just as a very complex math equation can be in error, but we should all still strive.

      Coincidentally, the moral values that are used to reject God have no foundation if there is no God. As uncomfortable as this is, the authentic atheist of the world understand this and will admit it. Our feelings, however, have no bearing on the establishment of truth, but they do impact how we live and interact with each other. Regardless, thanks for your sensitivity – it is refreshing to see civility in these types of discussions.

  94. I wonder if many of those that got saved as young kids and grew up in Christian homes confuse the genuine fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives with the idea that it’s just a product of their Christian environment. To be sure, environment does influence, but the inward desire to follow God that is NOT coming from a “what others will think of me if I don’t behave a certain way” is likely coming from the Holy Spirit.

    I was born again as an adult, and it was absolutely miraculous! My desires literally changed over night. I began to love the things God loves and hated the things God hates. God hates sin. The change didn’t come from my ideas about how I should live, or from others telling me “do this and don’t do that”. The new desires came unlooked for from outside me, but welled up from within me.

    There are many good intellectual reasons to have faith in Christ, but recognizing the work of the Holy Spirit in your life is so important – knowing His voice in the Scriptures, but also apart from the Scriptures. Following His leading even when you don’t know where He is taking you. Sensing His wisdom and transformative work in your heart that is not originating in the mind and the intellect, but is originating in your spirit, even as the mind struggles to articulate and walk out what your spirit has received from His Spirit.

    • Thanks Patrick, exactly- Jesus talks about being “born of the Spirit” so no amount of background theology or childhood influence can bring that about. Not that those things can’t help- especially hearing or reading the Bible and seeing examples of genuine Christians- but the most amazing evidence for me is seeing “ruined” lives transformed by His Spirit- broken people and relationships made whole and truely persecuted Christians strenghtened by God in their pain. The great thing is you can be brought up by ardent athiests or God hating parents or completely non interested apathetic parents of any creed and still encounter the Holy Spirit of God. That’s what I love about the Gospel- He chooses all kinds from all walks. Types like Paul the Apostle as well as tax collecters and prosititutes. It’s encountering and being transformed by Him and walking in His Spirit that truely makes the difference in our lives. That doesn’t mean we don’t falter and have doubts- but that we have a living Redeemer Shepherd to take those doubts to.

  95. My heart truly hurts for these two, and I’m so happy to read your article. Couldn’t agree more! I had a lot of these same thoughts listening to their podcasts and am happy to hear from someone outside and still kind of inside of the situation lol. We need Jesus now more than ever!

  96. Thanks for a well written article. What doesn’t make sense to me is that 4 dedicated Christian adults ALL lost their faith. How does that happen? Do none of them think for themselves? The only thing I could come up with is they must have been taken in by Scientology or something similar.

  97. I am very sad that R&L have used their platform to influence my young adult child. However, I have to remember that the God of the bible is so much bigger than the influence of R&L. Thank you for posting something. I had a hard time finding anything to help me process what I had to hear from their podcasts. It’s been a very hard day listening to them, knowing that my daughter thinks they know more than they do. I’m sorry you felt compelled to apologize in your update. I came to the same conclusions/assumptions as I heard their stories. I’m sorry that christians didn’t show them grace and that they didn’t have love for diversity within their church experience.

  98. Generally a good analysis. Here is my summary of major problems with American Christianity and unfortunately, I struggle personally with many issues of the faith, but truth and orthodoxy must be sought. Also, in my own home, my children currently seem to have rejected truth and logic in favor of feelings and friends and fun. Here is my summary of the two major problems with Christianity that added to Rhett and Link’s leaving the faith based on my own research, including this article:

    #1 – The Religious Right Error:
    The idea that God favors Republican platforms or that America was or is a Christian Nation. As an African America, this error is easier to see.

    #2 – Logical Inconsistency:
    Our feelings, passions, desires, and pain can cause us to compromise our integrity, accept mutually exclusive ideas, ignore or deny facts, and many other results that are logically inconsistent. This cannot be done with physics or math, but it can with people, and often unconsciously. Truth requires logical consistency and I am convinced that unseen forces are at work when we do such things.

    These two flaws, especially #2, have impacted the lives of so many. In fact, many of the so-called new atheist reject God and hold to logical inconsistencies because of the reality pain and suffering in the world. As a friend of my summarizes, many live life based on four P’s: the Pursuit of Pleasure or the Prevention of Pain.

  99. Thank you Shelby for sharing this here, and there is no doubt that countless individuals are moving to destruction of faith, or they do not truly what they are heading to, because there is no meaning of life without the name of Jesus.

  100. Oh, for goodness sake. This article is so dismissive and destructive and you can’t even see it.

    Here’s the problem. For certain sects of Christianity (mainly the “once saved always saved” camp), it would throw a wrench in the entire belief system when two guys who (at least in Rhett’s case, haven’t finished listening to Link) seemingly were model Christians stop believing in it. It frightens them.

    Your piece is very clearly written by someone who just _has_ to find a way that R&L weren’t _real_ Christians. You and many of the people in the comments are taking whatever tiny, insignificant signs that they deconverted out of “rebellion” or “loving sin too much” and stretching them to the point of absurdity. You have to really, really contort their stories to make it seem like they’re just a couple of degenerate hedonists who chose to turn their backs on God. But that’s what your belief system requires, and so you brain literally won’t let you see that their testimonies show guys who really and truly wanted to stay Christian, but couldn’t keep believing, no matter how they tried.

    It’s just so infuriating when Christians take that position. It strikes a nerve for me because I’ve spent the last decade digging really, really deep into the foundations of Christianity, because my faith meant a lot to me and I was trying to find evidence to bolster my belief. However, despite my sincerest efforts, the more arguments I read, the sillier Christianity seemed. And yet, if I were to confess that to my own parents, they wouldn’t believe me. They would call me a liar who “loves sinning” and who “knows God is real but hates Him”. See? This attitude literally makes people doubt the intentions of loved ones who are 100% sincere in trying to stay Christian but just can’t believe it’s true any more. Where I need sympathy and understanding, I instead get mistrust and distance.

    So, frankly, you need to reexamine your assumptions and get out of your dogmatic bubble. R&L couldn’t have been more gracious in these interviews. They make it clear over and over how much they don’t want to disrespect Christians and don’t want to be inflammatory. The fact that you could listen to their stories and sincerely hear two willfully rebellious, wicked sinners, instead of two decent guys trying to be as honest and humble as possible, says a lot more about you than about them.

  101. This is just… you are just talking down on some poor men who dont share the same faith as you … sad … jesus would not appreciate the thought and feelings behind this.. what if they made an article solely about you on a topic that takes majority of people a long time to open up about.. you should spread love and hopefulness more so then a distaste for a people you think you knew … my heart hurts for your ignorance

  102. Thank you for posting these words.
    I never watched the 4 segments but I did see the headings and it saddened me. I was introduced to GMM a month ago and fell in love with a lot of the fun content. To be honest, when I saw they left their faith I did begin to have doubts. I respected Link and was confused. 2 years ago I rededicated my life to Christ after being lost for 8 years. I cried out to God when I was at my rock bottom and he reached out to me, he had only been waiting on me to say the word. I can’t believe how easily doubts filled me and in lockdown I have no connection to my small group. Your article keeps me grounded in my faith. Thank you and God Bless!

  103. Thank you for this. I have watched Rhett and Link from the beginning and remember how grateful I felt seeing two Christians in the entertainment industry not giving in to the ungodliness often found in it. My heart has hurt deeply over the years watching what I perceived as a slow “selling-out.” Continuing to pray for these men that have become beloved by so many of us.

  104. Shelly, your blurb on Rhett telling link to “get out of the car” is misleading. Rhett parks the car and walks back to his best friend to walk with him. It ends with:
    “It really hit home for me, I just felt like, this is a big deal, there is a lot of disappointment here but I’m not, God hasn’t rejected me. I’m already forgiven. And we walked back to the car, we got in, and we drove off. And yeah, it was just a picture of forgiveness, and I think it was really powerful. And I mean, the thing is we were devoted to God and we were devoted to helping each other stayed devoted.” Link

    Shelly that you wrote an article like this clearly shows they made good choices on both accounts of phasing you and Christianity out of their lives.

    Christians calling out Shelly;
    “I’ve done a lot of thinking and praying about how (if at all) I should respond to their podcasts” -Shelly.

    She wrote this out of a sincere belief that it was the right thing to do. Don’t write her off like she did R&L. Question how someone who claims the same Holy Spirit and a renewed mind concludes this is the best and most loving thing to write

  105. I read your apology. But there is just SO MUCH in your piece that should never have been said, especially if you ever dream of having a friendship with either of these two men. I really cannot imagine what you were thinking. I cannot imagine what your friends told you about this piece. It was a bad, very bad idea. I am sorry for both of these men and for you that this would somehow seem appropriate. I hope you will remove it. I hope you will write both fellows a sincere letter of apology. I was on Cru staff for 15 years. I don’t want to shame you publicly for this piece – but please remove it. It was a very very bad idea.