The Jesus hath risen in Portland.
Maybe you’re among his 1.18 million followers…er, disciples on YouTube. Maybe you bought a Cameo from him for your grandmother’s birthday. Or maybe you’ve just seen him riding around downtown on a skateboard surrounded by plywood in the shape of a cross.
OK, so he might not be the biblical Jesus. But he certainly looks the part. And he’s got the name—he legally changed it to Jesus Herbert Christ (thejesuschrist.com) in order to officiate a wedding.
This Jesus, though, grew up a devout Mormon in Bakersfield, Calif. It wasn’t until his 30s that he grew disillusioned and eventually left the church. He felt ostracized and depressed, and wanted to try to convince his family to follow his lead.
“I thought, if I could somehow make a career out of being Jesus and being successful at it,” he says, “I can’t think of another way that’s as shocking and cognitive dissonance-inducing.”
Living in Los Angeles at the time, he put on a tunic and stood out on Sunset Boulevard. He came home with only $75. Feeling discouraged, he remembered he had recently purchased a custom birthday message from the Fiverr app for his sister’s birthday. He then realized how he could monetize the character.
His first YouTube video showed him unboxing a crown of thorns. It earned 50,000 views in one day. At that point, he started to get more serious about making YouTube videos—answering questions, performing kung fu, skateboarding around Portland in shades and sandals— donating all the money from YouTube to an Australian shepherd rescue, while also jumping on Fiverr and Cameo.
Now, he’s made a legitimate career of being Jesus—and successfully convinced many of his family members to leave the Mormon church.
A relatively new transplant, Jesus moved to Portland in January 2020. But despite the city’s godless reputation, he says he feels more welcomed here than in L.A.
“I seem to fit in well here,” he says. “It definitely is Bethlehem 2.0 for me.” SOPHIA JUNE.