The frontman of Christian rock band Hawk Nelson has said that he no longer believes in God. Singer John Steingard made the announcement in an Instagram post last week.
He wrote: "I've been terrified to post this for a while - but I feel like it's time for me to be honest. After growing up in a Christian home, being a pastor's kid, playing and singing in a Christian band, and having the word Christian in front of most of the things in my life - I am now finding that I no longer believe in God."
Steingard joined the popular Canadian group in 2004 and has been an integral part of the band's seven previous studio albums. Their latest release was the 2018 record, "Miracles."
In the lengthy letter, Steingard said losing his faith in Jesus has been "several years in the making" and involved a prolonged period of doubt. "It didn't happen overnight or all of a sudden," he explained. "It's been more like pulling on the threads of a sweater, and one day discovering that there was no more sweater left."
His doubts, he added, were shared by the majority of his friends who also lived through the experience of growing up in the church. "I am stunned by the number of people in visible positions within Christian circles that feel the same way as I do," Steingard explained.
The singer noted that he "had a whole lot less to lose" in making the announcement now as "the band isn't playing shows or making music at the moment."
Getting more specific about his issues with Christianity, Steingard said he had a number of fundamental questions including "If God is all loving, and all powerful, why is there evil in the world?"
However, when he was told to "go back to what the Bible says" for answers, it only triggered more existential confusion. "Consulting and discussing the Bible didn't answer my questions, it only amplified them," he said. "Suffice it to say that when I began to believe that the Bible was simply a book written by people as flawed and imperfect as I am - that was when my belief in God truly began to unravel."
The singer added that his sudden doubt in the integrity of the Bible caused him to descend into a deep depression. "What do you do when the rug is pulled out from under your feet?" he asked. "Will all my Christian friends abandon me? What do I teach my own children?... Those are the questions that led me into a very dark place for a while."
He quickly realised that his friends and family were going to stick by him through his crisis faith, which brought some hope and comfort. "Life really does go on," he said. "My family is showing me incredible love and support, even though I know this grieves them."
After spending an extended period of time processing his doubts in private, now, he said, it's time for him "to be transparent and open."
Though he admits having no faith in God and zero desire to engage in spiritual disciplines, Steingard did say he hoped for the existence of a higher being.
"I'm open to the idea that God is there," he explained. "I'd prefer it if he was. I suspect if he is there, he is very different than what I was taught.
"I know my parents pray that God reveals himself to me. If he's there, I hope he does."
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