Jonathan Steingard, the frontman of the successful Christian rock band Hawk Nelson, has declared in a lengthy Instagram post that he no longer believes in God.
The singer-guitarist has been a member of Hawk Nelson since 2004, taking over lead vocals in 2012. The Canadian band has placed a number of LPs in the Top 10 of Billboard’s Top Christian Albums chart, amassing a large following along the way.
In a caption accompanying his open letter, Steingard remarked, “I’ve been terrified to post this for a while – but I feel like it’s time for me to be honest. I hope this is encouraging to people who might feel the same but are as afraid to speak as I am. I want to be open. I want to be transparent with you all – and also open to having my heart changed in the future.”
In the letter itself, Steingard wrote, “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.”
He continued, “I still find myself wanting to soften that statement by wording it differently or less specifically — but it wouldn’t be as true … the process of getting to that sentence has been several years in the making.”
Elsewhere in the letter, Steingard recalled a conversation he had with his father-in-law: “I was asking about a verse in 1 Timothy that seems really oppressive of women. It indicates that women shouldn’t be in church leadership, shouldn’t teach men, and shouldn’t wear their hair in braids. ‘To me, that seemed less like the message of the loving God that most Christians believe in now, and more like the ideas that would have been present in the culture at the time…a male-dominated society where women were treated less like equals and more like property.’”
As to his authenticity while fronting the band, Steingard wrote, “If you’re someone who follows me because of Hawk Nelson, and my involvement in Christian music, you are probably thinking, ‘Wait — were you lying to me the whole time? Were you just pretending to be a Christian? What about all those songs you wrote? Did you mean those?’ The short answer is that I was not lying. I did believe those things at the time. I may have been pulling on the threads of the sweater, but there was still some sweater left back then.”
Steingard also suggested that he is stepping away from the band, explaining, “While I know I can no longer stand on stage and in good conscience sing songs like ‘Drops in the Ocean’, I no longer fear losing my place in Christian music. I know this means giving it up voluntarily.”
The singer did add, “I’m open to the idea that God is there. I’d prefer if he was. I suspect if he is there, he is very different than what I was taught.”
Throughout the Instagram post, Steingard listed several more reasons why he stopped believing in God. The multi-page open letter can be read in full below.
View this post on Instagram
I’ve been terrified to post this for a while – but it feels like it’s time for me to be honest. I hope this is not the end of the conversation, but the beginning. I hope this is encouraging to people who might feel the same but are as afraid to speak as I am. I want to be open. I want to be transparent with you all – and also open to having my heart changed in the future. I am not looking for a debate at all – just a chance to share my story in the hopes some good can come from it. I love you all.