Christians of a certain age are probably familiar with the work of Hawk Nelson, a Christian power pop act that grew to prominence on the strength of fun hooks on albums like Letters to the President and Smile, It’s the End of the World. Now, frontman Jonathan Steingard has taken to Instagram to announce that he no longer believes in God.
“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 writes in a lengthy Instagram post. “The last few words of that sentence were hard to write. I still find myself wanting to soften that statement by wording it differently or less specifically – but that wouldn’t be true.”
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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.
Steingard is open about the past few years of his journey to nonbelief, sharing that he has long nursed a growing discomfort with the faith he accepted in his youth (Steingard is a pastor’s son). “When you grow up in a community that holds a shared belief, and that shared belief is so incredibly central to everything, you simply adopt it,” he wrote. “Everyone I was close to believed in God, accepted Jesus into their hearts.”
But slowly, cracks formed in his belief system.
“It didn’t happen overnight or all of a sudden,” Steingard writes. “I have been terrified to be honest about this publicly for quite some time, because of all that I thought I would lose.”
He says he was boldened by conversations with friends, who confessed that they had privately reached similar conclusions. He also writes that his wife feels the same way he does. “Stepping away from belief in God has felt like a loss in some ways – but it’s felt like freedom in others,” he writes.
“I am not sure how much this will rock the boat,” the singer continues. “But it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’ve finally worked up the courage to tell my story.”
On Facebook, Steingard’s fellow Hawk Nelson bandmember Daniel Biro expressed gratitude his bandmates and support for Steingard. “God has a unique path for each of us and it’s important that we stay honest with one another. Looking forward to seeing how each of us continue to G R O W.”