Editor’s Note: This video contains a curse word at about the 2:22 mark. We still feel the video provides valuable insight into someone who is “done with church” over an issue of community (or lack thereof) and therefore recommend you watch it, despite the inappropriate language.
“If I were still a Christian, I’d probably be dead,” Spencer Chamberlain says at the beginning of a short video interview. With bandmate Aaron Gillespie at his side, the Underoath frontman shared his view of the “unwelcoming” nature of the Christian community.
“Everything that Christianity was built on was essentially rebellious,” Gillespie explains, noting the “fringe” nature that has been a hallmark of Christianity since its inception. Consider the facts, Gillespie says, that Jesus was “not a white man. He was not a Christian—he was a Jewish man. He essentially got thrown out of his home town, and then he was murdered.” However, Gillespie says, somewhere along the way “modern Christianity became synonymous with being conservative,” a fact that Gillespie has a hard time understanding.
No Longer Christian
Underoath is a heavy metal band that once was Christian and whose songs explored issues of faith through metal music. Disbanded in 2015, the band made a come back in 2018 with their album “Erase Me”. However, they no longer consider themselves a Christian band. And lead singer Chamberlain does not consider himself a Christian anymore. In another interview, Chamberlain says the change was good for the band. “Erase Me” represents the most “blunt and transparent” album the band has created.
Chamberlain believes modern Christianity feels like a sales pitch more than anything else. “It’s like they’re selling a product: The really good looking pastor with his wife and his beautiful kids and they seem so happy…It’s almost like they’re selling ‘If you buy into these rules and you do what we do, you can also be like this.’”
Gillespie believes that the reason religion is so fragile is because it’s manmade (all modern religion is, he argues). Because of this fact, the only thing religion has to offer, essentially, is “the rules”. “Which you’re not allowed to question,” Chamberlain interjects. Furthermore, when a Christian starts questioning his or her faith, that person is seen as lost.
“When you believe in the rules and not the reason [behind them], then you got an issue,” Gillespie agrees.
Spencer Chamberlain Feels the Christian Community Failed Him
“The Christian community is what ruins Christianity for me,” Chamberlain says. Recalling his own experience with drug addiction, Chamberlain says inside the Christian community it’s very alienating to be a leader or role model with a problem. It’s hard to talk about these issues with the people who are supposed to be looking up to you as an example. Alluding to his own experience, Chamberlain says the people he confided in while on the road touring with the band were the non-Christians who also struggled with things. On the other hand, the Christian community were writing articles pointing to Chamberlain’s addiction as the reason for the band’s decline and break up. He did not find an understanding, accepting community in the church. And so he left. Now, after 10 years of drug use, Chamberlain is sober and ready to sort through some things.
“Doesn’t that seem opposite?” Chamberlain asks about the fact that he was able to receive support and help from non-believers than believers.
Concluding the interview, Gillespie appears to be clarifying what the pair are trying to say: “Belief isn’t the prison; expectation is the prison.” By expectation, one has to assume that is the expectation placed on Christians to know what to do when they are in trouble and, perhaps more pointedly, to avoid that trouble in the first place.