Jon Steingard, the lead singer of the Christian band Hawk Nelson, says that he no longer believes in God. Steingard shared this news in an Instagram post last week, explaining that he “agonized over whether to say this publicly, and if so, how to do it,” but ended up concluding that “it’s less important how I do it and more important that I do it.”
“I’ve been terrified to post this for a while—but it feels like it’s time for me to be honest,” Steingard said in the caption to his post. “I hope this is not the end of the conversation, but the beginning.”
Hawk Nelson’s Jon Steingard Explains His Deconstruction
“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,” said Steingard. “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 it wouldn’t be as true.”
Steingard compared the unraveling of his faith to the unraveling of a sweater. It did not happen all at once, but was a process that took years and occurred one thread at a time. Eventually, however, he discovered that the sweater was gone. Steingard said he has decided to share his loss of faith publicly at this time for a few reasons, the first of which is that he believes he has to do so in order to be honest with people. The second is the fact he knows many who share his doubts. He said, “I am stunned by the number of people in visible positions in Christian circles that feel the same way as I do. Like me, they fear losing everything if they’re open about it.” The singer said he hoped his openness would encourage others to be honest as well.
The third reason Steingard has spoken up is that he has “a whole lot less to lose now.” Hawk Nelson is not currently touring or making new music, and the singer and his bandmates are supporting themselves through other work. So Steignard does not have to fear that speaking out will mean he cannot support his family.
To Hawk Nelson fans who might feel as though Steignard had been lying to them, the singer said he was not pretending to be a Christian throughout the years. “I did believe those things at the time,” he said. “I may have been pulling on the threads of the sweater, but there was still some sweater left back then.”
Steingard went on to share how the sweater unraveled. He grew up in “a loving Christian home” where his dad was a pastor and church was his life. Because everyone around him believed in Christianity, he also accepted those beliefs. Over time, as Steingard continued to be involved in the church and began leading worship, certain aspects of Christian culture started to bother him. But when he started having doubts, he pushed them away and tried to ignore them.
The singer started asking more difficult questions about Christianity after he joined Hawk Nelson at age 20. These questions included, why would a good God allow evil in the world? How can a loving God send people to hell? Why does God seem harsh in the Old Testament, but kind in the New Testament?
Steingard also began to doubt that the Bible was God’s word, seeing many contradictions in it. 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 began to truly unravel.” Realizing he believed that God might not exist was a terrifying experience. Said Steingard, “The implications of that idea were absolutely massive.”
The singer said he has shared publicly in the past about his struggles with depression, and he revealed that losing his faith was the main source of that struggle. He did not know how to handle losing something that had been so central to his life. He wasn’t sure what to teach his children about faith, and he feared that if he were honest about the change in his beliefs, his friends and family would abandon him. These fears and worries led him to a “very dark place.” But now, he says, he has mostly left that dark place because people did not abandon him when he was truthful about his experience.
While Steingard does feel he has lost something, he also feels a sense of freedom and relief now that he is finally being honest about what he believes. Fellow band member Daniel Biro responded on Hawk Nelson’s Facebook page, “Forever grateful for these brothers of mine. We’ve been through some highs and lows together and we share a very special bond that can’t be broken…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 .”
Over 2,700 people have commented on Steingard’s post, most thanking him for his honesty and expressing their support, whether they agree with him or not. Many said they had similar experiences deconstructing from Christianity, while others said they cared for and were praying for the singer. One person questioned why Steingard felt the need to share his loss of faith publicly and potentially hurt the faith of others, to which the singer responded, “I lived out my faith publicly—it felt dishonest to say nothing now. Believe me—I wrestled with it a lot.”
Fellow Christian artists also commented on Steingard’s post, expressing their love for him. Jeremy Camp, whose story is featured in the movie I Still Believe, said, “Love you bro. Always will.” Jordan Feliz said, “I am always here for you, no matter what.” Jeff Owens of Tenth Avenue North said, “I’m here for you and love you.”
Toward the end of his post, Steingard wrote, “I’m open to the idea that God is there. 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.”