Here’s The Story Of How The Lead Singer Of A Christian Band Came Out As An Atheist- Told In His Own Words

the-order-of-elijah

One of the fun little sayings in the non-religious/atheist community is that nothing turns someone into an atheist faster than actually reading the bible. By actually, we mean reading it with a critical and not an apologetic mind, and fully considering its claims in the light of what we know about the world today.

Most Christians consider the saying as flippant and simplistic, although it’s difficult to argue there isn’t a shred of truth to it. Most atheists were once religious, and thus at one point or another, hit this brick wall that our singer here hit. Everyone’s story is unique, of course, but there are several common threads in such deconversion stories; and one of the most common is the realisation that the Bible is an ordinary book- filled with bad ideas (marrying off a girl to her rapist), bad science (Adam and Eve) and bad history (the Exodus).

The Order of Elijah is a Christian band out of Missouri in the United States. The band is made up of (lead singer) Shannon Low, Josh Newlon, James Copley, Bryan Cox and Myk Lee Fodor. They play Christian Rock, and their last album was titled ‘Dethrone’, which makes several allusions to ‘the enemy’, Satan.

So we imagine it must have been quite tumultuous on the inside when lead singer Low, using the group’s official Facebook page, made a lengthy post telling his ‘coming out’ story. Low told the story from the beginning, so to speak, so as to give sufficient background to the action he has finally decided to take.

After recounting his devotion to the faith as a youth, and his work in the church, he talked about how one sermon, which he listened to critically, changed how he thought about the religion that had always been a part of him.

One Sunday morning there was a sermon that spoke about Elisha and the bears. After a large group of children make fun of Elisha for being bald he curses them in the name of god (which I thought was a commandment not to do). God sends out two female bears to rip the kids apart limb from limb. Now this story disturbed me. I thought “I’ve read the whole bible, how did I overlook this?” So I began asking some questions and found each person had a different apologetic answer for this story. Some said “You don’t understand, calling someone bald back then was horrible.” or “You need to realize these children were heretics and needed to die so their seed didn’t spread.”

This enticed me to see how many other things I had overlooked. I found stories of an old war general sacrificing his virgin daughter in payment for a war victory, guidelines on how to beat your slaves, and an ocean of relentlessly cruel stories. This didn’t break me though. I still claimed Jesus, I said to myself “Jesus must have realized everyone was insane and there to set it straight.” Which many people were quick to inform me that was blasphemous because Jesus condones and quotes the old testament quite frequently. I still stuck to my guns but received a lot of flak by my spiritual peers for not understanding why the OT god was so racist, ethnic cleansing, jealous as an insecure girlfriend, cruel and power hungry.

For Low, the knowledge arms race that Elijah’s (and God’s) crazy antics had set off in him led to reading one of the books most responsible for turning people away from God in recent times- Richard Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion’

Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins

One Sunday morning there was a sermon that spoke about Elisha and the bears. After a large group of children make fun of Elisha for being bald he curses them in the name of god (which I thought was a commandment not to do). God sends out two female bears to rip the kids apart limb from limb. Now this story disturbed me. I thought “I’ve read the whole bible, how did I overlook this?” So I began asking some questions and found each person had a different apologetic answer for this story. Some said “You don’t understand, calling someone bald back then was horrible.” or “You need to realize these children were heretics and needed to die so their seed didn’t spread.”

This enticed me to see how many other things I had overlooked. I found stories of an old war general sacrificing his virgin daughter in payment for a war victory, guidelines on how to beat your slaves, and an ocean of relentlessly cruel stories. This didn’t break me though. I still claimed Jesus, I said to myself “Jesus must have realized everyone was insane and there to set it straight.” Which many people were quick to inform me that was blasphemous because Jesus condones and quotes the old testament quite frequently. I still stuck to my guns but received a lot of flak by my spiritual peers for not understanding why the OT god was so racist, ethnic cleansing, jealous as an insecure girlfriend, cruel and power hungry.

The questions did not stop there, and soon he found himself questioning the very theological basis of Christianity. Issues like hell and biblical contradictions simply refused to give him any respite.

It seemed to me that if god was trying to speak through us he was going about a very peculiar and inconsistent way. Each section of the world was born into a religion that directly contradicts other religions, often in a “hell fire” sort of way. This is not the way TRUTH behaves. In India 2+2 is 4. In Afghanistan 2+2 is 4. And in America 2+2 is 4. If god’s message to us was so vitally important why would he give it to us in vague, ancient scriptures filled with contradictions? Why allow his message to be spread by fallible humans and sit by while idly while falsehoods are spread in his name? Why sentence 2/3’s of the world to hell for being born in the wrong culture? I’d think a perfect god would never need to correct his word if our literal souls depended on it.

So finally, he just had to give up and accept that he had lost his faith. As the lead singer of such a band, it was not an easy realisation. And even though he has received judgement and condemnation from some people, others have been tremendously supportive, including all his bandmates.

After one of the most difficult decisions in my adult years, I had no choice but to accept that I had shed my faith like a cocoon. It was scary yet liberating, it confusing yet simple, I felt at peace yet completely shaken, I pretty much had to reprogram my way of thinking about the world. Not only that, I felt I had lived a lie for half my life. I read books, tried meditating, hell sometimes I’d even try to talk to god.

So here we are today. Look, I love you guys and I’m sorry I’m not a Christian anymore. This is honestly me completely coming out of the faith closet, I tried to avoid throwing all my mental baggage into the road but you guys very important to me and the rest of the TOOE crew.

It should be interesting to see how the band works from now on. It seems his colleagues are cool about the entire thing, but for some zealot fans, it is a betrayal they aren’t going to tolerate.

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So Low finally ‘came out of the closet’, so to speak, with a story many ex-believers turned atheists can relate to. One of religion’s biggest strengths, childhood indoctrination, means a majority of people would grow up religious, when they should really be neutral until they have the necessary intellectual capacity to choose. But most don’t when they’re introduced to it, meaning that stories such as Low’s would inevitably hold more oomph than the opposite (atheist becoming religious), which every once in a while one hears about as well.

Read Low’s account in full below…

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