The members of Hawk Nelson are speaking out after the Christian rock band's lead singer, Jon Steingard, announced he no longer believes in God.
In a joint statement to USA TODAY on Tuesday, Steingard's bandmates Daniel Biro, Micah Kuiper and David Niacaris say their mission is to "inspire and encourage all people with the truth that God is FOR them and not against them."
"God is still FOR Jon & he still matters," they add. "Why? Because that truth doesn’t change just because we question it."
The statement continues to say everyone is "called to Love one another unconditionally" and that people "should also encourage and challenge one another" on issues of faith.
"How we treat one another when they are at a different stage in their journey based on their life experiences is part of a bigger conversation," it says.
The trio capped off their statement with a Bible quote from Romans about how nothing can separate people from God's love, saying that they remain "thankful and grateful" to God for their band, their music and their relationships.
On Friday, Steingard posted a lengthy declaration to Instagram about how he no longer believes in God and shares how he came to that conclusion.
"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.
The singer continues to describe how his newfound belief did not occur suddenly, but rather "has been several years in the making." He says he's sharing his beliefs to be honest with his fans.
Growing up, the Church was integral to his life and identity, Steingard writes. But the singer still found himself uncomfortable with certain practices.
"Praying in public always felt like some kind of weird performance art," he says. "Emotional cries such as 'Holy Spirit come fill this place' always felt clunky and awkward leaving my lips. A youth conference I attended encouraged every teen to sign a pledge that they would 'date Jesus' for a year. It felt manipulative and unsettling to me. I didn't sign it."
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Nevertheless, Steingard said he suppressed his doubts and joined Hawk Nelson when he was 20. At the time, Hawk Nelson's music was not overtly religious, but became more Christian over time.
"To be fair, I was one of the loudest voices pushing for that shift, because I believed it would lead to more success in the Christian music world," Steingard adds. "Even through this shift, there were still many things about Christian culture that made me uncomfortable. In fact, the list was growing."
When Steingard consulted the Bible for answers to his questions, he says he became more confused. Steingard's doubt in the Bible is what ultimately led him to stop believing in God, a thought that sent him "into a tailspin."
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After suffering from depression following his loss of faith, Steingard says he's "emerged from that dark place now - because I've discovered that life really does go on."
He says he hopes his story will let people experiencing similar doubts know they are not alone.
"Now I don't believe anything is wrong with us," Steingard writes. "We simply didn't believe - and we were too afraid to admit that to ourselves. So in that sense, we have a tremendous sense of relief now. I am hoping that writing this contributes to that relief."
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