Saturday, June 21, 2014

Convicted Christian Singer Outed as Atheist

So there's this joke I like to tell: "What do you call Christian music that's good? Music." It's all too true because it's not like there are no Christian themes in American popular music, as it's by far the majority religion in this country. Rather, if a band has to brand itself as "Christian" that's pretty much proof that its music is terrible. There are a few exceptions here and there, but in fact bands that start out as Christian for other reasons generally transition into the mainstream if they're decent.

There's also the South Park episode where Cartman decides to start a Christian band. He comments, "Writing Christian music is easy! You just take old songs and cross out words like 'honey' and 'baby' and write in 'Jesus'!" Now you might think that a real Christian musician would be doing it because they want to share and promote their faith rather than sell inferior tunes to what is essentially a captive audience, but as this story shows, plenty of them are just in it for the money.

A so-called Christian heavy metal band whose frontman was convicted of attempting to hire a hitman to murder his estranged wife has admitted that it duped fans into believing that they were Christian in order to sell their music.

“Truthfully, I was an atheist,” Tim Lambesis, the lead singer and founder of As I Lay Dying told the Alternative Press in a recent interview. “I actually wasn’t the first guy in As I Lay Dying to stop being a Christian. In fact, I think I was the third. The two who remained kind of stopped talking about it, and then I’m pretty sure they dropped it, too.”

The publication noted that his wife, Meggan, had likewise divulged in divorce papers that Lambesis had become an atheist. Lambesis, in admitting his atheism, outlined that he turned away from Christianity as he majored in religious studies while attending college through a long distance program.

“In the process of trying to defend my faith, I started thinking the other point of view was the stronger one,” he said.

Most of the Christian bands come out of literalist evangelical Christianity, which means their beliefs pretty much line up with the fundamentalism that New Atheists spend most of their time criticizing. From the standpoint of logic it's also the easiest to take down, since it hinges on the easily disproved assertion that everything in the Bible is literally true and in that light the text is full of contradictions.

If your faith falls apart when confronted with a different point of view it must be pretty weak, but at the same time literalism is brittle. Rather than rising or falling according to the spiritual value of the message, its veracity depends upon a million little details. This is a huge problem, because the text that became the Old Testament started off as oral tradition that was written down much later, and the New Testament contains four stories of the same events that differ from each other.

As far as Lambesis' conviction goes, one of the points that Christians tend to make in debates with atheists is that without a belief in God, what's to stop you from running around murdering people? Atheists, on the other hand, point out that if you need a God to keep you from running around and committing murder you're pretty much an awful human being. This seems to be the case with Lambesis, who left his religion and decided hiring a hit man to kill his ex-wife was somehow okay. Clearly, prison is where he belongs.

The saddest thing for the other members of the band is that As I Lay Dying wasn't just another crummy Christian band; they were good enough that they were selling records in both the Christian and mainstream music markets and touring with major mainstream metal acts. But with front man and founder Lambesis starting his sentence they're probably going to have to take a long hiatus from recording and performing.

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Nerd said...

Dang, he should have claimed it was a "Abraham/Isaac" deal, where God told him to sacrifice her.

They could have written a whole album about it!

Scott Stenwick said...

There you go! That would have been hilarious, especially the part where the prosecution got a chance to comment on his reasoning and basically call him a dumbass over and over again.

Unknown said...

How can you tell if someone is a Christian or just a huckster?

How can you tell if Christianity is true?

You can't, you just have to have "faith".

Scott Stenwick said...

Regarding Christians versus hucksters, I think as in this case you have to pay attention to their actions rather than their declarations. Anybody can claim to be Christian, but actually living life according to Christian principles takes dedication.

To be fair, it's hard to prove that any religion is "true." My opinion is that a religion should be a system of practice that produces "spiritual" or peak experiences - in Christianity it's called metanoia, which gets translated as "repentance" but which really means something more like meta-awareness - or, if you will, awakened or enlightened consciousness.

On the other hand, a large portion of Christians pretty much ignore this point and treat their churches more like social clubs. Nobody can do spiritual work for you, and if your religion is not motivating you to practice I would say that it is failing. I don't know if such practice makes a religion "true," but it does make it effective.