In “Bringing Down Hell,” a 2013 sonic assault from Missouri band the Order of Elijah, frontman Shannon Low sings, “Looking up into the sky/It’s time that we abolish/All religion and we turn unto the son.” Actually, he screams it in that hoarse growl favored by deathcore bands.
Low’s lyrics are pretty on the nose, but in case there’s any doubt, he once said in an interview that it’s a “rant about abolishing religion and turning ourselves toward an actual, personal relationship to God.” The Order of Elijah was not just a band of Christians, it was a Christian band set on spreading the word of God.
So imagine the surprise the band’s fans must have felt when they read Low’s recent Facebook epistle. Not only was he renouncing religion, he was ditching Jesus, too.
“Look, I love you guys and I’m sorry I’m not a Christian anymore,” he wrote. “This is honestly me completely coming out of the faith closet.” For the lead singer of a band that sought to “push His message as far as this roller coaster will take us,” that’s heavy stuff.
Low explained that his conversion had been gradual — beginning after he heard a disturbing sermon about the Old Testament’s vengeful God. He took a closer look at the Bible and “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.”
The seeds of doubt were sown, but they didn’t truly sprout into full-fledged apostasy until Low encountered The God Delusion, the 2006 book by celebrity atheist Richard Dawkins. “It answered so many questions that my Christian friends would literally get furious for me to even address,” Low writes.
Dawkins wasn’t the only writer who influenced Low’s thinking. On The Thinking Atheist podcast, he says that he’s read books by Sam Harris and Dan Dennett and watched debates that helped him decide to walk away from religion. But, he added, the Dawkins book had been the biggest eye-opener. “I actually learned more from that book about biology,” he said.
Low’s bandmates appear to be onboard with his newfound irreverence. The Order of Elijah will embark on the God’s Unwanted Tour later this month. Bring your earplugs.