As I Lay Dying is super hardcore Christian. Sure, they never came out and said "Jesus" or "God" in their songs, but they talked a lot about being Christian rockers and got themselves a following. Who knew that it was all a ploy by godless capitalist screamo dudes just to sell records?
"In a genre known for its secularism, As I Lay Dying stands out from the crowd by spreading God's message in mosh pits," Christian Post raved about the then-decade-old band in 2011. But here it is, an atheist admission sending viral ripples through Jesus-rock circles and mainstream media today. Here's a little sad perspective from Time's Kyle Chayka:
If you grew up Christian, or just really emo, you might remember the band As I Lay Dying from your teenage years. They mixed heavy metal instrumentation and angsty lyrics with a tinge of religion. But it turns out that was something of a lie. The band's frontman, Tim Lambesis, just admitted that he has been an atheist for years—and he wasn't the only band member to drop out of their creed.
It's kind of weird that this is making news now, since Lambesis—who also sings in an Arnold Schwarzenegger-inspired side project called Austrian Death Machine—admitted his disbelief in the kingdom of Christ in an interview with Alternative Press a full month ago, just before he was sentenced to six years in prison for seeking a hitman to whack his estranged wife while he was womanizing and wigging out on steroids. But the details are pretty amazing.
Lambesis, 33, now says he was already at least not a Christian in college, when he thought philosophical and theological study would strengthen the faith in which he was raised. Instead, it just got him jamming out to Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett. Which, of course, is the gateway drug to evil abandon:
The first time I cheated on my wife, my interpretation of morality was now convenient for me. I felt less guilty if I decided, "Well, marriage isn't a real thing, because Christianity isn't real. God isn't real. Therefore, marriage is just a stupid piece of paper with the government." I thought of myself as super-scholarly at the time. "My academic pursuit has led me to this." I was sincere to a certain degree, but we all hear what we want to hear to justify our actions. I interpreted the evidence how I wanted and felt it was intellectually dishonest to consider myself a Christian... I was convinced there was no God and therefore there was nothing wrong with absurd things.
Now, a lot of this may just be Lambesis' gloss to explain away his drug-addled attempt to have his wife murdered for money as an evil godless act of weakness. In the interview, Lambesis seems to intimate that he might still believe in God, but is "in conflict with super-conservative Christianity." Regardless of all that, though, his skepticism in the faith led to a real conflict with Jesus-loving fans of the band:
A lot of Christian parents said, "Yes, you can buy this As I Lay Dying CD, because they're a Christian band." They don't even think to actually check the lyrics...
I was afraid it would affect As I Lay Dying sales, which would affect my overall income. I was trying to put out the fire by saying the easiest thing, "I'm not a satanist!" Truthfully, I was an atheist... I thought making As I Lay Dying darker would be bad for my career. That was my thinking.
Bullshitting the faithful, he says, is not unique to As I Lay Dying among "Christian" bands:
We toured with more "Christian bands" who actually aren't Christians than bands that are. In 12 years of touring with As I Lay Dying, I would say maybe one in 10 Christian bands we toured with were actually Christian bands. 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.
Which, of course, led to some funny moments while touring:
I remember one Christian festival where an interviewer wanted one of the guys to share his testimony, and he just froze up and let one of the guys who was still a Christian at the time answer the question. We laughed about it afterward, but we were only laughing because it was so awkward. When kids would want to pray with us after shows, I'd be like, "Um, go ahead and pray!" I would just let them pray. I'd say "Amen." If praying while I have my hand on their shoulder makes them feel better, I didn't want to take that away from them. When they would specifically ask me to pray for something, I'd say, "I don't really like to pray out loud, but I'll take that with me to the bus."
The rest of his bandmates, understandably, are pissed with Lambanis for his admissions, oh and also trying to pay someone to kill his wife. As ex-guitarist Nick Hapa put it in a response to the frontman:
There is no contrition in his pseudo-philosophical jargon, and the verbalized assessment of his relationship with myself and former bandmates is absolute slander... It is regrettable that he utilized this platform as a means to justify his conduct. The prosecution of this case profiled him as a sociopathic narcissist in definite need of rehabilitation.