An atheist and a missionary: Contrasting portraits of 2 Newsboys founders

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |
Former Newsboys frontman John James shares his testimony last May at Barwick Road Baptist Church in Delray Beach, Florida (Published on May 5, 2014). | Screen Capture --

BRISBANE, Australia (Christian Examiner ) -- "God's not dead" are some of the main lyric's of famed Christian rock band The Newsboys' hit single by the same name. But a former bandmate is singing a different tune with the announcement last week that he has renounced the existence of a God at all.

George Perdikis, a founding member of the Grammy nominated band, revealed in a January 21 guest blog post on Patheos, a platform for discussing religion and spirituality, that he renounced Christianity and became an atheist in 2007.

"In 1985, I co-founded Newsboys, one of the most successful Christian rock bands in history," he wrote. "And I'm now an atheist."

Perdikis detailed in his post the origins of the Australian band as established by himself and co-founder Peter Furler, the group's original drummer.

"The choice to become a 'Christian Rock Band' was heavily influenced by Peter's parents, Bill and Rosalie Furler. As fundamentalist Christians, the only acceptable form of music was the kind that worshipped God," he explained. Perdikis noted that he co-wrote the band's first two albums before parting ways with Christian rock in 1990.

"We might have been classified as Christian Rock, but, musically, I felt we were as good as any secular band. With forty solid songs under our belts, we became the Newsboys," Perdikis added.

According to Perdikis, those forty "solid songs" drew the attention of another Christian rock band by the name of Whiteheart that "put them on the map."

However, it wasn't until 1992 that the band grew in popularity, The Huffington Post reported. That same year, Perdikis was in Australia studying cosmology and science according to his blog post.

Perdikis had harsh criticism for the founding members of the band and today's Newsboys, despite the absence of any original musicians in the group's current lineup.

"The Christian music scene is populated by many people who act as though they have a direct hotline to a God who supplies them with the answers to the Universe," he said. "The truth is—from someone who knows what went on then and what goes on now—the Newsboys aren't as holy as they profess."

The band's longtime manager David Wagner reportedly declined comment on Perdikis' article, choosing instead simply to state "he's a former member who we haven't had any interaction or heard from in more than 20 years."

However, some insight about the musician's grievances against Christian music can be found in the testimony of his ex-bandmate and the former lead singer John James, who was the fourth founding member of the group.

A 2007 Cross Rhythms article detailed James' story of a faith lost through drug and alcohol abuse, idolatry, and infidelity.

Recounting his abrupt and discrete exit from the band, James said, "You've got to understand; love covers a multitude of sins, you know........What would have been better? To say 'John's an alcoholic and a drug addict and he's been unfaithful in his marriage.... How would that have helped me?"

Unlike Perdikis, James' story ends in a redemptive account of healing for his faith and family—something he claims is a "miracle" of God. Today, the band's former frontman is a self-proclaimed missionary to the U.S.