(Photo: Flickr / Neon Tommy)
Despite growing up in a Pentecostal church that his father pastored, Joe Jonas no longer sees himself as religious, crediting part of his disillusionment to a scandal that rocked the congregation.
"We eventually left our church, Assembly of God, when I was 14. A scandal had erupted involving stolen money, and it caused a big rift in the church. After that the concept of church really upset me for a long time," Jonas shared in a recent interview with Vulture. "I mean, I believe in God, and that's a personal relationship that I have, but I'm not religious in any way."
Jonas, who was formerly part of pop rock band The Jonas Brothers, also said that at an early age he felt the pressure of pleasing and conforming to others' standards.
"To some extent, I was used to growing up in public. I was a pastor's kid, so eyes were always on me, even then. I sat in the first pew of the church, and I had to wear a suit every Sunday, because my parents wanted me to be this role model that I didn't always want to be," Jonas said.
He also worried that he would let down his parents, fans, and others counting on him to uphold a particular image if he deviated from those expectations.
"But I had certain obligations at that age. If I ever didn't want to go to church on Sunday, or when I was trying to figure out what religion I wanted to be, or trying to understand spirituality, I would always have to deal with knowing that people were looking up to me," he added.
In an exceptionally raw and frank interview, Jonas also mentioned that although he had made a good-faith, preteen, commitment with Christian abstinence organization True Love Waits to keep his virginity until marriage and donned a "purity ring" as an 11-year-old, he was overwhelmed when this became the focus of media attention when the band started to blow up.
"The topic that dominated news coverage of us for a long time was the whole promise-ring thing. We couldn't escape it," said Jonas.
"I remember this interview with this guy whose entire agenda was to focus on the rings. He kept pushing the subject, and when we insisted that we didn't want to talk about it, he told us, 'I can write whatever I want,' which terrified us," he added. "That's the thing: We didn't know any better, and we just wanted to make people happy. Now I know that I don't have to answer any questions I don't want to. Like, why do you even care about my 15-year-old brother's sex life?"
Jonas was increasingly frustrated when he felt that something that he did not want to be an issue, became something that fans were emulating.
"People were coming up to us, saying, "Thank you so much, I'm waiting because you guys are, too!" And we just thought, No! That's not what we're about," said Jonas, who noted that he lost his virginity when he was 20.
He also added that the band's recent breakup "was going on for a lot longer than a lot of people thought."
"We hit a place where we just weren't jelling on the same things, and we didn't want to become a band that was worried about the fact that people didn't understand how cool we were," he said.