I 'Love Myself Enough to Follow My Truth' (Exclusive): Imagine Dragons' Dan Reynolds Explains Why He Left Mormonism

For much of Dan Reynolds’ life, religion was a touchstone

Published Time: 07.07.2024 - 17:31:04 Modified Time: 07.07.2024 - 17:31:04

For much of Dan Reynolds’ life, religion was a touchstone.

The Imagine Dragons rocker was raised in what he calls a “really conservative” Mormon household, attended Brigham Young University, and served a two-year Mormon mission in Omaha, Nebraska.

But in his early 20s, something changed — and now, at 36, it’s been several years since Reynolds was a practicing Mormon.

In this week’s issue of PEOPLE, the musician explains his “complicated” relationship with religion and the way he’s learned to navigate his decision to walk away while his family remains active in the church.

"There’s obviously parts of the Mormon religion that I feel pretty strongly are harmful, especially to our gay youth,” says Reynolds, who in 2017 founded the LOVELOUD Foundation in support of the young LGBTQ+ community. “At times I feel pretty isolated from my family, but I also love them and am close to them and see them, and there’s no animosity there. I’m on a different path. I have to love myself enough to follow my truth.”

The “Eyes Closed” singer — whose new album Loom is out now — says he “always struggled” with religion, even while growing up the seventh of nine children to parents Ronald and Christene.

Reynolds says he spent his 20s and early 30s “really angry” at religion, as he felt he’d “been duped.”

“I saw a lot of the harm that came from it for me personally, but it also seemed to work incredibly well for my family, and they’re all healthy, happy individuals,” he s -

ays. “As I’ve gotten older, I'm not angry about it anymore. If something works for someone, that’s really wonderful and rare, and I don’t want to mess with it.”

Still, he has chosen not to raise his four children with ex-wife Aja Volkman (daughters Arrow, 11, Gia and Coco, 7, and son Valentine, 4) in the church.

“My greatest goal every day is to not manipulate my kids. I really don’t want to try to tell them what their spiritual path should be,” he explains. “I give them my thoughts and obviously try to protect them and take care of them, while also making sure they have freedom and agency to choose whatever they want.”

Reynolds is currently gearing up for the July 30 kickoff of Imagine Dragons’ Loom World Tour, which marks the band’s largest North American headlining tour to date since their 2008 inception.

“I think this will be our best record to play live. It has a lot of tempo, a lot of different emotions,” he says. “We’re already in rehearsals for this tour, and I just know — we’ve done this long enough that I’m like, ‘Oh, this is going to be a party, but it’s also going to be cathartic.’ It’s going to be sad in the right ways, heavy in the right ways, happy in the right ways. It’s going to be a really fun record to tour.”

For more on Dan Reynolds, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands this week.

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