#18. Music Isn't A Religion


So what exactly are the results of the irreligious listening to religious music?

I, for one, don't believe in religion. And also, music is one of those things that everyone can say that they love or at least seem to enjoy. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who honestly believes that they “don’t like music” or that music is just “not for them.” Usually these people can’t pin down a specific type of music that they enjoy so they opt out for saying that they don’t like music. People’s music tastes can be eclectic or they can be specific, they can be inclusive or they can be exclusive. But what’s important is that people’s tastes in music are essentially that tastes. They’re based off of opinion, not on fact. Now for most people, that’s probably pretty obvious. It’s pretty simple that music tastes can vary and that there isn’t a specific type of music that people are allowed or not allowed to like. However to others, this is not the case. According to a few people I have met, they say:

It is criminal for me to like religious music because I am not religious... What?

The argument has come at me from both sides of the religious spectrum, it has been presented by the religious and the irreligious with the same conclusion. “I should not be listening to religious music if I’m not religious.” According to the religious, the music concerns itself with things that I don’t believe in, the themes are about God, the Sabbath, and based upon my rejection of religion the thematic concepts in religious music are why I should not listen to it. Additionally, I have heard these people claim that my enjoyment of this religious music implies in somehow that I actually believe in the claims that the religion makes. I wish that was something I could make up; I’ve actually heard this argument. In reality, I just love music.

From the irreligious, the argument has similar tone. ‘If you don’t believe in what the religion espouses, then why would you listen to their music.’ Some of the more militant have said that if the religion doesn’t allow women to sing in front of men, then why would you support their musical choices. Which is basically saying that a religion preaches something against what we (as the irreligious) deem to be immoral and therefore what they produce (the music) is immoral and you shouldn’t listen to it.

But these critics of mine are missing the point, with irreligion and more specifically with humanism, only one thing is sacred, and that is humanity. It's erroneous to say I am violating some sort of spiritual barrier that the music presents, since I reject conventional spirituality. And to the music being of religious origin? To be intolerant of the origin is as intolerant as the origin itself.

In truth, my music tastes concerning religious music are eclectic at least among the Abrahamic faiths. I regularly listen to liturgies ranging the gamut of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and I enjoy them regardless of the subject matter. Whether the subject matter is Holiday Liturgy, Thanking God, or the Shahada, all music is wonderful and all music is human. The nature of music is an expression of humanity and therefore an achievement for which humanity has brought about. It celebrated regardless of the subject matter, regardless of original intention.

Our combined Humanity is one of those few things that I can consider to be sacred. When we express that Humanity through songs, regardless of the subject matter there is a lot to be learned, there is a lot to be discovered, and there are a lot of connections that can be made through our individual cultures that can unite us. To those who would try to deprive me of this experience I will always firmly stand my ground. I refuse to allow my connection to humanity to be severed by the selfish and myopic views of the few. Rather, tapping into our universal humanity, specifically through the medium of song, I choose instead to join together the entirety of the human species.

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