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The “Voices of Reason” Godless Choir


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Atheist Republic (News)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): n.d.

The Religion News Service reported on the godless choir entitled the Voices of Reason. 8 years ago, a woman signed up for a course in singing at the Santiago Canyon College. It is a community college. She works there in Orange, California. The students had to sing as a choir.

When the hymns and the performances at various religious events were mandatory, the woman, Amanda MacLean, did not like it. The final straw, or song, was the singing of the City of Orange’s Christmas tree lighting three years back-to-back-to-back.

MacLean stated, “I knew there had to be nonbelievers out there who felt like I did, who had no place to sing without being forced to sing about Jesus… I actually thought atheist choirs were a thing.” As she went to look for those choirs, she found Bobbie Kirkhart.

MacLean and Kirkhart founded the Voices of Reason in 2001. One other non-religious person, Michael Jordan, was one of the co-founders. After three years, the Voices of Reason separated. However, one 450year-old IT consultant who worked for Apple, Yari Schutzer, got a new group of singers together.

Schutzer was one of the original members before the group originally disbanded. As far as the reported from the Religion News Service goes, the Voices of Reason is the “only atheist choir in the United States, its members say, and one of only a very few in the world.”

The merry band of disbelievers spread their cheer and songs at various atheist events, public libraries, science events, and Unitarian Universalist churches. The plan is to do outreach to schools and nursing homes for future performances.

The executive director of the Center for Inquiry-Los Angeles, James Underdown, described the Voices of Reason choir as a good fit for the organization. The purpose of CFI is to foster a secular society. Underdown stated, “There’s a lot of music out there that celebrates religious beliefs… appreciate hearing something that lands in their perspective every once in a while.” 

With a rehearsal, recently, one dozen people wrap in stance around a piano with sheet music reading and singing in order to warm up.

The article said, “Voices of Reason members say they don’t simply avoid religious references. They draw attention to their rejection of religion, often picking songs that comment on its shortcomings. They have been in touch with members of Britain’s London Humanist Choir, which calls itself atheist as well, but doesn’t go for the jugular as they do.”

One “quintessential” atheist song, according to Schutzer is the song “Imagine” by the late John Lennon. Also, the “Evolution Chorus” in place of the “Hallelujah Chorus” by Handel. Another favorite is the Monty Python song from Meaning of Life the movie called “Every Sperm is Sacred.”

Schutzer opined, “There’s this fine line between humor and offense and we try to walk that line.” The point, according to the reportage, is not to denigrate religion. The intention is to defend atheism.

An Annenberg Public Policy Center from the University of Pennsylvania stated 1 in 7 Americas, wrongly, hold the belief that atheists do not have the same First Amendment protections as people who are religious. Although, a Gallup poll found that 58% of Americans would vote for an atheist president.

“We’re still human, we still want some sort of entertainment,” Schutzer explained. The Voices of Reason may fill a void in people without the cost of mandatory belief. Many of the choir members spent their youth in religious homes.

Kirkhart stated, “Music is common to all humankind and is extremely important to bonding groups… Church has this way of bringing people together, to sing together and that connect to the person next to you, connect to the meaning of the songs.”

One study in 2016 from the journal Psychology of Music found that choral singers had higher well-being than those who were solo singers. It is seen as more meaningful to its participants than those involved in team sport. Other research found singing in a choir can increase endorphins and can regulate the heart rates of those involved in it.

“Voices of Reason is there to build a community,” Schutzer concluded.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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