There was an issue that flared up amongst my friends and I at our University recently. We are all university music students. Our choir was singing Schumann's Mass in C minor and because this is a class there is a mandatory test on the piece. If you don't participate in the test and the final concert, then you fail.


The issue was that a certain student, who happens to be the leader of the bible study group at our school, went to the music director and told her that they refused to participate in the exam and their final concert. The reason being that this person is an evangelical and the Mass is a catholic song. This individual said they were uncomfortable promoting catholic views. My atheist friends and I thought it was ridiculous, until we found out that this person was actually exempted from performing and the final exam. All the other students would have to practice and take time out of their weeks to prepare for this exam and concert, but he gets special treatment because he's "not" catholic. Not to mention the atheists in the group, who have to spend an hours and hours during practices of the mass singing about the "glory of god." How do you think they feel? We feel like complete idiots, but we suck it up because it's not about religion. It's about the music and art.


I am posting this because I want to know if I'm just crazy or should we have actually done something about this. Any feedback?

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thx for that. beautiful!

Man, I would cause such a fucking stink about this. Literally to the point they would excuse me from it, or change the song and make everyone do it. Do it for the principal of it, and Fur your health

This is one of those examples where I'd sure as heck get my atheistic friends and go to the teacher, and maybe his boss. This compromises the quality of the education your college is giving and anyone hiring from this college is getting shorted. A degree ought to be a testament to your knowledge, not an indication of how long you were at a school.

Would this excuse fly for a biology major trying to skip tests on evolution or fossilization? If not, why does it fly in this class? If yes, let us know so we can avoid it and pass the info on to others looking for good schools!

While I agree that the precedent is set, I do not think it should be taken advantage of.  The predicament here is that a HUGE amount of music is related to god - especially choral music since it was created for (guess where) CHURCH.  It is simply not possible to teach music without running into it.  Bach, the very foundation of classical music, was about as big of a Lutheran as you can get.  It would truly be a shame to teach a music class without his choral works.  And that's only one example.


So my advice would be to suck it up, do the exam, and be a better musician for it.  Being that this is a college environment, I sincerely doubt this is the first time this other kid has run into a piece of music that doesn't fall inline with his personal beliefs.  He must be trying to work the system for some other reason, and it'll come back to bite him eventually.

Oh, and if you want to take some kind of action against it, I'd tell your professor something along the lines of the above, and finish with, "It's an extremely slippery slope, and if you slip to the bottom, your music program will be weaker for it.  And I am an atheist, so I am NOT advocating this simply to propagate Catholicism."

At least that's how I'd approach it.
Thats religion for ya. Complete and utter bullshit, at least your getting better by sucking it up and participating unlike that evangelical pussy.

I'm going to go along with the sentiment of those who say it should at least be brought to the attention of the director. In arts (singing, acting, drawing, etc.), sometimes we have to put our personal beliefs aside and do what is asked of us. If this person is going to get an exemption, then anyone who doesn't believe in what the song is depicting should be exempt as well.


Athiests are far more tolerant than any religious person I've ever met. Ask the director if every single religious person would be exempt if the song was about god -not- existing, or the big bang, or even evolution for a few examples.

I'd have to say something regarding the fact that all those who are "uncomfortable promoting Catholic views" should be exempt, or a new piece for the final ought to be chosen.


I also feel sorry for your classmate.  She's going to miss out on a lot of fantastic art in all of its forms.  I'd certainly not miss out on a chance to see the Sistine Chapel just because it is a chapel.  Seriously.

When my oldest son was in high school  there was a class where the instructor taught the Bible under the guise of literature.  He refused to participate and took a F instead.

I'm so proud of my boy.

If this same student were in a literature course, and refused to read a novel written by a catholic, or were in an art history class and refused to study any piece of art created before the protestant reformation, they would rightly be given a failing grade in class. Why should music be any exception? You can still appreciate the beauty of a piece of art even if you don't believe in what it represents. If I had to sing songs from Handel's "Messiah" and Haydn's "Creation", this jack ass, who actually believes in the god the song is praising, can suck it up and sing a freaking catholic mass or accept a failing grade for not doing the required work.
By now, you've probably already had the exam, but I suggest letting the instructor know your views, if only to help her see that it's opening a can of worms to let one person opt out in this way. Approach it with the idea that she might not have been confronted with this situation before, and made the best decision she could at that time for the individual involved. But you could help her think about how to handle the situation in the future, whether it's limiting religious music to only the most generic (which I think would be a shame), or giving more time to discuss the poetic and musical structures that make the piece important to learn, even if students disagree with it. Atheists are a somewhat invisible minority - but it's a growing group, and you can be part of the vanguard that raises awareness.


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