Atheists in this country are often stereotyped as obnoxious, self-righteous, and all-too-eager to engage in pedantic arguments with the spiritually inclined. As a non-believer, I willingly concede that this negative perception is not entirely without basis. 

Last week’s front page article concerning the Freedom From Religious Foundation’s [FFRF] legal protest of staff participation in OPRF High School’s choir program is a prime example of why atheists continue to suffer an undesirable reputation. 

A separation of religion and secular institutions, such as public school, is undoubtedly a crucial principle of American society. While this separation has become increasingly threatened by the current presidential administration, FFRF’s focus on choir music is entirely counterproductive. 

Generally speaking, full elimination of religious influence from all aspects of secular society is a pointless and potentially destructive initiative. While America may not be “a Christian nation,” it’s an undeniable fact that American cultural traditions have been broadly influenced by Christianity. 

Choir music is an inherently Christian art form. Does this really mean that school staff’s participation should be prohibited? Whose rights are really being infringed upon when an employee of the school takes part in a cooperative musical experience? 

I may be an atheist, but that doesn’t prevent my appreciation of art forms directly influenced by belief in a higher power. There’s no reason that secular institutions cannot value religious traditions such as choir in an artistic context. 

The creative products of theistic belief are more than just extensions of organized religion; ultimately, they are representations of the human experience and should be valued as such.

Russell Trenary 

Oak Park 

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