December 23rd, 2012

music, serious face

[ANON POST] Atheist in a small rural church choir?

Would a character who is not a church member be able to sing in the church choir in a very small town in in rural Britain, in the late 1980s?

The character is openly atheist but not evangelical - they would not discourage other people from believing or attending church, and don't bring the topic up in conversation as a rule. They would not take communion, out of respect for the church's 'baptized Christian' criterion (and their own quiet pagan beliefs, but those are seriously hush-hush, not just not something they'd bring up.) They've lived in the town all their life and are respected by their neighbors, although considered eccentric for several reasons. Motives for joining the church choir are love of singing, appreciation of ritual, and the fact that it's the only choir in the immediate area.

The church is the only church in town. It's a High Church kind of place with plenty of smells and bells, in a very old building, well attended (including by some adherants of other or no religion, who show up for the pretty music and sense of community).

Character is about forty; they've never been religious, didn't attend church as a child, and were not baptized. Ideally I'd like them to have been singing in the choir since they were a teenager in the 60s, but joining later in life would work if attitudes might have changed. They're a very good singer and would have no trouble with an audition. Is the membership question an obstacle?

Searches on 'church choir membership requirements', 'atheist in church choir', 'church choir nonreligious', etc., revealed that a number of large church choirs in American cities include singers who aren't church members, specifically atheist choirs exist, and many closeted atheists are in church choirs, but I can't find historical data or anything specifically relating to Anglican churches or very small churches.

Thanks in advance!