People often ask me how I can like religious music if I don't believe in god, anyone else get this?

Also, I'd be interested to know if anyone who writes songs here writes about their religious beliefs (or the lack thereof) much?

I've only written one song about my atheism.

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Awesome; that's part of what I want to accomplish with my music. I think there needs to be more overtly Atheist musicians and other artists to help encourage people to explore the alternatives to their religion. I think there are a lot of people who question their religion but aren't encouraged to persue things to the point that they really go anywhere with that doubt.
I guess you could ask them how anyone could listen to a love song about homosexuals when they are not gay; or how someone could like music about doing drugs and gang banging when they themselves don't partake in those activities. Pretty much everyone listens to music they can't totally relate to, and an Atheist listening to religious music is no different (not that Atheists can't be religious). I don't listen to Christian music that much anymore, but there were a few bands I really liked even after I became an Atheist. Anymore, I've grown to hate Christianity so much I can't listen to a group I know is overtly Christian. I find myself trying to understand how the lyrics relate to Christianity and then it sorta ruins it for me. But that's just me.

Yeah, I'm working on a number of songs related to religion. The song I have up on my myspace page is basically me talking to my younger self as I was struggling with leaving the religion.
When I said religious music, I meant like, Classical religious music, think Mozart etc.

Richard Dawkins' says (in The God Delusion) that you don't need to believe in God to enjoy religious music anymore than you have to believe in magic to enjoy Harry Potter.
I think BuildingCastle's point still stand, that you don't really have to relate to what you are listening too, although some points can really ruin the listening.

I couldn't for example listen to NSBM and I can't stand artists like 50 Cent either.

Classical music sure, I could listen to that. Been playing it myself to one or another extent so.
Ave Maria is a beautiful piece of music.

The nice thing about most classical religious music is that it's not in English, the only language I understand - so I don't have to deal with the lyrics as anything but another instrument - the human voice.
This can be a tricky question. I frequently play in churches. As a pianist in my (geographical) area, the only real jobs available are in theaters, schools, and churches or synagogues. The theaters don't generally pay enough to really live off of, and the jobs are generally temporary, to boot. The schools are better paying, but also temporary, unless you decide to teach. When teaching music, one must acknowledge that one is acting as a teacher first, and not as a musician.
This leaves the churches. Some of them pay rather well, even if the music is as interesting as a late night, UHF television test pattern.
On top of the fact that some of the songs (particularly the older ones, in my personal opinion) are quite nice, whether I believe in God or not. In this regard, I would cite "In the Garden," "Abide with Me," and "Amazing Grace." I also particularly love much of the the choral works of the 17th through the 20th centuries. There is no way I could listen to, say, Pergolesi's STABAT MATER and not be moved in a most visceral way. Doctrinal issues aside, the image of any mother standing in tears next to the hanging body of her executed son is a strong one.
So, yes, I have serious problems with churches and religion in general, but music (to me) is a completely different thing.
Add to this the thought that eliminating "religious" music from my listening world would necessarily eliminate almost 75% of what I consider to be good, or beautiful, in music, or at least, in vocal music. This would include almost ALL of the extant vocal music from just about every century up to the 17th.
Sometimes I think that if churches today had such music still in use, I may not have left the church in the first place, whether I believed in god, or doctrine, or not.
I don't see their problem with your position though. Religion, and belief in god has inspired a lot of great art. You can still appreciate the art without having to believe in the fiction that motivated someone to create it.
ditto. I am friends with a celtic/punk band that is popular in the secular punk scene (worldwide) AND is on a christian record label and plays at the big god music festivals. That is a rarity. Most 'christian music' is a horribly bad mockery of good music with the addition of poor lyrics. This band, on the other hand, veils their preaching and faith with prose like any real band (flatfoot 56 is the band).

I used to play in some bands (brassknuckle boys, various other groups) which touched on religious (skeptical) topics.

If you've never heard "Bad Religion", you may check them out or at least look up their lyrics. The singer/lyricist is a ph.d. in evolutionary biology and writes intelligent (occasionally bordering pedantic) lyrics.
OOOOHHHH, Classical music. In that case, yes, I like a ton of classical music that has its roots in the church. Like fine art, where else would the musical geniuses of times past turn to when they wanted to be paid for making art? I am quite certain that much of this music wasn't inspired by God as much as it was by the church's deep pockets.
I love religious music, and listen to a lot of it: everything from JS Bach to Arvo Part...but no "Christian rock," which doesn't qualify as listenable music. (It helps that most of it is sung in other languages, as I'm not distracted by the meaning of the words...)

I haven't gotten anything more than a curiously raised eyebrow about it, even when iTunes queues up "Mass in B Minor" at work...
There was a band called Atheist. And seriously, it could get no better or more appropriate: They played technical death metal! They were actually seriously amazing, even the classical music lovers here could probably appreciate their musicianship, which integrated jazz/fusion elements to make strangely swinging death-style metal. Their drummer was pretty phenomenal.

It was probably just a name though.
It's nice to see that A Love Supreme has already been mentioned on this topic. If anyone reading this hasn't heard it yet, please check it out.

Jazz has it's roots in religion just as much as European classical music, which I also love. I've been fascinated by music since I can first remember hearing it and have ended up gravitating towards jazz music, not really for any reason I can explain but just because I think it's awesome. I do end up feeling conflicted sometimes, being a performer of a music traditionally linked to religion but am usually happy to just not to think about it at all. One of the major elements that attracts me to jazz and classical music is how they're able to create interest, emotion, tension and release without the use of words (much more so than most vocal music, in my opinion). This leaves the music open to any interpretation you'd like to project upon it, including none at all.

Listening to a music/lyrics combination ends up being a little harder for me to handle. I've heard some otherwise great music I can't really listen to because of the overtly religious lyrics. Maybe it's closed minded of me to feel this way, but listening to someone talk about god really grates on my brain.

So whether the music was religious to the composer/performer or not doesn't really make a difference to me. I'm going to judge it on its content and not its intended subject matter anyway. If the most beautiful piece of music I've ever heard turns out to be about taking a big shit, what does it matter what the inspiration was if there are no lyrics to tell you one thing or another?

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