Godless choir mixes fellowship with a full-throated defense of atheism

By Heather Adams

LOS ANGELES — Eight years ago, Amanda MacLean enrolled for a singing course at Santiago Canyon College, a community college where she worked in Orange, Calif. All students were required to sing together as a choir. She was surprised when she found that the mandatory sessions not only included hymns but performances at religious events.

After singing at the City of Orange’s Christmas tree lighting three years in a row, she couldn’t stand it anymore. She went online to find herself an atheist choir.

“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,” said MacLean, now 40 and an administrative assistant at the J. Paul Getty Museum here. “I actually thought atheist choirs were a thing.”

They were and they weren’t. MacLean’s search led her to Bobbie Kirkhart, whose home near Dodger Stadium in Angelino Heights is familiarly known as Heretic House. In 2001, Kirkhart had co-founded the Voices of Reason with a fellow nonbeliever named Michael Jordan. Three years later, after Jordan’s death, Voices of Reason had disbanded.

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