This week, NPR published a profile of Taylor Muse, the leader of an Austin-based indie rock band that got their start when they left Christianity. Now, members of Quiet Company pride themselves on music that encourages questioning, or even rejecting, faith and opting for a life of Humanism instead.
Muse, 31, told NPR his adolescence revolved around his Southern Baptist church in Texas. But after he moved away, got married, and discovered Kurt Vonnegut, among other big life changes, he realized he couldn’t participate in Christianity anymore.
“Eventually, I came home from work one day and just told my wife, ‘I think I’m having a little bit of a crisis of faith. I just realized today that I can’t make a case for Christianity that would convince myself,’” he says.
After years of playing in Christian bands, Muse’s realization brought him to Quiet Company, where he and fellow atheist bandmates could write music about life after faith and connect with greater atheist communities. In 2011, they released We Are All Where We Belong, an album about a young man rejecting his religion, and last year they took home 10 honors from the Austin Music Awards.
The refrain from the album title — “where we belong” — is at the heart of Muse’s problem with Christian theology. He says he was taught from the Bible that good Christians don’t store up treasures on earth: They’re supposed to store up treasures in heaven.
“They’re always making the statement, ‘This is not your home, this is not where you belong,’” Muse says. “I wanted to make a record that said, ‘No, actually, this is where you belong. This is your one chance to make your life into what you want it to be. This is your one chance to make the world what you think it can be.’”
According to humanist chaplain and author Greg Epstein, Quiet Company’s music is particularly resounding for atheists, but carries a message universal enough for anyone to appreciate.
Epstein says what Quiet Company did is emblematic of the modern humanist movement, which is not about railing against organized religion, but about being good people and affirming life.
“It’s not an album decrying God,” Epstein says. “It’s an album about what it means to live life that happens to be from the perspective of somebody who knows who he is, and happens to be a humanist and an atheist.”
Indeed, Muse told NPR he doesn’t want to be pigeonholed as an “atheist rocker,” even though much of the band’s following is in atheist communities. He openly challenges the stereotype that atheism is all about hating religion, and he says his music reflects his diversity of opinions on the subject — and that he has other things to say, too.
“At the end of the day, what we’re setting out to be is everyone’s new favorite rock band,” he says. “We’re not trying to be ‘the atheist band.’ We’re not trying to be the band that hates Christianity. I wrote 15 songs about atheism. And I said everything I wanted to say.”
I had admittedly never heard of these guys before the NPR piece, but their music, ideals, and general awesomeness seem like things I could easily get behind. I’m sure lots of “favorite rock bands” out there are comprised mostly of atheists, even if they don’t say so out loud. This group is all the cooler for standing up and saying it.