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If one sings in a secular choir (consisting of both Jews and gentiles) that performs in secular locations and contexts (such as concert halls, public plazas, nursing homes, etc), what are the issues if the choir selectively performs Christian music? I think singing that material could be avodah zara and at least has an issue of marit ayin; others I've spoken with think the performance context negates those issues, holding that it's about the music, not the sentiment, and choir members aren't assumed to agree with everything they sing. I would appreciate sources for either position (and others that people might raise).

For purposes of this question let's assume that we understand what "Christian music" is. (That may be a followup question later.) This question is about the circumstances (if any) under which it is acceptable to participate in a performance of theologically-objectionable music.

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As a former Christian in geirus, I would definitely say that yes, there's avodah zara involved. Obviously, I'm biased and I don't have a source-text to reference, but it would seem fairly clear to be assur. (Perhaps another topic to discuss in this case would be the issue of kol isha.) – Naftuli Tzvi Kay Nov 17 '11 at 2:20
I'd like to separate kol isha, singing during certain times of the year (e.g. s'firot), and other issues that apply to singing in general, from this question. – Monica Cellio Nov 17 '11 at 2:34
I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this document's content or anything else about the Web site it's on, but torahleadership.org/categories/04pamphlet_1.doc (MS Word format) discusses the permissibility of listening to such music, so tracking down the sources it cites may be worthwhile. – msh210 Nov 18 '11 at 19:29
@TKKocheran, while I might agree with you, the exact definition of 'Avodah Zarah vis a vis Christianity is rather complicated, and it may depend on the particular branch of Christianity and/or the particular beliefs (and, especially, practices) of an individual Christian. Hence, your beliefs as a Christian might have fallen into a category of Shituf, or Kefirah (for a Jew), but possibly not full-fledged 'Avodah Zarah, and whether that makes a difference is also a matter for an experienced rabbi to decide. That said, thanks for your insights! – Seth J Aug 28 '12 at 15:21
up vote 4 down vote accepted

The Igrot Moshe writes (Yoreh De'ah 2:56) that it is even ASUR to listen to music (even just instruments) that has Avoda Zara/Christian intent in it. You are singing which means you also hear what you are saying which would be Asur (prohibited).

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Read a bit further on the next page of Igrot Moshe. He states that the restriction is related only to those areas that they use as part of the Christian prayer service. However, he is lenient if the music was composed for general music. So, according to this, if I understand correctly, singing Handel's Messiah may not be problematic. – DanF Jul 2 '14 at 15:03

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