3/15/12 – WASHINGTON POST – FAITH AT THE FRONT (MIKEY WEINSTEIN) – Rock Beyond Belief: An atheist victory at Fort Bragg

Selected Article Excerpts:

  • The Army base at Fort Bragg, N.C., promoted its 2010 “Rock the Fort” festival as an event for soldiers of all faiths, including Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists. So far, so good, right? But many soldiers of minority faiths at the base felt that the overriding goal of the “Spiritual Fitness” festival was to convert them to evangelical Christianity.
  • This was hardly the first such event on an Army base. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association shopped this concept to several bases beginning in 2009. Each base that took them up on the offer outdid the last in terms of the scale and scope. By the time this tsunami of sectarian exceptionalism hit Fort Bragg, it had expanded to directly target military spouses and civilians within a 90-mile radius and was co-sponsored by the Religious Support Office.
  • As Rock the Fort was being planned, my organization, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, was contacted by many soldiers upset by the scope of the event. A vast majority of the aggrieved were Christians who say they were bombarded with announcements, advertisements and spam mail about the festival. They felt that such a clearly sectarian event was not only anti-constitutional but also posed a critical danger to national security.
  • With the help of MRFF, Sgt. Justin Griffith, an atheist stationed at Fort Bragg, [...] put together his own atheist-themed event called “Rock Beyond Belief.” He soon snagged internationally-acclaimed atheist “rock star” Richard Dawkins as the fest’s headliner…
  • As a result of Griffith’s tireless efforts, Fort Bragg finally did the right thing. Lady Liberty is smiling. On March 31, Rock Beyond Belief will take place on the Main Post Parade Field of Fort Bragg. Offering a strong message of Constitutional equanimity, it promises to be a truly watershed moment for all Americans who cherish their democratic freedoms. MRFF and I are proud to stand with Sgt. Griffith against a tide of religious extremist fervor. I will join Dawkins and several others as an official speaker. I will not be promoting atheism or any particular faith. I will be extolling the beautiful virtues of our magnificent United States Constitution and the wisdom of following its mandates of a level playing field for all religious faiths and, particularly, no faith at all.

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