ROCK BEYOND BELIEF – U.S. Army Protects Atheist Festival at Fort Bragg

MRFF Founder and President Mikey Weinstein will
be speaking, and we will have a booth at this event.

MRFF Contact: Bekki Miller
Tel. (337) 356-8696
[email protected]


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday,
March 12, 2012

Rock Beyond Belief Contact: Justin Griffith
Tel. (239) 689-0323
[email protected]

US ARMY PROTECTS ATHEIST FESTIVAL AT FORT BRAGG

Fort Bragg Guarantees Criticism of Organized Religion and Adherents

FORT BRAGG, NC – Commanders at Fort Bragg have made peace with organizers of the looming atheist festival they approved late last year. Colonel Stephen Sicinski – Bragg’s Garrison Commander – has now issued an official statement that specifically protects speech critical of religion.

Colonel Sicinski explains, “I want to assure you that Fort Bragg will not discriminate against speech on the basis of its viewpoint. Stated another way, I understand and respect that there will be ample discussion about atheism and/or humanism during the festival and that the speakers may criticize organized religion or its practitioners.”

Colonel Sicinski’s statement was prompted by controversy generated by a Fox News story about some lyrics from a rock band on the festival’s lineup. The article suggested that the rock band Aiden’s song ‘Hysteria’ was encouraging attendees to burn down churches. Lead singer of Aiden, William Control, emphatically stated that his lyrics were taken out of context. He was referring to his disapproval of religious fanatics burning books and buildings of rival religious groups.

Justin Griffith said “The Fox News hatchet-job sort of backfired. They prompted death threats from extremist Christians displaying exactly the type of behavior that Aiden sings about. Colonel Sicinski’s written promise to protect statements critical of religion proves that he really does support us.” Griffith is the primary event organizer and Military Director for American Atheists.

Festival headliner Richard Dawkins will be joined by several prominent musicians and speakers. Fort Bragg expects around 5,000 soldiers and civilians will attend the free all-day event called ‘Rock Beyond Belief’ on Saturday, March 31st.

The event was inspired by a controversial evangelical Christian effort targeting non-Christians for conversion. Prior to the initial evangelical effort, many organizations demanded its cancellation. Rather than cancelling, Fort Bragg commanders issued a promise to provide an equal level of support any other group. The lineup of the secular festival will feature the presidents of three of these groups. Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF’s Dan Barker), and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF’s Mikey Weinstein) and American Atheists’ David Silverman will each be speaking.

Justin Griffith said “If evangelical Christians have a problem with criticism of their religion, they need to stop inviting the conversation. Colonel Sicinski made the right call, and we appreciate his statement. Foxhole atheists are fighting for your rights, please return the favor by standing with us at Fort Bragg on March 31st.”

Rock Beyond Belief is an American Atheists event. It was made possible by a $50,000 donation from the Steifel Freethought Foundation. For more information on the event, check the festival’s website.

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Note: Journalists *MUST* formally request permission to film / photograph on the Army Base.
This must be done in advance and the deadline is rapidly approaching. Contact Justin Griffith for details.

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