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Monday, April 18, 2011

You know, I would go to that.

Of course, I can't go to that because it's been cancelled:

To give you some background about what this event was all about, we have to go back to September of last year. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association held a concert on the Fort Bragg Main Parade Field that was billed as "Rock the Fort." The Graham event was specifically and unashamedly evangelical. It was actively promoted via letters sent to the community by the Senior Fort Bragg Chaplain and was billed as a "Family Fun Event," clearly having been marketed toward children and youth. This was a serious breach in the authority of the Chaplaincy, which is supposed to exist as a support function only. Chaplains are not supposed to be promoting, in any way, government-sponsored marketing of a one particular faith message. The Billy Graham people hailed it as an event to add new members to the local churches and it was fully and completely supported and endorsed by the United States Army. The result was a government sponsored church service that the Department of Defense paid for.

When the event organizer, Sgt. Justin Griffith, brought the fact that US Army support, endorsement and financial backing of the Billy Graham event was blatantly in violation of the First Amendment and that he was organizing Rock Beyond Belief, the military leaders said they would support similar events by non-Christian groups. In fact, this promise was put in writing by the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate at Fort Bragg to the Freedom From Religion Foundation .

An incredible amount of work went into this event, including the scheduling of speakers that included Dan Barker, Ed Brayton, Richard Dawkins, Margaret Downey, Jen McCreight, Dale McGowan, Hemant Mehta, Al Stefanelli, Mikey Weinstein, Michael Werner and others, as well as musical performances by Baba Brinkman, Jeffrey Lewis, Spoonboy and others. To say the least, the resistance to this event was significant. In fact, it was just last week that the events founder and coordinator, Justin Griffith, made it past what was thought to have been the last obstacle to make this event a reality when the powers that be at Fort Bragg, NC, gave their approval for the date.


Everything was pretty much set and done for this event to proceed on April 2nd. Then came the salvos that have all but confirmed that atheists are not welcome in the US Armed Services. Period.

Salvo number one: The US Army changed the venue from the outdoor main parade field, which would easily accommodate the thousands of people who were expected, plus vendors and equipment, to one of two indoor theaters, and the largest one only being able to fit roughly 700 people.

Salvo number two: Sgt. Griffith was told to include a disclaimer that states explicitly that this event is not endorsed by US Army, specifically Fort Bragg. However, the Billy Graham event was endorsed by Fort Bragg, as evidenced by the letters sent out to area pastors by the Chaplaincy, on Army stationary, asking for help with the evangelical event.

Salvo number three: Fort Bragg decided renege on their promise to cover any of the costs for Rock Beyond Belief, in spite of the fact that it paid out over fifty thousand dollars for the evangelical “Rock the Fort”


Apparently the US Army is either not familiar with our Keynote Speaker, Dr. Richard Dawkins, and the fact that at almost every event he has appeared at has required people to be turned away for lack of room. Putting "Rock Beyond Belief "in room that is smaller than the auditorium at many high schools is not only an affront to Dr. Dawkins, but an indoor auditorium is a completely inadequate venue for an eight-hour event with vendors, food, equipment and other amenities. If they are familiar with the above, then it is a gross example of negligence on the part of those who had to research the event. The speakers, musicians and other participants ability to fill a venue that holds, in this case, a mere seven-thousand people is a no-brainer.

Just lovely.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hypocrisy is just fucking gross.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 4:24:00 PM  

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