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Army Will Host Festival for Atheists at Fort Bragg

Army Will Host Festival for Atheists at Fort Bragg

 

After some wrangling, a group of military atheists gained permission to host a “Rock Beyond Belief” concert at North Carolina’s Fort Bragg.  Sgt. Justin Griffith, the event’s organizer, tried to arrange for the festival to be held earlier this year, but canceled it because he said that the army was not treating the event like last September’s “Rock the Fort” concert, sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

“This just might be the turning point in the foxhole atheist community’s struggle for acceptance, tolerance and respect,” said Griffith, who is currently deployed in Kuwait. “It’s an amazing time to be a nonbeliever in the U.S. military on the cusp of a major breakthrough.”

The concert will be held on March 31, 2012, and will feature famous non-believers like Richard Dawkins as well as musical groups.  It will be open to the public.  The fort has agreed to provide electricity, water and security for the event, but no direct financial assistance.  Last fall’s Billy Graham concert received over $50,000 in financial support from the base, in addition to the centrally located parade ground space.

Ultimately, Griffith’s goal is for atheists to become more accepted in the Christian-dominated world of the U.S. military.  And you do have to wonder how it feels to all non-Christians, not just non-believers, that Fort Bragg was willing to contribute such a significant sum of money to an evangelical Christian event, but not to an alternative concert.

This isn’t a complete victory for Griffith and other atheists in the military, since the fort isn’t assisting financially, but at least they are being given some kind of support.  Perhaps a more important step would be getting more atheist and secular humanist chaplains into the armed forces.

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Photo from Eric Ingrum via flickr.

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112 comments

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4:24PM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

Hurray for religious freedom (which includes the right to NOT believe in traditional religions). Too bad the military is showing a preference towards certain religions and actually using our taxpayer dollars for it. It's very unconstitutional and should be illegal for a base to fund Christian or other religious events.

6:51AM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

Anthony...just asking....how do YOU know that "all" call on God in final moments?

12:39PM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

Edward A. what is so hard to believe that God wants us to help one another? We are to love one another as we love ourselves.

9:23PM PDT on Aug 14, 2011

Anthony B, this is a myth. Everyone who was raised in the Judeo-Christian tradition, no matter how loosely, is likely to call on their God in the foxhole. Do you think Buddhists do? Or Shintoists? Neither of them recognize a God in the sense that you do. If atheists call on God in the foxhole, it is because somewhere way back there, they were taught that God would take care of them, and in their terror, they're clutching at straws.

And it is NOT true that all families bury their fallen under white crosses. It is customary to use the cross, because the overwhelming majority of the population has traditionally been (at least nominally) Christian, and the athiests and the pagans know better than to make targets of themselves by openly dissenting. But Jews are buried under the Star of David, which nowadays you will see sprinkled among the crosses in military cemetaries.

As for prayers for redemption, that is a highly personal matter. You can be sure than anyone who is NOT praying for his loved one's redemption is not going to tell YOU!

11:44AM PDT on Aug 14, 2011

it amazes me how all, not just soldiers, but all people, the general population in whole,... when they get hurt bad shot, blown up, whatever...all... if Christian or Atheist,... ALL... call on God for help in those last moments..... and then the Family bury them under little white crosses and pray for thier redemption... I think it kind of gives you something to think about.

6:28AM PDT on Aug 13, 2011

Ft. Bragg will never be Godless, because too many soldiers are praying to get a paycheck from the govt!

6:19AM PDT on Aug 13, 2011

We can all use God in our lives whether we acknowledge it or not. When it comes to politics, there is a reason for separation of church and state.

5:16PM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

Edward A, you sure told those hypocrites! - OWNED!!!

4:09PM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

Strange that Ameer seems to be completely unfamiliar with both religion and atheism..

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=where+do+atheists+get+their+morals

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=are+atheists+more+moral+than+religious

Do a little poking around on those pages, you might learn something.
Feel free to come back and apologize afterward. ;)

And, unfortunately, part of the reason it's unlikely an atheist will be president, at least for a very long time, other than the ignorance and arrogance of most religious people, is that religious people have passed unconstitutional laws in their favor, like they have a chronic habit of doing, which actually state that atheists cannot be elected to office.

12:41PM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

Rather bizarrely, some people seem to claim that there is a correlation between purported belief in God, some god, any god, and ethical behavior.

As clearcut proof of the fallacy of this, compare the actions of the Fundamentalist Christianists, who try to inflict their views onto the rest of America, and Jesus' exhortations in Matthew 25, in which he declares that each and every Republican in Congress, with the vague exception of Eric Cantor, and the overwhelming majority of Republican governors and a great many Republicans in state government has enthusiastically condemned himself/herself/itself to burn in Hell to the end of time.

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Does anyone RATIONAL honestly b

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Colleen H. Colleen H. is an Online Campaigner with Care2 and a recent transplant to San Francisco from the East... more
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