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 communityís struggle for acceptance, tolerance and respect,” said Griffith, who is currently deployed in Kuwait. “Itís 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.


Jayasri Amma
Jayasri Amma2 years ago

Thank you!

SeattleAnn S.
Ann S6 years ago

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.

pam w.
pam w6 years ago

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

mary k.
mary k6 years ago

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.

Lindy E.
Belinda E6 years ago

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!

Anthony B.
Anthony B6 years ago

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.

Mimi L.
Mimi Louiso6 years ago

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

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal6 years ago

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.

Henri D.
Henri DeToi6 years ago

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

Flannel Disaster
Flannel Disaster6 years ago

Strange that Ameer seems to be completely unfamiliar with both religion and atheism.. do atheists get their morals 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.