Ft Bragg blocks Rock Beyond Belief event

Soldiers and civilians can got to the Rock Beyond Belief page for ways to contact Congressional leaders, Army leaders, and Ft Bragg leaders to call for fair treatment of all soldiers, even atheists.

Following ongoing issues with Rock the Fort / Rock Beyond Belief and related spirituality training programs by the military.

In September 2010, Ft Bragg provided fervent endorsement, nearly $100,000 of government-controlled funds, and the main parade field to support “Rock the Fort.”  Rock the Fort was overtly evangelical in intent and nature, intending to convert not only service members but civilians in the surrounding community and their children.  Courts allowed the event to go on with the assurance by the Ft Bragg commander that any event, even a nontheist event, would receive similar support.

Justin Griffith, an Army Sergeant at Ft Bragg, planned Rock Beyond Belief, a similar event deserving of similar support.  Justin gathered an array of performers and speakers, including Richard Dawkins.   Atheists across the country were excited about the event and making plans, and the event formed the core of a strong local group – MASH Ft Bragg.  After months of close planning with Ft Bragg chaplains, leaders, and lawyers, Colonel Sicinski, Garrison Commander and final approver said no.

To be clear, Colonel Sicinski, said the event could go on.  However, he provided the following restrictions:

  • smaller, indoor, seated venue
  • no financial support
  • explicit denial of Ft Bragg endorsement

The Rock Beyond Belief event asked for similar support, which would have included over $50,000 in explicit support from government-controlled funds, an outdoor venue, and support with messages such as “Fort Bragg Garrison Religious Support
Office has partnered with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to offer a free concert and the Christian message to all of Fort Bragg and the surrounding community!”  This response could not be accepted especially when it was provided with only 30 days within the event with no time to react to restricted resources.

The Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers seeks support for nontheists throughout the military.  A major effort is with local MASH Chapters, such as those at Ft Bragg, Ft Jackson, military academies, USS Abraham Lincoln, and more.  These chapters and their local events provide the way forward for government recognition that nontheists serve honorably and deserve support.  There is still an opportunity for Ft Bragg to recognize and support the local group while resolution is sought for the Rock Beyond Belief event.  Soldiers and civilians can got to the Rock Beyond Belief page for ways to contact Congressional leaders, Army leaders, and Ft Bragg leaders to call for fair treatment of all soldiers, even atheists.

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