Justin Griffith, Military Director of American Atheists
American Atheists is pleased to announce the appointment of Army Sergeant Justin Griffith as American Atheists’ Military Director. Sergeant Griffith replaces First Sergeant (Retired) Kathleen Johnson, who stepped down in order to focus on her duties as American Atheists’ Vice President.
Justin Griffith, a sergeant in the US Army currently on deployment, has gained fame as a relentless promoter of atheists in foxholes and opposer of religious privilege and bias in the US military.
He began his activism by opposing the Ft Bragg Rock the Fort effort in September 2010. He quickly turned this instance of evangelism by military officials into a positive story by preparing his plans for Rock Beyond Belief, a concert for nontheists. He spent months organizing the concert, interacting with Ft Bragg officials, and gathering speakers such as Richard Dawkins. The event, originally scheduled for March of 2011 has been hampered by denials and delays from the Ft Bragg chain of command. Efforts continue for a Spring 2012 event. In addition, the Rock Beyond Belief site has provided a platform for SGT Griffith that will mesh well with his new duties as Military Director for American Atheists.
In a recent post, Justin highlighted his new role at AA as well as his continuing collaboration with many groups:
Although nearly every major secular organization has helped me tremendously these last ten months, American Atheists is my new home. I’m grateful to know that these organizations all play nice with each other. I was a little worried about creating the perception of picking sides. But, at this level – if you don’t pick a team you don’t get to play at all. They all know this.
SGT Griffith has also been a staunch opponent of the Army’s Spiritual Fitness program. This program surveys soldiers to determine their level of “spirituality,” causing Justin and many other nontheistic soldiers to feel unconstitutionally marginalized by their military leaders.
Justin as also been a leader in the local community, starting Military Atheists & Secular Humanists Ft Bragg. This effort provided a catalyst for the MAAF Network, especially for groups on post. As Justin focuses on national activism, MAAF is providing local groups direction and support, with Justin’s local Ft Bragg group providing a great example.
Justin has also been the first Army lay leader (DFGL) candidate. MAAF has been pushing paperwork for months, working with Army leaders at Ft Bragg, the Army’s Installation Management Command, the Army Chief of Chaplains, and the Department of Defense Armed Forces Chaplains Board. MAAF has candidates seeking official recognition in all branches of service, and Justin’s candidacy in the Army has really helped to highlight the need for chaplain support of atheists and humanists.
Justin is a leader within the atheist community, and his position as Military Director for American Atheists takes perfect advantage of his passion and talents.