(photo courtesy of RockBeyondbelief.com)
MAR 26, 2012 – A group of freethinkers mainly compromised of men and women in the armed services, are holding a “Rock Beyond Belief” concert at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and will be sponsored and funded by the Stiefel Freethought Foundation and the American Atheists Association. This is being held in response to the US government funding, coordinating and allowing the use of the military base property by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association back in September of 2010 for a “Rock the Fort” concert that was very “evangelical in nature” to say the least. Estimates are that over $50,000 of taxpayer funds spent on that event that was basically an Evangelical Christian church service. Rock Beyond Belief's event’s chief organizer Sgt. Justin Griffith said, "This is perhaps the first step in a new direction away from the evangelical proselytism that has permeated the military for decades.” He also added that at first he and his group were met with resistance, and it was a “bitter pill” for his superiors to swallow. They tried putting paperwork roadblocks up and Sgt. Griffith felt they were not getting the same support the Christian-based “Rock the Fort”” event got. After a cancelling and some pressure, they eventually gave the green light for the event.
The event will have music from freethinker musicians and bands, such as Aiden, rapper Baba Brinkman, music/comedian Jeffrey Lewis, Spoonboy, Words Such as Burn, and Roy Zimmerman. There will also be speakers such as Richard Dawkins and others. Many organizations will be also be a part of the event who have been dealing with the issue of religious freedom (including the freedom to be left alone about religion) such as the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, who point out that soldiers take on oath to defend the Constitution, a document that is completely secular and contains no reference to “God” whatsoever. Mikey Weinstein from MRFF said, "You are basically told that you lack intellectual integrity, courage, character and honorability. Rock Beyond Belief is an attempt to stick a fist up in the sky and say, 'We have our rights.'"
This follows the heels of the Reason Rally week here in DC, where freethinkers, humanists, secularists, atheists, agnostics and others gathered on the National Mall calling for science and reason. To learn more about the concert and to get involved, check out the Rock Beyond Belief website.