Demand That Our Army Supports A Nontheistic Festival
Army Garrison Commander Refused to Provide Event Support
“Rock Beyond Belief,” a festival of nontheistic speakers and musicians that was going to be held at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on April 2, has been canceled after Fort Bragg’s garrison commander refused to provide adequate support for the event – even though Fort Bragg officials had made similar arrangements for a religious event just months ago.
Among those scheduled to appear at the festival were author Richard Dawkins; Dan Barker, copresident of the Freedom From Religion Foundation; “Friendly Atheist” blogger Hemant Mehta; Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation; and musicians Spoonboy and Roy Zimmerman.
Rock Beyond Belief’s organizers had asked for lesser or equal amounts of support for their event than the Army and Fort Bragg officials provided for the Billy Graham Evangelical Association’s “Rock the Fort” celebration in 2010. You can see a complete comparison of the more than $100,000 in government funds provided to the Rock the Fort event to the funds asked for by the Rock Beyond Belief organizers here.
According to Rock Beyond Belief’s chief organizer, Sgt. Justin Griffith, service members without any religious affiliation compose the second-largest “religious” group at Fort Bragg, after Christians. Griffith also points out on the festival’s website, rockbeyondbelief.com, that Fort Bragg officially cosponsored the evangelical concert event in 2010 despite calls for the Christian event to be canceled.
He states on the website that Fort Bragg officials explained that “[Fort Bragg] would be willing and able to provide the same support to comparable events.” Fort Bragg officials have offered no reasonable explanation for denying a nontheistic festival the same level of support and accommodation that was provided to a Christian festival just months ago. Fort Bragg's actions give all the appearance of discrimination and religious privileging.
The service members at Fort Bragg and all nontheistic service members need your help in being heard now. Please send an email or letter to any or all of the following officials protesting the discriminatory actions of Fort Bragg garrison commander Colonel Stephen J. Sicinski, who has denied equal support and funding for this nonreligious event.
Col. Stephen J. Sicinski
Garrison Commander , XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg
2175 Reilly Road, Stop A
Fort Bragg, NC 28310
Public Affairs Officer , Fort Bragg
U.S. Congressman Larry Kissell
8th District, North Carolina Member, Armed Forces Committee
U.S. Senator Kay Hagan , North Carolina
Lieutenant General Frank Helmick
XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg
2175 Reilly Road, Stop A Fort Bragg, NC 28310
Honorable John McHugh
Secretary of the Army
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1400
If you are so inclined, please send SCA a copy of your letter or BCC (blind copy) us at firstname.lastname@example.org on your emails. Thank you for your support of the nontheistic community and for all of our service members.
UPDATE: Change.org has organized a petition to protest Fort Bragg's decision. You can sign it here.