Fort Bragg Guarantees Criticism of Organized Religion and Adherents
By JUSTIN GRIFFITH - PRESS RELEASE
Added: Mon, 12 Mar 2012 17:58:58 UTC
FORT BRAGG, NC – Commanders at Fort Bragg have made peace with organizers of the looming atheist festival they approved late last year. Colonel Stephen Sicinski - Bragg’s Garrison Commander - has now issued an official statement that specifically protects speech critical of religion.
Colonel Sicinski explains, “I want to assure you that Fort Bragg will not discriminate against speech on the basis of its viewpoint. Stated another way, I understand and respect that there will be ample discussion about atheism and/or humanism during the festival and that the speakers may criticize organized religion or its practitioners.”
Colonel Sicinski’s statement was prompted by controversy generated by a Fox News story about some lyrics from a rock band on the festival’s lineup. The article suggested that the rock band Aiden’s song ‘Hysteria’ was encouraging attendees to burn down churches. Lead singer of Aiden, William Control, emphatically stated that his lyrics were taken out of context. He was referring to his disapproval of religious fanatics burning books and buildings of rival religious groups.
Justin Griffith said “The Fox News hatchet-job sort of backfired. They prompted death threats from extremist Christians displaying exactly the type of behavior that Aiden sings about. Colonel Sicinski’s written promise to protect statements critical of religion proves that he really does support us.” Griffith is the primary event organizer and Military Director for American Atheists.
Festival headliner Richard Dawkins will be joined by several prominent musicians and speakers. Fort Bragg expects around 5,000 soldiers and civilians will attend the free all-day event called ‘Rock Beyond Belief’ on Saturday, March 31st.
The event was inspired by a controversial evangelical Christian effort targeting non-Christians for conversion. Prior to the initial evangelical effort, many organizations demanded its cancellation. Rather than cancelling, Fort Bragg commanders issued a promise to provide an equal level of support any other group. The lineup of the secular festival will feature the presidents of three of these groups. Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF’s Dan Barker), and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF’s Mikey Weinstein) and American Atheists’ David Silverman will each be speaking.
Justin Griffith said “If evangelical Christians have a problem with criticism of their religion, they need to stop inviting the conversation. Colonel Sicinski made the right call, and we appreciate his statement. Foxhole atheists are fighting for your rights, please return the favor by standing with us at Fort Bragg on March 31st.”
Rock Beyond Belief is an American Atheists event. It was made possible by a $50,000 donation from the Steifel Freethought Foundation. For more information on the event, check the festival’s website.
Other Resources and Information
Trailer for Rock Beyond Belief: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6kJ_EwwnD4 Please feel free to link to or embed this in your online publications.
Hotel: with discount rate: Holiday Inn Bordeaux 910-323-0111. Ask for the discount rate for RBB. (You must contact them by phone, their website is not working). The official American Atheists after-party will be here, with lots of access to our lineup.
To get on post: you will need a valid photo ID and vehicles need registration/proof of insurance. Fort Bragg is providing additional personnel to handle the surge of traffic expected for this event. Civilians are absolutely welcome.
Disclaimer: Justin Griffith is an active duty soldier, but does not speak on behalf of the DoD or the Army. No DoD endorsement is implied.
CONTACT: Primary Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alt email address: email@example.com
Phone (239) 689-0323
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