Military Blocks Atheists' Efforts to Feed Homeless
Fort Bragg Stops ‘Rock Beyond Belief’ Festival’s Attempt to Feed Hungry Veterans
(Editor's Note: the following is a press release from American Atheists)
FORT BRAGG, NC – Commanders at the military base have decided not to allow atheists to collect food for local homeless veterans. The organizers of the upcoming ‘Rock Beyond Belief’ atheist festival expressed their desires to Fort Bragg, but lawyers cited regulations in their denial. Months of appeals and discussion ultimately went nowhere, but organizers believe they have a work-around solution.
The military’s atheist community is making waves this year, cresting with the on-post festival at Fort Bragg. Richard Dawkins and several prominent speakers and musicians will appear on the main post parade field this Saturday, March 31st. Fort Bragg estimates that 5,000 people will show up for the festival.
Lead organizer and American Atheists Military Director, Justin Griffith said, “It’s a shame that policy seems to be creatively interpreted at the expense of our nation’s heroes. The Christian event that spawned ours was allowed to fundraise on post at a dozen locations every Sunday for several months. We’re telling everyone to bring canned food to the official off-post after party at the Holiday Inn Bordeaux.”
Griffith was referring to the 2010 ‘Rock the Fort’ festival that was co-sponsored by Fort Bragg’s Religious Support Office and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Documents obtained by Griffith’s legal team show that the same policy that is blocking the atheists from feeding the homeless was included in paperwork filed by the earlier Christian event. The same documents show that despite being unable to raise funds, the Christians raised significant amounts of cash for their own event.
Joint Ethics regulations also exclude the military from being able to sponsor ‘membership drive’ events. Griffith said, “Our secular vendors aren’t allowed to gain new members, but the entire point of the evangelical event was to convert as many non-Christian soldiers, spouses, and children as possible. Calling their event a ‘membership drive’ is an understatement. I have no idea how these people aren’t being charged for these egregious violations.”