Author Topic: Rock Beyond Belief  (Read 1717 times)

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Offline tygerarmy

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Rock Beyond Belief
« on: April 03, 2012, 01:56:15 pm »
I wish I could've been at Fort Bragg for this!

Military nonbelievers' event shows there are atheists in foxholes

Quote
FORT BRAGG, North Carolina (Reuters) - An atheist-themed festival drew hundreds of people to an Army post in North Carolina on Saturday for what was believed to be the first-ever event held on a U.S. military base for service members who do not have religious beliefs.

Organizers said they hoped the "Rock Beyond Belief" event at Fort Bragg would spur equal treatment toward nonbelievers in the armed forces and help lift the stigma for approximately 295,000 active duty personnel who consider themselves atheist, agnostic or without a religious preference.

Defense Department policy holds that all service members have the right to believe in any or no religion. But those gathered at the event described being ostracized and harassed in the military community for not believing in God and worried about getting passed over for promotions if their secularist stances were widely known.

"We're sending a message," said Justin Griffith, an Army sergeant stationed at Fort Bragg who spearheaded the event. "Foxhole atheists are out there fighting for your rights. Please return the favor."

The majority of U.S. adults consider themselves Christian, though there are signs the country is becoming less religious. The American Religious Identification Survey in 2008 showed a growing number of people identified as atheist, agnostic or having no stated religious preference, with 15 percent in that group in 2008 compared to 8.2 percent in 1990.

Christianity also dominates the religious makeup of the military. Only about 8,000 out of 1.4 million active duty members inthe Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force identify themselves as atheists, and another 1,800 say they are agnostic, according to the Defense Department.

Approximately 286,000 more list "no religious preference." That group can include atheists and agnostics but also people who may consider themselves religious or spiritual but do not affiliate with a particular religious group.

...

Richard Dawkins, a well-known atheist and best-selling author of books including "The God Delusion," received a big applause during his speech when he said, "You don't need religion in order to be moral."

He said he was glad for the atheist-friendly crowd but had wished some religious soldiers would attend.

"Because I was hoping to change their minds," said Dawkins, who on March 24 spoke to thousands of people gathered at the National Mall in Washington for the "Reason Rally," another recent event held to embolden people with secular beliefs.

Though some Christian groups asked the Defense Department not to allow the non-theist event and other critics groused about it through social media, the gathering Saturday had a peaceful vibe without a protester in sight. The crowd included many families with children, some of them part of the military community and others civilians who came out to show support.

"This is very cool," said Brenda Germain, whose husband retired from the Air Force. "So many times the atheists feel like they're alone in their community."

Several military members and their spouses echoed Germain's feelings but didn't want their names used out of concern about possible repercussions. One Army wife said her home in a town near Fort Bragg was vandalized after her children told their friends they did not believe in God. Her family ended up moving, she said.

Two service members said they put "no religious preference" rather than atheist on their dog tags to avoid having their beliefs influence how they are treated or viewed by their colleagues.

"We're good people, we're serving in the military," said an Army sergeant stationed at Fort Bragg who did not want to be identified. Atheism "hasn't changed how I serve."

Griffith's push for acceptance of foxhole atheists isn't stopping with "Rock Beyond Belief," he said. He and other soldiers are working to get non-theists recognized as faith groups within the military, a status that would allow them to collect donations and meet regularly on base.

"We want to use the chapels," Griffith said. "We won't burn them down. We just want to be inside."

I'm glad that's events like this are going on. 

You can see all the artists and speakers who were at the event on it's website.

http://rockbeyondbelief.com/
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Offline Old Viking

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Re: Rock Beyond Belief
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2012, 02:42:51 pm »
Excellent!  In response to the " ... atheists in foxholes" canard, I've told people that combat can be terrifying but it doesn't make you stupid.
I am an old man, and I've seen many problems, most of which never happened.

Offline tygerarmy

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Re: Rock Beyond Belief
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2012, 02:59:10 pm »
Excellent!  In response to the " ... atheists in foxholes" canard, I've told people that combat can be terrifying but it doesn't make you stupid.



I like this better, because it's true.
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Offline Osama bin Bambi

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Re: Rock Beyond Belief
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2012, 05:29:36 pm »
My grandfather is an atheist and he was in the Air Force. They wouldn't put "atheist" on his dog tag so they just put "A", and he recalls that during training they made everyone go to chapel. :P
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