Rock Beyond Belief Canceled March 4, 2011

Rock Beyond Belief Canceled

After the Fort Bragg brass decided against giving atheists the appropriate-sized venue and the financial support needed, SPC Justin Griffith, the person organizing the Rock Beyond Belief concert, has confirmed its cancellation:

I’m not the one who owes everyone an apology, but I’m offering one anyway.

On March 1st we received the Fort Bragg Garrison Commander’s final decision letter, which by all indications was going to approve everything we asked for. Obviously, it didn’t. It placed so many restrictions and unexpected changes that we are completely unable to put on the Rock Beyond Belief festival. Additionally, the lack of similar financial support from government-controlled funds prevents us from actually putting on an event. We were not able to utilize the same system of funding that the Evangelical Christians did, nor were we presented with any alternative (or that there was a problem in this area before March 1st).

… To everyone out there that was a part of Rock Beyond Belief, I would like to sincerely thank you. Many of our heroes had agreed to be a part of this, and I have been honored to have a local team so dedicated and talented. I’m not sure where we go from here, but there will be more information posted here as it comes.

You can read his letter to the Garrison Commander here.


It was a great idea that won’t be coming to fruition. I hope there’s a way it can be resurrected — either at an atheist conference or (even better) at another military base.

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  • RPJ

    Avsoltuewlty, fight it.

    I’ll have a caveat here: I’m, not familiar with the muliuatry, in most instances I’m opposed to the military, and I mostly know about thsse issues from the blog posts here.

    But this is, from my view, a c ase of obvikous unequal resp[resntantion in a taxpayer-funded venture (milatry). Non-theists are entitoled to the same amount of supoort at theists. If the bottom line for theists hs already been set, then that is he benchmark for nontheists. If the nontheists don’t recive that, is MUST be fiought. It cannot be simply turned over and acceprted, or thios shit will be propagated.

    The other piost indicates that sdome people are planning oi filing lawsuit. Good on the,. I hope the ACLU comes in, too. If this is allowed to stand then it will set a very dangeriouys precendt on theiostsic preference in the miluary.

  • Picket. Or would that be too aggressive? We wouldn’t want to hurt these Christians’ feelings, right?

    Or is the issue more important? I’d be there with a sign today, if I could. (ducks)

  • Aimster

    I’m saddened by this. As a military spouse, I see what goes on first-hand as far as the attempted Christianization of the military. In our weekly on-post “newspaper” (I have to use that term loosely…it’s hardly what I’d call journalism) there’s a regular column written by various chaplains on the base. And, reliably, each week the column is written from a blatantly Christian point of view, despite the fact that the Chaplain Corps is “supposed” to support and foster the beliefs of a diverse military…Jews, Muslims and Wiccans (among others) are supposed to be represented on post in terms of places to worship as well as the spiritual counseling that is provided by chaplains. Every function I go to…graduations, formal dinners, even the briefing meetings that come before and after deployments…all start with a chaplain giving an invocation that’s “supposed” to be non-denominational but always sounds suspiciously Christian.

    Last week’s “Chaplain’s Corner” quoted some book by a Christian parenting “expert” and highlighted a list of several ways how NOT to “train up your child,” such as “Never take your child to church or give them any spiritual training.” Then there was some sarcastic comment about how you shouldn’t be surprised when your child comes home having adopted all sorts of boorish behavior and loose morals. It specifically sung the praises of raising children in a “good Christian household” and it was all I could do not to fire off a nasty letter to the entity that publishes the paper and scold them for such a blatant middle-finger to the Constitution.

    I really wanted this Rock Beyond Belief to be successful. I really wanted secular and atheist military families, at least those in the Ft. Bragg area, to be able to enjoy this event and to show their faces as unabashed skeptics and freethinkers, without fear of retribution or shame in their community. I’m glad that my husband is very near to his retirement from the Marine Corps. As good as they’ve been to me over the years, I just can’t stand being a part of this theocracy-in-training any longer.

  • CanadianNihilist

    I’m looking foreword to seeing if this becomes a lawsuit.

  • Charles
    look at some of the comments… i spent 11 years in the army and i shutter to think what that 3rd commenter did to his troops if they were nonbelievers.

  • Mike G.


    Dude. Man. Don’t drink and comment. No.

  • Thorny

    I’m not american but surely there is some law about the military supporting one religion over another, can’t we just sue them until threaten to sue until they let us?

  • jimm

    In my opinion, the proper lawsuit here would be to recover all the tax dollars spent on the religious concert. Is that not an illegal use of public funds?

  • Dakota Bob

    @Mike G.

    Interestingly, I only noticed all the spelling mistakes in RPJ’s post AFTER you point it out 😛

  • Randy

    Sue the military? You can’t sue the military even if they kill your kid or spouse due to medical negligence (except in few very, very, very rare cases). This may be a different case, and I hope it is.

    My experience with chaplins was very different. I’ve said before I think it depends on the branch. Army seems to be really gung-ho Christian while we in the Navy, in my experience, had really cool and laid back chaplins. Justine, while he may be ethically right, does not work for democratic institution and needs to tread carefully.

    Mike G-LOL!

  • Annie

    Too bad. I was hoping they would have taken the smaller venue and then had the base crawling with all the atheists that didn’t fit inside because there was not enough room. I’m so sorry for Justin and all the others who put so much effort into what would have been a wonderful event. Someone needs to email this to Bill Maher… he would love to make a stink about this.

  • @RPJ

    “…I’m, not familiar with the muliuatry, in most instances I’m opposed to the military…”

    I take it you are also opposed to Spell Check.

  • Annie

    OK, I just got off the phone with the receptionist for research at Real Time. He seemed very nice and either was writing down what I was saying, or has perfected pretending to. We’ll see…

  • OK, I just got off the phone with the receptionist for research at Real Time. He seemed very nice and either was writing down what I was saying, or has perfected pretending to. We’ll see…

    Sweet. I hope Maher mentions this during tonight’s show but it’s not likely.

  • Beltway Atheists Inc. tried to put on a concert like this years ago called “Atheist Days”. Since I have joined their board, I recommended planning a large concert titled “MindStock” or “ThoughtStock”. We are currently exploring venues in Virginia, Maryland and even DC.

    Since we’re now a 501(c)(3) corporation, we’ll be doing concerts like this soon, but I can’t confirm when or with which bands/performers lined up.

    If anyone wants to connect on this topic, please feel free to contact myself or any other members of Beltway Atheists Inc. at >>

  • Darlene

    Here is the letter I wrote to Fort Bragg:


    I wish to express my deep, deep disappointment in Fort Bragg’s decision to not support the event, Rock Beyond Belief. It is a breach of trust and a betrayal of our Constitution, as well as a failure to comply with a number of DoD directives, to support an evangelical event and then pull the rug out from under a secular one.

    My husband is activity duty Coast Guard. We had planned to attend, along with our teen son. Another family was attending with us. We even had our room at the Army lodging reserved for the weekend. For this to happen has an implication that only evangelical Christians are welcome at Fort Bragg. It has an implication that my spouse’s service doesn’t matter.

    I had thought more highly of the Army, that it stood by the principles it is sworn to defend. I am hoping that this will be resolved and we won’t have to cancel our plans for that weekend.

    Darlene Pineda

  • Jachra

    I understand one of the organizing groups is suing, let us know what we can do to help.

  • Sarah Naut

    There are no Atheists (or Agnostics, or Skeptics, Freethinkers, etc.) in foxholes because they are not allowed!

  • Moose

    …And people wonder why I left…

    Sad, really.

    Sue ’em.

  • Stephan

    Take the bigots to court and drag them through the mud. They shame our nation and waste our tax dollars.

  • Rollingforest

    I’m not one to rush to a lawsuit, but I agree that there needs to be some legal action here.

  • Having done an admittedly small amount of research on this I have to wonder if there was an element of fear and saving face involved in this.

    From what I’d read the original “Rock the Fort” event that was the inspiration for this even was sparsely attended, less than the 10K they were expecting, and cost about 54K. The “secular” event had Dawkins, the man draws large crowds wherever he goes, people are often turned away, and with the parade grounds being one of his largest venues yet chances are even higher that capacity crowds would have gathered.

    But not only were they having Dawkins they were having other “big name” secularists and musicians (Hawk Nelson was the only “big name” christian band at “Rock the Fort” that I knew about previously when I started looking into it) so the event was even more likely to draw a capacity crowd.

    I also have to wonder if people out on deployment asked to be rotated home for temporary leave so they could attend the event with their own families and, if they did, was the numbers higher than the “Rock the Fort” event.

    All those secularists and atheists, all in the same spot, and their event drawing more people than they could drum up for their “Jesus” event and it was going to cost LESS than what the Jesus event cost. I think this whole thing shows that someone in the chain of command is afraid of being shown up by the secularists.

    I think they’re afraid of having others with similar viewpoints under their command realize that there are a higher number of people with similar viewpoints than they ever expected. Mostly though I think they’re afraid of having their biases challenged, by seeing a large group of happy secularists enjoying their day without god in their lives could make them question their own faith and put the lie to the idea that its really “God’s Army”.

  • Dale Headley

    The U.S. military has made it quite clear in the past that, when it comes to conflict between religion and the Constitution, religion – specifically Christianity – takes precedence over law. It’s okay with the generals if atheists die for their country, but they may not express their religious beliefs if they do not accord with that of the base commander. And don’t expect the Congress to support the non-theists. Pete Stark of California is the ONLY one of 535 members of Congress with the courage to admit his atheism, so politicians will support the base commander at Fort Bragg in his efforts to discriminate in favor of Christianity – First Amendment be damned!.
    If I had to guess, I’d bet that the base commander reneged on his promise to be fair when he heard that that evil infidel, Richard Dawkins, would be fouling up the air of his holy compound.

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