Rock Beyond Belief: The Truth Comes Out
Apparently, Michael Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation thinks atheists need special government support to be considered “equal” with Christians.
The media has had a chance to digest the accusations the US Army post at Fort Bragg discriminated against atheists in their treatment of “Rock Beyond Belief,” and apparently interviewed those involved.
Doesn’t look good for Weinstein and his MRFF crowd.
“I think it all boils down to money,” [Col Stephen] Sicinski said of the organizers’ decision to cancel. “When they say ‘support,’ they’re talking about money.”
As to the $50,000 Chris Rodda says Fort Bragg gave in support of “Rock the Fort:”
Sicinski said that was not the case.
That money was from Christian churches on the base, Sicinski said, not from taxpayers. The Army Chaplain Corps essentially does the accounting for money raised by religious communities on bases, but the decisions on spending are up to the individual congregations.
Money from Buddhist, Muslim and Wiccan groups at Bragg, for example, weren’t used for the Christian event, Sicinski said.
The prior speculation was correct: These were funds donated by individual congregants in what the US Army recognizes as an inherently religious act. Unless “Rock Beyond Belief” is going to claim it is entitled to money from the Christian offering plate, to be treated equally they will get no money from Fort Bragg — just like “Rock the Fort.”
Of course, Col Sicinski didn’t actually need to say that. There was enough public information to conclude Chapel Tithes and Offering Funds (CTOF) were used for the event.
As to the decision to authorize a post theatre, rather than the parade field, it was an attempt to help salvage the event:
Sicinski said his decision was aimed at essentially saving the concert [which lacked] fundraising, commitments from performers and speakers or ability to draw crowds that could sustain a large outdoor event.
Sicinski said Fort Bragg’s market analysis determined [Rock Beyond Belief] would draw, at best, hundreds of people. Events at the parade field need an expected crowd of 5,000 or more, Sicinski said.
As with Chris Rodda’s unsupported statements, there were apparently a lot of claims, but little actual proof or documentation provided to support the requests. For example, people are focusing on Richard Dawkins as some sort of panacea for low attendance. Public evidence of Richard Dawkins even knowing about the event didn’t surface until after it was cancelled. As to what Fort Bragg was told:
Organizers said they had invited Dawkins but base officials had seen no formal agreement he would appear.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation posted the contact information from base leaders on its site, and asked its followers to voice their concerns (but omit the mention of the request to do so). Seeing the critical responses and press coverage, Sicinski says the Army is being “misrepresented.” Quite the understatement for the man who has essentially been equated with a rapist, racist, and “predator,” not to mention the shame of being called a “fundamentalist Christian.” And that was just Friday afternoon.
Despite the vitriol over his approval of “Rock Beyond Belief,” Col Sicinski appears to be quite the magnanimous leader. Sicinski “applauds” the efforts of the event, and indicated he would continue to support the event, whether it was scheduled for the requested April 2nd date or in the future.
Still, he made a point of saying Fort Bragg would not fund the event:
“We didn’t give any money to Rock the Fort. No appropriated dollars and no federal nonappropriated dollars went toward supporting that event. Now, we provided security, we provided the location. And that is exactly what we are willing to do for Rock Beyond Belief.”
Michael Weinstein has likely been an impetus behind many of the criticisms of the Army’s conduct. He has continued to promote his conspiracy theories saying the US military is trying to favor Christianity, and the treatment of “Rock Beyond Belief” is proof.
Ironically, Fort Bragg’s conduct is “proof” that indicts Weinstein, not the US Army.
“Rock Beyond Belief” said the Fort Bragg funding was necessary to their event, without which it could not happen. While Christians funded their own event, Weinstein would have us believe atheists can’t fund their own event, and require government support to feel as though they’re being “treated equally” with a Christian event.
Thus, Weinstein claims atheists are owed the very “preferential treatment” he says is unConstitutional for the Army to provide. Self-contradict much?
Finally, in an apparent bid at comedic relief, Michael Weinstein’s latest pithy mantra has been the US military can “tell it to the judge.”
Apparently the former JAG has forgotten that for someone to “tell it to the judge,” their case actually has to get into the courtroom.
Not one of Weinstein’s four prior lawsuits against the military has survived an initial Motion to Dismiss. It hasn’t been for lack of trying — just a complete lack of a viable case.
Based on the information above, it seems his threatened lawsuit — if he even follows through with it — is now in the same category.