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.


  • bs beyond belief

    What’s next, RBB is going to call Atheism a religion and say Ft. Bragg needs to have an Atheist church on base to collect tithes? Thank you for clarifying there was no proof provided to Bragg that Mr. Dawkins was committed to attend. It’s easy to say you were going to be there after something has already been canceled. Nice work.

  • Pwned…

    But watch how most of the media will not clarify things…not to mention the whole “secular” (or whatever the hell they are pehaps “commies” is the best word) community.

  • Where is Chris Rodda now? The silence is deafening!

    I wonder if she will admit that she and Mikey were wrong and spoke too soon. Hmmmm

  • Seriously, bs? You’re saying that Richard Dawkins a liar? I have emails going back to the beginning of November regarding Dawkins coming to speak at RBB, which means that [the parties] directly involved in getting Dawkins as a speaker will be able to produce their email communications with him going back at least that far.

    Interestingly, I also have all the emails from the planning of Rock the Fort (from the FOIA request) which, although containing numerous emails about who the performers would be, contain nothing indicating that anyone at Fort Bragg asked to see a commitment from the RTF performers. They just took the RTF organizers word that they had secured the performers they said they had secured. Why would they take the Billy Graham people at their word but not take the RBB organizers at their word?

    Edited by Admin.

  • Demanding taxpayers money to fund some insignificant atheist festival?! Have people lost their minds? Whats next? Federal funds for some Brokeback Mountain cowboy poetry festival?!?

  • But tens of millions of taxpayer dollars a year to fund Christians concerts and events is OK?

  • bs beyond belief

    Chris… I have emails with the President Obama from before his election, that doesn’t mean I had a contract with him to come to my child’s birthday party. As far as RTF, they have a proven track record of what they can produce, because they’ve done it time and time again. I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask someone who has never attempted to host an event on this scale for PROOF Dawkins was contracted to be there if they were relying on his attendance as justification for having the parade field. The RBB website said all people listed in lineup were tentative until the date was set, and some did indeed drop out along the way. And no, I was not calling Mr. Dawkins a liar, I was merely recognizing the reporting that you had no formal (legal, binding, proof) commitment from Mr. Dawkins to attend RBB.

  • Had Fort Bragg asked for a formal commitment from Richard Dawkins, it would have been provided. But they didn’t ask, so how on earth could RBB have known that they would later use this to concoct a reason for moving RBB to a ridiculously small venue.

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  • Had Fort Bragg asked for a formal commitment…

    All you’ve done is reinforce the amateurish nature of the planning of RBB (after previously saying it was extremely well prepared). “Rock Beyond Belief” previously said it knew it had to prove certain attendance figures. Yet here, again, you’ve consistently demonstrated it made no such effort to do so. It’s almost as if RBB felt as if Fort Bragg was obligated to give them what they wanted regardless, rather than treating them equitably, as they would any other event request.

    It was RBB’s obligation to demonstrate its potential crowd draw, not Fort Bragg’s. And “amateurish” isn’t necessarily bad. Instead of threatening a lawsuit and calling General Helmick a liar, the supporters of RBB should have answered with the supporting documents they said last year they knew they’d need.

    All of this can still be done in time for their new planned date in September. RBB can learn how to put on an event, and maybe Weinstein can stop finding a Christian conspiracy in RBB’s lack of experience in event organization.

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