Fort Bragg Atheist Concert Reverses Course, Re-Announces Event

The organizers of Rock Beyond Belief at Fort Bragg have abandoned their plans for a lawsuit and are looking forward to having their event this fall.  (Michael Weinstein’s “tell it to the judge” was apparently just for effect, as his threats so often are.)  Coincidentally, it seems their very-public decision to cancel their event — and point fingers at the US Army as the cause — has actually benefited their plans (emphasis added): 

As a result of media attention and increased funding since the cancellation, [they’re] negotiating with a “high-profile booking agent” to recruit a nationally known rock band to perform at Fort Bragg’s Post Parade Field this fall.

They are “absolutely” going to re-submit their event application, and are apparently gaining funding and appropriate draws to justify the use of the coveted parade field.

It would seem they’ve reversed course on their original accusations that Fort Bragg’s decisions on their event were unjust.  They now appear to be taking the necessary actions to meet the normal requirements and fund their own event…which was what they always had to do.  It’s a shame they didn’t do this to begin with, rather than play the martyr card, cancel their own event, blame the Army — and then turn right back around and hold their event anyway.  (Of course, in so doing, they increased their publicity and funding, as the article above noted.)  It appears they may have had some helpful resources to prevent the drama; for example, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation — which has taken to saying “we” and “us” with respect to Rock Beyond Belief — has its own public relations firm (Haley & Associates) that could probably have provided assistance.  Then again, maybe they did.

As likely happens in other similar instances, it appears Rock Beyond Belief was inadequately prepared for their initial foray into major event planning.  That’s completely understandable, unlike their foil, the BGEA Rock the Fort, which has had some experience in putting events like this on.  Now it appears RBB has taken the feedback and guidance from Fort Bragg to heart, and it is gathering its own funding and attempting to garner crowd-drawing acts.

As was said here before, it is perfectly acceptable that atheists in the military be permitted to hold an event under the same circumstances as any other group, presuming they follow the same guidelines.  (That’s also precisely what the Army has consistently told them.)  Contrary to the assertions of RBB supporters — who feel that Billy Graham’s “Rock the Fort” and their own “Rock Beyond Belief” are unConstitutional — the opposite is actually true.  Both support the right of US troops to their “free exercise” of their respective “religion.”

In an interesting twist, it appears their event will now be held almost exactly a year after the Rock the Fort concert their event was designed to counter.

Despite apparently now choosing to work within the Army’s guidance (after originally decrying it as unConstitutional), there’s no word yet on whether they’ll apologize to Col Sicinksi or Fort Bragg for the vitriol and personal attacks they previously pointed in the Army’s direction.