Fort Bragg to Host Anti-Religion Band at Atheist Rock Beyond Belief

Love how they burn your synagogues…
       – Lyrics by
Aiden, Rock Beyond Belief lead-in act

The band Aiden has announced it will be playing the atheist festival “Rock Beyond Belief” at Fort Bragg in March 2012, as the lead-in act to Richard Dawkins, the main attraction at the “concert.”

Never heard of them?  You’re not the only one.  But first, take a look at what the band said in their announcement [emphasis added]:

Justin Griffith, the soldier in charge of setting this up has a very interesting story to tell. The United States military had no problems funding a christian based musical event, but when it was suggested that the large number of atheists and secular humanists who are enlisted, would like to have a function of their own choosing, the top leaders at Fort Bragg decided to pull the plug on the entire thing. Cutting the funding without any reason at all, that I can see, except that maybe christians in the Army are the only ones allowed to have fun

They fought the law and THEY WON.

Given that they attribute their information to the soldier hosting Rock Beyond Belief, Justin Griffith, its unlikely a call to correct their misinformation would go far.

For the record (again, and again), the US military did not fund a “Christian musical event” when it hosted Rock the Fort — Christian military congregations funded it.  “Top leaders at Fort Bragg” didn’t pull the plug on anything — Griffith did.  Nor did anyone “cut” any funding.

Finally, they fought nothing and won nothing.  Based on public information, it appears they did little more than a lot of complaining about the US military, even as Fort Bragg’s leadership remained magnanimous in the face of very public — and very personal — insults by Rock Beyond Belief supporters.  Griffith finally raised money to fund the event (as a result of the publicity over his decision to cancel) and finished the appropriate paperwork, as had always been required. The only victory was the one over paper cuts.

So, once again, the US military gets drug through the mud over its decision to allow an atheist festival to be held on military grounds — and it is the participants of the festival doing the dragging, not critics of it.  Graciousness is apparently a lost virtue.

As to the band itself:  One of the criticisms of the original effort to launch Rock Beyond Belief was its lack of “chart-makers.”  For the record, the “glam-goth” band Aiden did touch a chart a few times, including the Billboard 200 with three of their albums, though the last one was in 2009.  Their actual popularity is something else, though.  Their agency indicates they’ve finally crested into the “six figures” of album sales — for their album that’s six years old.  They still do covers in their albums, they just lost their lead guitarist, and they no longer have a label.  A few now-deleted reviews cite the sales of their latest release at as high as 800 and as low as 20 copies in the first week.

By contrast, the headlining act for Rock the Fort, Grammy-nominated Hawk Nelson, had already exceeded 500,000 album sales two years before they appeared at Fort Bragg.

While it seems Rock Beyond Belief ultimately failed to attract a mainstream musical group, they appear to have struck gold in ideology.  While not explicitly saying they are atheists, the self-described “rock/goth/punk” band has strong lyrics (language warning) on the topic of religion:

Christ died for sh–, and was a f—ing c–t

F— your God
F— your faith in the end
There’s no religion

When Griffith announced Aiden’s act, he included a YouTube link to what he called the “atheist anthem,” which includes such poetry as:

Love how they burn your synagogues
Love how they torch your holy books

Faith whether Christian, Muslim, Jew
Still you all distort the truth
The death of fiction will save us all

(In case you think they’re using a “literary device,” their video opens with shots of burning churches.  As a final touch of class, the video is filmed in a Veteran’s Cemetery.)

Note Griffith qualified the song by saying “They are in the right place.” and “Yeah.  Pretty much amazing”:

In late 2010 the organizers of Rock Beyond Belief were adamant there was “no need for divisive language” or negative criticism toward religion.  Griffith repeatedly pointed out the purpose of “Rock Beyond Belief” was not to be an “anti-” anything event.  In fact, then-SPC Griffith originally said

We are not holding an anti-religious event. We are not holding an anti-theist, or anti-Christian event either. We are simply putting on a day of secular entertainment…

We are simply proud of who we are, and we are celebrating in a way that we wish that the Rock the Fort organizers had chosen to do so [sic]. They didn’t. So what. We are taking the high road.

He invited — and praised — a group who sings “F— your god” to an event that was not “anti-religious”?

Griffith repeated the “high road” claim at another point, specifically denying any attempt to denigrate religion:

Our festival was not going to attempt to ‘de-convert’ or ‘de-baptize’ anyone. Rather, we were going to raise awareness and tolerance of the non-religious segment of the military, while at the same time respecting other’s beliefs as private. We had no interest in telling our crowd that their current religious preference was wrong, incomplete, or in some way needing to be changed. [emphasis added]

Their emphatic and supportive choice of lead-in musical act — with its decidedly “anti-religion” “atheist anthem” that is “in the right place” for Rock Beyond Belief — contradicts those initial conciliatory tones over the past two years. 

This appears to be how military atheists will “celebrate” at the US military post of Fort Bragg (which caps off a week of atheist events on the East Coast).  Think the promised bouncy castles and face painting for the kids will be near the stage?

The bigger question might be whether the event risks undermining its open support by Fort Bragg.  For example, Michael Weinstein and his Military Religious Freedom Foundation, with which Griffith is associated, successfully lobbied against Franklin Graham’s presence at a military base because of his previously stated ideologies.

Think the Pentagon might have issues with US soldiers at Fort Bragg “thrashing” to a group singing about “burning synagogues?”

More to the point, atheists are claiming this is all about equality.  So, would religious groups be allowed to say similar things about other faiths as Aiden?

Turns out, that isn’t a hypothetical question.  As was noted once already, the leadership at Fort Bragg explicitly restricted the content of the “Rock the Fort” event to which the atheists so strongly reacted.  From the After Action Report on Rock the Fort:

The bands and speakers stayed within the parameters that we gave them as directed by LTG Helmick, “in other words keep it low key…share encouraging music and a gospel message with no statements that are critical of other religions.” [emphasis added]

As has been said before, atheists at Fort Bragg or anywhere else should be — and are — free to hold any event they want, so long as it is organized and run consistent with the rules, as every event must be.  (Even arguably “offensive” bands have played military venues with little fanfare.)

With regard to the event itself, the presence of any drama is directly attributable to the supporters and organizers themselves.  There doesn’t appear to have been a single major group or organization publicly opposing Rock Beyond Belief (as opposed to the treatment of Rock the Fort).  At every opportunity they’ve laid the martyr complex on thick, claiming persecution, struggle, and triumph over “them.”  (This was repeated in just the past few days, despite the fact the event has been approved without issue for nearly six months.)

The true “victim” has been the US Army, which has been demonized at almost every turn.  While the group “thanked” Fort Bragg leadership at one point, they have yet to apologize for (or even correct) their mischaracterization of the Army either before that moment or since, as Aiden’s recent announcement highlights.  In fact, the man who equated Fort Bragg leadership with racists and rapists is Michael Weinstein — one of the booked speakers.  He has not recanted.

The US Army values and protects the rights and freedoms of its servicemembers.  Organizers of Rock Beyond Belief would do well to more forcefully acknowledge and appreciate that.  All they have to do is follow the same rules as everyone else, as Fort Bragg itself recently emphasized:

The sponsors of Rock Beyond Belief are undertaking this event as a private organization and will be held to the same standards as all private organization events on the installation. [emphasis added]

Think Rock Beyond Belief will be able to conduct itself without making statements “critical of other religions?”  Jason Torpy of the MAAF has previously implied atheists need the freedom to denigrate.

Based on their history to date…  If they can go their 9 scheduled hours with Richard Dawkins, Michael Weinstein, Aiden and others not making statements critical of other religions, it will be…a miracle.


  • @Richard said

    Christian Nazi’s in W.W.II Germany. That Christisan Supremacy cost the lives of millions of Jews and other “undesireables.”

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer might have taken issue with that characterization.

    Your lack of evidence for your conspiracy theories has apparently driven you to equate your ideological opponents with Nazis. Classy.

  • Hi JD.

    Are you familiar with the Vatican Accord of 1933 between Hitler and Pope Pius XII? The Concordat Between the Holy See and the German Reich was made so that the Pope would turn a blind eye to the coming Holocaust. The Christian churches under this accord would be funded by the German Government. Many of the Christian clergy were members of the Nazi Party and were shown in numerous photographs in full Christian livery rendering the “Sierg Heil” Nazi Salute.

    I’m sorry JD but it was a Christian driven extermination of the Jews, Homosexuals, mentally deficient and other targets of the Christian religion. Hitler, himself, was a devout Christian as can be determined by googling “Adolph Hitler’s Christianity.”

    It is not my conspiracy theory that Christians were major players in this genocide. One only has to read history.

  • @Richard
    What does any of that have to do with the Christians in the US military you are indicting? You can’t think of anything else to say so you equate US troops with Nazis? That’s pathetic.

  • Please. I am not indicting US Troops by and large; I am equating Chrtistian Domionists in today’s military, promarily in the Officer Corps, a number of whom I and others have identified and given instances of their unconstitutional activities and the roots of Christian Dominionism as practiced in Nazi Germany circa 1933-1945. There is a tie that binds the misdeeds of Christian Germany and the insidious Christian proselytizing in todays armed forces.

    Haven’t you read today in the Air Force Times about the latest attempt to co-opt the religious beliefs of young Airmen? Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins, the new head of the Defense Information Systems Agency attempted to lay down religious doctrine as military law.

    It is there, plain to see except by those who will not see and who attempt to deflect the very real dangers of Christian Dominionism in the military.

    Now, as a former Airman my issue is with military religious misdeeds but that is not the limit to Dominionism as it has taken a foothold in civilian government with the help of George Bush who traded his alcohol and drug addiction for an addiction to Dominion Christianity. Also in the corporate world more and more companies are catering to Christian employees, hiring corporate chaplains, proviind Christian Chapel space, allowing Christian symbols and Bibles to be displayed prominently in work spaces and other illegal acts.

    It is a creeping epidemic which can only result in more discord and even violence.

    Christian hegemony, preserved and practiced by Christian officers in our armed forces has become the stock in trade of misguided Christian sycophants.

    GO HERE:

    This is but one of many such unthinking, insensitive and unconstitutional acts on the part of Christian supremacists in the military.

  • @Richard said

    a number of whom I and others have identified

    You’ve identified no one. You rely on the ever elusive “them.”

    in the corporate world…Bibles to be displayed prominently in work spaces and other illegal acts.

    You’ve confused reality with your ideal again. It is not illegal for companies to do any of the things you listed — at least not in the United States of America. North Korea, Iran, and a few other choice nations, perhaps.

    It is both admirable and sad that you are willing to publicly admit your desire to end the US Constitution’s protection of religious liberty in the United States.

  • I don’t need to read the whole song to see that it is offensive as hell, and has no positive message for anyone. Just more trashy lyrics. And since you atheists don’t believe in God, you should be the ones in the front when you’all are in the attack mode when you go on your missions. Try watching “Ancient Aliens” on the History 2 channel. You could be right about “god”. That maybe people in ancient times encountered other worldly beings and thought of them as “Gods” because they came down from the skies in flying gigs, and taught them advanced astronomy, and whatever. It’s a very interesting weekly show. But clean up your act please! You sound like a bunch of angry men who can’t get women. Crimney!

  • @Ava
    Ava, I think there are plenty of “Ancient Aliens” on earth today. We call them Dominion Christians. The military is loaded with them and they are prominent in civilian fields as well.

    Dominionism appeals to the ego and therefore many high ranking officers are inexorably drawn to it’s siren call.

    Atheism poses no threat to the United States or world nations but Christian Dominionism calls for world conquest and conversion to Christianity. All those who do not cooperate will be “Cast into the lake of fire.” Dominion Christians are very much like Nazis with many Nazi traits. I am working on a post now that will identify many of them.

  • @JD
    Hi JD. You keep asking for proof of what I say about Dominion Christianity when I know you could provide more than I can. But here are just a few for your readers to google and gasp.

    Google any or all of these Dominionist Christian Military Leaders

    US Army Gen. Jerry Boykin’s Kingdom Warriors
    US Air Force Gen. Jack Catton
    US Air Force Gen. Dana Born
    US Air Force Gen. Ronnie Hawkins
    US Air Force Gen. Johnny Weida
    US Air Force Gen. Bruce Fister OCF
    US Navy Chaplain Klingenschmitt

    Officer’s Christian Fellowship OCF says its goal is “a spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit.”

    Campus Crusade For Christ Military Mission. Developing “government paid missionaries for Christ.”

    Focus on the Family
    The Navigators

    Adolf Hitler & Christian Nationalism: Nazis’ Program of Positive Christianity:

    Dominion Christian Chaplain forces GI’s in Iraq to hear Christian sermon before they can bathe or shower.:

    Camp Pendleton Cross

    More than 70 members of Congress urged President Bush to issue an executive order guaranteeing the right of military chaplains to pray “in the name of Jesus” even at mandatory ceremonies attended by service members of all faiths.

    Christian Embassy Video taped in the Pentagon

    Army Brigadier Gen. Vince Brooks, Air Force Maj. Gen. Pete Sutton, Army Brig. Gen. Bob Caslen and Air Force Maj. Gen. Jack Catton. It also shows two colonels, a lieutenant colonel and several named and unnamed civilian officials.

    An these are just a few. Don’t make me do your work for you. You are not new to research. If you wanted to you could provide more proof than me

  • @Richard
    Your repetition of non sequiturs grew tiresome long ago.

    In just one example, you call a chaplain a “dominion Christian” without citing anything about his theology to prove that he is one.

    The same is true for every other name and organization you listed. You can’t cite — and web searching won’t provide — a single source in which they advocate “dominionism.” You will find lots of stories Richard finds objectionable, some of which you list. (In fact, some of the top search results are — guess what? — internet comments by “Richard” calling these people dominionists.)

    In other words, you’ve redefined “dominionist” to mean “Christians who do things [Richard] doesn’t like.”

    By the way, the Army debunked that chaplain baptism story nearly 9 years ago. Even if it were completely true, it might make the chaplain a jerk, but it doesn’t make him a “dominionist.” Your baseless accusations are out of date.

  • @JD

    I see how deeply hurt you are by these examples and how desperately you defend them. I see now that you must disavow them because to admit they exist would destroy your position on them.

    In order to move on in life and rationalize those things which I have posted, you must admit them and strive to change them. I see how you must deny them to maintain your belief in a good and generous God. In these things I post you see an ugly and demonic God which you are just not prepared to accept. Yet many of your contemporaries have accepted the fact that it is not your God but many of his exytremne followers that have stained your beliefs.

    But you ignore them because they cause your God to look evil.

    Dominionists not only do things Richard doesn’t like but do things that the real God doesn’t like. You must stop encouraging the use of your God in the animalistic endeavors of the Dominionists. It does not speak well of you. You have the chpoice of saying “Amen” or “Sieg Heil.”

  • This Richard is a paid shill for the atheist Left, a troll. A concordat between the Pope and Hitler? Is that why Golda Meir gave him the Righteous Gentile Award??? There were less capital punishments handed out during the 300 year Inquisition (state run, not Church run) than during one year of English rule. Your figures about Christian-caused deaths are fantasy.

    And how about WWI and WWII? Those were atheist/freemason or Nazi socialist driven wars. And all who perished in the Gulags at the hands of Soviet atheists.

    The atheists never created anything. No civilization was atheist. They only destroy. Move on, shill.

  • @Mary
    Richard may be many things, but there is no proof he is either paid or a troll. Confine your comments about people to supportable facts.