Fort Bragg Reviewing Atheist Rock Beyond Belief Lineup

Last Friday, a report that briefly joined the top stories on Fox News indicated Fort Bragg would be “reviewing” some of the planned performers at the upcoming atheist festival known as Rock Beyond Belief, the atheist response to the Billy Graham Evangelical Association’s Rock the Fort.

Benjamin Abel, a spokesman for Fort Bragg told Fox News & Commentary that they were launching a review of the bands scheduled to perform along with their content.

“This is a family-friendly event and we expect the entertainment will meet the standards of decency that would be typical on a top-40 music station,” Abel said. “We owe it to our soldiers and families on post to make sure it is.”

The primary concerns seemed to be over the music group Aiden, as originally reported last week on, which FoxNews cited in their report.  Organizers had included a YouTube link to what was called an “atheist anthem” with lyrics even Fort Bragg said might be problematic:

As for the graphic, anti-Christian lyrics – Abel said “I would have to think we would have to take a very close look at that kind of lyric.”

“I don’t know how family-friendly that is,” he said…

“We are reviewing the material and will ensure that event organizers understand that we will have to hold them to a certain level of decency.”

There’s a bit more to it than the “family-friendly” nature, unless the restriction of “not making statements critical of religion” is included in that environment.  Still, it seems Fort Bragg may be scrutinizing the line-up as a result of the potential disconnect between Rock Beyond Belief’s stated intentions and the tone its supporters have taken over the past few months.

For example, the initial defensive reaction of almost every single supporter was Aiden should be able to sing whatever they want.  It seems even those who were planning to attend the event expected to “thrash” with Aiden singing “Christ died for sh-t.”  The long-running perception, it seems, has been that Rock Beyond Belief would be a veritable, vocal anti-theist event — as evidenced by the reputations of its most public performers and speakers, and the expectations of those who have said they are going.

In fact, Aiden lead figure William Francis responded to the controversy very defensively; he never once addressed Rock Beyond Belief, and simply said people questioning his denigration of religion and his upcoming appearance at Fort Bragg were “missing the point.”  In fact, he struck a defiant tone that doesn’t bode well for damage control at Rock Beyond Belief:

Faith should not be viewed as a virtue, it should be viewed as a cop out…I will always speak out in opposition to radical believers who are tearing fabric of our global community to shreds. Count on it.

Indeed, a mocking tone has dwelt just below the waterline during much of Rock Beyond Belief’s planning stage. In a simple example, FoxNews noted one “kid event” that was planned:

Griffith confirmed the lineup includes atheist speakers, a rapper who raps about evolution and a “kiddy pool” where boys and girls will be able to scientifically walk on water.

Seems fairly benign, despite the obvious allusion to a Christian story (and the reinforcement of the stereotype that atheists cannot exist apart from religion).  This is how Justin Griffith shared it with his own audience, however [emphasis added]:

You can let your kid walk on water right in front of the main post Chapel! Win.

Just a good-natured dig at the Christian beliefs of Soldiers, naturally.  Perhaps the ‘walking on water’ demonstration will lead to a discussion and curiosity of Christianity that may plant a seed in a child’s heart about Jesus.

Despite the inherently controversial nature of the event, just the week prior Chris Rodda and other Rock Beyond Belief supporters were adamant any controversy was purely speculative and everything was ‘cool.’  Given the sudden publicity, it seems they were mistaken — or just playing coy.  In fact, another public comment indicated the Army might be trying to “sabotage” the event by sending Griffith out of the country just prior to the scheduled event.  Surely that would never play into the MRFF narrative.

In an interesting twist, the event’s primary organizer may have inadvertently set a high bar for his own event:

“We felt it was entirely inappropriate for anyone to say your current religion is wrong,” Griffith told Fox News & Commentary.

Think Rock Beyond Belief will ever stray into “inappropriate” territory in their 9-hours of atheist entertainment?

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