Atheists Denigrate US Army that Supports Them. Again.

The primary organizer of Rock Beyond Belief, the atheist festival occurring this weekend at Fort Bragg, has — again — drug Fort Bragg and the US Army through the mud in an apparent bid for publicity.

In a sensationally titled “Fort Bragg wont let us feed homeless vets at the atheist festival,” Justin Griffith says Fort Bragg denied their plan to do a canned food collection.  Griffith summarized [emphasis original]:

The ‘pro-starvation’ camp has prevailed…

At issue is Joint Ethics Regulation 3-211, which says the DoD can let non-Federal entities (ie, Rock Beyond Belief) use DoD facilities (ie, Fort Bragg’s resources) except for fundraising events.  Apparently, Fort Bragg determined canned food collection was fundraising.

Whether collecting canned food for a charitable cause constitutes non-Federal fundraising is a legitimate question.  Rather than take direct issue with that, however, Griffith took a different tack:  He said the Christians got to raise money on base, so atheists should, too.

When were Christians illegally raising money?  When they had the gall to pass the plate in the chapel.

They were permitted to raise funds (in the form of cash!) for months on post. They raised $54,000 in tithing at every chapel on post – there are several. That is a colossal fundraising effort, repeatedly violating the regulation – at multiple locations on post…
It represents institutionalized violations of the ethics code that they claim applies to their own event. [emphasis original]

Griffith fails to indicate when, if ever, a specific chapel did a planned collection solely for Rock the Fort.  More importantly, he also fails to note military chapels do not fall under JER 3-211, meaning his entire argument, including his sensational and incorrect accusation that Christians broke the law, fails.  He also fails to note tithing in church is a recognized religious act protected by the US military chaplaincy’s support for the free exercise clause of the US Constitution.

Then again, some atheists have an issue with that whole Constitution thing.

Griffith summarized:

This is what discrimination looks like

Right.  The US Army is starving homeless vets and persecuting those whose sole fault is a lack of belief in God.  It’s good theater but lacks a certain thing called…truth.

It is most likely this is just another desperate grasp for publicity.  Griffith has previously pled for people to come to his festival out of concern that low attendance will doom future atheist endeavors.  (He’s particularly begged for civilians, likely because atheists in the military who may actually attend only number in the hundreds.)  Thus, getting public attention, even by making erroneous accusations against the very Army base that is hosting him, may serve his needs.  (In fact, the more ludicrous the accusation, the more likely it will gain attention on the fact-averse internet.)

In the same post in which he accuses Fort Bragg of starving vets, Griffith says

I have a massive amount of respect for the commanders at Fort Bragg…

That statement is in stark contrast to the rest of his rant; both cannot be entirely true.  If Griffith really does respect his commanders, it is unlikely he would honestly claim they’re trying to starve veterans.  So he’s either demagoguing a fake issue for publicity, or his statement about respect is an attempt at blunting criticism should Fort Bragg take issue with his public statement criticizing the Army.  Neither of those possibilities places Rock Beyond Belief in a positive light — and both put the Army in a negative light.  Those reading his site certainly understood his points, leaving comments saying:

the military leadership’s treatment of non-believers has been appalling – from the original Rock the Fort events, to the cancellation last year of Rock Beyond Belief to this no-donations-for-homeless-vets nonsense to the refusal to allow atheist groups to meet on bases.

Nothing in that reply is true — but it is precisely the meme atheists have been promoting.  It seems they not only have to denigrate religion, they also have to denigrate the US Army to achieve their objectives.

The US Army and the leadership at Fort Bragg have gone above and beyond in trying to meet the demands of Griffith and his supporting atheists.  Griffith’s few positive replies to the Army have almost always contained backhanded insults.  He has never defended the Army from those who have criticized it, nor has he apologized for his own performers — like Michael Weinstein — who have used vile language in personal attacks against Fort Bragg and its leadership.

Not unlike a child who spends too much time with the wrong relatives, Griffith seems to have picked up some of the less desirable character traits of his new mentors.  Michael Weinstein seems to live by the mantra that when all else fails, call people names.  Chris Rodda seems to prefer making wild, unsupported accusations of conspiracy.  Griffith seems to have spent too much time hanging out with the MRFF.

By Griffith’s own admission a US Army Major General has said

SGT Griffith’s public activities have called into question his level of maturity and judgment.

Griffith’s ludicrous — and erroneous — rants against the US Army and The ChristiansTM don’t do much to help his cause.


  • Didn’t you leave something out of your little rant here, JD? That the exact same regulation that prohibits non-federal entities from fundraising at DoD facilities also prohibits non-federal entities from having membership drives at DoD facilities, yet all of the non-federal entities present at Rock the Fort (i.e., all of the local churches) were allowed to use the event as a membership drive for churches and organizations, in direct violation of Joint Ethics Regulation 3-211.

    FUND-raising means raising FUNDS! Cans of food are not FUNDS! But Fort Bragg is using this regulation, the EXACT SAME regulation that they allowed Rock the Fort to violate by using their event as a membership drive, to prevent Rock Beyond Belief from collecting food for homeless veterans! You REALLY don’t see this as discriminatory (not to mention asinine)?

  • @Chris Rodda
    No public evidence supports your claim the Billy Graham Evangelical Association or any local church conducted any kind of membership drive while at Rock the Fort. But that’s not what you mean by “membership,” is it? You’re taking the same tack as the ACLU several years ago, and claiming the presentation of an opportunity to become a Christian is tantamount to an offer of “membership” in a non-Federal entity in violation of the JER.

    That claim was dismissed then, and it is “asinine” still.

    Contrary to your twisted insinuation, no military regulation or federal policy restricts such a religious choice as you describe. On the other hand, there are significant protections for those who do choose to exercise that religious freedom.

    You’d think your “religious freedom” group would support such a religious freedom, rather than try to restrict it. But then, we know those little words in the Constitution mean little to you.

    FUND-raising means raising FUNDS!

    Your capitalization notwithstanding, you’re expressing your opinion, nothing more. The official definition of fundraising is actually more broad than “FUNDS!” Try looking it up. At any rate, it is a legitimate question if a canned food drive violates that regulation. That’s the question that should have been addressed, rather than attacking local Christians for tithing. That was classy.

  • JD wrote: “No public evidence supports your claim the Billy Graham Evangelical Association or any local church conducted any kind of membership drive while at Rock the Fort. But that’s not what you mean by “membership,” is it?”

    Oh yes that most certainly is what I mean by membership. And there absolutely is public evidence of this. The “self-founded” Billy Graham Evangelistic Association handed out sheets for soldiers to sign up seven friends to come to the event, and at the event a were a bunch of local churches who were there to get soldiers to become members of their churches. This recruiting of church members was among the stated reasons for churches participating in the event in the materials that the event’s organizers set to the local churches. That’s far closer to a “membership drive” than collecting food is to “fundraising.”

  • @Chris Rodda

    handed out sheets for soldiers to sign up seven friends to come to the event

    Nothing says people are prohibited from inviting others to the event, just as Griffith is free to invite people to his event.

    at the event a were a bunch of local churches who were there to get soldiers to become members of their churches.

    Their presence isn’t evidence they conducted an illegal membership drive. Also, atheist and activist organizations will have booths advocating for their groups as well. Whether such presence or advocacy may ultimately result in increased membership is irrelevant, as it appears both “festivals” have external, membership-based organizations represented. In other words, they’re being treated equally, according to your definitions.

    You have a slight “evidence” fail. On all counts.

    However, your pupil is using the argument you said you weren’t:

    The Christian event that spawned ours was allowed to fundraise on post at a dozen locations every Sunday for several months…Our secular vendors aren’t allowed to gain new members, but the entire point of the evangelical event was to convert as many non-Christian soldiers, spouses, and children as possible…

    As noted above, the complaint against tithing fails on its face. In addition, since religious belief is not a non-Federal entity, his other argument fails.

    Since both Rock the Fort and Rock Beyond Belief can invite people to attend and have organizations (that have “memberships”) represented, your argument fails as well.

    You’ve rarely shown an aptitude for articulating a defense of your position, but that effort was particularly weak.

  • Hey, JD … Justin’s post that you are attempting to rebut here has gotten well over 105,000 hits so far today, plus whatever it got yesterday. How many people have read your lame rebuttal? LOL

  • @Chris Rodda
    You apparently miss the irony that your comment validates the conclusions in the column above. To borrow a phrase, “LOL.”

  • I think you’re going to have to explain your definition of irony to me, JD.

  • If we’re going to base arguments on popularity, what does the low attendance at RBB imply?

  • Hi Nate, I think the low attendance is easily explained. First of all there are fewer Atheists than Christians. Secondly large numbers of Atheists, based on the dire discrimination they must endure from Christians are really hesitant to declare themselves publicly. It’s a little like Gay people standing up and declaring themselves at a Focus on the Family meeting.

    Based on the disdain which Atheists must suffer and the often violent reaction they get, it takes someone willing to be ostracized just to be part of such an event. It’s just not worth it to many to be exposed to the Christian thuggery that often occurs against minority religions, Gays and Atheists.

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