Military Atheists Target Support for Wounded Warriors

In his zeal to attack all things Christian in the military, Justin Griffith — the Army Sergeant made famous by his organization of Rock Beyond Belief at Fort Bragg — once harassed the wives of deployed Fort Bragg soldiers.  Even when he realized he’d made an error — he’d thought he was criticizing the soldiers themselves, as if that’s better — he never publicly apologized.

Now, it seems he’s after the support provided to wounded warriors. 

Griffith recently announced a second atheist event would be held at Camp Pendleton — apparently only because the Christian hordes were invading:

It’s like Harold Camping has taken over a military base, one unit at a time…

HLMA prayer breakfast event on 5 May 2012.
1st Intel Battalion event on 13 April 2012.
Christian concert feat. headliner MercyMe on Edson Range on 26 June 2011.

We feel that no organizations (atheist included) should have festivals and events on this scale…Nobody else ever asks for massive support. It’s always the evangelicals…So they get away with murder…

To be clear, a local church outreach providing free support to troops is evangelicals getting away with murder?  Someone has a complex.

Let’s take a look at that.  How about that MercyMe concert in 2011?  The atheists would have you believe it was a secret attempt by Christians to take over the world, so naturally the DoD put out a press release about it:

Weapons and Field Training Battalion hosted a dinner and concert for the Wounded Warriors Battalion at Edson Range here…The event…was funded by the Armor of Light Baptist Church to show appreciation to the wounded warriors and lift their spirits with music.

“This [event] gives the Wounded Warriors Battalion, families of the command and recruits the opportunity to relax and reflect,” said Col. Christopher Dowling, commanding officer, WFTBn.

The military atheists are objecting to a free concert for wounded warriors, apparently for no other reason than it was Christian.  The wounded warriors seemed to like it:

“Events like this make you realize you’re not the only Christian in the Marine Corps, and gives us a chance to bond with fellow wounded warriors,” said Cpl. Logan Stovall, WWBn. patient. “This brings up morale and makes you feel good.”

If Justin Griffith had his way, wounded Marine Cpl Stovall wouldn’t be allowed to have his morale raised by a band such as MercyMe.  That’s pretty cold, even for the same military atheists who harassed the wives of troops deployed to Afghanistan not long ago.  They’re staying classy and supporting the troops…

Interestingly, Griffith and his supporters had indicated there wouldn’t be a second concert — because there was no Christian event to which to respond.  Only after a local Marine complained about the Christian church’s events at Camp Pendleton did Griffith indicate a Rock Beyond Belief 2 was in the works.  (Notably, they’re announcing and scheduling the event long before it has been approved.)

In other words, military atheists have validated the belief that atheists have no independent thought:  they freely admit they are nothing more than a response to religion.  They are merely an asterisk on Christianity.

In this case, they’ve even admitted their objective isn’t to celebrate their own beliefs — its to make Christian events so politically unpalatable no one will touch them.  They’re not fighting for their own freedom; they’re fighting against the freedoms of Christians in the military, even if they’re spouses of deployed soldiers or troops trying to recover from their combat wounds.

Rock Beyond Belief at Fort Bragg was met by a collective shrug by most of the Christian community (judging by the small attendance, it was shrugged off by most atheists as well).  While it was criticized for some of its content, no mainstream group or critic called for it to be canceled.  Perhaps the US military can look forward to the day Justin Griffith and other military atheists likewise let Christian concerts occur without manufacturing a scandalous affair and trying to ban them.

The fact that the US military hosts far more secular concerts and related events than ones by “spiritual” groups seems to escape Griffith (unless he’s going to claim Kid Rock, the Lt Dan Band, the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, and the host of other concerts and events on military facilities are all Christian).  Griffith doesn’t really think no organizations should be able to have “events of this scale,” otherwise he’d have a lot more events to take on.  He just doesn’t want religious groups to be able to provide support for the troops.

It just wouldn’t do for the military atheists to allow their fellow troops to celebrate their religious beliefs.


  • It’s incredibly glib to paint all military non-believers with the brush of this gentleman from Fort Bragg. Most of us exist without ever uttering an unkind word about Christianity, or about the religious nature of certain military events. In part, we don’t care that there’s a Christian concert, or a prayer before a ceremony. We also don’t want to draw the ire that you seem to be unleashing in this very blog post.

    Of course, if you wrote about the majority of military atheists, you’d have nothing to write about. Because they’re not out to ruin your religious celebration. In fact, you probably don’t even know most of them are atheists.

    The bottom line is, there are a small number of atheists who do most of the complaining about religion’s place in the military. Some of their points have merit, some don’t. The rest of us are right there, fighting by your side silently. I only humbly ask that you please not make spurious correlations between a single individual (or small group) and an entire swath of the population.

  • @Jeff
    Your point is valid. It was not an attempt to be glib; rather, it was imprecise wording. In most of these articles an effort has been made to specify “these” atheists, and in prior comments your observation that Griffith and his cohorts are a vocal minority was likewise noted:

    Of course, neither the MRFF nor atheist activists represent the whole of their faith movement. Most atheists in the military are content to let Christians have their Easter, Jews have their Hanukkah, and Muslims have their Ramadan. They may roll their eyes at the Easter cake in the chow line or smirk at the ashes on the forehead, but they don’t want to restrict religious freedom, despite their disagreement with others’ beliefs. Rather, they respect religious freedom — freedom they, too, celebrate with joy – not spite.

    Your statement about there being “nothing to write about” most atheists is entirely consistent with the conclusions drawn here. Most Christians, atheists, Muslims, Democrats, Republicans, etc, etc, in the US military get along just fine. Their “disagreements” can be points of learning, growth, and even fun.

    Thank you for your comment. In the future, an attempt will be made to be more precise, though it is worth mentioning that the gentlemen from Fort Bragg does claim, rightly or wrongly, to “represent” military atheists.

  • @JD, thanks for your clarification, I was about to respond in much the same way Jeff did. One of the issues I have had and have been vocal about in the area is the mis-representation of the mentioned group and its “leadership” as representative of all non-believers in both the military and the area. I am honestly baffled at how he/they have been able to speak out at many times the way that they have and there has been no recourse against them, despite blatant violations of regulation.

    In the many years more that I have served in the Army, all of them at the same installation as this person and his group, I have never been in a position where my beliefs have made me feel uncomfortable or felt forced to endure anything that was against my personal code. Just for clarification, I have been in the Army close to four times longer than the group leader and at least that long more than the majority of his “flock”.

    I have been to many memorial services for fallen comrades, numerous retirement ceremonies and so many public events in my career that have had some religious opening and closing, but they have always been non-denominationa,l or, at least reflective of the belief structure of the person being memorialized, and I choose to do what I will when they are being conducted, but I do so respectfully. After all, we are a team. I need to know the guys I go out the door with have my back and respect me in the same way they need to feel it towards me. It is an extremely small concession to respect the beliefs of my friends in order for both them and me to feel comfortable walking into the unknown.

    My suspicion is that if were not for the religious aspect of this groups events, those within who tend to lean towards the unprofessional at times, would be lashing out in the same way at any other topic in which they would feel they are unjustly persecuted. I have nothing against non-believers in the military gathering together under common interest, provided they do not try and speak for me as one voice. A true professional and a leader in the military does not need a group to advocate for him or her, they have the skills with which to do so themselves and more often then not have much more experience than those who open their mouths as advocates for the group as a whole.

    I know several people in the Fort Bragg group and not all of them approve of the way it has been represented. My hope is that those who are in the group who have a different/better vision of how it should move forward will replace those who are obviously not capable of making decisions and providing vision without the inflammatory guidance of people who have not been part of the military for several years. In my opinion there is about a five year time from the departure of your military career to a point where your ability to consult effectively has passed its “sell by” date. This seems to me to be the case of a lot of “advisers” and “consultants” as to how this group should handle perceived slights against their lack of belief.

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