Military Atheist Receives Award for Rock Beyond Belief

According to a press release, Army Sgt Justin Griffith received an “outstanding achievement award” at the Carolinas Secular Conference over the weekend for his work on Rock Beyond Belief, the Fort Bragg atheist festival that drew a few hundred people to the Army base in late March of this year:

Despite overwhelming odds, and many hurdles, Justin Griffith demonstrated that those of all faith, or none, have as true American right to a celebration among the military as any other…Ours is a country that embraces, within our constitution, diversity and freedom of religion as a core principle and Justin helped demonstrate this by bringing the large percentage of non-theists together at Fort Bragg for an outstanding festival of music, comedy and family.

The interesting part is the group gave him the award for showing that “all faith[s], or none” have an “American right to a celebration.”  That contrasts sharply with what Griffith said was the point of his Rock Beyond Belief festival:

I thought that the first festival might also end up being the last one…Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) are no longer doing their awful missionary work on military bases. The problem is the solution – we win!

Griffith has repeatedly stated his objective was to stigmatize “religious” events so those events would stop.  That hardly sounds like he was demonstrating the “true American right to a celebration” described in the award.

People of all faiths should feel free — and be free — to celebrate their beliefs.  Freedom is protected by its practice, not by its restriction.  Fortunately, contrary to some insinuations, the US military generally does an admirable job of supporting the right of all of its troops to have and express their religious beliefs — and even their areligious philosophical beliefs.