American Humanist Association President to Speak at Fort Bragg

The article below is a guest submission from NoKoolAidZone:

Central North Carolina Atheists and Humanists, a Fayetteville, North Carolina based secular organization that is a chapter of the American Humanist Association, have laid the groundwork for a speaking engagement on Fort Bragg.  David Niose, the president of American Humanist Association will be speaking in support of his current book, Non-Believer Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans.  Mr. Niose will be speaking at the Watters Family Life Center on September 22nd, at 12 PM, or to the military members who will show up 1200 hours.  This speaking engagement, while organized by CNCAH was given life with the approval of the Fort Bragg Chaplaincy since the Watters center is one of their facilities.

This Humanist event is part of Mr. Niose’s book tour, which will have him speaking in Raleigh the night before, for the Triangle Freethought Society.  Working through all of the particulars of organizing the event was Ray Bradley, CNCAH’s Treasurer and a Major in the Army.  He has been instrumental in working with the Chaplaincy in getting Humanism and Humanists acknowledged, by the Army and the military as a whole, as a group which deserves recognition by the leadership.  This first step is a positive move forward for the Humanist movement and is indicative of what can be accomplished by following the rules and processes that are in place.  My hope is that David Niose will be able to walk away from his experience on Fort Bragg with a positive impression of the local Humanist and secular population and that some myths about the Chaplaincy’s, and Fort Bragg’s, intent to ban any type of secular gathering are dispelled.

Strictly speaking, this is not the first secular event that will be held at Fort Bragg.  Rock Beyond Belief gets that distinctly notorious label.  Unlike RBB, this engagement has happened in a relatively short period of time and will be conducted at a venue that is better able to hold the number of people expected to come out and hear Mr. Niose speak; small or large, there will be an accurate way to determine the number of people who show up for this event.  Thanks to the behind the scenes efforts of Ray Bradley, a tireless advocate for the secular voice in the Army and the military as a whole, the proper procedures were determined, the process was worked, and a venue of proper size and of distinction was requested and granted.  This was done with very little fanfare and absolutely no negative aspects to it.  Ray was able to get this done even with a change of command within the Fort Bragg Chaplaincy in the midst of all the requests moving forward.  The fact that a new senior Chaplain came on board before things were approved, and gave approval for use of the Watters Center is a testament to the relationship building Ray has done through the years.  He has set a fine example for future leaders in the military, secular or religious, as to how they should proceed to have an event take place on a military installation.  Ray’s tireless efforts are an example of how a quiet professional can get things done.

Considering all the cooperation that has been received in order to make this event happen, it is a great example, in my mind, of how following the rules and using the proper approach can get all the right people to come together and make something happen.  This event has been a low-key affair because there has been no need for it to be anything else.  Mr. Niose is the president of a national organization, CNCAH is their local representation, and the Chaplaincy and Fort Bragg do have the needs of their soldiers and families in mind.  There is plenty of room at the table when it comes to the “spiritual” or emotional needs of military members and their families, this level of cooperation is indicative of the good works that can happen.  There may not be an immediate deluge of Humanist events happening at military facilities across the nation, but I think a good solid foundation of how to accomplish getting one approved has been laid.  I personally hope that any resistance to events and engagements at military facilities is not met with negative publicity and the involvement of “civilian” organizations that do not have the interests of the military in mind, but rather their own notoriety.  Professional members of the military have no need of outside entities; they learn the system, use the system and approach it like a professional.  Receiving a NO is not the end of the line, better educating themselves and finding new approaches, all while developing relationships and building upon the good.

I would like to thank JD and Christian Fighter Pilot for extending this collaborative effort.  It reaffirms that different beliefs can work together.  Just because someone is a believer or non-believer does not make them a bad person, all these collaborative efforts demonstrate the good intentions and objectives of both.

NKZ can be reached at:

34 replies to “American Humanist Association President to Speak at Fort Bragg

  1. Chris Rodda

    ROFL … Seriously? Little Geri Weaver is still so miffed at being edged out of RBB that she’s teaming up with JD? That’s freakin’ priceless. I have to write about this! :-)

  2. Geri Weaver

    I stepped down as President of CNCAH in January to concentrate on my studies, and we now live several hours away from Ft. Bragg. The two groups I represent, CNCAH and Camp Quest South Carolina, had a presence at RBB. I can’t for the life of me figure out why you are so fixated on me, Ms. Rodda, but it’s really kinda creepy.

    The new CNCAH leadership is entirely responsible for introducing Humanism to Ft. Bragg soldiers and families with an organized event; I’m extremely proud of the support and positive encouragement CNCAH continues to provide to the local Humanist community.

  3. Priscilla Parker

    @Rodda, as the co-organizer of RBB and the former president of Military Atheists & Secular Humanists, I can attest that CNCAH and Ray Bradley had a hand in assisting Rock Beyond Belief. Members from CNCAH participated as volunteers at Camp Quest and they also had a booth at the event. Mrs. Weaver was instrumental in assisting Amy Monsky in organizing the Camp Quest event at Rock Beyond Belief. Her personal absence from the event is none of your concern and doesn’t need to be justified to or by you. What was your roll in supporting Rock Beyond Belief Ms. Rodda? Concentrate on your own short comings before attempting to malign someone else in the atheist community. Your harassing approach is what should be laughed at, not Ms. Weaver. You’re jealousy is showing, better fix that!

  4. No Kool Aid Zone

    @Rodda, If all you can do is reply with inaccurate, caustic, sophomoric needling in an attempt to obfuscate what the article is really about then I will make this my last reply. I refuse to be sucked into throwing barbs back and forth in an attempt to obfuscate what has been done.

    If, however, you would like to have an honest discourse about the subject matter, I will gladly reply. The article is nothing more than an example at a couple levels of how people of differing opinions and belief systems can sit down and collaborate giving each and every side a seat at the table. It will take more cooperation like this to make the table even across the board, but things have to start somewhere. For instance, Ray was able to get the venue for this weekend simply because he did what was required, that simple. I was able to do this write up because JD asked me to, that simple. The reason he asked me to, i have to assume because I never asked him, is because I have replied in a few of his postings and have done my best to both quantify and qualify my responses, all without offending anyone, at least a reasonable person anyhow.

    Even if only one person were to show this Saturday it is still an example of how to get things done on a military base and within the military system. It is something to build on. I hear and read lot of talk in this community about equality and it always seems to be qualified with “they have this and I deserve the same for my beliefs too”. That is not equality, equality is the opportunity to get what you are asked for, all without bias or prejudice.

    This could well be one small event among many, but instead of throwing kudos to the group and/or the individual who actually organized it, you choose to throw barbs. Might very well be one of the reasons that the secular community has faced such resistance, it goes out and looks for fights where a simple request and fulfilling the requirements put forth will do.

    RBB was a poorly planned and executed event, simple as that. Am I miffed about it, no. It was pretty insignificant in my mind. What I take issue with is the backstory leading up to it. I am very well versed in it and I find it a pretty disappointing display of how alleged professionals handle themselves and how they react when their expectation management is both non-existent and unrealistic to begin with. Those that went and enjoyed themselves, I am glad they got something out of it.

    As I stated earlier, if you would like to have some honest discourse about this or any other topic, please bring it up. I welcome it, maybe it is one way that the community can begin to have the unity that it speaks about but is sorely lacking overall. If you wish to continue on as it has gone so far, save yourself the carpal tunnel because I will not rise to it.

  5. Chris Rodda

    @ Priscilla … I worked with Justin on it from day 1, when he contacted MRFF a few days after Rock the Fort and I realized from our first phone call that he had exactly the same idea that we had already been discussing at MRFF. Maybe I should post some of the emails showing how Geri tried to cause trouble, lied about things, etc. I still have all of them. I’m sure Geri remembers those – the ones from when she refused to remove the names of participants from her “alternate event” website after being asked repeatedly to do so, the ones where she took something I said in an email out of context and emailed it to someone else to make it look like I was a big meanie who was bullying her. Trust me, I will go there if I have to.

  6. Chris Rodda

    OMG … I just realized that Priscilla is the nut who was stalking Justin and kept showing up at his house after repeatedly being asked to stay away! Justin posted a video of her coming to his house in the middle of the night and waking up his baby and crap! This just keeps getting better!

    Enjoy your newfound friends there, JD. You certainly picked a bunch of winners!

  7. JD

    @Chris Rodda

    I will go there if I have to…

    Your predisposition to attack people, rather than discuss ideas, does nothing to advance your cause. “Go there” on your own time.

    The article above mentions Rock Beyond Belief in passing, but focuses on the positive aspects of the US military’s support for atheists. It seems you, as a representative of the MRFF “religious freedom” charity, have nothing to contribute to the conversation.

    How fitting.

  8. No Kool Aid Zone

    @Rodda, I ask you again, please do not try to obfuscate what the article is really about. This event has proven that if you work with the system, meet the requirements and do so in a professional manner, you will get what you request. All you seem to be capable of is commenting on things that have nothing to do with the topic at hand and do so with a complete lack of knowledge about how things transpired. It is a pretty small and angry position to take considering the AHA President is going to speak at a Fort Bragg, Chaplaincy run facility this weekend. All this was done simply by following the guidelines. It did not take, threats of law suits, bringing in outside organizations who do more to shill for themselves than to bring light to the cause with which they pretend to care so much about. It is also a sign that people on different sides of an issue can be mutually supporting of each other.

    Instead of spreading the word that the military, and the Chaplaincy in particular, has extended the hand with no negative aspects to doing so, you choose to attack those that are speaking of the positivity of it. That is a pretty undesirable tack to take for the community you say you represent the needs of.

    I respectfully request that you stop the personal attacks. The article is not about personal, it is about collaboration, equality and how to work together. Your comments thus far are the antithesis of that. Please keep the personal attacks out of it.

  9. Ray Bradley

    @ Chris – I think it’s high time to set the record straight. Rock Beyond Belief succeeded in stopping Rock the Fort events, at least for the foreseeable future. And that accomplishment is very commendable . But it was not a triumph over the military establishment by the secular community. While Justin Griffin, Todd Steifel, and Mickey Weinstein were getting excited over the prospects of legal actions against the Army, “Little” Geri Weaver simply went to the leadership on Fort Bragg and asked to hold a secular concert for Soldiers. And you know what – she received permission; not from the Chaplaincy because it would not be a religious event, but from the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation directorate. And after more than a year of what turned into an anti-military campaign targeted largely at the Army’s Chaplaincy, RBB finally got the EXACT same approval that Geri received 18 months earlier. Furthermore, Fort Bragg’s leadership demonstrated extreme restraint by not pursuing the slanderous and very public humiliation of the installation’s Chaplaincy exemplified by blogs containing bloodied bodies of children attending a Christian day camp on post. In the end, people questioned why there were so few service members in the crowd during RBB. Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, and Sailors are very loyal to their service. Most will not take part in an event perceived to tarnish the reputation of that service for which they have pledged their lives. If the secular community wishes to gain ground in the military, it must find better tactics than acidic threats from extremists. And that brings me back to you, Chris. I suspect that your response to this posting will contain nothing more than childish rants. I look forward to the day you decide to embark on a serious discussion concerning the support of secular members of our military.

  10. JD

    @Ray Bradley

    Rock Beyond Belief succeeded in stopping Rock the Fort events…And that accomplishment is very commendable .

    And that is where we will disagree. When one wants to have a concert/event/barbecue/what have you for an edifying purpose — the celebration of one’s own freedom, faith, ideology, the support of troops, etc — that is a commendable action worthy of support, whether it is a MercyMe concert or a Gary Sinise concert.

    When one wants to have such an event for the purpose of getting another’s event “stopped,” that is a deplorable action characterized by vindictive spite. That’s not “I’m taking my ball and going home.” That’s “I’m going to make sure your ball is taken…”

    Freedom benefits from its practice, not its restriction. From Thomas Jefferson:

    Truth is great, and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them…

  11. Chris Rodda

    Haha … this is too perfect! JD is disagreeing with Ray because JD’s whole reason for allowing this guest post was to say that there was NEVER a problem with getting the military to allow atheist/secular humanist events, and JD’s reason for the guest post just backfired when Ray said that RBB did accomplish stopping the Rock the Fort events. You guys made this TOO easy. Thanks, Ray.

  12. JD

    JD’s whole reason for allowing this…

    Ladies and gentlemen, @Chris Rodda, self-proclaimed mind-reader, fails again.

    By the way, it’s not possible for this article to “backfire.” Does the MRFF have a problem with the US military’s equitable support of its troops?

    The quote from @Ray Bradley above is a point of disagreement. It has nothing to do with the Niose event described in the article above.

    No one ever said we’d agree on everything, and that’s not the point. That you seem to think so is yet another demonstration of your ignorance.

  13. No Kool Aid Zone

    @JD, thank you for giving me this opportunity. I wanted to demonstrate that you can get things done if you simply do what is asked in return and you have given me the forum to do so. I have achieved the objective that I wanted to when we first spoke of this. One of the things I appreciate the most is that despite the fact that we have different beliefs, we have been able to address those who would claim that both this event and our ability to collaborate on something is somehow wrong or with ulterior motives in mind. We have demonstrated that there is room at the table, and I hope, that people from either side of the equation can see it is possible and if they have questions or concerns that they can reach out to those who demonstrate the right way to do things. If I get the chance on Saturday, I hope to bring up to Mr. Niose of the benefits of collaboration and seeking the right processes to get things done within the military as opposed to advocating seeking outside sources for resolution.

    The question you stated above is well posed. The truth of the matter is, none of the usual detractors have so far commented, either positive or negative. To me that means we were able to get our point across. I do believe the lone negative would have done so regardless of the content.

  14. Lt. Frank

    After reading all of the responses, I have to say Chris Rodda writes like she’s a teenager on facebook. If she’s truly all about religious freedom, you would think her focus would be on the event itself and not the asinine things she’s posting. Chris…seriously, you lose so much credibility when you show your obvious bias. Bottom line…good for CNCAH and everyone involved. Hope everyone has a great time!

  15. Chris Rodda

    Well, I’ll be sure to let the people at another military installation who were just denied a request to have a secularist speaker come speak to their group that this doesn’t happen if you follow procedure, even though they did also follow procedure. I’m sure they’ll be glad to know that this problem has been solved as they’re trying to find another location for their speaker to speak at. And I’ll also be sure to tell the guy who was just given a “choice” by his superiors that forced him to have to step away from an event he was planning that these things don’t happen anymore if you follow procedure, which he did to the letter. Or, I could keep fighting to make this discrimination REALLY be a thing of the past while you write your Pollyanna posts about how these problems no longer exist. I’m sure JD will be happy to keep using you.

  16. JD

    Another “smoking gun that proves my case but I can’t tell you about the details” anecdote from @Chris Rodda . Nice.

    Besides vague assertions and a complete lack of evidence, your position appears to suffer from a logical fallacy in causation. Just because someone is denied a request does not mean they are being discriminated against. If it was, it wouldn’t be a request.

    The “event he was planning” wasn’t benign, and the situation is far more complex than you’re letting on. You have repeatedly demonstrated that you are untrustworthy when it comes to telling these tales.

    Why should anyone believe you now?

  17. No Kool Aid Zone

    @ Rodda, Thank you for keeping it on topic. It has never been stated that there is not discrimination and possible abuses of authority out there, but it is not simply a matter of theist vs. non-theist views and beliefs. It goes way beyond that. This event we have been speaking of was allowed to happen simply because someone sought out the way to do it, followed procedures and gave no reason for it to be disapproved. Knowing the person as I do, no, would not have been the final word, but he would not have involved outside entities either. One of the trends I have noticed in the military when it comes to activism, over the many years I have been in, is that the activists tend to forget they volunteered in the military and no matter what they believe or their pet cause is, if their activism impacts their mission, either individual or collective, then they have failed in their obligations. That includes drawing undue and unvetted media attention to themselves. It is not simply a matter of them, it is the mission. I have been in a long time, long before many of these young activists took up the mantle to misrepresent my views, and I have to tell you, I have held my beliefs in one form or another since long before I joined, I have worked in some of the units that these folks speak of having religious agendas and not once have I ever felt the need to go beyond what is in front of my face to get my beliefs across. I handled it with tact and respect, never once penalized for my stance. I never needed anyone, in the military or out to handle my business.

    The real point is, you can be as skeptical as you want of the motives:JD’s, mine, CNCAH’s and Fort Braggs, that is your opinion, but you have missed an opportunity to latch onto a positive, one that can be ridden for all its worth. The tack you have taken so far has done nothing beneficial for the community instead you have affirmed the negative. Draw a parallel to the old adage of “give a man a fish and he eats for a night…..”, you know how it goes. Now turn it around to a person of any belief in the military, solve their problem for them and they will look for you to solve them all, teach them how to solve their problems and the generations that come after them will benefit from their leadership. You can be part of the problem, or you can help them solve them on their own, which do you think is the more charitable option.

  18. Chris Rodda

    Um … JD, a FOIA request proved that I was absolutely right in that example of the manufactured letter writing campaign in the post you just linked to.

    And as for your second example in that post, it was thoroughly explained to you that what I said in that comment on the blog you were trolling was absolutely true at the time that I said it. But you will, of course, continue to choose to spread your lies, apparently not being worried in the least about violating that pesky no lying commandment.

    As for me not being aware that MRFF had a position listed that is just a title that is never actually used, I made a mistake. I should have obsessively scrutinized MRFF’s 990 forms like you did in your effort to paint Mikey as dishonest and unethical before posting a comment on your blog. Whoops.

  19. Chris Rodda

    @ No Kool Aid Zone … there are two people whose motive I am skeptical of here, and I have good reason to be skeptical about them. One is Geri Weaver, but I am not going to get into that any further than I already have. The other is JD. Because of his obsession with Mikey Weinstein and MRFF, JD will do anything to make it appear that MRFF and all of the service members who come to MRFF for help are just making up everything they say. One of his latest kicks has been trying to prove not just that there is no discrimination against secular events, but that non-theists don’t need to have any events and activities that cater specifically to non-theists because there are plenty of events and activities in the military that just happen to be non-religious. Obviously, specifically secular events and events that just happen to be non-religious are not the same thing. If religious people want to meet others who share their beliefs they can easily do that by attending the many, many events and activities that are specifically religious. If non-theists want to meet other non-theists, however, they are not going to be able to do that just by going to events that happen to be non-religious unless all the non-theists walk around holding up a signs so they can identify each other. I think it’s great that Fort Bragg is allowing a secularist to come there and speak, but by posting here on JD’s blog that you were able to schedule this event with no problems, you are helping him argue that the very real problems that still exist on many other bases and posts don’t exist, and that the atheists, humanists, religious minorities, etc. that come to MRFF with very real problems of discrimination and worse are lying. I’m sure that this was not your intent, but it will be the result.

  20. JD

    @Chris Rodda
    To the first point, a FOIA doesn’t grant the power of time travel. Besides, you’ve already admitted your facts were wrong.

    To the second, you would have the world believe in June 2008 Weinstein had no salary and had to beg for donations for a life-saving security system — but by December he suddenly had a $250,000 paycheck from $500,000+ in contributions. Log that under “not credible.”

    Your defense of the third summarizes your issue: You assertively state as fact something you haven’t even bothered to look up, even when the subject is your own employer.

    You didn’t answer the question: If you can’t be trusted to accurately convey facts that are publicly verifiable, why should anyone trust you when you tell vague, anonymous anecdotes full of insinuations?

    No one has said that, at an individual level, atheists — like everyone else in the military — may experience challenges as they serve. But where is the proof of the institutional discrimination you seem to think is occurring?

    The information provided by NKZ provides a verifiable example of the US military supporting the requests of its troops, even if they are atheists. That doesn’t mean the world is perfect for atheists or anyone else. It’s just a positive example.

    You’ve said nothing that changes that. In fact, looking back, you’ve really said nothing substantive at all.

  21. Chris Rodda

    Huh? I never admitted anything I said about the letter writing campaign was wrong. It wasn’t wrong. I have the emails from the FOIA request to prove it.

    And, what are we leaving out again, JD? That Mikey took no salary AT ALL for the entire year 2007, and at the point in 2008 at which I made the comment on Ed’s blog, Mikey was, in fact, paying everyone else before paying himself. As usually, you are cherry picking to make it look like Mikey is personally profiting from MRFF, when the reality is that he is personally broke because of MRFF. You know this, you sickening little liar.

  22. Priscilla Parker

    Ray did an excellent job working with the chaplaincy and getting the first event for the atheist community held on the installation and he should be congratulated. I was able to work with the Command on Fort Bragg. The next event to be held on post is on November 18th and will have Dr. Andy Thomson as the speaker that month. I hope you will all spread the word and come out to hear him speak. (He is particularly interesting in having Junior High and High School age children attend and even those from the religious community come out. Makes it more interesting!)

    It saddens me that those of us in this community that can actually get things done have to waste our time dealing with people like yourself and Mr. Griffith, Ms. Rodda. You are in this for attention, not for change. Your tactics are getting you attention alright. The problem is, your immature approach is hurting the atheist/humanist community. The lies spread about how the atheist community was being prohibited from meeting on Fort Bragg in order to paint the Army in a negative light backfired. We were meeting on Fort Bragg every month starting in May 2011 and by December of that same year, we had t-shirts with MASH logo we would wear to the events. I was approached by General Helmick, who attended this particular event every month and saw me in a MASH shirt. Unbeknownst to you or Mr. Griffith, he was very excited to see our group taking an active role and supporting the Fort Bragg community. Command directed me to MWR and they also made me aware of a non-profit organization at Fort Bragg that could offer MASH a grant for providing ‘services’ to soldiers and their families because those services are not provided to them through any other agency or organization. Several things were brought to my attention that I was unaware of previously because Mr. Griffith had been flat out lying to me and everyone else about what was going on. I am embarrassed to say that I was a co-organizer for Rock Beyond Belief because it was a huge failure. I drove Richard Dawkins and his entourage around that day and even he was not to happy over being ‘misled about the event.’

    As far as the stalker comment, I have nothing to say on that until after all legal matters are over. Rest assured though Ms. Rodda, proceed with that rumor as an attempt to demean me and I will take legal action against you as well. It’s apparent Mr. Griffith picked up this sort of behavior by emulating you and/or ‘Mikey.’ I’m sure he thought when he wrote what he wrote it would prevent me from bringing to light how he uses his blog to bully and harass others but it didn’t work on me with him and it won’t on me with you either. You’re boring and trivial and no one outside the atheist community, and obviously some within it, care what you think or have to say. Go back to your blog and cater to your lackey’s and leave the real activism to those of us that don’t need constant attention in order to feel important.

  23. Priscilla Parker

    OMG what an awesome come back man, you are so cool! Can I be you? LOL, LOL, I’m a rettarddddd-da-da-da-da-da!

  24. JD

    Without digressing into a grade school “she started it,” suffice it to say this forum is not to be used merely to make personal attacks on other people. If you have nothing to add to the discussion above on the military’s treatment of atheists, one way or the other, take it somewhere else.

  25. JD

    @Chris Rodda
    You apparently don’t understand the meaning of the word “irony.”

    This exchange has been entertaining. It has demonstrated the MRFF’s complete lack of regard for actual engagement on issues of religion and atheism in the US military — if those engagements give a positive impression of the military.

    When faced with such a challenge to your narrative, rather than speaking to the point, you did what Weinstein and his MRFF so often do: You started calling people names and threatening to “out” or embarrass people who disagreed with you.

    So much for respect and a modicum of civility. Stay classy, now.

  26. Pingback: God and Country » Jason Torpy Praises, Criticizes Military’s Support for Atheists

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