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.
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