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Army agrees to host N.C. concert for atheists
Kimberly Winston, Religion News Service
August 08, 2011
2 MIN READ TIME

Army agrees to host N.C. concert for atheists

Army agrees to host N.C. concert for atheists
Kimberly Winston, Religion News Service
August 08, 2011

A group of military atheists have won the backing of U.S.

Army officials to hold a “Rock Beyond Belief” concert for nonbelievers at North

Carolina’s Fort

Bragg next year.

The victory came after several church-state separation watchdog groups

complained last month to the Secretary of the

Army that a Christian-themed concert held at the fort last September gave “selective

benefits” to religious groups.

That concert, staged by the Billy Graham

Evangelistic Association, received more than $50,000 in financial support from

the base, according to records obtained by local atheists through the Freedom

of Information Act. The nonreligious concert

will receive the same funds and will be held at a similar venue at the base.

Military atheists are hailing the decisions as a major victory, and say they

are on the “cusp of a major breakthrough.”

“This just might be the turning point in the foxhole atheist community’s

struggle for acceptance, tolerance and respect,” Sgt. Justin Griffith, a member

of Military Atheists and Secular Humanists (MASH), a Fort Bragg-based group

that complained about the Christian concert, wrote Aug. 2 on the “Rock Beyond

Belief” website.

“Rock Beyond Belief” was originally slated to be held last April after Fort

Bragg officials agreed to MASH’s

original appeal for an alternative concert. But it was canceled in April when

the garrison commander refused to sign off on it.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for the Separation of

Church and State and several atheist groups complained to Army officials.

The “Rock Beyond Belief” concert will be held March 31, 2012, and will be free to all members of the

military, their families and the public. It is slated to feature musical groups

and speakers, including Richard Dawkins, a best-selling author and prominent

atheist.