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Groups seek atheist concert at Fort Bragg
Jack Jenkins, Religion News Service
July 11, 2011
2 MIN READ TIME

Groups seek atheist concert at Fort Bragg

Groups seek atheist concert at Fort Bragg
Jack Jenkins, Religion News Service
July 11, 2011

WASHINGTON — Three

church-state activist groups criticized the Army for allowing an evangelical

concert at North Carolina’s Fort

Bragg but not making similar

provisions for a “Rock Beyond Belief” concert for nonbelievers.

The three groups — Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the

American Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union of North

Carolina — on July 5 complained to the Secretary

of the Army about events that appear to give “selective benefits” to religious

groups.

Fort Bragg hosted a Christian-themed “Rock the Fort” concert last September

that was sponsored by the Billy Graham

Evangelistic Association, and was touted as “evangelistic in nature,” according

to the three groups.

The groups alleged that Fort Bragg

chaplains promoted the event, which received “$50,000 in financial support, and

$30,000 in logistical and security support” from the Army. Such actions “cannot

be squared with (Army) regulations, much less with the First Amendment,” the

groups said.

The letter also complained that a recent attempt to hold an atheist-themed “Rock

Beyond Belief” event at Fort Bragg

was not granted the same venue or the same level of financial support.

Additionally, performers — who included atheist leaders such as Richard Dawkins

— were also asked to provide “statements of intent.” The event was ultimately

canceled after being “crippled … with last-minute restrictions” according to

the concert website.

A news release from Americans United urged the Army to “refrain from supporting

any event that promotes religion,” and to support the atheist event “to the

extent that this can be done consistently with the Constitution.”

An Army spokesman said he would look into the groups’ letter but could not

comment further.