With funding from several freethought organizations, Rock Beyond Belief was rescheduled. And while dissenting opinions about religion will likely be expressed, Griffith and base officials have agreed the content will be "family friendly."
Still, the concert has its critics. The Associated Gospel Churches, an organization of independent evangelical churches that endorses chaplains for the military, has asked the Department of Defense to step in.
"What we want to see is the Secretary of Defense say enough of this nonsense and shut this thing off," said Chaplain James Poe, president of AGC. "It is not in any way constructive to military discipline. It reeks with rebellion. The Army has had for years a sense of core values and this tears down those values. It is an assault on the things Army people hold most dear and it needs to stop."
But Col. Stephen Sicinski, Fort Bragg's garrison commander, has signed off on the concert and issued a statement, reading in part, "Fort Bragg will not discriminate against speech on the basis of its viewpoint."
No taxpayer money is supporting this event, a base spokesperson said, nor did any public money go toward Rock the Fort — a claim Griffith and others dispute. The base will provide security, setup, tear-down and cleanup for Rock Beyond Belief, as it did for Rock the Fort.
Griffith would like to stage similar events at other bases, especially those where Christian-themed events have been held with support from military brass. Meanwhile, he hopes Rock the Fort gives unbelievers in the military the courage to come forward and seek tolerance and acceptance.
"At the end of the day we are asking the same questions as the Jews, the Muslims and the Christians," Griffith said. "We just have a different answer."
I met him at an American Atheist meetup; really good speaker and great to have met him.
Perhaps this is the start of a good thing. I'm retired military myself, and an active member of the MAAF.
I'm looking forward to it.