The first Atheist event in a military context ever.
Rain poured from the sky as I ran from a Wallmart to my rental car, my new raincoat in hand in preparation for Rock Beyond Belief. When I arrived on post, Justin Griffith, Richard Dawkins, and a full bird colonel were engaged in a press conference while volunteers prepared the stage and did all that was humanly possible to keep the electronics from being soaked from the rain.
When the internet heard about the rain, I sadly was not IN B4 GOD HATES ATHEISTS. But, the rain didn’t last, although it did (presumably) impact attendance. RBB ended up kicking off about an hour and a half late yet as soon as the event started, the sky cleared and blissful sunshine rained down upon us.
IN B4 god loves atheists.
The whole line up was amazing. From the music side of the house, Aiden was predictably awesome and even drew some of their local fans. I ended up being most surprised by Spoonboy. This kid rocks. Plain and simple. His songs speak to the cultural context of America’s youth in a way I had not heard before, the force is strong in this one. He was also the only act that made the brass do a double take when he played a song that spoke to gender identity (and they were worried about Aiden).
The speakers were diverse and topic ranged from philanthropy in the atheistic community, to military equality, to Dawkins’ speech against the common reasons for belief in god. It was a family friendly event and kids ran through the crowd with painted faces and enjoyed many child-centric activities. The Golden Knights were in show as well, but as a dirty leg I can’t give them too much credit other than their excellent professionalism and skill.
The most pleasant surprise was talking to many of the enlisted Soldiers who worked the event. Duties such as these come down from time to time for Soldiers in a haphazard way. Many of them enjoyed the event, rocked out to the bands, and came out to the after party before telling me that they were, in fact, atheists themselves. We are making progress in ensuring that military atheists are entitled to all equal privileges.
But there is still work to do. I did inquire about how much this event was promoted on base and the results were less than thrilling. Many Soldiers in attendance had no prior knowledge of the event and one individual told me that he had check the MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) website for the base and RBB was not listed in the event schedule for that day…
Overall, it was an amazing experience and I want to thank Justin and everyone who worked so hard to make this happen. Your hard work is appreciated.