I could not ask for a more perfect bit of compare/contrast. The mainstream American media is stone-silent about Sergeant Justin Griffith of Rock Beyond Belief fame, with the obvious exception of Fox News. The only news you’ll get about this atheist-in-a-foxhole Stateside is the fact that one of the acts for Rock Beyond Belief once did a music video that included images of a church burning, in a song denouncing sectarian religious violence, and Fox News spun it all to hell and back as though it was military-sanctioned encouragement of violence against religions.
Meanwhile, across the Pond, the BBC has covered Justin and our shared fight asking if the US army can embrace atheists. Their answer is significantly more reality-based than Fox’s, of course.
Though the general public is not always receptive to atheism, the military itself offers a promise of acceptance.
Aside from recognised Christian, Jewish and Muslim groups, Fort Bragg has resources for other faiths, including Buddhists and Wiccans, a Pagan religion.
“The army really is a microcosm of the entirety of our nation,” says Benjamin Abel, a spokesman for Fort Bragg. “We serve the people, and we have an incredibly diverse population of people in the United States.”
I won’t note the irony of the spokesman’s name being Abel.
Outside of “culture wars”, people seem to be able to recognize and comprehend the plurality of the melting pot that is America. From within the borders of America, though, the only time people to acknowledge that we atheists even exist is to demonize us, and thus convince a gormless and gullible populace that we are out to destroy them. To wit:
“We felt it was entirely inappropriate for anyone to say your current religion is wrong,” Griffith told Fox News& Commentary.
So, why are you so anti-Christian? Why would you choose to burn people’s property to advance your message of aetheism? Why do you single out the Judeo-Christian God as your enemy when He is the only savior you may ever know? You are a hypocrite.
P.S. The fool has said in his heart, ”There is no God.”
Oh, snap. The Bible says that people who don’t believe in the Bible are fools. And Fox News says people who denounce sectarian religious violence are out to burn your churches. At least your sources for information aren’t, you know, getting any WORSE over time.
Our battle is not to eliminate religion, or to punish the religious. It is to establish that we exist, and that our existence is neither a threat to you nor an affront to your religious identity. That you, the theist, test your faith against us and fail to win us to your cause repeatedly is surely an ego blow, but we are every bit as human as you are — we have all the failings of humanity, all the foibles, and all the strengths; as do you. The one thing we “lack” is a belief in your specific conception of a deity. And yet, you lack belief in the deity of your neighbor, even if they claim the same religion as you.
The important bit about Justin’s story, which seems to be escaping many religious folks, is that he lacks a belief in any sort of afterlife. He does not believe his life is a mere proving grounds for an eternal reward. And yet he is willing to give his life for his country and for the religious folks who populate it.
And only a media outlet outside the country gets it.