As I wrote in my last post, Air Force Major Jonathan C. Dowty, the obsessive Christian zealot who for over a year has made it his mission to cause trouble for the upcoming Rock Beyond Belief festival at Fort Bragg, has focused on a song by Aiden, one of the bands in the Rock Beyond Belief lineup, misrepresenting the song’s lyrics to claim that they advocate burning down churches. But this hasn’t been Major Dowty’s only line of attack. He has also repeatedly expressed his “concern” that the speakers at Rock Beyond Belief won’t be capable of adhering to the rules. (And I’m sure that in between writing his numerous blog posts he’s praying very hard that they don’t so he can say “I told you so.”)
The rule that Major Dowty doesn’t think Rock Beyond Belief’s speakers will be able to follow is that at events like this on military bases — whether it’s a religious event like the Fundamentalist Christian Rock the Fort or a secular event like Rock Beyond Belief — the performers and speakers can’t denigrate or be critical of other religions. For a secular event, of course, it wouldn’t really be “other” religions, but any and all religion.
As I said, Major Dowty, apparently convinced that the raging atheists lack the self-control to follow this rule, has been repeatedly attempting to make his case for a whole year now.
In a post dated March 11, 2011, almost exactly a year ago, Major Dowty wrote:
“As previously noted, ‘Rock Beyond Belief’ invited Michael Weinstein and Richard Dawkins to speak, two men who make their livings being ‘critical of other religions.’ Invited musical guests also have a history of similar criticism. Does anyone really expect they could fill a stage for 8 hours with people whose lives revolve around attacking religion and meet such a stringent requirement?”
And he’s still at it a year later, writing a post a few days ago on March 7 titled “Fort Bragg Reminds Rock Beyond Belief of Appropriate Standards,” and another one today titled “Army Atheist Concert Emphasizes Controversial Song in Lineup” in which he says:
“Griffith and his fellow atheists should be free ‘to promote atheism and secular humanism.’ They simply need to ‘celebrate reason,’ rather than ‘denigrate religion’ — which, at every turn, seems to be what they really want to do.”
Major Dowty insists in the above examples and all of his other similar posts that he’s not against atheists being able to hold an event, but that it’s just a matter of Rock Beyond Belief being “held to the same standards as other events, which included not being ‘critical’ of other religions.” OK, that sounds fair. So, take a look at this video clip of a speaker at Fort Bragg’s Billy Graham Rock the Fort event. I think this is a good one to get an idea of what those “standards” are.
Did you hear that? This speaker at Rock the Fort said that what “religion says” is wrong, didn’t he? (That’s a pretty typical statement from a fundamentalist “Bible believing” Christian to “denigrate” those mainstream, “not the right kind” of Christians believe.) He then stated what he believes to be true. And this was obviously acceptable under the “rules.”
So, if the atheist speakers at Rock Beyond Belief make statements such as: “What religion says is wrong. There is no god,” then they, too, will just be saying that religion is wrong, and then stating what they believe to be true. This will be no more denigrating of religion that what the Rock the Fort speaker said, right?
The speakers at Rock Beyond Belief should have no problem playing by the same rules as those at Rock the Fort if what that speaker said was permissible. Rock the Fort already set the precedent for being able to proclaim loud and clear that WHAT RELIGION SAYS IS WRONG!