Wo! The BBC has done a huge long feature article about our man Justin Griffith and Rock Beyond Belief.
As an active-duty sergeant in the US Army, he’s leading the charge to get atheists more respect in the armed forces. In the process he is earning attention, both positive and negative, from around the world.
Mr Griffith’s most ambitious project is Rock Beyond Belief, a day-long event on the military base Fort Bragg, North Carolina, complete with children’s activities, rock concerts and a lecture by atheism’s most visible proponent, author and scientist Richard Dawkins….
Scheduled for 31 March, Rock Beyond Belief comes two years after another controversial concert at Fort Bragg, “Rock The Fort”. Sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, Rock the Fort was billed as an “evangelical event” with Christian bands, family activities, and an emphasis on spreading the gospel to the entire community.
Just what the world doesn’t need: another evangelical military. Hence the need for Justin Griffith.
Military culture is full of religious ideology and symbolism, says Griffith. For instance, he cites the traditional flag-folding ceremony, which cites faith in God in multiple instances.
“These things have been here for years. It’s tradition,” he says. “How do we go about getting them out?”
Prior to planning the concert, he registered his complaints against the army’s spiritual fitness test, a campaign that he continues. That test, implemented last year as part of a wider resiliency and suicide-prevention program, rates servicemembers on the strength of their spiritual life.
He’s also working to ensure that servicemembers can have “atheist” listed on their official military records. “It took me a year and a half to get my records changed to atheist. When I told them I was atheist, they put ‘no religious preference’,” he says. “I told them that’s unacceptable. I do have a preference, and that’s atheism.”
Similar to my view of god. It’s not just that I don’t believe in god, I also dislike god.
Through his efforts, Mr Griffith has become a figurehead within the atheist movement. His blog gets around 100,000 hits a month and he says he puts in about 40 hours a week of activism on top of his military duties. In July, he was appointed the military director of American Atheists.
“I definitely have a bigger microphone now,” he says.
BBC links to FTB! I think that might be a first.