Camp Pendleton rejects atheist festival
On January 14, 2013 At 10:03 am
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The rejection of the second 'Rock Beyond Belief' atheist festival by Officials at the Marine Corps base in Camp Pendleton was addressed in a press release issued by Rock Beyond Belief founder and organizer, Justin Griffith.
Griffith, who is also the Military Director for American Atheists, Inc., stated,
"We were extremely disappointed that the second ever atheist festival on a military base was recently rejected by Camp Pendleton. They continue to provide massive support to a single religious sect, the controversial Calvary Chapel and its military arm, ‘Armor of Light’ (AoL). Camp Pendleton is a large Marine Corps base near San Diego, California. The area is also home to the 1000+ churches-strong Calvary Chapel headquarters.
"The Marine Corps mailed the rejection letter to American Atheists headquarters in New Jersey. Perhaps fittingly, the letter seemed so nonsensical that it had to be rescued from the garbage.
"We are pleased to announce that we have now mitigated all of the concerns that Camp Pendleton cited in their rejection letter. We’re not going anywhere. We demand equal treatment, and we’re confident that Camp Pendleton will make the right call.
"We had similar stumbling blocks at Fort Bragg, NC. Fortunately, Fort Bragg leadership came around and gave us equal treatment. Our newest proposal is cordial yet firm where it counts."
Here is an image of the rejection letter, provided by Sgt. Griffith:
Griffith is no stranger to these types of setbacks. However, he maintains that the law is on his side and anticipates the moving ahead with Rock Beyond Belief 2. Addressing the issue in blog on the Freethought Blog Network, Griffith stated,
"Camp Pendleton’s decision to reject our proposal violates federal ethics regulations. This is certainly a huge step in the wrong direction. We’re still willing to work with officials before the San Diego area Marine Corps base is entrenched in a legal battle they can’t possibly win."
Griffith's quest to get the first 'Rock Beyond Belief' was a long and arduous one, but he and his organizers eventually prevailed using the law and sheer determination after a series of setbacks and cancellations. The first Rock Beyond Belief was held on base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and was billed as a success. Planning for the second event was a given, as Griffith has stated often that there are many more atheists within the United States military than most people are aware of, and they are not getting the equal representation they are entitled to under the law.
Sgt. Griffith is the same person who is responsible for bringing to our attention the issue of the US Army distributing a mandatory survey called an SFT, which stands for 'Soldier Fitness Tracker.' The purpose of this survey was to measure an individual soldier’s competency in four areas, Emotional, Social, Family and Spiritual. Griffith, a decorated soldier, was deemed unfit to serve because he is a non-believer. Griffith, along with the efforts of several national organizations, has effected changes here, as well.
For more information, relevant links, commentary, pictures and screenshots of various documents related to this story, please read Justin's blog at Freethought Blogs, and for updates at the Rock Beyond Belief website.