Side by side comparison of the inequalities in the culture clash at Fort Bragg
Today I saw too much disinformation about the situation on the ground here. The articles clearly needed to be written, because people are starting to swallow some major shall we say… ‘unfounded assumptions’.
The Great Rock the Fort Swindle is a living document chronicling the disparity between the support offered to Rock the Fort’s evangelical Christian membership drive [overwhelming] and Rock Beyond Belief. More than thirty posts in the series have already been drafted, and will be added to this page as they hit the front page over the next few weeks.
What happened here is important, and the public deserves to know. We are hoping that the promised equal level of support will be upheld in the end. Everyone can follow along in the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) documents dug up by FFRF. I’ve embedded and emphasized relevant snippets from those documents, for those who don’t want to flip back and forth.
Rock the Fort, how does our treatment differ? Let me count the ways.
The expert media analysis “10,000 people will show”
Claim: Fort Bragg has an expert media analysis that determined the turnout for Rock the Fort and Rock Beyond Belief accurately.
Rock the Fort: Pre-event expert media analysis put the projected attendance at 10,000!!!
Rock Beyond Belief: The very idea that an event needs a target audience in order to get funding for their promise of equal treatment for all other groups goes against said promise. There is no level and open playing field at all if we are going by that standard. This would unfairly set up an overwhelming advantage for a single religion, counter to the promise for an equal level of support [a promise made to an atheist organization to explain why the then-upcoming evangelical Christian event wasn't going to be canceled]
Where is this language coming from? Well, it’s directly from JE 3-211, which is directly quoted in the FOIA documents. It can be found near the end in the section marked “Policies that apply to this event”
3-211. Logistical Support of Non-Federal Entity Events
a. The head of a DoD Component command or organization may provide DoD employees in their official capacities to express DoD policies as speakers, panel members or otherparticipants, or, on a limited basis, the use of DoD facilities and equipment (and the services of DoD employees necessary to make proper use of the equipment), as logistical support of an event sponsored by a non-Federal entity, except for fundraising and membership drive events, when the head of the DoD command or organization determines all of the following:
(5)The DoD Component command or organization is able and willing to provide the same support to comparable events that meet the criteria of this subsection and are sponsored by other similarnon-Federal entities;
Clearly, a ‘numbers game’ is not appropriate at all. I shouldn’t even write about a ‘numbers game.’
The Numbers Game.
For instance, Fort Bragg’s religious demographics are as follows [*as of Oct 2010]
Christian: 30-40,000 [including about 10,000 Catholic]
A Druid Fellowship: 1
The Lamb Lays Down With The Lions
Now take a look at those groups above, do you know what the very next biggest piece of the pie after Christianity is? In the military, we have a category called “No Religious Preference“, and on Bragg the Group stands at 9,472 or 18%. Yes, it’s true that some of those people are unhappy with any label, but it’s easy to see that the non-religious demographic we are going for is largely represented here. My own dog-tags used to say NO-REL-PREF until I got them fixed.
After the “none’s”, the next biggest piece is Atheists at 212, barely nudging out Buddhism. So any way you look at it, we out rank all of the major world religions. Why can’t we get a fair shake?
And how are these groups supposed to get a fair shake when all of a sudden Fort Bragg places an arbitrary “5,000+ expected audience members” pre-requisite? [yes, you get a gold star for noticing that the evangelical Christian membership drive still didn't receive this even with their most optimistic counts.]
I think that a really heavily promoted Jewish event would still have a tough time getting nearly as many bodies as the Christians would. Now what about the poor ‘A Druid Fellowship’ guy, all buy his lonesome? He can’t even fellowship!
The Numbers Game. Again.
January 2011: Richard Dawkins on the lineup gives us the confidence to re-approach the Fort Bragg staff with an event that would draw thousands. The directorate for Morale Welfare and Recreation (the governing body responsible for putting on most special events at Fort Bragg.) agreed with our assessment, and signed off.
March 2011: I’m sitting in a face to face meeting pleading with COL Sicinski to reconsider his crippling restrictions. Specifically relevant is the dismissive gesture of changing the venue to a tiny theater the size of a grade school gymnasium. He tells me that his staff’s expert media analysis estimates the Richard Dawkins crowd to be a few hundred at best.
I did what any skeptic would do, I asked to see the data. They replied “Well, it doesn’t exist on paper.” So I suggested that their metrics might be flawed, and asked if I could see the digital copy. “It doesn’t exist on digits either.”
No one on our lineup has been banned by the Army before
Franklin Graham is the driving force behind the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, who co-sponsored (along with Fort Bragg) the Rock the Fort event. He has previously been banned from official Army events before, and it makes me wonder why his organization was given so much support. In comparison, nobody on our lineup, or on the Rock Beyond Belief staff has been disinvited from an Army event before.
Ray Garton described the situation:
He’s the messenger of Christ’s love who recently said that Islam is “a very evil and wicked religion,” and who took a nasty little stab at the Hindu faith– as well as every other faith that isn’t his own particular brand of Christianity — when he told USA Today, “No elephant with 100 arms can do anything for me. None of their 9,000 gods is going to lead me to salvation. We are fooling ourselves if we think we can have some big kumbaya service and all hold hands and it’s all going to get better in this world. It’s not going to get better.” That Franklin Graham. I share these quotes only to give you some idea of the spirit of the organization behind this rally.
Billy Graham any better? (Spoiler alert: No.)
Billy Graham was recorded in Richard Nixon’s office making some very harsh and anti-semitic remarks. Both men were obviously heavily influenced by Zionist beliefs. As a former evangelical Christian myself, I am familiar with the mindset. I used to look forward to the end time prophecies being fulfilled, specifically that the Israeli people needed to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.