I just got word that the secular military event, “Rock Beyond Belief”, has been re-approved and is scheduled for March 31, 2012! As you no doubt remember because you’ve read everything I’ve ever posted (snerk!), the event was originally scheduled for April of this year, but then was forced to cancel as a series of curious roadblocks appeared courtesy of the Garrison Commander. Apparently, these roadblocks have been surmounted or removed, and the event is back on the calendar.
What is it? Well, it hasn’t changed from the info I provided in that previous link, but you’re gonna make me retype it, aren’t you? It’s a one-day, music-themed secular event taking place on the main parade grounds at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and will be featuring music by Baba Brinkman, Spoonboy, Words Such As Burn, and Roy Zimmerman – and speakers such as Dan Barker, Richard Dawkins, Margaret Downey, Jen McCreight, and Hemant Mehta. That’s not everybody, and it’s a hell of a lineup for any event, much less a free one.
But is this even necessary? Unfortunately, yes it is. It appears the US military has been chasing a peculiar concept the past several years, in that they seem to think that christianity is supposed to be instilled in our soldiers, regardless of the Constitutionality of this practice or the fact that even enlisting requires an oath to uphold said Constitution. This doesn’t make it illegal to violate, mind you – it actually makes it treason, believe it or not. This country was founded on the principles of freedom, and that includes religion – you can practice any religion, or lack thereof, that you like. Most especially, the country cannot show favoritism among any religion, nor incorporate it into the government at any level. It’s so simple a child can understand it, which explains why so many religious folk don’t get it: the government has the concern of seeing that things run effectively, not of instilling arbitrary rituals and observances. Religion is no more its concern than deciding what music we should follow, what food we should eat, and who we should date. Funny, that’s how freedom is defined – just in case anyone missed this in kindergarten. And no, it’s not up to “majority rule” – allowing people to vote on the rights they allow or deny for others is kind of stupid, is it not? We got past that last century. And I shouldn’t need to point this out, but how many “good christians” do you think would support the idea of majority religions if islam was instead the majority, or even scientism? Whoops, that idea now sucks, doesn’t it? Yeah, that was determined several hundred years ago in Europe…
But anyway, since the US military seems to keep promoting christianity through specifically evangelical events on base and some horseshit about “spiritual fitness” (how can an ephemeral concept be tested for fitness when it isn’t even defined?), it’s up to individuals who aren’t afraid to speak up for that freedom to see that alternatives are available. “Rock Beyond Belief” is not an anti-religious event, even though it would be perfectly within the guaranteed rights and freedoms to be. Instead, it simply allows non-aligned, secular, and don’t-give-a-damn soldiers, and civilians as well, to have an event without religious baggage or indoctrination. Secularism is not about attacking religion, it’s about making decisions based on reason and rationality, with the ultimate authority being us alone. Goals for morality and ethics revolve around humans themselves, rather than arbitrary scribblings, and privileges are not granted to groups of people with “special” ideas. The fact that this pretty effectively rules out religions is damning only of religions.
And there is yet another reason, another that shouldn’t even be necessary but is. Atheism and secularism are both considered rather distasteful viewpoints among far too many people (to put it mildly – they’re sometimes equated with demon-worship,) and this means that many atheists, agnostics, and humanists are constantly made to feel unwelcome and ostracized. Events like “Rock Beyond Belief” brings the secular viewpoint more into the open and establishes a support network, allowing those without faith to feel accepted as they are. Atheists do not meet every week in tax-exempt shelters, do not display their irreligious symbols on every streetcorner, do not give thanks to reason at every sporting event and company picnic. Religion is ubiquitous, and most religious folk seem to think it’s their duty to promote this. “Live and let live,” is not among the guidelines for most religions, so such domineering practices do indeed need some counter-balance.
As I said above, the event is free, and open to all. It should be a lot of fun, and who knows? – maybe some of the performers or speakers will produce some poignancy. At the least, maybe some of the myths will be dispelled. I plan to be there, so look for the bearded guy running around with the camera – I’d love to meet you face-to-face. And if you can’t attend (or even if you can,) make sure you show your support through Facebook, Twitter, and whatever other social network methods you like (this is actually a valid use of them!)
Hope to see you there!
UPDATE: I added new graphics as I received them from Sergeant Justin Griffith, the Military Director of American Atheists and the guiding force behind this event. Someone with one of those toys can tell me if this Tetris doodad actually works…