PBS coverage of Rock Beyond Belief

Check it out!

Rachel Medley’s soundbites were triumphant and prescient – despite some setbacks RBB faced at getting the Golden Knights to agree to jump. I’m comfortable with my own comments, as well. I’ve been the victim of unethical editing before, and I’m glad to say this is not one of those times.

My favorite part of the report comes from Richard Dawkins’ speech.

Indeed. To all of the people who thought our festival was offensive, please redirect your anger to the people who are inviting us to put these things on. Familiarize yourself with limited public forum, and realize just how deep the problem really is.

Atheist chaplains? Maybe, but so what.

To be honest, I’m a bit sad to see that so much focus went over to the “atheist chaplains” issue. I think there should be at most one atheist chaplain. All we really need is access to the chapels and other chaplaincy resources, like the Wiccans enjoy (despite there being ZERO Wiccan Chaplains.)

This can be accomplished by the extant lay leader program. I was the first to attempt this, but I was shot down in a very ugly manner. I described it in great detail at the end of this post - in the section called ‘This is what discrimination looks like’. There are others now trying, but few of us in the movement remain optimistic for this approach. The chaplaincy appears to have lawyered up and it’s probably time we follow suit. Pursuing a formal full-on atheist chaplain seems to be asking for another year or two of failures and set backs - at best.

The issues that Jason Torpy raised are important. We’re on the same page, so I’m not trivializing the issue. It’s just that it served as a distraction to coverage of the real world change that happened that day. I’m probably just too close to this thing. I just wish it emphasized the ban on atheist groups – and the event’s status as a breakthrough we can rally around and point to as a tangible victory. The first big victory for the New Foxhole Atheists, perhaps?

How to support the troops without really trying

Please do also check out the actual Religion and Ethics website and leave them some comments. If the media thinks the public cares about an issue, they’ll cover it more. And vice versa. It’s bad here in the military, but it’s getting better. Coverage like this makes it possible.

About Justin Griffith
  • Cuttlefish

    Looks like they label Col. Sicinsky as representing the MAAFT; I suspect he won’t be happy with that.

  • annie

    That was the best report on atheists I have ever seen! Well done to all of you. Here’s what I wrote to PBS:

    I just finished watching the segment “Godless Chaplains” on Religion and Ethics. This nine minute video focused on Fort Bragg’s Rock Beyond Belief Festival, a celebration for atheist military families that was the brainchild of Justin Griffith. As an atheist, I seek out articles and programs about secular Americans, and am usually left feeling misrepresented and even discouraged by the lack of fair, unbiased reporting. Your show, however, was informative, enjoyable, and represented atheists exactly as they should be: a diverse group of individuals who are very similar to other Americans with the exception of our lack of faith in the supernatural. I have been a life-long viewer of PBS, so I wasn’t surprised by the thoughtful reporting, but wanted to take a moment to thank you nonetheless.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kimberlymichele944 kimberlydutton

    Now if Rock Beyond Belief could go on Tour from post to post across country for more Foxhole Atheists and their families to enjoy …

  • Justin Griffith

    Yeah, they misspelled ‘Sergeant’ too.

    If anything, Col. Sicinski was speaking on behalf of American Atheists ;) But Jason Torpy and I are definitely allies. We even discussed some stuff on my facepalm wall a few hours ago.

  • trog69

    That was a much better representation of the issue than most mass-media would give. I’m still waiting for PBS to follow through on their reporting policy adjustment, whereby they said they’d stop with the “He said, She said” pablum and start giving more details so that people would be better informed on the nuances involved. I guess it was the many “according to atheists…” paragraph beginnings, when there is info out there to back up what was asserted by Sgt. Griffith and others.

    And yeah, Dawkins rocked. That “militant” beauty!

  • http://www.facebook.com/natalieerrante natalieerrante

    Having been clergy and being a person who works in psychiatry wish there was a way to utilize both to be a sort of atheist chaplain for the military. Wouldn’t even know how to begin. Course I think one of those interviewed said it just needed a “religious” organization sponsor. Wonder if an atheist organization sponsorship would work? Hmmmmmmm

    Might have to work on that. But it is too bad that seeing a therapist, psychologist, Psy NP, psychiatrist, etc automatically means mental illness and can’t just mean the same thing as seeing a chaplain. Sometimes it really is just some counseling for a situation and not mental illness. I’d even say most of the time outside of the military it is just counseling and not mental illness.

    Great report. Still hate I ended up having to miss it. Hope I get another chance. :)

  • Timberwoof

    I think NAE Vice President Galen Carey invented a new informal fallacy of logic in his interview: argument from appeal to popular ignorance.

    Justin, what you said about the Spiritual Fitness test reminded me of discussions I read about the Scientology “Intellience Test”. Some people took the test and deliberately gamed it. One person gave random answers by always using the Nth letter in the question to determine which answer to choose. Another always chose A, B, C, D, A, … . Another had read Dianetics ans answered each question by thinking about how L. Ron Hubbard would answer (he scored perfectly). And someone always picked the answer LRH was least likely to choose. The people scoring the test never caught on to what was going on, for it contained no analysis for any of these sorts of gaming.

    So two things came to mind. First, to investigate the “Spiritual Fitness” test to see what it actually measures. Does it measure Christianity? Willingness to suspend rational thought? Anything at all?

    Second, what would be the moral and professional implications to you, Justin, of gaming the test by answering each question after thinking WWJD? The “test” seems to require you to confess a specific religious belief, which seems to me unconstitutional. Are you under oath when you take this “test”? Does it require you to lie to get ahead? That’s a shitty situation to be in.


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