When I first contacted Justin about Rock Beyond Belief 2 my primary motivation was to meet other foxhole atheists. I can honestly say there are more of us out there than the numbers truly reveal! Most of us are just content to live and let live. Perhaps, in that, I am the exception to the rule.
I’ve always been the type of guy to challenge the status quo when I knew it was wrong, to stand up for the little guy, and to push back when I saw a bully on the rampage. I never thought I would use those skills on anything of this magnitude, however.
Justin was hesitant about doing another event (but eventually relented). His reasoning for this was and is sound. The goal, intent, and aim of Rock Beyond Belief wasn’t about forcing them to cower to our demands for a concert, but rather to ensure that they upheld the Constitutional mandate of not promoting one religion over all others. That has been accomplished!
tHIS IS NOT A wIN?
I know what some of you must be thinking; “We lost…”—————————>
The fundamentalists at Camp Pendleton may not realize it yet but we’ve actually secured a legally binding promise to never throw any more sectarian concerts of this magnitude again!
The Marine Corps Community Services final letter to us indicated that no more religious concerts of that size would be conducted aboard MCB Camp Pendleton! Here is where we must stay the course.
We have secured this in writing, however we all know that sometimes these evangelical fundamentalists “forget” what promises they have made; ya know…like swearing an oath to our godless Constitution outranks any promises made to god!
We must be vigilant to ensure they keep this promise. If ever they fail to uphold their end of the bargain then we will hold them accountable. From what I’ve seen of the track record of the evangelicals….we’ve got a pretty good shot at putting on a show or winning a court battle.
What about all the other Christian events…?
When I conducted the research into the heavy indoctrination by Calvary Chapel and the Marine Corps base I found tons of events. We submitted the FOIA request and our initial request for RBB2. The concert was denied and we received a poor response for our FOIA. We did garner enough information to ascertain the size, location, and official support those events received. With that in hand we moved forward to put together a second request for an event.
Months went by again before we received a second response. If you’ll notice it clearly states “It is worth noting that using government assets to support official command programs is different than using government assets to support non-federal entities.” This opens the door for all local secular groups to sponsor and support individual commands.
(The referenced DOD R 5500.7-R is the same regulation we cited for reasons that the event must go on.)
[warning]Between myself and Justin, neither of us have had the time to respond or react to this. I am still deployed and currently banned from involvement in the event while Justin is moving across the country and transitioning into his recruiting position.[/warning]
WHAT ABOUT ALL THE FOXHOLE ATHEISTS?!?
Let’s not forget who this is for. It’s for these people:
- Former Marines
- Active Marines
- Intimidated Officers
- Active Sailors
- Military Children
- Military Spouses
These are just but a few of the public examples people have displayed on this blog. I have received emails, phone calls, and letters from active duty, reservists, and veterans expressing their thanks and interest. The ultimate goal of all this isn’t just a one-time concert. It’s a lasting community.
The Marine Corps has promised to NEVER have big events that are religious in nature. I’m fine with that. But it doesn’t meet the needs of the non-believing service members. Before I began in activism it was pretty lonely not being able to meet with people of the same mindset. It’s hard not having the ability to speak up to try and find people that are skeptical and open-minded. And quite honestly, most of us don’t want to speak up. We just want to be able to live and let live. We want to not be pushed into accepting religion nor be ridiculed for not agreeing.
I’m more than willing to accept criticism and ridicule from anyone and everyone on behalf of those non-believing service members, their spouses, and their families. I’ll speak up and take the heat because I know that the quiet ones are still searching for that community. The fact is most service members and their family members aren’t even aware that a secular community exists right around the corner from where they live! So this is where I need you to come in and help…
I need local support!
Since the presence of Calvary Chapel isn’t going to go away onboard Camp Pendleton anytime soon we will have to ensure they aren’t providing
ONLY Christian services services of a sectarian nature. When these events are held (especially family days) they are, more often than not, mandatory. I know because I’ve had to attend my fair share. As long as there is not an attempt at indoctrination at these events I am okay with them. In fact I support them! The Marines on Pendleton work extremely hard all year round and it is nice to know that the local community cares. When the line between support for service and religious indoctrination is crossed, however, that is where I will speak up.
The San Diego Coalition of Reason has been supportive of my efforts to put on RBB2 since day 1. They have also been trying to find a way to get on base to offer a sense of community to the non-believers for YEARS! They have been working with the Chaplaincy aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar for quite some time and are now making headway. Now that we have garnered the attention of MCCS, Camp Pendleton, HQ Marine Corps, and Miramar it is time for us to show our support for the troops!
By coordinating together with all the different freethought groups in the Southern California area we can pool our resources and offer the same level of support for the Marines and Sailors on the West Coast. These organizations have been trying to accomplish this for years and now, with our second response from MCB Camp Pendleton, they will be able to meet those needs.
IN THE FUTURE…
I’ve had many people approach me about doing an event of this magnitude regardless of whether or not we gain the support of MCCS and the Marine Corps. I’ve adamantly and continually said “no.” This was an effort to demand equal treatment under the law. It does not mean, however, that I am opposed to having a similar event in the future.
You haven’t heard the last from me about such an event taking place! So until that time let’s help those Marines and Sailors aboard Pendleton know that they are supported. I can’t wait to get back from this deployment and hope all is well back stateside!
If you’re in a local unit; be it spouse, family member, or active duty and want to have us sponsor YOUR unit or command email me firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be working in coordination with the local freethought agencies.
To keep you occupied in the meantime here’s a delightful picture of me drinking coffee with Clint Eastwood and the President