Camp Pendleton Rejects Rock Beyond Belief 2

Camp Pendleton Rejects Rock Beyond Belief 2 January 8, 2013

Justin Griffith reports on the latest twist in the ongoing battle to bring Rock Beyond Belief 2 to Camp Pendleton, a Marine Corps base in Southern California. Despite hosting numerous Christian music festivals over the years, the camp is refusing to allow a single atheist festival.

Ian Cherry, the same Camp Pendleton official who assured us equal treatment back in May, recently informed American Atheists that RBB2 couldn’t be supported. The reasons he gave were ridiculous, and we’re considering legal action shortly. The crux of their argument is that it would be ‘too costly’, despite the fact that American Atheists was ready and willing to pay for the event. Mr. Cherry also cited one other obstacle – they don’t have the manpower. It’s odd that Camp Pendleton has the manpower only when Armor of Light events are concerned.

They are bluffing and treating us like we’re idiots, but we aren’t just going away. Here’s why: what they are saying is ILLEGAL.

Yes, it is, both under military regulations and under the constitution. Fort Bragg tried something similar in the buildup to the first Rock Beyond Belief, but they eventually backed down and allowed it after legal action was taken. I expect the same thing will happen here.

"Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to the Don! And nice white uniforms!"

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  • baal

    Sometimes you have to exercise your rights to be sure you have them. I wish RBB2 the best. I have to add that I’ll contribute as well (could we have a link?). Having the military tied specifically to religion (let alone specifically protestant evangelical) is concerning in its own right. I realize we’re not as far down that road as we were under Bush the Lesser but getting BS to RBB2 says we’re not done unwinding that association yet.

  • Saying “no” and offering a lie is a reasonable delaying tactic. It’s not going to succeed in the sense of making the problem go away, but it’s going to give some time to think, clutch at one’s temples and pull one’s hair, etc. As soon as it sinks in that having a lawsuit because of giving a religious group privileged access is a “career-limiting move” there should be a pretty rapid change.

  • Having the military tied specifically to religion

    Yes, if there’s one part of government that needs to be reality-based it’s the military. You can see very quickly what happens when the military engage in planning based on fantasy: Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan …

  • eric

    Marcus – at this point I’ll play naive optimist and hope its either a standard bureaucratic “this looks different from what I’ve seen before, so no,” or a misguided junior staff no. Maybe base senior leadership has already stepped in on the wrong side, but hopefully that is not the case, and they will step in and fix it before any court case is necessary.

  • dcsohl

    As soon as it sinks in that having a lawsuit because of giving a religious group privileged access is a “career-limiting move” there should be a pretty rapid change.

    I have read about multiple similar incidents thanks to this blog, and have yet to see an indication that anybody’s career was limited due to opposing Godleses heathens atheists.

  • TCC

    I’m not sure these moves aren’t strategic. By forcing a lawsuit (which they will have to back down from), they can claim victimization and that those awful atheists are taking over our Godly military (amirite, large-pocketed donors?). If they simply capitulate immediately without any fight, then it sends the message to their “flock” that they’re spineless and won’t stand up to the secular hordes. (Hmm, there’s an idea for a band name…)

  • rikitiki

    As a former Marine, I’m simply disgusted (though not surprised).

    I’d suggest somehow getting the word out to atheist Marines and

    former Marines and get an e-mail/letter writing campaign going

    to the commander at Pendelton – as well as to the Commandant

    of the Marine Corps.

  • As a member of the U.S. armed forces you swear to defend what?

    Oh, I know that one. It starts with a “C” or maybe a “Z,” I think. Don’t worry, I’ll think of it in a minute.

    Oh, drats, it almost came to me there for a second.

    Ummmm, I guess I’ll go with Jesus.

  • have yet to see an indication that anybody’s career was limited

    You won’t. But what’s going to happen is that some of the officers involved in this are going to get fitness reports that contain something subtly damning. “Officer so-and-so provoked legal action against Camp Pendleton by …” and that’s an officer that’ll never get promoted again.

  • Didaktylos

    @#9 – it doesn’t need to even be that explicit. Anything less than an enthusiastic recommendation for immediate promotion is usually enough.

  • Doug Little

    rikitiki @7,

    Wouldn’t work, I’ve been told ad nauseam that there are no Atheists in foxholes. /eyeroll

  • garnetstar

    Because it’s really awful to hold RBB at bases. Look what happened at Fort Bragg: after RBB, the earth opened and the entire base sank into the fiery pit of hell. So, they need to protect Camp Pendleton.

    That will probably be their legal defense.

  • @9&10:

    Now that Afghanistan is winding down (we’ve killed enough people to declare “victory” and leave the place as fucked up as we found it–and a lot better armed) the same U.S. military that was holding onto people past their service dates is cutting them loose for little or no reason. I look for the VA’s funding to be cut, starting with this congress or the next one. So, depending on whether the brasshats are Wholly Babblers a guy wants to think about how he deals with these things. Ex-chaplain Gordo tested the limits and found himself out of uniform.

  • eric

    @13: unfortunately a drawdown could work the other way, too. When lots of good people have to be let go for resource reasons having nothing to do with their performance, it may provide a perfect cover for a purge.