Atheist festival resubmits after Marine Corps rejection

Atheist festival resubmits after Marine Corps rejection January 10, 2013

We were extremely disappointed that the second ever atheist festival on a military base was recently rejected by Camp Pendleton. They continue to provide massive support to a single religious sect, the controversial Calvary Chapel and its military arm, ‘Armor of Light’ (AoL). Camp Pendleton is a large Marine Corps base near San Diego, California. The area is also home to the 1000+ churches-strong Calvary Chapel headquarters.

The Marine Corps mailed the rejection letter to American Atheists headquarters in New Jersey. Perhaps fittingly, the letter seemed so nonsensical that it had to be rescued from the garbage.

We are pleased to announce that we have now mitigated all of the concerns that Camp Pendleton cited in their rejection letter.

Deny Foxhole Atheists Equal Treatment - Challenge Accepted (american atheists)

The Rock Beyond Belief site will continue to be updated as the situation develops. We’re not going anywhere. We demand equal treatment, and we’re confident that Camp Pendleton will make the right call.

We had similar stumbling blocks at Fort Bragg, NC. Fortunately, Fort Bragg leadership came around and gave us equal treatment.  Our newest proposal is cordial yet firm where it counts.

Relevant excerpt:


1) Too expensive

2) Too little manpower

3) All-day rally [Unclear if this is a problem.]

4) 8000 attendees [Unclear if this is a problem.]

See attached rejection letter for reference.


1) American Atheists will pay for everything that (Armor of Light) AoL has historically paid for. All we want is the same deal. We don’t expect a ‘free concert’ using appropriated funds. Tell us where to deposit the check.

2) You already have enough manpower. Whatever manpower typically ensures your MCCS events happen should be sufficient. It’s the same as the other sectarian events you continue to host. FOIA indicates that Del Mar Beach staff, and MCCS staff handle much of this work, augmenting Pendleton asset support such as PMO, Legal for approval, and Public Affairs.

3) We are not requesting an ‘all day rally’. We are requesting a concert, not a rally. It will feature some bands and a few speakers in between. We have altered our request to closely mirror AoL’s 2009 MercyMe concert (the only one we received any information on in our first round of FOIA.)

4) MCCS was tasked to support 15,000 attendees for AoL’s recent MercyMe concert – The MercyMe concert from 2009 had the support of Camp Pendleton’s MCCS, SES, and PMO (and others) to support 15,000 attendees. Our request now more accurately reflects expectations of equality.


Camp Pendleton is obligated by regulation to be both willing and able to support all sectarian events equally, if they allow any at all. See attached regulations DoD Directive 5410 and JE 3-211 for a small sample of relevant doctrine.

See below for referenced regulations:

Shall not support or appear to support religious or sectarian organizations.

Joint Ethics 3-211 Logistical support of Non Federal Entities - basically says they must be willing AND able to support comparable events.


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  • whatchusaye

    Justin: I am newly-come to your website, via Hemant at the Friendly Atheist, and I just want to tell you how excited I am at the prospect of RBB coming to Camp Pendleton! I read along as other websites documented your battle and ultimate success at Fort Bragg, and I remember wishing that something like that would happen for us out on the West Coast. I’m a current resident on Camp Pendleton, and one of the only Marine spouses I know who is a firm non-believer. It’s a very lonely ride sometimes, when everyone around you watches Fox News and becomes indignant at the idea of removing crosses from the base.

    So, I just wanted to comment here to wish you luck, to let you know I’ll be following your efforts with great interest, and to thank you for your efforts to normalize non-belief in the military community!!

    BTW, Del Mar Beach is an AWFUL place for an event like this. The parking is SCANT, and the facilities are “ok” for a day at the beach, but not for an extended day of fun and music. You might try for someplace like the Mainside Parade Deck / Soccer fields. They had a HUGE concert there last year. Somebody BIG in the country-world….maybe Toby Keith? Parking there is difficult, too, but the adjacent area has parking lots for shuttling that are CLOSER than the lots they shuttle to/from when they have events at Del Mar Beach. Plus it’s a lovely grass field instead of sand. Less wind, too. But that’s all for AFTER you get the approval. Until then….good luck! This Camp Pendleton family supports you!

    • THANKS @Whatchusaye! You rock! You should contact me on facebook. I’m pretty sure we have a working group going somewhere, and there are more and more Camp Pendleton atheists coming forward.

  • PeninaD

    Have you got Mikey Weinstein of MRFF on to this yet?

    • Mikey is a strong friend and ally. He spoke at the first one in Fort Bragg. He’s aware and some things are happening behind the scenes with MRFF and other organizations.