cross-posted at Talk2Action
Last year, Billy Graham's organization held a Christian-themed concert at Fort Bragg, "Rock the Fort." The base's brass promised that similar support would be provided to non-Christian events in the future. However, it looks like that promise wasn't kept. A secular-themed concert is now off because, according to its organizer, Fort Bragg officials didn't give it nearly the support that Rock the Fort received.
Sgt. Justin Griffith said Thursday that the Rock Beyond Belief concert, scheduled for April 2, will not get the same funding and support as the Rock the Fort concert - sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association - did in September.
Military leaders have said they were not favoring Christians and would provide similar support to other groups.
"It's obviously not an offer of a similar level of support at all," Griffith said. "It's kind of heartbreaking because we were so close."
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has already announced it will sue, citing a raft of administrative roadblocks. The biggest one was that base officials wanted to move Rock Beyond Belief to one of two tiny theaters, rather than the base's parade field.
In a letter obtained by the MRFF, garrison commander Stephen Sicinski also placed other stipulations on the event that Rock the Fort apparently didn't face, in addition to the smaller venue. All advertisements would have had to contain a disclaimer stating that Rock Beyond Belief was not endorsed by Fort Bragg, the Army or the Pentagon. In contrast, Rock the Fort was explicitly endorsed by Fort Bragg. Organizers would have had to foot the bill for the entire event, while Rock the Fort got $54,500 from the government.
Needless to say, Griffith is not happy.
"All (Rock the Fort) had to do was say this is a spiritual fitness event that is specifically sponsored by and endorsed by Fort Bragg," Griffith said. "We're just not getting the same level of support, recognition, tolerance or respect."
Fort Bragg so far has been evasive. When a reporter from the base's hometown newspaper, the Fayetteville Observer, called the base, a spokesman said he needed to talk to his superiors for a response, but never called back. Wonder if they know they've been busted?
Update: First time on the rec list since the roll-out of DK4, wow. Thanks so much--this story hasn't gotten much ink (I saw only four hits for this on Yahoo News). Please, please, Digg up the Fayetteville Observer's excellent write-up on this here. Also worth noting--per the AP's writeup on this, Griffith spent a good chunk of his own money trying to make this concert happen. I may be a born-again Christian, but frankly Fort Bragg's behavior here has been beyond outrageous.