Can the US Army embrace atheists? By Kate Dailey BBC News Magazine

This is a good thing imho:

In a land of faith and flag, Justin Griffith is challenging the US military to abandon its religious ties.

When he was a child growing up in Plano, Texas - a place he describes as the "oversized, goofy buckle on the Bible belt" - he would bring his bible to science class and debate his teachers on the finer points of evolution.

"In my head, I won every time," says Mr Griffith, now 29.

But somewhere along the way, his penchant for picking ideological fights with the non-religious got him in trouble. He found it harder and harder to argue with the points they were making. At 13, he suffered a crisis of faith.

"It was so painful. I lost my religion before I lost my first girlfriend. Nothing that big had ever happened to me, and I didn't have any coping skills," he says.

Mr Griffith found peace with his atheism, but he is not done sparring with the opposite team.

As an active-duty sergeant in the US Army, he's leading the charge to get atheists more respect in the armed forces. In the process he is earning attention, both positive and negative, from around the world.

Protest rock

Mr Griffith's most ambitious project is Rock Beyond Belief, a day-long event on the military base Fort Bragg, North Carolina, complete with children's activities, rock concerts and a lecture by atheism's most visible proponent, author and scientist Richard Dawkins.

It is an ambitious plan in an organisation still respectful of religious traditions and in a town that holds Christian values dear.

Scheduled for 31 March, Rock Beyond Belief comes two years after another controversial concert at Fort Bragg, "Rock The Fort".

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Hah, I remember my old days at Ft. Bragg. Every single weekend there were pairs of missionaries patrolling the barracks grounds. I experienced a strange mix of apprehension and superiority when I would walk past them, but when they would ask me to go to church with them I'd just smile and say, "not interested, thanks!"

i could only imagine...




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