For Immediate Release
Contact: Paul Fidalgo
Phone: (207) 358-9785
August 26, 2010
Soldiers Allege Punishment for Failure to Attend Christian Concert
The Center for Inquiry (CFI) and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) today sent a joint letter to the United States Department of Defense expressing serious concern over the Army’s apparent punishment of soldiers at Fort Eustis, Virginia for declining to attend a recent Christian rock concert.
As reported by the Associated Press on August 20 , dozens of soldiers allege that they were punished for declining to attend an evangelical Christian rally at which the Christian rock band “BarlowGirl” performed. Soldiers say that the concert was part of the “Commanding General’s Spiritual Fitness Concert Series,” a project organized by Maj. Gen. James E. Chambers. The Pentagon has released a statement saying that it is investigating the accusations, adding that “the military shouldn’t impose religious views on soldiers.”
The joint letter from CFI and MRFF, addressed directly to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, urges the military to bring its investigation of these incidents “to a swift and just resolution.” The letter further recommends that “any military commanders involved in sponsoring or promoting religious events, or in punishing soldiers for declining to attend them, should be disciplined sternly and severely.”
The letter was drafted by Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, Ronald A. Lindsay, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry, and Derek C. Araujo, the Center for Inquiry’s vice president and general counsel.
The letter can be downloaded as a PDF at http://www.centerforinquiry.net/uploads/MRFF_CFI_joint_letter.pdf
The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit, educational, advocacy, and scientific-research think tank based in Amherst, New York committed to fostering a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. The Center’s Web site is www.centerforinquiry.net