FORT BRAGG, NC -A recent article in the Pasadena Sun featured the opinions of various religious leaders about the Army's mandatory Spiritual Fitness test. Most of them thought that the test was unfair and even unconstitutional. Pastor Bryan Griem, however, had some considerably stronger thoughts on the matter, and he attacked an atheist soldier at Fort Bragg.
Rev. Griem said, "If you believe you're nothing but worm-food, you aren't going to jump on a grenade to save the platoon...You're going to be...a big, fat chicken." He continued, "I wonder what the military puts on the gravestones of atheists, a thumbs down?"
US Army Sergeant Justin Griffith failed his spiritual fitness test. Griffith said, "The spiritual fitness test is unconstitutional. That's why when lawyers and journalist are around they say the test is about 'human spirit' and 'team spirit.' Anybody doubting the religiosity can go to the Virtual Spiritual Fitness Center to check for themselves." Griffith emphasized that he does not speak for the DoD.
Upon his failure, Sgt. Griffith was given the telephone number to a suicide hotline. The test costs the Department of Defense $125Mil. For perspective, rape prevention and reaction only has a $113Mil budget DoD-wide.
After reading Griem’s words, Sgt. Griffith contacted him saying, "I am willing to die for your right to say nasty things about atheist soldiers such as myself. There are foxhole atheists out there fighting for your rights. Are you not willing to return the favor?" Griem has yet to reply.
Non-religious soldiers represent the second largest demographic in the military. Currently, atheist groups like the local Military Atheists and Secular Humanists of Fort Bragg are banned by chaplaincy regulations from meeting on post regularly. An upcoming atheist festival at Fort Bragg may provide a breakthrough. Griffith is also the lead organizer of the festival, dubbed Rock Beyond Belief, on March 31st.
Rock Beyond Belief bypasses the chaplaincy's ban because this event is sponsored by an independent private organization. The festival is an American Atheists event. It was made possible by a $50,000 donation from the Stiefel Freethought Foundation. For more information on the event, check the festival’s website.
Original Article featuring Pastor Griem’s rant: http://www.pasadenasun.com/news/opinion/tn-pas-0219-in-theory-should-the-military-test-spirituality,0,4689752.story?page=3
Source for $113 Million figure: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/11/28/131524/bureaucracy-has-blossomed-in-militarys.html
“Total Defense Department spending on sexual assault prevention and related efforts now exceeds $113 million annually.” Source for $125 Million figure:http://www.truth-out.org/armys-fitness-test-designed-psychologist-who-inspired-cias-torture-program-under-fire66577 “Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) is a $125 million “holistic fitness program” unveiled in late 2009
Disclaimer: Justin Griffith is an active duty soldier, but does not speak on behalf of the DoD or the Army. No DoD endorsement is implied.
CONTACT: Justin Griffith, Military Director of American Atheists
Phone (239) 689-0323 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org