Nate left his family’s church at the age of 18. He will be speaking about his experiences in the church and his journey out of the extremism taught by his family. He initially fled to Canada to put as much distance between himself and his abusive family. But now his journey brings him full circle, on exactly the opposite side of the fence. He’s an atheist, and he supports the troops.
The atheists in the military are making waves this year, including an on-post festival at Fort Bragg. Nate Phelps will be joining Richard Dawkins and several prominent speakers and musicians for ‘Rock Beyond Belief’ on March 31st.
Rock Beyond Belief organizers are enthusiastic about Nate Phelps speaking at the event. Lead organizer and American Atheists Military Director, Justin Griffith said, “His support of the soldiers and their families is a strong testament of his struggles to overcome the intense religious dogma his family ingrained in him. His family is overtly hostile and unpatriotic, and he grew up on that. It’s impressive to see such a dramatic change in a person.” Fred Phelps and his family of about 60 have been protesting since 1991. It is unclear whether they plan to attend this event, and if they are legally permitted to picket anywhere near the on-post stage. In fact, the family did contact Griffith, “Justin - if you want real balance, invite us.” Griffith declined to invite them.
Griffith explained, “I told them that they’d probably even be helping me out. It would present a false dichotomy of ‘rational calm atheists’ vs. ‘soldier-hating Christians’. It would also do a great deal of good to have all of the normal Christians unite with us in mutual disgust, perhaps breaking down barriers. Despite all of this, I don’t want to be responsible for their antics, so an invitation is not happening.”
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.
Note: Journalists MUST formally request permission to film / photograph on the Army Base.
This must be done in advance and the deadline is rapidly approaching.
Contact Justin Griffith email@example.com
Trailer for Rock Beyond Belief: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6kJ_EwwnD4 Please feel free to link to or embed this in your online publications.
Hotel: with discount rate: Holiday Inn Bordeaux 910-323-0111. Ask for the discount rate for RBB. (You must contact them by phone, their website is not working). The official American Atheists after-party will be here, with lots of access to our lineup.
To get on post: you will need a valid photo ID and vehicles need registration/proof of insurance. Fort Bragg is providing additional personnel to handle the surge of traffic expected for this event. Civilians are absolutely welcome.
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.
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