WASHINGTON, DC — The Interfaith Alliance today expressed concern over recent reports that soldiers at the Fort Eustis Army base were punished for refusing to attend a Christian rock concert in May. The Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, a practicing Baptist minister and President of Interfaith Alliance, issued the following statement:
"We welcome the Pentagon’s decision to investigate U.S. soldiers’ claims that they were punished for refusing to attend an Army-sponsored event featuring a performance by a Christian rock group. Though we do not yet know all the details of this situation – or of the reported “Commanding General's Spiritual Fitness Concerts,” of which this concert was part – we commend the soldiers for coming forward and publicly standing up for their beliefs. This, too, qualifies as an act of defense of our nation and its Constitution.
"Historically, our service men and women have committed themselves to defending our country and its many freedoms, including the right to religious liberty. Not all battles involve guns. The Army’s sponsorship of these concerts is on shaky grounds as is; forcing our soldiers to attend an event that goes against their beliefs, or else be unfairly punished. No American should have to experience such an imposition of religion. Whether it is the Army or any other organization mandating attendance at a religious event, it is a grievous violation of the First Amendment and an insult to the freedoms upon which this country was founded."
Interfaith Alliance is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.