About 80 U.S. soldiers have been disciplined at Fort Eustis, Virginia after refusing to attend a “spiritual fitness” Christian-rock concert put on by the Army. The unit was first marched in formation to the concert, only after which were the soldiers given to option of attending or not. Those who chose to leave were punished.
The Commanding General’s Spiritual Fitness Concert that Smith and others were told to attend was headlined by BarlowGirl, a “band of tender-hearted, beautiful young women who aren’t afraid to take an aggressive, almost warrior-like stance when it comes to spreading the gospel and serving God,” according to the group’s web site. The group Smith marched with included at least two Muslim soldiers who fell out of rank and stopped marching on their own, according to a first-hand account published by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). Once outside the concert, Smith and the other trainees were finally given an option and told to split into two groups: those who wanted to attend, and those who did not. Smith and about 80 others decided not to attend, even though they were obviously being “pressured” to do so. Smith and the others were sent back to their barracks on “lockdown,” a punishment that Smith said withholds even basic freedoms like using their own electronics. Barlow Girl band member Lauren Barlow said if she and the other members of the group knew soldiers were being forced to attend the concert and were then punished for refusing to attend “we would have said something.” “That’s horrible,” Barlow tweeted in response to the revelations first published Thursday by MRFF’s head researcher, Chris Rodda. “We never knew that. We thought they had a choice. If we would have known we would have said something.”
Two of the soldiers have filed a formal complaint against their superior officers. The Army claims to be investigating.
(Tipped by JMG reader Kevin)
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