NCO punished for ordering soldiers who didn't attend Christian concert to clean barracks


BarlowGirl is the band who performed at Fort Eustis’ “Commanding General’s Spiritual Fitness Concert” in May 2010. (Associated Press)

An Army investigation found a staff sergeant was wrong to order soldiers who didn’t attend a Christian rock concert at Fort Eustis, Va., to clean the barracks.

The soldiers said the staff sergeant told 200 men in their barracks they could either attend the May 2010 concert or remain confined there. They were told to not use their cell phones or personal computers and to clean up their living area.

The sergeant “marched a unit over to the Spiritual Fitness Concert thinking he was doing the right thing. He found out a very short time after that, no, that was not the right thing to do. He was corrected,” said Col. Daniel T. Williams, a spokesman for the Army’s Document and Training Command.

Army officials did not say what punishment was handed out to the staff sergeant, who was not named.

Results of the investigation were released a week after organizers complained they had to cancel a concert for agnostics and atheists at Fort Bragg because of a lack of base support. However, Fort Bragg’s base commander said the Rock Beyond Belief concert was canceled because concert organizers thought they would get funding from the base.

“I think it all boils down to money,” said Col. Stephen Sicinski of the organizers’ decision to cancel. “When they say ‘support,’ they’re talking about money.”

Both incidents predictably raised the ire of Mikey Weinstein, Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s director. He said the staff sergeant’s decision to force soldiers who didn’t attend the Christian concert to clean the barracks is “an absolute attempt to establish fundamental Christianity in the military.”


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