Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America

JWV Protests Punishment for Soldiers Not Attending Christian Concert

September 2010

The Jewish War Veterans of the USA (JWV) strongly condemns the punishment meted out to soldiers who refused to attend a Christian music concert at Fort Eustis in May of this year.

The concert, considered one of the "Commanding General's Spiritual Fitness Concerts," was ostensibly an optional event, but those who did not attend were punished.

The concert was put on by a group called BarlowGirl, a band that describes itself as taking "an aggressive, almost warrior-like stance when it comes to spreading the gospel and serving God."

One of those who refused to attend described the events of that day:

Those of us that chose not to attend (about 80, or a little less than half)
were marched back to the company area. At that point the NCO issued us a punishment. We were to be on lock-down in the company (not released from duty), could not go anywhere on post (no PX, no library, etc).

As the JWV has stated forcefully before against evidence of discrimination and proselytizing at the Air Force Academy,

Freedom of religion and race is a cornerstone of our democracy. Throughout our history, people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds, have answered the call to serve in the military.

No one in the military should be forced against his or her will to attend a concert that does not comport with one's individual religious beliefs, and no commanding officer should punish those who exercise their rights to freedom of religion.

The Army must investigate this issue quickly and fairly; those who are denying religious freedom should be punished, and all branches of the military should be vigilant to ensure that cases of religious discrimination and intolerance do not occur again in the military.

Acceptance of religious diversity should be a continuing aspect of training.


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