In the military, it's said, training never ends. Officers at one Virginia base reportedly think that maxim extends to their soldiers' religious development, as well: The Army is investigating allegations that soldiers there were ordered to attend a Christian pop-rock concert, or else remain confined to their barracks.
"Instead of being released to our personal time, we were locked down," Private Anthony Smith told the Associated Press, referring to himself and the other 100 or so men who declined to attend the concert. "It seemed very much like a punishment."
While the AP first reported the incident on August 20, it missed some tasty details about the base general who organized the $23,000 concert—and many more like it. It also didn't say much about the band involved, an all-teen trio of sisters called BarlowGirl who are kind of a big deal in Christian pop circles.
The May 13 concert was the brainchild of a self-professed "reborn" officer, Maj. General James E. Chambers. While commanding Ft. Eustis in Newport News two years ago, he "promoted a series of concerts, featuring Christian performers, aimed at awakening Soldiers' spiritual awareness," according to an Army profile from 2008. When he moved over to Ft. Lee, he continued "that outreach," the Army said. "The idea is not to be a proponent for any one religion," he told his profiler back then. "It's to have a mix of different performers with different religious backgrounds."