Alcoholics Anonymous for Atheists?
AA is open to people of all beliefs, but it is undoubtedly a spiritual program that asks people to have faith in certain principles. One of the most basic requirements of the program is that people believe in a higher power. The second step talks about how members came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. While the third step describes how they made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. There is also the expectation that members will have had a spiritual experience by the time they have completed the 12 Steps. Many people who consider themselves Atheists or Agnostics find this off-putting and some are outright hostile to the program.
The question, “Can a Court order someone who is an atheist to attend AA?” made it all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Rejecting an appeal from officials in Orange County, N.Y., the U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a ruling protecting the right of an atheist to refuse mandatory attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings as a condition for probation. Important in the court’s decision was the finding that ran counter to a standard government claim often made in connection with faith-based social programs. Justice Leval:
The County argues further that the nonsectarian nature of the A.A. experience immunizes its use of religious symbolism and practices from Establishment Clause scrutiny. The argument is at the very least factually misleading, for the evidence showed that every meeting included at least one explicitly Christian Prayer. Furthermore, the claim that nonsectarian religious exercise falls outside the First Amendment’s scrutiny has been repeatedly rejected by the Supreme Court.
Well, it turns out that a group in Kettering is attempting to square that circle. A new “AA” program for Atheists and Agnostics is meeting at 10 a.m. Saturday at 3040 Valleywood Dr. in Kettering.
Author Marya Hornbacher knew she needed help battling her addiction but, as an atheist, Alcoholics Anonymous didn’t seem like the right place for her. Instead of attending a meeting of a secular alternative, though, she went through AA’s program, finding her own ways to get through each step. Her method placed “spirit of life and a deep faith in the value of connecting and sharing with others” above any sort of supernatural deity. She’s written a book about the experience and it’s called Waiting: A Nonbeliever’s Higher Power.
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To learn more about Alcoholics Anonymous or an alternative contact me, or check these city-specific sites at the following links: