From an Internet Discussion Board: Response to Italicized Post

For me, I do believe in God and He is very much a part of my life. But I also believe that as long as you have a higher power, no matter what it may be, then you will have the inner strength to get and stay sober.

I'm glad your philosophy and theology works for you. But you see, there are many people who do not share your outlook -- people who believe in their OWN power to alter their behavior to a non-destructive pattern, and who do NOT believe that any so-called "Higher Power" will do this for them. Some of these people are atheists and do not accept any concept of a "Higher Power", and some are quite involved with religious traditions, but simply don't believe that God (as they understand the term) "cures alcoholism" or intervenes in any human behavior.

The fact that someone has a drug or alcohol problem does not justify trying to shove a religious philosophy down his or her throat, and with so many secular treatments and philosophies available, there is no justification whatever for pushing AA on anyone. Becoming sober does NOT require a "higher power" of any kind, and when courts and state agencies require AA involvement, there is a serious problem with violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Following is one case taken by the ACLU.

"The drug treatment program used at the Karl Holton School [a school for troubled teens in California, under the supervision of the California Youth Authority] is called "Design For Living" and is modeled on the Twelve Step system developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. Twelve Step programs are based on the belief that addiction is a spiritual as well as a physical and emotional disorder, and may be overcome only by reliance on a Higher Power, or God.

"One incarcerated plaintiff refused to accept the religious principles of the Twelve Steps, and told his teacher he did not believe in a Higher Power. As a result, he was labeled a 'program failure', and expelled from the Karl Holton School. He was then sent to a CYA segregation unit, the N.A. Chaderjian School, where he was locked in his cell 23 hours a day and was not allowed to participate in vocational and educational programs..."

..."Karl Holton School has more than 400 wards, who are assigned there only if they have less than one year to serve until their parole consideration date. Wards attended Design For Living Classes five days a week for six months, and participation was mandatory. Their progress in mastering the Twelve Steps was used to evaluate their eligibility for parole.

" 'The wards at Karl Holton School were forced to adopt the religious beliefs of this program in order to gain the benefits of the Karl Holton School's educational and vocational opportunities,' said attorney Hardy of the Prison Law Office. 'One of our plaintiffs sincerely believes that he must rely on his own inner strength, and not a higher power, to overcome addiction. But he was told that refusing to fully participate in the Design For Living program or attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings may result in losing good behavior points or being locked up in his cell.'

"One of the teacher plaintiffs, Harvey Martinez, noted, 'We understand the great need for substance abuse programs, particularly with youthful offenders. But there are many alternatives that aren't based on religious principles.' "

excerpted from:

http://www.aclu.org/community/calif-n/youth.htm

~M. Kreuter