DUI post conviction/ Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
As part of my probation I have to attend an oupatient alcohol rehab outfit, who in turn force me to go to two AA meetings a week. Before this, I did not realize that AA is without the slighest doubt, a religous, or more specifically a monotheistic, organization; at the end of each meeting people hold hands and recite the Lord's Prayer. Now, if this helps people overcome a drinking problem great, but...
I am an atheist, and I would have fought this tooth and nail if I had known of AA's character beforehand. I am deeply uncomfotable there. Is this, as it seems, a violation of the 1st Amdt. What can I do? Would my chances of getting out of this be good? Any input would be greatly appreciated.
2 attorney answers
There is nothing inherently theist about AA. The program refers to a "higher power" but this can be anything you conceive it to be, including "fate" "the conscience of the community," your inner consciousness or even the opinions of the members of your home group. No belief in anything supernatural is required. If you are going to a group that is too religious for you, then just go to a different group. There are all different types of groups and they are everywhere. Sounds like you just got started with the wrong group.
As a lifelong religious skeptic, I find nothing offensive in anything spiritual about AA, as long as you approach it with a "live and let live" attitude. I would not participate in the Lords Prayer either, but most of the meetings I've ever attended usually end with the "Serenity Prayer," which is much less sectarian, and is very useful to remind ourselves not to sweat the stuff we can't control. If you think of that "prayer" as a reminder for yourself, I think it's easier to take.
Tom Hudson http://www.DUISarasota.com
Your question is interesting because of the fact that AA was mandated as part of your outpatient program. My suggestion is you contact your outpatient counselor and explain the situation and the fact that you are an aetheist and that you feel uncomfortable and ask for a different type of "therapy" if that's what AA is considered. Or, I believe different AA chapters do things a little differently from each other and there may be some who don't recite the Lord's Prayer and that may help you.
However, just for the record, you apparently have an alcohol problem of some sort or you wouldn't be mandated to AA, so you might want to consider that AA has a significantly higher recovery rate than any other type of group. Its apparently because the 12 Step Program works for most people. One thing that is important to remember. When you get a Sponsor in AA, they are your primary lifeline to maintain sobriety when you're about to "fall off the wagon" and that's who will save you from yourself and your inner demons, if they exist.
Last, I am an Interfaith Minister as well as an attorney and am not affiliated with any specific religion. I understand your reservations about the religious aspects of AA, however, you may want to consider the Spiritual aspects instead, which don't recite any specific prayer, but do recognize there is Power within the Universe that is within all life. Since this is strictly a legal answer, I won't go any further, however, you should be able to get out of that religiously oriented group and find one that is not religious. However, you should realize that AA is a spiritually oriented organization and that's one of the primary reasons its so successful for so many people.