We often think of AA as being monolithic, speaking in one voice. In fact, AA has members who deviate sharply from the “established” principles. There are “Agnostic” AA groups which try to shed the religious element from the program. Since “religious elements” are central to much of AA’s approach, this is a difficult task, to say the least. A group and website called “AA Agnostica” defines itself as “a space for Agnostics, Atheists and Free Thinkers Worldwide.” A recent article posted on that website tackles the problem of the U.S. court system declaring any number of times that AA is religious and therefore cannot be mandated by a branch of the government due to the First Amendment. The article contends that the Twelve Traditions, which are much less explicitly religious than the Twelve Steps, should be placed at the heart of AA in place of the Twelve Steps. Some would argue that even the Traditions contain religious elements, including references to “a loving God.” Still, the article is an interesting read, not least because it explicitly accepts the Court’s view of AA as being legally a religiously-based organization. See the article Here
One person who never has had any problem seeing AA as religious is LifeRing’s founding leader Martin Nicolaus. He recently had an article published in Counselor: The Magazine for Addiction Professionals. That article, which can be viewed Here, gives details about a court ruling, a decision in the case of Hazle vs. Crofoot, which provides the most recent reinforcement of an earlier case (2009) that clearly required government at all levels to offer choice in recovery rather than mandating Twelve Step programs exclusively.
Both articles make for very interesting reading.
– Craig Whalley