Choice in Recovery — Two Articles From Opposite Directions; Similar Conclusions

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



  1. Steve S on December 5, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Interesting. I’ve scrolled through a number of recent comments, and Chris has had three in the last month or so that seem to focus on the same thing(s), that LifeRing really isn’t an alternative, that it’s just anti-AA griping, or similar.

    Chris, I invite you to tell readers here, and LifeRingers in general, “where you’re coming from.” Have you regularly attended LR meetings? Did you have problems at one particular meeting? Or what?

    LifeRing is more challenging than SMART, as well as AA, yes, because personalizing it requires some work. Agreed. But, as for formal meetings, online, where I’ve led a meeting off and on for a full decade, your other complaints are almost never the case. They may be the case in open chat, but an open chat session isn’t the same as an formal meeting. From my experience, as both participant and “convenor,” there’s plenty of “something” here.

  2. Chris on December 3, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Makes me wonder if Lifering’s vision, as an organization, is more focused on “Choice in Recovery” than actually providing a means to Recovery from addiction. Its as if its an organization that simply wants to be an organization. IMO it’s a shame that it doesn’t stand on its own and focus on promoting Lifering’s philosophy about recovery – which it’s literature describes quite well. The Lifering way to recover involves developing a personal recovery plan by taking action to empower our sober selves with the a critical component being the synergy from doing it with others in recovery! But what are its meeting like? Is this the focus? Nope. They are usually a combination of gripe sessions about 12 Step groups, intellectual banter, mundane chit chat that has little to do with PRP, and amateur-led group therapy. Sure, there is often a lot of heartfelt compassion, laughs and heated arguments. Similar to an episode of Seinfield – full of unique characters, but in the end really about nothing.