Would The Government Ever Force Us To Believe In A God?
In today’s day and age, the separation of church and state has taken the spotlight as the tight grip of the Catholic Church starts to finally weaken the hold it’s had over the United States since its inception. It seems to have only taken the small mistake of the Vatican covering up for Priests who did unthinkable acts with our children to set the wheels into motion, but nonetheless here we are.
From the removal of the Ten Commandments from courthouses to the teaching of evolution in science classes it has been happening. However, there seems to be an oversight in this separation that I’d like to take this opportunity to present to you. That missed little nugget is the major religious foundations that are part of the 12 steps to recovery, more commonly referred to as Alcoholics Anonymous, (or a host of other names for different substances) and the simple fact that courts of law across this great nation sometimes sentence US citizens to attend as part of their punishment.
So You Want Offenders To Just Get Away With It Unpunished?
Now I’m not against punishment of alcohol or drug induced behavior, but I am against having a person forced to submit to a system of beliefs based on faith from a government institution. It quite frankly goes against everything we stand for in principle in this country. Trying to get a person who has a problem help is the right idea, it’s just the way we have been going about it for so many years now that is so wrong. Take a moment to take in the facts, and I think you’ll awake to the change that is so badly needed…
“I am against having a person forced to submit to a system of beliefs based on faith from a government institution.”
For starters, let take a look at how all of these meetings start off and that is with the serenity prayer. Look at the big picture here and you’ll start to realize that not even 5 minutes into the meeting, and you’re already giving yourself over to a “higher power”. Next, take a look at the 12 steps in depth which are the core to this program to recovery:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
We did not change or alter those in any way shape or form. Now if you read through those very carefully, you should have come to the logical conclusion that this is so convoluted with a god or higher power that it simply will not work without that belief or faith. For example, look at number 11 for a moment. Are you fucking kidding me?!?
In A Modern Era There is No Way to Make This Work
An atheist believes in science. There is no god or higher power in the life of an atheist, there is only the here and now and what science can prove. So how is a person who does not believe or have faith of a “higher power” or “god” able to successfully complete this program to the satisfaction of a court of law? How on earth are they going to get through all 12 steps? It is just not possible. That person is being setup for failure, by a judge, and that’s pretty fucked up.
I’ve even heard it was said at an AA meeting that when someone asked about not believing in a god, they were told to use a higher power instead. In reality the word “higher power” is simply just a swap out for the word god. It is the idea there is something out there controlling destiny. When this was brought to the meeting moderators attention, they said you can use a rock if you want to as a higher power, something from the earth. This is one of the most ridiculous things i have ever heard. What if I don’t believe in the concept of some sort of being or thing being “higher” then me? (No pun intended)
Wait, They Call It What?!?
There are alternatives that actually address the problem of substance or alcohol dependency and don’t go treating it as a “disease” as it has become known as today. Dependency is not a disease. This old school belief is being treated with old school ideology. Try telling someone dying of cancer or AIDS that alcoholism is a disease. I’m pretty sure they would trade their real disease in a heartbeat for what is a decision. Addiction is a choice, disease is not. You choose to snort crystal meth, you don’t choose to have AIDS.
Programs such as Smart Recovery can help get people back on track using an understanding of science and modern day techniques to help with this problem. Using antiquated ideologies thought up decades ago is just ludicrous as a way to help, especially when mandated by government. This pisses me off, and it should piss you off too religious or not. Our government is not in the business of telling people what to think. That is the job of Kim Jong Un and Hollywood.
So What is the Answer?
It was the great Thomas Jefferson who said, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” This is so important it’s written into our Bill of Rights.
If someone thinks that their god or higher power can help them fight the urges to use their favorite pastime, in no way am I judging that. Everyone has the right to believe what they want, and if their belief in something helps them, I am happy for that. If they want to use the AA 12 Step method to fight their addiction, by all means it has helped a lot of people. It is just when it is ordered by a court.
Courts looking to give help rather than a jail sentence is a good thing and should allow for a multitude of solutions to chemical and alcohol dependency recovery and allow for a recovery solution of ones own choosing religious based or not. Sentencing should never ever be court mandated religion, and that’s all the 12 step program is, religion.
What do you think? We’d love to hear you sound off with your thoughts in the comments below!