Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
– Aldous Huxley
While our pre-conceived notions are ripped to shreds by Linda R’s factual, and informative article we may take solace in the truth that our rock, AA IS A SPIRITUAL PROGRAM. This, in spite of the high courts multiple rulings that AA is in fact a religious program. “Spirituality” is not a contradiction of religion. And religion does not mean non-spiritual and bad. One thing for certain, in A.A. we choose, seek, and find our own Higher Power. Whether it’s by our sponsor introducing God to us or by receiving a revelation and white light experience through prayer and meditation or we simply reconnect with the God of our parents we still make a choice of who our Higher Power is. Our AA belief system is very different from dogmatic religion in that way.
However, the question has arisen in some of the highest courts of our nation whether or not A.A. is religious. And it has come up for good reason, the separation of church and state. Parolees do not want to be forced into a religious AA program against their constitutional rights. This separation of church and state is a fundamental aspect of US law, known as the Establishment Clause, and is explicated in the first amendment to the US Constitution, which states
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
By Linda R.
Inside AA, one hears members frequently repeat the well-known phrase “AA is spiritual, not religious.” AA takes pride in saying it’s not religious. But what do outsiders, such as the court systems, think about AA’s claim?
In the ten year period between 1996 and 2007, five high-level US courts — three federal circuit courts and two state supreme courts – did take a long and hard look at AA’s claim. Each of these cases involved a person who was being forced to participate in AA meetings, either as a condition of their parole or probation, or while actually incarcerated. These cases reached the highest level of judiciary scrutiny — only one level below the US Supreme Court — because they involved the critical issue of separation of Church and State. This separation is a fundamental aspect of US law, known as the Establishment Clause, and is explicated in the first amendment to the US Constitution, which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
The parolees, probationers and inmates in each of these cases claimed that the State was using its power to force them to participate in a religious activity. They claimed that AA meetings were religious. Thus, their required attendance was a violation of the Establishment Clause, which requires governmental neutrality with respect to religion and a wall of separation between Church and State.