The two most important things America gave the 20th century, author Kurt Vonnegut is reported to have said, are the blues and Alcoholics Anonymous. He's at least half right. Today AA, founded in 1935 by a New York stockbroker and an Ohio proctologist both written off as hopeless drunks, claims more than 2 million members. Unless you are involved with AA, or know someone who is, you probably will be surprised to learn that AA holds more than 300 meetings a week on O'ahu.
Even more surprising, perhaps, AA doesn't want your money or even,
A disturbing threat to this organization and its friends has appeared,
Ironically, AA doesn't force anyone to attend meetings.
In another ruling, testimony against a manslaughter defendant was thrown out because his disclosures of wrongs to fellow members should be protected by "a privilege granted to other religions similarly situated."
AA doesn't claim any such privilege.
The appeals court based its conclusion on "the religious nature of the 12 steps" of Alcoholics Anonymous.
familiar with AA can tell you, and a careful reading of its literature
makes clear, AA is not religious. Neither, by the way, are
the more than 200 other organizations that have adapted, with the
permission of AA, the 12 steps: Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters
"The only requirement for membership," says AA's 3rd Tradition, "is a desire to stop drinking." A wide assortment of atheists, agnostics and others have become successful in AA.
Confusion arises, if that's what it is, because AA members are urged to develop a relationship with a "higher power." The literature makes clear, however, that "AA is not allied with any sect (or) denomination" and that a member's AA group can serve as a suitable higher power.
How is the
finding that AA is a religion a threat? The most immediate problem
is for judges, probation officers, treatment counselors and the
like, who commonly require troubled people in their care to attend AA
meetings. Why? Because they know that even if they don't try to follow
the AA program, the meetings still are likely to stabilize them to some
At some local AA meetings, literally dozens of the attendees are there not from choice, but because some outside agency ordered them there. A legal finding that AA is a "religion" means those agencies would have nowhere to send their clients.
Not all of these clients get the message and improve their lives. But some do. A Hawai'i court finding that AA is a "religion" thus would be a tragic mistake.
Source: Honolulu Advertiser August 6, 2001Discuss this article
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