My name is Ethan Brandt. I am a Skeptical Humanist currently attending Washington University in St. Louis. I picked up my first pipe my freshman year of college and I have never looked back. Since then, I have done everything I can to learn about pipes, tobacco, and everything involved. Far from a master, I find myself learning something new everyday.
Well, the title isn't exactly what I'm talking about, but it's close enough.
Before I begin, I would like everyone to read the 12 Steps, directly quoted from the website 12Step.org:
"The 12 Steps
1 - We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable
2 - Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity 3 - Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God 4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves 5 - Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs 6 - Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character 7 - Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings 8 - Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all 9 - Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others 10 - Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it 11 - Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out 12 - Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs"
Now, it is wonderful that many people have been able to stop abusive drinking, smoking, drug use, or whatever "addiction" it may be by using these steps. However, the problem I have with the program is not the method itself, but rather how it is used through the government.
If someone is found guilty of drug possession, drunk driving, or some other drug related crime, one of the frequent punishments is the requirement of the guilty to attend a certain amount of AA/NA meetings, with additional sessions if it is found that said person did not successfully participate in the meetings. This is where the problem lies.
Our legal system requires people to attend meetings that require a belief in a higher power. Now, I have heard people attempt to defend this by quoting the third step, which says "God as we understand God". But what if we don't understand God at all? How could one be expected to follow a program that requires theism if he, Shiva forbid, was an atheist?
This is, in the most basic of forms, the legal system mandating religion; no one particular religion, granted, but religion in general, and that is still a violation of the rights of Americans.
People, if you or some one you know is put in this situation, there are plenty of alternatives, plenty of organisations that use the same principles without bringing God into the picture. By the way, if it works without God, why bring him in? Occam would be proud!