Quote from Mschrisco
It is my understanding that the 12 step programs encourage "higher power", according to the individual, whether this be nature, God, Mother Earth, etc. "higher power" is not necessarily God, Allah, Jesus, etc.
So, as such, not religious.
I have heard of a program in India prisons that is working "Vipassana".
I hold this understanding too!! The 12 step program is NOT a religion. (But I can easy to understand why people may get confused on this account.)
Religions involve dogmas, "scriptures", religious leaders, formal prayer, and giving very a specific definition to a god or gods; Religion involves theology. This is not true for 12 step programs. Although 12 step programs involves the notion of a "higher power", no detailed definition should be given to that "higher power". An individual 12 step group can have their higher power be the group conscious itself and should leave room for an atheist to say no formal definitive god exists. Rather, I would say that 12 step programs are "spiritual" in nature. In my mind, one can be spiritual and still proclaim that no god exists. Spirituality simply involves some kind of work or process towards inward peace through heavy self examination; it involves a deeply honest understanding of one's self in relationship to one's self and others. Spirituality MAY
involve a "higher power". But that "higher power" can be anything or anyone or even any diety other than self.
Yes. 12 step programs was founded by a group of people with religous backgrounds. But it is my understanding that this group specifically helped design these programs not to be religious in nature. It was more important to them that people overcome their alcoholism, NOT pay homage to a specific diety.
Quote from loerith
The term "God" is used much more in meetings by members than the term "higher power". In AA, the afore mentioned basic text " The Big Book" uses lots and lots of religious practices/concepts like:
It is true that in the U.S., the term "God" can frequently be heard mentioned in meetings. Let's face it, many people in the U.S. come from Jewish or Christian backgrounds. Personally, I would have a problem with ANY individual 12-step group if it goes from spirituality to religous (as mentioned above). I would hold that individual group accountable for becoming religious like and stray away from the intended focus of the 12 step program. Usually, though, the focus is on "working the program"; taking that journey down the road of self-honesty and working to make a very specific change in one's life: to stop drinking.
For clarification's sake, anyone can "confess" or have "faith" or "meditate" or even engage in "prayer" and not conform to any specific religion. Yes, these terms can be easily applied in a religious context. But these terms can be applied OUT and away from of a religious context as well (except, for "prayer", maybe). One can easily "confess" or experience "faith" in something or "meditate" and still hold the belief that dieties do not exist. And prayer? A group of people reciting a verse together sounds like prayer. Should not hear a lot of formal prayers at 12-step meetings, though. If you do, request in a group conscious meeting that they not take place. Remember, the focus is NOT on worship or defining a diety. The focus is on stopping drinking. Period.