12-Step Coercion

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    the following presentation was given at the may 21, 2004 open forum of the north carolina board of nursing meeting:



    http://www.angelfire.com/journal/forcedaa/ncbon.html
  2. 259 Comments so far...

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    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".

    Mschrisco
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    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".

    Mschrisco
    Actually the original poster is correct, Although AA claims to be non-religious; it is indeed religious. Specifically,it includes as part of it's basic text quotations from the Bible and a prayer is said at the end of most meetings that is attributed to Jesus teaching his diciples. {The Lord's Prayer}

    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:

    1) prayer
    2) confession
    3) faith
    4) meditation


    AA has it's roots in a Christian movement called the Oxford Group.

    Besides all of this, how can you monitor someone's attendance at mandatory meetings when everyone's presence there is supposed to be anonymous? AA by it's very nature is 100% voluntary and was never meant to be probationary.


    Peace and Love,
    loerith
    Last edit by loerith on Jun 7, '04
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    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".

    Mschrisco
    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:

    1) prayer
    2) confession
    3) faith
    4) meditation
    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.
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    Also, no one is forcing people to attend meetings and participate in AA -- it is merely offered as an option if a person wants to retain or regain a license to practice nursing. None of us has a RIGHT to a license as an RN (or LPN, or any other occupation that requires a license) -- we are granted a license by the licensing board, which is responsible to the public for ensuring that the persons it licenses are able to practice safely.

    The impaired professional programs all got started because people were (rightly) upset about losing their licenses (and their professions) permanently for a mistake or problem that could be resolved, and it was felt that professionals with drug or alcohol problems would be better motivated to seek treatment and sobriety if they had a chance of getting their licenses back (I was around back when this was considered a controversial idea! ). So, the licensing boards attempted to develop programs which could offer people a chance to return to professional practice while still protecting the public safety. These programs typically combine active participation in an ongoing treatment program with lots of monitoring.

    The BONs in each state issue us licenses on the condition that we continue to meet their requirements to their satisfaction. None of us owns her/his license or has a right to her/his license. The entire process is voluntary -- if someone doesn't want to meet the board's requirements, including participating in a 12-step program (that is offered as an voluntary alternative to just losing your license forever), that person is free to pursue some other line of work ...

    I don't mean to sound harsh, or critical of any particular individual -- but that's the reality of the situation ...
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    Think this is a close call.

    Per the Orange County court ruling, the question wasn't whether AA constituted a religion. Instead, the criteria was whether the program, as instituted by the local chapter, had a substantial religious component (or words to that effect).

    The above then seems to enable an argument that the program in place (in this case, the one in NC) is defective of the anti-establishment clause based on the specifics of how it's run.

    Of course, a NC circuit decision would have greater weight in that jurisdiction.
    Last edit by LarryG on Jun 7, '04
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    "The focus is on stopping drinking. Period"


    The Big Book itself says {and I am not quoting verbatim here}"The purpose of this book is so that you can find a Power greater than yourself."

    Drinking/alcohol has very little to do with recovery as defined by AA. You remove the "Faith without works is dead", prayer, and "God" from the AA program and you have no AA program because you have no steps.


    Personally I believe in God and thank him/her for AA. But I would also defend to the death the right of someone to not be forced into a particular belief system.

    Call it spirituality, belief system, religion, cosmic awareness.....whatever, but AA is very Christian in it's roots and in it's basic text.


    Love and Peace,
    loerith
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    I do agree that it is a spirtual program, although some call it religous. Not to be confused with 'Christian'. Never heard, in 20 plus years of 12 step meetings, a word about Jesus Christ. I know some people want to use the word 'religous', a blanket term of sorts. 'Religous' does not equal 'christian' IMHO. Do I understand your thoughts on how the 12 and 12 came about? Sure, but Bill and Bob tried really hard to keep that stuff out of there so more people would give this program a chance.

    Now, back to the first topic...........I have never felt that a 12 step program should be mandated for any reason. The reason it works is because you want to be there, not forced to be there.

    So does the guy have a case? You bet.
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    I've been a member for 18 years and according to the 12 traditions "the only requirement for membership is a DESIRE TO STOP DRINKING. The rest are suggestions only, things that have helped members get sober and stay sober, they are strongly encouraged, but certainly not enforced.
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    Couple of things here:
    Yes, it is religious and has been ruled via Federal Courts as such.
    As for "optional"...what is your definition of "option"? My definition is exactly as it is.."option"..the option to maintain sobriety in whatever fashion works best for the individual. Why should the boards limit the "option" to one program and one program only? That is not an option, that is state supported religious coercion.
    A professional license IS infact a "right" and this information can be found in the Constitution. So, to say that we don't have a "right" to a license, unless we go to these "optional" meetings is false.
    This is the definition of religious:
    Main Entry: [1]re·li·gious
    Pronunciation: ri-'li-j&s
    Function: adjective
    Etymology: Middle English, from Old French religieus, from Latin religiosus, from religio
    Date: 13th century
    1 : relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity <a religious person> <religious attitudes>

    And, please do not misunderstand that those nurses fighting this issue are all atheists..nothing could be farther from the truth. There are Christians, Jews, etc fighting this forced religion.
    This topic is of the utmost importance in this nursing forum--there are many nurses that DO lose licensure over these issues--because they cannot comply with the demands of meetings that conflict with personal, religious beliefs. These meetings are not, in any way,monitored and there is no way for any person to state unequivocally what does and does not happen in them. If a nurse can prove abstinence in another program or another method, that should be acceptable--and THAT defines "option".


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