Oregon Suit Challenges
AA's Secular Status
by Cliff Walker -- February, 1992
a KBOO-FM radio report by Cliff Walker
A lawsuit was filed in the Federal District Court in Eugene, Oregon on Monday, February 24, 1992, seeking an injunction to prevent Oregon State agencies (Corrections, the Courts, etc.) from requiring clients to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. This suit alleges that the AA Program is religious, "advocating faith in God, submission to God, confession to God, prayer, and meditation" (attorney John Meyer -- Astoria, Oregon). In my opinion, AA does not have a leg to stand on because their literature (particularly the book Alcoholics Anonymous, a.k.a., the Big Book) is not open to interpretation.
When these people come after NA's secular status (and they will), I will not stand in their way. The new NA book It Works: How and Why is even more narrow in its focus on God than the AA literature. Narcotics Anonymous, a.k.a. the Basic Text, is, in many of the crucial places, very much open to interpretation and useful to those with other viewpoints. This distinguishes NA from AA in the eyes of many atheists, agnostics, humanists, deists, Buddhists, freethinkers, and others who seek a palatable Twelve Step Program in which to recover.
The way much of the Basic Text is written, NA members can reinterpret most of the program and reconcile it with our experience, observations, beliefs, and predispositions. It Works: How and Why will certainly change all that, possibly turning NA into something I no longer recognize or respect. It Works leaves nothing to the imagination. It strongly implores its somewhat captive audience not to deviate from the explicit, well-defined, opinionated, and very shallow beliefs described therein.