In this short video, I will explain why Alcoholics Anonymous, commonly known as A.A., is a religion, based on the majority opinion of the New York Court of Appeals in the United States.
The court boldly stated, “Adherence to the A.A. fellowship entails engagement in religious activity and religious proselytization.”
What are those activities?
1. “Followers are urged to accept the existence of God as a Supreme Being, Creator, Father of Light and Spirit of the Universe.”
“While A.A. literature declares an openness and tolerance for each participant’s personal vision of God (‘as we understood Him’ [Steps 3 and 11] [emphasis in the original]), the writings demonstrably express an aspiration that each member of the movement will ultimately commit to a belief in the existence of a Supreme Being of independent higher reality than humankind.”
2. “In ‘working’ the 12 steps, participants become actively involved in seeking such a God through prayer, confessing wrongs and asking for removal of shortcomings” (see steps 4, 7, and 11).
3. “A.A.’s [book] ‘Twelve Steps/Twelve Traditions’ […] describ[es] the spiritual evolution of atheists and agnostics through working the 12 steps.” The court quoted from the book: “In Step Three, we turned our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. For the time being, we who were atheist or agnostic discovered that our own group, or A.A. as a whole, would suffice as a higher power. [… However, later, based on many observations,] we could predict that the doubter [would eventually] love God and call Him by name.”
In conclusion, Merriam-Webster defines religion as “a system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.” Because Alcoholics Anonymous provides such a system of religious behaviour, it is a religion.
:: Court Case ::
Griffin v. Coughlin (1996):
:: Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions::
“Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions” (Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. [13th ed 1983]) (hereinafter A.A. Twelve Steps/Twelve Traditions).
:: Definition of Religion::
:: Alternatives to A.A. ::
What Alcoholics Anonymous Doesn’t Get Right / The Atlantic Health Forum:
:: More Court Cases ::
Kerr v. Farrey (1996):
Evans v. Tennessee Board of Paroles (1997):
Warner v. Orange County Dept. of Probation (1999):
Inouye v. Kemna (2007):