The articlem by Julie M. Rodriguez, was one of the many, many knock-off whines about an alleged wrong done to atheists by a majority religious society that are ubiquitous these days. In this case it was a meth user who wanted to be paroled.
An atheist man from California is suing the state after he was jailed for failing to participate in a court-ordered 12-step drug addiction program in 2007. After serving time for methamphetamine possession, Barry A. Hazle, Jr., was told that he would have to attend a local, religiously-oriented organization as a condition of his parole.
Hazle, a lifelong atheist and member of several secular humanist groups, expressed his discomfort to his parole officer. But the answer wasn't what he was hoping for — he was told there were no alternative groups available. Despite his misgivings, Hazle attended the group as ordered. When he continued to raise objections about the nature of the program, he was arrested for violating his parole and sent back to state prison for another 100 days.
Unfortunately, this is an all too-familiar story for many who are struggling with addiction. If you've never been to Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or a similar 12-step recovery program, you may not realize that these organizations are all, at their heart, deeply religious. While they don’t endorse any particular sect or denomination, 5 of the 12 steps explicitly require members to accept and acknowledge the existence of God.
I'm not certain that there is actually any right to parole. There wouldn't seem to be but I'm no lawyer and I'd have to have one explain how, if it is a right, that so many people seem to be denied it on a regular basis. And I've never heard of anyone being paroled without making some kind of agreement to abide by conditions. Oddly, the court case that she sites, doesn't mention parole but of prisoners who are ordered to attend religious meetings. So I'd like to know how it applies to this case?
I would assume Barry A. Hazle, Jr would have had to agree to the conditions of his parole, including the 12-step. If he did agree to those terms, I can't see that he has a leg to stand on if reason is the basis. He didn't like the program he agreed to. Lots of addicts don't like rehabilitation, even the allegedly science based ones. If the atheist alternatives were more than a false front operation, I'd bet you anything that there would be a large number of drop-outs, and non-compliance with its restrictions. But, of course, those aren't available as even this biased article has to admit.
This wouldn't be a problem if secular alternatives to these programs were available for people struggling with addiction. That leads to another fact that may surprise you: by and large, few non-religious alternatives for drug and alcohol addiction exist. In many parts of the country, they’re not available at all.
Well, perhaps the self-appointed rationalist, considered the situation for a few minutes, she would realize there's a good reason for that,. ATHEISTS AND OTHER "SECULARISTS" HAVEN'T STARTED AND MAINTAINED THOSE ALTERNATIVES.
There was no AA until it was begun by a couple of guys who, among other things, had a sense of religious obligation to do it. It was originally influenced by a rather conservative religious movement but it quickly expanded its service to people of many different religious beliefs and, yes, even those who are non-religious. There are atheist members of AA who report it's worked for them. There are even explicitly non-religious AA meetings. There was a specifically secularist AA meeting a lot closer than the closest "alternative" in that list, two states away from where my brother lived. But, helpfully provided with just one more excuse to not stop, that "AA is religious," he wouldn't consider it. Most irresponsibly of all, Rodriguez repeats the popular atheist accusation - also popular among alcoholics who really don't need even more excuses to not stop - that AA is a "cult".
The devotion some attendees display towards AA has even caused some to label the group a cult.
Well, if you want to talk about cults on that basis, most of the atheist membership organizations could be considered for inclusion on that list. Look at how many people Madalyn Murray O'Hair suckered in to her own AA, American Atheists, with all of its sleaze and intrigue during her tenure as President For Life. You could say the same about CSICOP during the Kurtz era. Go look at the blog threads at the "Free Thought Blogs" Especially the heavy hitters like PZ Myers, Ophilia Benson etc. Not to mention the quite secular, if not actually atheist psychotheraputic cults. My brother went to a psychiatrist for eight years, without it seeming to do him the least bit of good. And that was on the basis of a medical referral. If he had been "addicted" to the "cult" of AA instead of the very secular, very molecular-based ethyl alcohol molecule, if he hadn't given his life up to that higher power, he'd still be alive, with a job, a house, a car and a life.
I'm at a loss to understand the point of the article. That atheists addicts get to have parole on their own terms? That the courts have to provide these atheist "alternative" groups that people they define as "religious" have provided on a private basis? Or that it's just another excuse for whining and religion bashing? What does Rodriguez imagine parole boards and courts are supposed to do with atheist addicts who want parole? I know. I know. I said I wasn't going to write anything this weekend but this one strikes too close to home to ignore it. I will be posting it to another blog that I began and then immediately let lapse.