The day the debate died

Following is (probably) my final go with friendofbillw:

>Sorry about that- next time I’ll do my research before I jump to conclusions. I do think your closed-minded though.

No problem, but why specifically do you consider me closed-minded? Is it simply because I don’t accept the theistic doctrine of AA? I also don’t accept that Santa Claus exists. Does this, too, make me closed-minded in regards to Christmas?

>The idea of “separation of church and state” is a metaphor for what the constitution explicitly states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of RELIGION, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”
T. Jefferson (I, too, can google and quote)

Clearly, this was not just a metaphor. Jefferson was saying that we must keep state and church separate as much for the protection of the church as of the state. One of the implications of the text you quoted is that the government cannot show support for any one religious idea over any other. Theism is a religious idea as in it originates from religions and chiefly they promote it. So no, supporting an organization that is not nominally a church is not a specific violation of church/state separation, but supporting an organization that promotes specifically religious ideas does.

>My friend, AA is not a religion, regardless of how bad you want it to be. It is spiritual by nature, and for SOME people it is theistic, but it is NOT a religion. That, my dear, is a fact.

I agree! I never said it was a religion. I said it was religious. One of its central doctrines is a specifically (mono)theistic idea, one that cannot be verified. For the government in any way to support this theistic idea violates the separation.

>According to the unabridged Random House 2010 Dictionary, the first definition of religion is as follows: “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” I’ve only read the Big Book twice now and the 12 and 12 once, but I have not found any evidence of a “set of beliefs” regarding the creation and purpose of the universe.

Saying that there is a Higher Power, a God, and what he and it do (among other specific doctrines) is obviously a “set of beliefs.” True, AA says nothing about the creation of the universe, but not every religious idea has to do with that. And you know that.

>no moral code (the 12 steps are NOT a moral code, they do NOT tell us right from wrong),

Of course there’s a moral code! It says right there in the steps how one should promptly admit when one’s wrong. That’s certainly an ethical instruction. It’s a sound ethical instruction, but an instruction nonetheless.

>and no rituals are laid out in any AA literature (should some meetings choose to carry out given rituals, that is up their group conscience, but it is not in any AA literature to do so).

Whether it’s in the official AA literature or not has nothing to do with the practicality of the situation. Some meetings I’ve been to specifically invoke god. Some don’t. But the fact that it’s even tolerated makes it theistic.

>I know that mention of the G-word is killing you, but talking about the Big Guy, doesn’t make AA a religion.

Again, my claim is not that it is a religion, but that it is religious in nature and specifically that it promotes obviously religious ideas. Lord’s Prayer and Serenity Prayer anyone?

>If you agree that it’s not a religion, then it’s not a violation of church/state separation because, as can be seen by the constitution, said metaphor is in regards to religion, not God.

I suggest you read some Jefferson because that’s hardly the point. Just because something is not labeled a religion does not mean that it doesn’t violate the Constitution. But I already pointed this out above.

>Not to mention, almost every government document in our country’s history has the word “God” in it

I was waiting for you to bring this up. Everyone does eventually.

>(see: the Pledge of Allegiance,

The words “under God” were added in 1954 specifically in reaction to the Red Scare aka Communists who by their nature had no official belief in god and so we needed a doctrine to separate us from them. Feel free to look this up.

>any dollar bill….

See above.

>oh yeah, and the constitution).

I just downloaded and searched the text of the Constitution. Not one mention.

>Finally, let’s just say you’re right about everything (which you haven’t been able to prove with actual documented research, Mr. Everything-Has-to-be-Proven);

Ha ha 🙂 Fair enough. Point out for me what I’ve not proven and I’ll endeavor to do so.

>then said violation of Church and state would be made on the behalf of the STATE, not AA. It’s not AA’s fault if the government wants to (hypothetically) violate the constitution.

I agree that it is not inherently AA’s fault. What AA should do, though, is anything about it. Obviously the state should as well.

>And if you’re going to tell me that AA shouldn’t comply with signing papers and welcoming people who were sent their by the government then you really don’t give a damn about suffering alcoholics, many of whom come into AA because they are sent by spouses, kids, or the state and end up getting sober and staying in AA for life.

You’re making an emotionally loaded assumption. Yes, I give a damn about people’s suffering. Who doesn’t? Should AA comply with an obvious Constitutional violation? Do the ends justify the means? I dunno. It is illegal and unethical, but I understand that all situations are not created equally, there is such a thing as an unjust law, etc. But if AA is truly interested in helping those who help themselves, it’s all by choice, blah blah blah, it should by that nature have a problem with signing papers for parole officers. Those alleged alcoholics don’t want to be there anyway. And, again, by AA’s own internal numbers, there is no guarantee that the program helps more people than it doesn’t anyway. So how much alleviated suffering are we realistically talking about here?

>You’re clearly not going to see my side of it and I’m clearly not going to see yours. If you intend to post anything more in regards to trying to prove me wrong, I’m simply not going to approve it. Not because I am afraid to be proven wrong, but because this debate, while entertaining, is just getting plain annoying. It’s like talking to an obstinate child, in which case the best thing to do is just ignore them until they find someone else to bother.

Whether you choose to approve posts or not is obviously your prerogative. Before you ignore this, though, consider that it may not be that we disagree all that much. Again, all my objections are are that AA preaches an unverifiable doctrine and that the state has no business giving preference to AA specifically because of that doctrine. That’s it.

Since you’re not going to approve of this anyway, I take issue with calling me an obstinate child. I’ve not reacted emotionally or harshly to anything you’ve said. I’ve asked for evidence of claims and clarity on definitions.

And finally, I sincerely ask that you look up the things I’ve suggested. Too many times we all base our opinions off of
misinformation, something we can easily fix.


The only thing that really pisses me off about this person is that he/she is so eager to toss ethics out the window for the sake of the program. Let’s pretend, for a moment, that there is no separation of church and state. That’s not a good thing! Remember, people, the amendment is there to protect all of you, even the kooky ones. If the US were to become a theocracy tomorrow, there’s no guarantee that it’d pick your personal brand of bullshit. Why then, does everyone shrug off the ethical implications of the violations of separation? “It’s already on the money” or “It’s in the Constitution” both implying “who cares?” We all do! How would you feel if it said “One white nation under a white god” black people? How would you feel if it said “one straight nation under a straight god” gay people? If you’d have any problem with that, then you must have a problem with what’s already there for, by it’s nature, it’s exclusive to those who hold that specific doctrine.

Just because it’s not necessarily rounding you up and putting you in a camp doesn’t mean it’s right!

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