A Canadian atheist is suing Alcoholics Anonymous to have all references to God or any higher power from the 12-step program. Here’s the problem: AA is an inherently spiritual program of recovery, it always has been.
AA started when Bill Wilson, who had been in and out of medically- and psychologically-based recovery programs, had a transforming encounter with God. He never drank again and he eventually developed the 12 steps with another recovering alcoholic, Dr. Bill Smith. Both were a part of the evangelical Christian Oxford Group.
The Oxford Group was founded by missionary Dr. Frank Buchman who believed the root of all problems–including addiction–were fear and selfishness. Both he argued are inherently spiritual issues. Dr. Buchman believed that to learn to live with fear and selfishness, a person needed to surrender one’s life to God’s sovereign moment-by-moment presence.
So, to imagine that AA would now be able to expunge God–who is already depersonalized and non-specified in AA as “a Power greater than ourselves”–is to deny the experience of all those for whom surrender has paved the way to recovery.