Horror Stories
True Tales of Misery, Betrayal and Abuse in NA, AA and 12-Step Treatment

Rebecca Fransway
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This book is here courtesy of See Sharp Press and Rebecca Fransway, Ed.

42. Gerald
My Religion Wasn't Allowed

I was court ordered into treatment after a DUI arrest. Yes, I was guilty, but I'm now 10 months alcohol free.

I belong to a non-Judeo-Christian religion called Asatru, which is a reconstruction of pre-Christian Teutonic and Scandinavian beliefs. All other people at the treatment center were allowed to keep their Bibles and other religious literature of a Judeo-Christian nature, while I was denied the right to any books on my religion. I was told, Talk to your counselor about it next week.

A week went by, and I talked to my counselor. I presented her with literature explaining my religion, its beliefs and practices. The next day, I was told by this so-called counselor: This is not a religion, it's a hobby. The arrogance of that remark alone, dismissing an entire religion as a hobby, is inexcusable. This counselor also pushed a fundamentalist Christian viewpoint down our throats during "therapy" sessions.

I really think she expected me to give up and admit defeat, but I took it to the director of the treatment center, who finally allowed me access to two -- and only two -- of the books which I had brought to treatment with me. Actually, it's probably fortunate for them that they did cave in to a degree. At that point, I had already gotten a list of attorneys and was prepared to file a civil rights lawsuit for violation of my First Amendment right to freedom of religion. The center's rules specifically and categorically stated that they weren't allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion. This, of course, wasn't the case in reality.

I was also punished for not participating in the Lord's Prayer at the end of meetings, even though as a part of my own beliefs I cannot in good conscience pray to the gods of another religion. I have to admit that I caved in to the degree that I finally stood up and joined hands but would not pray, because I would never be granted the privilege of being allowed visitors unless I did so.