If at first you don’t succeed… – by Godless Teen
Many of you may remember some of the problems I had with teachers earlier in the school year. Well, I’m back with another set of stories to share with you, and this time, it’s not about teachers denying scientific fact: it’s about schools proselytizing directly towards students.
To give you a little background:
Many of you have probably heard of groups like “Alcoholics Anonymous” and “Emotions Anonymous”; they’re organizations that allow people to come in, sit down, and talk about their problems to people similar to them. Both of these groups have 12-step programs designed towards getting people off of alcohol, sex, drugs, etc.
There’s another spinoff on these “Anonymous” groups: Overeating Anonymous.
So here we are today, in my Health class, when my teacher announces- Hey, guess what, we’re having some guest speakers come in here today. They’re from a group called Overeaters Anonymous, and they want to talk to you about how people will often overeat to deal with stress.
That wasn’t the part that I had an issue with. It was what was written on the board that started to get me to feel concerned:
Unless you have really great eyes, you probably won’t be able to read that. So, I went onto OA’s web site, and copied and pasted the written text below [bold added for extra emphasis]:
- We admitted we were powerless over food — that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Out of 12 steps, at least 7 of them directly mentioned God. Even with the other five, there are many indirect ways that the message could be related to God, or, by including those reasons in the steps, OA sent out implied messages to students who read them.
In other words, we had a proselytization group on our hands.
Partway through the presentation, I asked this (after the presenters mentioned that the group was “spiritual” and not religious… We’ve all heard that one before):
Me: One thing I was wondering about was- what’s the difference between this group being spiritual and this group being religious?
(On a side note, if you couldn’t tell, I’m a very awkward speaker. It’s really terrible, quite honestly)
Speaker: Being religious is a lot of rules you have to keep, y’know… And there are consequences to breaking those rules. Spirituality to me is a relationship with the higher Power… Our eleventh step is “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out”, and prayer is talking to my higher Power, and meditation is listening to my higher power. It’s more about relationships with the higher Power.
Me: And this (*gestures towards the board*) is the twelve step program that you guys are endorsing, right?
Ok, so now we know that:
1. Spirituality and religion are the exact same thing, no surprise there- the speaker uses faulty definitions here, and
2. The group officially states that it was endorsing this 12-step program to schoolchildren.
Be it on the part of the school, or of Overeaters Anonymous, this is completely in violation of the First Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing that Congress will not promote religion. The use of “higher Power” is still unacceptable; it still promotes religion in general, and, given the repetition of “God” throughout the steps and the speaking, it still implies, specifically, “God”, as in the Christian God.
Nothing- nothing- justifies the fact that this group came and proselytized to us. As somebody who suffers from mental illness and has a lot of friends (some of which are atheists) that also suffers from mental illness, this is disgusting, revolting, and absolutely insulting. It uses students like us in an attempt to turn us into proselytizing Christians. What- did the group decide that, since we were starting to grow old, that the only way they could attempt to convert more kids to Christianity, being that their proselytizing was no longer as effective as it was in elementary and middle schools, decide to target vulnerable, mentally unstable, innocent kids instead?
I am disgusted by whoever is ultimately responsible for this, and, when I’m done with this, I promise that I’ll be teaching you a few lessons in the American legal justice system.