Last week, right before the start of our convention, something important happened.

We filed a landmark lawsuit against the state of West Virginia for forcing incarcerated people to submit to Christian activities.

Andrew Miller, an atheist in a West Virginia prison, must attend a Christian-based recovery program as a condition of release. The West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation is refusing to provide him with a secular alternative, such as Smart Recovery or LifeRing.

This is wrong. Atheists and other non-Christians cannot be forced to undergo Christian-based deprogramming to be eligible for parole.

This is an attack on our freedom of and from religion—and that’s why we’re suing the state of West Virginia.

Many Americans don’t know it, but twelve-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous aren’t just religious. They’re explicitly anti-atheist.

The “Big Book,” these programs’ foundational document, tells nonreligious people that they are “doomed to alcoholic death” unless they “seek Him.” This text derides us as “handicapped by obstinacy, sensitiveness, and unreasoning prejudice.” It’s no wonder, then, that Step 3 calls on participants to “turn [their] will and lives over to the care of God as [they] understood him,” and Step 11 tells people to “[seek] through prayer and meditation to improve conscious contact with God as [they] understood him, praying only for knowledge of His will for [them] and the power to carry that out.”

A court should never force anyone into a program full of religious propaganda.

That’s why we are attacking this problem on two fronts. Not only have we filed this important lawsuit, but we have also been introducing state-level legislation to ensure that no one gets stuck in a religion-based recovery program.

Help stop the government from imposing religion on people. Your donation of $15, $50, or $250 will directly support our lawsuit against the state of West Virginia—and provide support to advocates on the ground in all 50 states.

Thank you for your continued support.


Nick Fish

American Atheists is a 501(c)(3) non-partisan, nonprofit educational organization that relies on the support of members like you. Contributions are tax-deductible. Our Federal Tax ID Number is 74-2466507 and our Combined Federal Campaign number is 52217.

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