The Tenth Tradition reminds us that we as a group do not have an opinion on outside issues. This is an important principle, as it keeps our meetings focused on our primary purpose: to help others. As a sober member of twelve-step programs and an active member of the local Buddhist center, I have some experience with keeping outside issues of mine out of the rooms.
Although my participation in this other organization is very helpful to me, has helped me connect with myself and the world, and is very important to my sobriety, it has no place in the rooms. When I speak directly about my “religion” rather than my spiritual program of working the Twelve Steps, I am
minimizing my effectiveness to others.
When someone shares and makes clear his or her religious affiliation, I must admit I close my mind a tiny bit. I am not proud of this quality, but it is the truth. I think if I, with a few years of sobriety, have even the slightest amount of contempt for this, than it is probable that a newcomer also would.
The need to share religious affiliation in meetings baffles me. I often wonder why somebody would share that kind of information. My personal opinion is that it tends to come off in a demeaning way. When somebody speaks about his or her intense religious practice, I feel contempt because I feel judged. I often feel like it is a separating act, not a unifying.
Although at any given meeting there are possibly people with similar religious beliefs, there are generally far more people with different beliefs. One of the
most beautiful things about twelve-step rooms is the unifying of addicts and alcoholics from all different walks of life. Feeling a part of was one of the most wonderful feelings I felt upon entering the rooms. Putting differences out there like religious beliefs is simply unnecessary and certainly unhelpful.
Knowing this, it is my opinion (based on my personal experience, as well as those that came before me), that any religious affiliation should stay out of a
regular meeting. Where I live, there are twelve-step meetings that are designated for people of certain faiths or beliefs, just as there are gender-specific meetings.