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Atheist Sues to Avoid Alcoholics Anonymous Treatment

By Ceylan Pumphrey, Esq. on March 07, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Alcoholics Anonymous is an important part of recovery for many addicts. But, according to James Lindon, it's "rooted in monotheistic spirituality," which is a problem for him as an atheist. Convicted of drug charges, he claims that he was forced by the judge and treatment providers to participate in Alcoholics Anonymous as part of his sentence. Well, Lindon has sued the judge, a treatment center and program, and Cuyahonga County departments and officials claiming:

"Defendants' policies, customs, and actions amount to state-endorsed and impermissible interference with plaintiff's free exercise of religion, or impermissible establishment of religion or endorsement of religion, entanglement with religion, promotion of one religion over another religion, or promotion of religion over non-religion."

Why He Was Convicted

In 2016, Lindon was working as a pharmacist at an outpatient clinic when he stole five hydrocodone pills from the clinic. Then, when confronted by security guards, he swallowed four of the pills. As a result of his actions, he was convicted of theft, drug possession, and tampering with evidence. Lindon was consequently sentenced to two years of probation and 30 days in an in-patient substance abuse program.

His Issue With Alcoholics Anonymous

According to Lindon's complaint, he claims that in order successfully complete his probation and treatment, he was required to take part in Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program. More specifically, Lindon claims that his failure to participate in the 12-step program would result in "incarceration or other detrimental consequences."

Lindon's specific issue with this program is that it's dependent on belief in a "higher power" or a single God and "compelling any person to attend de facto religious services as a part of mandatory substance abuse treatment program is a predictable and systemic violation of constitutional law." After objecting to the religious element of Alcoholics Anonymous program, Lindon claims that the staff at the treatment center refused to adjust his treatment plan.

You can read the full lawsuit below:

James Lindon Complaint by FindLaw on Scribd

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