Heretic on the Hill: Help Support Secular Treatment Programs

What happens when you order pizzas at the Rayburn House Office Building and tell secular House staff to show up for lunch?  They show up! We had the first ever Secular House Staff Lunch this week so we could get to know more of them and they could get to know the Secular Coalition for America.

You can read more about the lunch here if you didn’t see our email about it on Wednesday. And if you missed the last Heretic on the Hill because it was Memorial Day weekend you can read about something we got in a bill here that we couldn’t have done without help from House staffers. That one was about a visa program for ministers and scientologists.


When a judge sentences someone to attend an alcohol or substance abuse treatment program that person may or may not be told that they have the option to choose a secular treatment program instead of the traditional faith-based 12-step program, which includes the step “coming to believe in a higher power.” In New York a bill is waiting for the Governor’s signature which would require judges to inform people about secular treatment programs available to them. Two things:

  • New York would be the first state to enact this requirement, setting a precedent and an example for other states.
  • This bill was vetoed by Governor Hochul last year but there are indications she may sign it this time.

It seems the bill was vetoed previously because the judges thought this would be too much extra work. We are hopeful that problem has been resolved.

If we can get secular treatment options notification established in one state it will soon spread to others. Why? Because this is just common sense; any addiction therapist will agree that providing a treatment program that meets the religious or nonreligious beliefs of the participants will result in better outcomes for the participants, and that means more people with drug or alcohol-free lives and fewer of them back in court as repeat offenders.

The same bill has been introduced in Michigan so the idea is getting a national foothold. Please go to our Action Alert to ask Governor Hochul to sign this bill and set a precedent for the rest of the country.


Spreading Happiness

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