Months after its passage, an important bill that would expand treatment options for secular people struggling with substance abuse has now been sent to New York Governor Kathy Hochul. She should sign it into law immediately.
The purpose of the law (Senate Bill S7313A / Assembly Bill A8163) is fairly straightforward. When someone in New York is told by a judge to complete a substance abuse treatment program, the new law would require courts to ask whether the person “has an objection to any religious element of that program.” (One of the “Twelve Steps” offered by Alcoholics Anonymous, for example, is giving yourself to “God” or “a Power greater than ourselves.&rdquo If the defendant has an objection, the court would need to offer an alternative program without the religious element.
Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, the only openly non-theistic member of the state legislature, explained the necessity of this bill when he introduced it over a year ago: ...