For Immediate Release
Contact: Jasmine Banks, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-238-9088
(Washington, DC, December 27, 2022) – The American Humanist Association decries New York Governor Hochul’s decision to veto S7313A, a bill that would have non-religious recovery options for those mandated to attend recovery programs in New York. The bill passed the legislature with bipartisan support, and only needed the Governor’s signature to become law.
If it had been enacted into law, the bill would have required a court to ascertain whether a defendant had an objection to any religious elements of a substance use treatment program. If the defendant did object to a religious element of the program, the court would be required to identify an alternative, equivalent program.
Humanists, atheists, and non-Christians encountering problems with mandated religious-based programs has long been a known issue, and multiple court cases have affirmed secular recovery options as a constitutional right.
Nadya Dutchin, Executive Director of the American Humanist Association, states “Individuals involved in the criminal justice system should have the option to participate in rehabilitation services that are non-religious in nature – especially when mandated by the government. We know that an evidence-based program like SMART Recovery is an effective and holistically better choice for so many people’s lives. We absolutely want to ensure those struggling with substance use disorders can access help programs that are effective and free of religious propaganda.”
The American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming worldview of humanism, which—without beliefs in gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.