Conference-approved literature


By Roger C.

Many of us are hopeful that this year’s General Service Conference will approve a pamphlet that welcomes agnostics and atheists in AA and, in so doing, acknowledges that a God has nothing at all to do with our sobriety.

One of the names proposed for such a pamphlet is “AA – Spiritual Not Religious.”

Let’s be clear, though. We, personally, don’t need that pamphlet. After all, we already know that we got sober in AA without the assistance of an interventionist deity. Nor do we rely on the Conference to tell us what literature will be helpful to us in either our short or long-term recovery.

Let me explain, starting with the second point.

* * *

The term Conference-approved, according to the General Service Office “does not imply Conference disapproval of other material about AA. A great deal of literature helpful to alcoholics is published by others, and AA does not try to tell any individual member what he or she may or may not read.” (Service Material from the General Service Office)

Of course, as agnostics and atheists in AA we know that. Let me offer just two examples of non-conference-approved literature that have been found to be helpful in the rooms of AA.

The first is a book that was published two decades ago called A Woman’s Way Through the Twelve Steps.  Many women’s groups across North America use readings from this book, written by Stephanie Covington, at their meetings. As Linda R. reports in her review on AA Agnostica:

…this book is focused on exploring different perspectives on the Steps, in order for alcoholics to create their own path of recovery. Using the Steps as guides, the book helps them discover or rediscover what they think, feel and believe and connect this to their actions and their relations with other people in the world around them.

Why is such a book necessary? Well, read the Conference-approved Alcoholics Anonymous. Women were, at best, ignored in the Big Book, their roles understood as secondary to and supportive of the more important humans: men. Nor were the 12 Steps written with any understanding of a woman’s experience or needs.

A much more recent book that is increasingly popular for alcoholics everywhere is Joe C’s Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life. It is a wonderful book of daily reflections. I watched Joe work at writing this book for over four years, and was shocked and delighted when he published it. As Carol M. asks in her review of the book, also on AA Agnostica, “Where else would you find Sam Harris followed by Mother Teresa, Bill Wilson followed with Anais Nin, a doctor’s opinion by Dr. Seuss or a spiritual perspective from Albert Einstein?”

I am aware of Joe’s book already being used at a number of agnostic AA meetings across North America. And why is this book necessary? Simply because of its diversity, the multiplicity and the richness of the  viewpoints shared in it. Daily reflection books are important. Alcoholics and addicts buy roughly 800,000 of them every single year. Most of these books are religious, explicitly Christian. This is a secular daily reflections book, and now has a vitally important place in the recovery of alcoholics and addicts.

Now, here’s the thing – neither of these books, and hundreds of others of inestimable value to those in recovery – will ever be “Conference-approved.”

Why not?

Because the term “Conference-approved literature” is meant only to identify the books “solely owned, copyrighted and published” by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services (AAWS). As Barefoot’s World puts it: “The statement Conference Approved in no way constitutes a list of any written documents of which an AA body approves or disapproves… What any AA member or group reads is no business of the GSO or of the Conference.” (What Conference Approved Literature Means)

So, again, back to question.

Why would we care if there is a Conference-approved pamphlet for agnostics and atheists in AA if we have no personal need for such a pamphlet and if it’s nobody’s business what we read except our very own?

Because “Conference-approved” means censorship. “Conference-approved” has come to mean the non-inclusion and expulsion of groups using non-conference approved literature.

This is not new, but it is growing worse. The tendency was the subject of a talk almost thirty years ago by the former General Service manager of the GSO, Bob Pearson. Here is what he had to say at his eighteenth and last General Service Conference in 1986:

If you were to ask me what is the greatest danger facing AA today, I would have to answer: the growing rigidity — the increasing demand for absolute answers to nit-picking questions; pressure for GSO to “enforce” our Traditions; screening alcoholics at closed meetings; prohibiting non-Conference-approved literature, i.e., “banning books;” laying more and more rules on groups and members.

Any of that sound familiar today?

In life-j’s recent article, Yet Another Intergroup Fight, he writes that “a member of the god faction even countered with a motion that in order for a meeting to be listed it… only use AA approved literature. At this point even the moderates got scared that AA would move to something more rigid than what we had started with. It may yet.”

Agnostic Meetings

The most positive thing we can do is continue to create new meetings – listed or not. Deirdre S, the website weaver for the website, has put together some encouraging statistics about the growth of agnostic meetings in AA. Click on the image for the full report.

Not it may yet. It already has in some places.

As reported in another article on this website, Booting the bastards out, the Greater Vancouver Intergroup Society turfed two agnostic groups for “using non GSO conference approved literature.”

The same thing is happening as we speak in Portland, Oregon. And in perhaps a dozen other cities across the United States and Canada.

Nevertheless, some of us believe that a “Conference-approved” pamphlet that might be called “AA – Spiritual Not Religious” could be a tiny step towards encouraging the more doctrinal and literalist members of our fellowship to be more tolerant towards those members of AA who don’t believe there is a God out there in the cosmos preoccupied with helping them to not get drunk again.

I emphasize the word “tiny.”

But it could indeed help the agnostic or atheist newcomer to AA: “Hey, friend, there’s a pamphlet just for you on the literature table! Welcome!”

And if some Christian member said something remarkably asinine like, “You can’t get sober without God,” then a new option for a response is available: “That is not true. And it says so right in this Conference-approved pamphlet called ‘AA – Spiritual Not Religious.’ Here’s a copy, Christian. Please be quiet and read it.”

Or words to that effect.

And if you can’t do those two things with it, then it is not a pamphlet for agnostics and atheists and it is of no value or interest to us.

We are admittedly only discussing a short term good. What ultimately has to go is the term “Conference-approved.” Why not simply “Conference-published”? Or as Denis in Vancouver suggests, “Conference-developed”?

The term “Conference-approved” will always do far more harm than it does good. Anyone who gives it any thought at all will recognize that it is the perfect formula for censorship.

And that’s exactly what is happening.

And that is not what the fellowship of AA is about.

* * *

Last Sunday’s post, AA – Spiritual Not Religious, attracted some wonderful comments. Towards the end of the discussion, Margaret B. posted this comment:

I just want to say that I am of the view that AA is a religious fellowship that encourages the practice of spiritual principles. All these years many of us have wanted this pamphlet but I’m not so sure it’s a good idea after all. To say that AA is “spiritual not religious” is just simply not true. Why would we want AA to publish a pamphlet encouraging this false statement; this dishonesty? All this would do is reiterate that AA continues to lie about the fact that the program is in fact faith-based! AA is a religious fellowship that tries to promote the practice of spiritual principles. That’s all… no more, no less.

I was struck by her comment and pondered it off and on for several days. And you know, she is absolutely correct. And it’s not just Margaret who is of this opinion. As Linda R. writes in The Courts, AA and Religion: “Inside AA, one hears members frequently repeat the well-known phrase ‘AA is spiritual, not religious.’ AA takes pride in saying it’s not religious. But what do outsiders, such as the court systems, think about AA’s claim?” Of course, the Courts in the United States over the last decades have repeatedly, consistently and unanimously decreed that AA is a religious program.

As long as meetings end with the Lord’s Prayer, AA is a religious program. As long as the 12 Steps include references to God and groups are booted out of regional Intergroups for writing versions of the Steps without the God-bit, AA is a religious program.

If AA truly wants to be spiritual and not religious then some serious work has to be done, and it has to be done soon.

Or as the author of Beyond Belief, Joe C., once said: ““My bold prediction is that if AA doesn’t accommodate change and diversify, our 100th anniversary will be a fellowship of men and women with the same stature and relevance as the Mennonites; charming, harmless and irrelevant.”

45 Responses

  1. allan c. says:

    The answer to what to read is in the Big Book page 87.

    The 12×12 page 98.

    Read what you like.


  2. Noelle says:

    I will admit that I haven’t read all the replies, but those that I did…..? It would appear that most folks do not understand what the term ‘conference approved’ means.

    ‘Conference approved does NOT mean what literature may or may not be read in meetings. It only means what literature was approved for publishing/printing by their own printing company.

    Obviously, there’s lots of literature out there that they would approve, but can’t because the copyrights are owned by other companies.

  3. Jeremy T. says:

    I just finished going through the very dry delegates report I picked up yesterday. I was anxious and hopeful to see if this pamphlet was approved. They approved a pamphlet on spirituality with the title “Many Paths to Spirituality”. Is the one we’ve been waiting for!?

    • Roger says:

      We will have a review of this pamphlet – and yes it is the one we thought we were waiting for – when it is published, Jeremy, sometime in late July or early August.

      • dan h. says:

        Hmmm . . . The other night, I delivered my GSR report and highlighted the conference’s approval of the “Many Pathways” pamphlet, giving a bit of explanation as to why it’s important (primarily because it serves as a stamp of legitimacy for those who remain sober without, to borrow a phrase, an interventionist deity). Imagine my surprise later that same evening when my wife brought home the pamphlet (conference approved), AA as a Resource for the Health Care Professional, and I read the following: “. . . no belief in God is necessary; atheists and agnostics find plenty of company in A.A.”

    • Lon Mc. says:

      The title “Many Paths to Spirituality” ignited my own skepticism alert to a maximal degree. I am curious to see if our delegates somehow were able to include real world atheists like me on one of the “many paths to spirituality”. I doubt it – but will hold off any final judgment on it until the next episode of this action packed drama (i.e. after my own reading of the pamphlet.)

    • dan says:

      Our area delegate’s report included this on the issue:
      The Literature Committee recommended and the conference approved the “Many Pathways to Spirituality” pamphlet in one of the most hearfelt discussions of the conference. The pamphlet includes references to the “Great Spirit,” God, “Creative Intelligence,” Higher Power, “Allah,” and the Lord’s Prayer, and several short paragraphs about the real world battle tested experience of A.A.s including Agnostics and Atheists.
      (Note the unconscious bias implied by the use of quotes–god and higher power being exempt.)
      I wouldn’t call this too promising, but at a minimum, it gives an implicit stamp of approval from on high for non-believers to be legitimate sober members.

  4. Dan says:

    I’m a bit confused by the antipathy toward the Conference-approved issue. While it restricts inclusion of material that we progressives might like to see, its greater effect is surely to protect us from bibles and Watchtowers in the lit rack.

  5. Dan says:

    Just got word that the pamphlet was approved and should be out this Fall.

    • Roger says:

      Yes, it has, Dan! We will be sharing that information with the folks on our distribution list tomorrow morning. Good news, indeed!

      • larry k says:

        I feel like a burden has been lifted from my shoulders….


        • Tommy H says:

          Is this pamphlet specifically for atheists and agnostics and no other group of drunks?

          • Roger says:

            That’s my understanding, Tommy. This is a good opportunity to get in touch with the delegate from your area. Many areas hold an Information Day after the Conference – in Toronto it’s on May 24 – and you could find out more about the pamphlet, which will be published in July, at that event as well.

    • Duncan says:

      Let us hope that the pamphlet is also written by atheists, agnostics or whatever when it is printed. I don’t think that it should be like the We Agnostics chapter in AA where it was clearly written from a Christian perspective.

      We don’t need any more of that crap.

  6. Chris G says:

    On the definition of Spirituality —

    Back in the 70’s when I was a cubicle slave, my company had us all watch a really remarkable video called “You Are What You Were When” by a Dr. Morris Massey. I never forgot it, but didn’t think about it much until, in AA, I started trying to come to terms with the “spiritual experience” phenomenom.

    Dr. Massey’s basic message is that our programming in our early years defines who we become – it sets the tracks deep, deep in our brains. That was cutting edge stuff back then. He went on to say that the only way we change really deep, basic attitudes, emotions, and instinctive actions is by having a “significant emotional experience”. That experience must be something that gets to us on such a powerful level that it is capable of re-programming us in some of those deep, basic areas.

    He described those “deep emotional experiences” as the kind that makes your hair stand on end, or brings tears to your eyes. Probably not those exact words – it’s been a long time – but that was the idea.

    I’ve had a number of those Deep Emotional Experiences’s in AA, all leading to sobriety and my own progress not perfection. All the time my co-AA’s were talking “spiritual” I was thinking “deep emotional.”

    I’ve talked about this with many more or less religious AAs. Mostly they insist I’m just trying to rename a spiritual experience, and can’t understand why. As far as I am concerned it is the same thing; I just prefer a brain re-programming activity to supernatural intervention. I can appreciate the former, but can’t believe in the latter.

    I agree with the others who have said that the word “spiritual” is by now so fuzzy as to be meaningless. I’ve been looking for a nice short sharp word or phrase to take the place of “significant emotional experience” – which is way too long and cold. Any ideas?

    BTW, I looked it up and you can still get Masseys original tape – for about $600!

    • Duncan says:

      Chris, I think of spirituality as being a link between your conscious and your subconscious self, a bit like how you feel when you wake up in the morning. You have not thought about it but it is how you are. If you like a good mood or a bad mood or anything else. Body, mind and spirit if you like. You can change this if you want to.

      However there is a sense of it which other humans can pick up on. We tend to know when there is danger or even when there is an awkward silence in a room but we don’t always know why. We see it a football matches and so on when it is a collective subconscious. We feel it when babies cry. All part of being human.

    • Pat N. says:

      Thanks for your thoughts. I agree that the “deep emotional experience” equates m/l with what some call “spiritual experience”. Our problem as a species (so far) is finding common words for real things beyond words. The universe is entirely energy(ies), apparently, and to me all these phenomena are manifestations of some underlying Energy being experienced by our Spirit/Soul /Mind/Whatever. Since it’s energy, I agree w/Newton that our S/S/M/W keeps on in some form/format after the body signs off.
      Thanks for stimulating my evening.

    • Ric S. says:

      SIGEMEX = Significant emotional experience. Whaddya think ?

  7. Duncan says:

    Just thought I would show some of the questions on the agenda for the British Conference.

    Committee 3

    1. Would the Fellowship discuss if the needs of agnostic and atheist members are adequately provided for throughout AA’s literature?

    1. The pamphlet ‘AA and the Gay/Lesbian Alcoholic’ states ‘We are not religious’, page 16
    2. The pamphlet ‘Do you think you’re Different’, pages 15 and 31
    3. Preamble
    4. Alcoholics Anonymous, Chapter 4
    5. Came to Believe
    6. 12 Steps and 12 Traditions

  8. Allan C. says:

    Re: conference approved

    Pages 87 in the Big Book & 98 in the 12×12 say read what you like.

  9. debra s. says:

    Great idea! To be more inclusive and create another guide for ‘we the alcoholic’ is a wonderful idea.
    I have been around the tables since 1990. I am an agnostic, and being raised in a home that went to church, I was used to the religious phrases. I gravitated towards the members who did not have the intense religious jargon to relate with. At meetings my mantra was to, ‘take what works and leave the rest behind’, and remember ‘principals
    before personalities’. Being a young professional woman, I can
    attest to the lack of information directed our way.
    I am not one for absolutes. Tolerance is a better way for myself, but I have witnessed others who need and want the religious experience.
    To each his own.

  10. Daniel C. says:

    I brought up the topic of the pamphlet at our last business meeting. I being the only Atheist in our group went into it knowing the outcome but I am now being very open about my feelings about the program whenever it comes up.
    I like what I just read in this article. And I agree that the pamphlet would help with the lie.
    I am grateful for my sobriety and hit the 4 year mark today.
    Without C) of the three pertinent ideas.
    An article I read on this site introduced me to LifeRing. I am very interested in their program and would like to start a chapter. I am not alone here in Windsor in my belief that the program is too religious.
    AA not being a religious program is like saying Beer pong is a game. Not a drinking game.
    I am happy I have AA Agnostica to help.
    Keep up the great work.
    And I must say I couldn’t have had a better roommate in treatment. Roger was the best.

    • Roger says:

      Daniel, I can’t remember laughing as hard as you and I did as we worked our way through Homewood. Really great to hear from you, my friend.

      • Daniel C. says:

        Laugh we did. They were great times. I’ll come up soon. I love all you are doing for those like me. It is greatly appreciated.

    • Pat N. says:

      Daniel, some of us in my We Ags group also like the format/attitude of LifeRing, and are experimenting with starting an AA group using them (The SoberSelf/Addicted Self idea, the “how was your week” format, the conversational tone). We tried starting an LR meeting, and it didn’t fly. Also, we can see the LR approach being a gentler/secular entry point for newcomers, with the hope that they may feel freer to take advantage of the abundant regular AA meetings later on. We’re still committed AA members, will register as soon as we pick a name, have elected a GSR, etc.

  11. Skip D. says:

    As a result of repeated disappointment, and the slim possibility of change in AA as a whole, we (three AA members) have decided to adopt the grassroots approach. Thus, we are planning a Freethinker’s AA Meeting here in Ithaca, NY. This is our meeting format, so far. Any comments will be welcome.

    Welcome to the Ithaca Freethinkers Meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. We welcome all who suffer from alcoholism, regardless of their world view.

    We endorse no particular program or method of recovery. We simply invite all to share their own experience of whatever it is that has helped them.

    We use principles from the AA Preamble and the AA Traditions as our organizational and operational guide.

    (AA Preamble is read)

    Does anyone have an alcoholism related topic, problem or solution for discussion tonight?

    (Chairperson conducts a discussion meeting, encouraging the sharing of personal experience relating to the topic)

    (7th Tradition explanation and basket passing)

    We are out of time. Are there any announcements? Thank you all for sharing and listening. Please come again.

    Note: We don’t use any organized praying or recitations so as not promote any particular style of recovery. This makes the meeting an open forum for all, including religious believers.

    Again, any comments will be appreciated.

    • Eric T says:

      I love it Skip, that’s exactly the kind of meeting I would seek out if I were travelling in your area. Go for it!

    • Roger says:

      It is very similar to a few meetings I attend where the Chair asks for three topic suggestions from those in attendance:

      This is a topic meeting. Typically those present select three topics and then each person has an opportunity to share on one or all of the topics.

      It usually makes for a good discussion, and every meeting ends up being new and different.

    • Denis K says:

      Hi Skip,
      This is a great idea for a meeting format: it gets right to the point, eliminates reading how it works and sparks spontaneity and openness. It’s a great way of presenting an easy way for people with something on their minds to speak up.
      Several of us are considering establishing yet another WAFT group here in Vancouver (hello Jim and Vickie at Central Office). This style of format will be a big hit and hardly something the BB thumpers could label “non kosher”!
      Thanks for sharing this.

  12. Duncan says:

    When I was doing a presentation in work in 1982 or so there was a British AA promotional video. I cannot remember the name of it but it was presented by a then well known TV presenter.

    It was about introducing ordinary people, certainly non-alcoholics, to AA. One part of the video then disposed of the God bit in AA as the general public thought of as religious.

    I paraphrase but it went something like this: for some AA members God in AA means the conventional God. For more it is a god of your own understanding and for yet more the word god had no significance whatsoever.

    I don’t think you can get it any clearer than that but alas I have not seen literature saying the same thing.

  13. Lon Mc. says:

    When I was a somewhat skeptical newcomer to AA thirty years ago, my first sponsor offered me the “spiritual, not religious” characterization of AA as an apparent compromise to encourage me to keep coming back. In time it was evident that “spiritual” was the welcome mat to “higher power,” and ultimately a “god” that I could believe in, maybe “the God”. I think Joe C’s “spiritual,” as I partially understand it, is admirable. But unfortunately, a very large percent of humans entangle it with unsupported beliefs that dance in and around religious dogma or some other variety of the paranormal. I agree with JHG that a title for a pamphlet for agnostics and atheists would be better without the word “spiritual.”

  14. Christopher G says:

    Thank you, Margaret, for the wake up call that AA is indeed a religious program encouraging spirituality (whatever that is, defined by each of us!) and thank you Thomas B for sharing my sentiments as well, and thank you Roger C for the whole article and the continuation of this website, and to all you others for the inspiration and edification of open-minded views.

  15. Tommy H says:

    Very well said but I think you are preaching to the choir.

    I don’t think it’s so much we agnostics/atheist/freethinkers/whatever are not welcome to A.A., but that A.A. expects us to come around to their thinking. If you look in the two text books and As Bill Sees It, whenever Wilson entreats us to be open minded, it almost always refers to coming around to his way of thinking, e.g. a supernatural higher power.

    A problem I see in reading posts and responses here for a few weeks is we tend to talk past each other as the meanings of words and phrases are different for many of us. I would like to see acceptable definitions for a number of these words/phrases, such as: higher power, God with a G, god w/o a g, recovery, recovered, spirituality, und so wieder.

    I also see a lot of passive-aggressive anger, which is sad.

    If the anticipated pamphlet is just stories of a couple of alkies making it to A.A. who do not believe in a supernatural higher power, it would be a mistake. I think a statement is needed to the effect that one can recover w/o a belief in the same. That would be significant.

  16. Joe C says:

    Groups without prayer (agnostics, humanists, freethinkers etc.) now number 149 face-to-face (f2f) + e-meetings, + online groups and communities; isn’t that something? Thanks Deirdre for posting these stats. From 2010 to 2014, that’s a 67% increase in f2f meetings.

    I expect that one day agnostic AA groups will be everywhere they are needed and wanted. One day, AA groups for nonbelievers will be as matter of fact as meetings for women, youth or the LGTBQ community. I see it more akin to our language issue. Of course there are Russian, French, Spanish, Punjabi and Arabic Big Books and groups. These people are AA members like anyone else but they have slightly different cultural views and they speak a different language.

    I think of nonbelievers in AA members as like anyone else but we speak a different language (our narrative of what it was like, what happened, and what it’s like now) than AA members who believe in an intervening higher power. In fact, we all speak a slightly different language. To the extent that we can open our minds and hearts, we have more AA members we can identify with.

    Sure, I would like to see a pamphlet that recognized atheism/skepticism as a legitimate framework to which one approaches the fellowship and program. If the proposed pamphlet is approved at this year’s conference—even better. It is my hope that such literature would reinforce a pluralist and welcoming AA.

  17. JHG says:

    I don’t like the title “Spiritual Not Religious” for several reasons. First, the word spiritual doesn’t really mean anything. There is no definition of spiritual that even most people would agree on. Second, “spiritual not religious” has unfortunate connotations. It is too often used to perpetuate the blatant lie that AA is not religious. Third, it is virtually impossible to tease out the difference between spiritual and religious, since for most people, they are in fact inseparable. And finally, for me personally, sobriety is not a spiritual solution. My sobriety is thoroughly materialistic in the sense that it takes place entirely in the material world. For all of these reasons, I would be far more interested in a pamphlet whose title communicates the explicit assertion that it is possible to find sobriety in AA without belief in any sort of a higher power.

  18. larry k says:

    I don’t disagree with the idea that “conference approved” literature, or any idea like that, is used as a control against personal autonomy. I do disagree with the general tone of the argument.

    In all things “AA” the foundational purpose is service to those who still suffer from alcoholism.

    Personally I don’t care a wit as to how someone comes to the decision that NOT drinking will be helpful to them.

    The only benefit to this pamphlet is in having an internal document that can be passed out at a business meeting. It certainly won’t change anyone’s fixed opinion…but it will assist those who use reason. Reason is difficult. It is especially difficult for those of us that are unfamiliar with the use of honesty.

    The question that needs to be asked is…should we be universal or not? The first pamphlet; “mr x and alcoholics anonymous” states that as a pillar of our movement.

    To shift from universality is to choose a sectarian position. That violates multiple traditions…but hey, honesty is a difficult thing.

    Regardless of the ongoing distrust or contempt each side of this coin can have for the other…I will choose my rainbows and unicorns over anyone else’s. I know what the lint on my lolipop tastes like. Sobriety is my gift to myself. I choose to share that with anyone else that wants it. Unconditionally. Any worthy higher power would want the same, in my opinion.

    • Michael W says:

      I never realized there was so much distrust and contempt among religious members and non religious members until I started reading this web site. That is a commentary on my own lack of observation, not a commentary about this web site. I have to admit that I have always been uncomfortable reciting the Lord’s Prayer after meetings. Or any other religious prayer as far as that goes. I also must admit that while I am not a member of a religion, nor do I believe in a particular way of thinking as far as religion goes. I do believe in a power in the universe of which I am part of, not separate from. I believe we are all part of the same power. That however does not make me a freethinker anymore than an Atheist, Agnostic or a member of a religion. All it makes me is another drunk trying to stay sober one day at a time. As to how I came to my ideas about “God” or “A Power Greater Than Myself” it is as a direct result of the welcome mat of diversity I found in AA. I originally found sobriety deep in Bible belt, but it was in this place that I was told that finding a power greater than me was a personal journey and a personal decision. I was told by my sponsor that believing that God existed or not was my own journey. I must also admit that over the years I have found some AA members and some groups to be very rigid. That is one of the reasons new groups pop up all the time. I know many in AA are uncomfortable with my view of “god” or “a higher power” but I also have found many who embrace the right of each individual to choose her/his own path. I believe the path of each AA is an individual one and one we should embrace as a fellowship. I agree with you in that the idea that I will choose my conception of my part in the universe over another. I think that has always been the foundation of AA. Some of us just need to be reminded.

  19. Thomas B. says:

    Oh yeah, Roger, again you hit the proverbial ball outta the ballpark, now that Spring is warming our spirits again . . .

    I’ve recently been pondering the excellent conundrum that Margaret B. remarked about last week and coming to an awareness that AA is hopelessly religious. That’s the simple truth of it.

    Nevertheless, I am still incredibly grateful to AA for being the primary instrument through which I’ve enjoyed 41 years of continuing recovery, progress not perfection, and I am motivated more than ever, having accepted the fact that AA is religious, to actively participate in meetings to show newcomers that it is possible to get and stay sober a day at a time, living a productive and creative life, without a religious belief in any god.

  20. Pat N. says:

    I don’t think a pamphlet labeled “AA for the Atheist or Agnostic” would be for members – I think it would be for prospective members. A jittery, hungover, nonreligious newcomer can look at a rack and see pamphlets aimed at her/him if he/she is Black, Hispanic, GLBT, aged, in prison, a woman, young, etc., etc. What’s missing is one aimed at our spiritual perspective. Then, if the first meeting features “How It Works”, prayers, or other religious crap, he/she will probably walk out, may never return, and may die drunk. That’s why we need a pamphlet – to give a little hope to the nonbelieving newcomer until she/he can begin to feel the hope and love that AA can provide. I think it would be great if someone put together such a pamphlet. It would be great if it were available in print and online, so those of us nonbelievers who got our lives back through AA (yes, thanks in part to many believing, sober people) could get them into circulation. I’d buy 100 of the first printing. I won’t live long enough to see AA publish its own.

  21. Lech L. says:

    I matters to me not a whit whether our self-appointed masters issue a pamphlet welcoming A’s & A’s. I am so far out in left field when it comes to AA dogma and belief that such a measure would have no impact on me.

    I’m just glad that the only requirement for membership still remains the same.

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