A Report on the Survey – The 2020 International AA Convention

2015 International Convention

By Thomas B.

Commencing on May 3rd and continuing through May 13th, AA Agnostica and AA Beyond Belief surveyed the Secular AA community in regards to the upcoming 85th AA International Convention to be held in Detroit from July 2 through July 5, 2020. Herein follows the five questions on the survey:

  1. Do you plan to attend the 2020 AA International Convention in Detroit?

  2. Would you like to see a significant representation from Secular AA at the International Convention?

  3. Would you be more likely to attend if Secular AA hosted a hospitality suite at the Convention?

  4. Would you be able to volunteer at the Hospitality Suite?

  5. Would you be willing to speak at or chair a secular meeting at the Convention?

In addition, people were asked to provide details about their ideas, suggestions or opinions as well as to provide their names and email addresses.

A total of 150 responses were received, 65 from AA Agnostica and 85 from AA Beyond Belief. Herein follows the results to the five questions:

  1. 44 or 29% of the respondents are at present planning to attend the AA International Convention.

  2. 146 or 97% of respondents would like to see a significant representation from Secular AA at the International Convention.

  3. 90 or 60% of respondents would be positively influenced to attend if Secular AA were to host a Hospitality Suite.

  4. 80 or 53% of respondents would be willing to volunteer in a Hospitality Suite.

  5. 53 or 35% of respondents would be willing to speak at or chair a Secular AA meeting.

Herein follow some of the more pertinent of many comments that were received:

I talk to so many people and communicate with people on addiction websites who avoid AA because of the religious aspects of the program. It’s important to provide a counter-point.

Our voices are hardly heard in AA South Africa, because there is only one secular group (I hear another one has been formed recently). Keep up the spirit because I think traditional AA is going to “kill” itself sooner or later, as Secular AA becomes popular.

“How WE Work It.” A panel topic that makes clear what recovery tools – AA tools – are working for secularists that help us stay sober. Shine a flashlight on the possibility in their minds that “Wow, maybe mysticism really isn’t essential.”

I would like to participate representing the Spanish-speaking atheists because my mother tongue is Spanish.

The main feature of my story is that it took me seven years to get 90 days. I could not get sober until I found We Agnostics of Hollywood. This year I hit 30 years of sobriety.

I so love the idea that the secular AA format is alive, growing and becoming more acceptable. This does make me more open to being at the Convention.

We do need to show that we’re a part of AA, and offer alternatives that just may help save AA from itself one day, even though as of yet AA does not think it needs to be saved at all.

I proudly co-founded the first secular AA meeting in Santa Rosa, CA January, 2016 and joined Sonoma County’s two other secular meetings in Petaluma and Forestville. I became the first outwardly secular GSR in 2016 and have become well known as a vocal advocate for secular prospective members.

I got sober at the mustard seed in Chicago. October 1984. I still meet closeted freethinkers that have been sober for a while. Most stopped going to meeting years ago. Newcomers need to know there is long term sobriety available to all. Not just those who excel in memorizing the Big Book. I was lucky. There were guys around me who laughed at a lot of it.

Thanks for doing this. I enjoy going to both secular and regular AA conferences.

I believe the future of AA at large will be largely determined by the AAAA movement. It will be, in large part, up to us to model and teach our brothers and sisters the power of love, compassion, empathy, and tolerance.

At present, there is no secularist AA meeting in India. I strongly feel that the science and reason and reality of secularist movement of AA will save future AA to exist worldwide.

Last week we had our first atheist and agnostics in AA in Putnam, Connecticut. It was an organizational meeting. We had six participants. We expect many more. I’ve been thinking about this for 30 years. We are excited!

I would like to see handouts of the LIST of all the groups that are on the Secular AA website so we’ll have a visual showing how the Secular AA fellowship is growing.

Would like to see a concise history of involvement of non believers, starting with Jim B. and Hank P., so that newcomers can see that independent designs of HP are basic in our beliefs.

Whenever I feel a meeting has been focusing a lot on the Abrahamic god, I share that I see no fault at all with WE as a higher power.

I go to meetings in Southern California. The ones I attend are pretty low on the ‘god thing.” They do not try to censor me when I share that I am not a believer and got sober in AA anyway. Few meetings here use the Lord’s Prayer. I find little pressure here to be a believer. When I do feel it, I speak out.

I would not continue my involvement in AA unless secular fellowship is integral to the organization.

I personally believe there are perhaps many more agnostics, atheists or other non-Christian believers within traditional AA than present themselves. By sharing my non-Christian beliefs, I hope to encourage others to come out of the agnostic/atheist closet.

One hundred and five (70% of the respondents) provided us with their emails. We’ll harvest them and keep people informed of plans for a Hospitality Suite at the Convention. If you want to share your email address, we’ll add you to the list of folks interested in the convention.

You can do that right here:

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Sam E., the current Chairperson of the ICSAA Board, initially suggested that Secular AA have a hospitality suite at the 85th AA International Convention in Detroit. The results of this survey certainly indicate that this is a worthwhile endeavor to pursue.

The featured image at the top of this post is a photograph that was taken at the last AA International Convention, held in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. The picture, and a report on that Convention, can be found on the Sober Señorita website.

Thomas has been active in AA general service since he attended his first meeting on the Upper Westside of New York City on October 19, 1972. He was co-chair of the first New York City Young People’s conference in the spring of 1978. He’s been active in Secular AA since he attended the 2014 Santa Monica Conference. He and his wife, Jill, helped establish secular AA meetings in both Seaside and Portland, Oregon. He’s written many articles for both AA Agnostica and AA Beyond Belief. In addition, his memoir, Each Breath A Gift, was published by AA Agnostica.

2 Responses

  1. Marty N. says:

    I am glad to report that we now have two meetings in NE Connecticut. Tuesdays and Saturdays. Come see us. You’ll like it! See the Secular AA meeting list for details. Feel free to call.


  2. Melinda says:

    I would consider going to a convention more if secular AA had a presence there.

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