Nine Years Old!

By Roger C

AA Agnostica is now nine years old! It’s fireworks time!

Three Million Viewers

Launched in June of 2011, the website defines itself as “a space for agnostics, atheist and freethinkers in AA”.

There are usually over 1,000 people who visit AA Agnostica each and every day and they are here reading a large variety of the articles, some 200 of the 605 articles posted (as of today) on the website. As of this month, the total number of viewers reached three million.

Looking Back

The website took off and grew quickly early on. For instance, in 2012 there was a total of 55,565 viewers. That jumped to 146,689 in 2013 and 351,702 in 2014. In 2015 it hit over half a million: 510,363.

What was going on back then? A lot. In mid-June 2013 in an article called Two Years Old! I reported that in the past 12 months 26 people from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom had written articles for AA Agnostica. Along with six articles from the Grapevine, the grand total was 53: one every Sunday.

Earlier that year, three people in California, Dorothy H, Pamela W and Jonathan G, were inspired to organize a convention for we secularists in AA. As part of all of that was an interview I did with Pam published in mid-June 2013 called An AA Convention for We Agnostics.

A total of eleven articles about the convention were published on AA Agnostica, five before the convention. In a wonderful act of sharing and service, eleven people agreed to write about the convention and this permitted AA Agnostica to produce three reports, on Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 of the convention, held in Santa Monica, California on November 7, 8 and 9, 2014. Finally, three articles were posted after the convention.

Way back then – imagine six years ago! – I was very impressed with the convention and with the ongoing growth of our secular movement within Alcoholics Anonymous. In 2012 there was a grand total of 99 secular AA meetings worldwide. At the very time of the Santa Monica convention there were 181. In the next year, and no doubt due to the convention and the publicity generated by it, the growth spiked to 288 secular AA meetings. On that topic I wrote an article called The Impossible Becomes Possible. And I still believe that to be true as the secular movement continues to grow and traditional AA continues to shrink, as it has done over the last three decades.

The Last Twelve Months

Over the past twelve months 84 articles were posted on AA Agnostica. There was one every Sunday and the others on Wednesdays. The authors were from three countries: the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. And twenty of them were women. We would be delighted, in the next twelve months, to have articles from a half dozen more countries, and another twenty women. At least!

While there were many well-written and wonderful topics over the last year, we are only able to cover a few today.

Staying Sober Without God

In 2019 an important book was published. We posted an excellent review of it by Heather C in mid-June. Here it is: Staying Sober Without God. The author, Jeffrey Munn, an addiction therapist, has been very active in legitimizing a godless sobriety and sharing his secular version of the 12 Steps: The Practical Steps. A resident of Southern California, he participated in two regional AA conferences, the second Secular Ontario AA Roundup (SOAAR) held in Hamilton, Ontario (September) and the 3rd biennial Arizona Secular AA Conference in Phoenix (November).

We were pleased to post six articles from his book over the past 12 months. And the last article we posted by Jeffrey was borrowed from his own website, and it was called Why a Higher Power Isn’t Enough to Stay Sober. The review of his book and this last article were two of the most popular on AA Agnostica over the last 12 months.

Something sad happened over the last months. Our dear friend life-j passed away on December 14.

He was a formidable activist in promoting the secular movement within AA. He attended a number of secular AA conferences and conventions: Widening the Gateway in Olympia, Washington (2016), the Austin Convention (2016), the first SOAAR conference in Ontario (2017) and the 2018 International Conference of Secular AA (ICSAA), also in Toronto. Life-j managed a chat room on AA Agnostica from February 2 until November 15, 2014. He launched his own secular AA meeting in Northern California…

And even more. Seventeen of his articles were posted on AA Agnostica and another fourteen were published on AA Beyond Belief. And he wrote a book: About Being Here: Thoughts About AA and Secular Recovery.

Moreover an article he wrote in 2014 that was published on AA Agnostica, A Grapevine Book for Atheists and Agnostics in AA, quite frankly – and with some real pressure over time – resulted in the Grapevine publishing the One Big Tent book in 2018. On the right is a thank you from the Senior Editor of the AA Grapevine.

After he passed, I wrote an article about him and it contains an article that he wrote, “Eight Principles of AA”, which you can – and should! – read here: life-j.

AA Beyond Belief

What we are talking about today and emphasizing with all kinds of evidence, is the growth of the secular movement within Alcoholics Anonymous. And a part of that growth now is the existence of a number of secular AA websites. You can find, for example, a total of 28 group sites here: Secular Group Websites. The most recently created site, by the way, is the Brown Baggers, a group in Collingwood and Wasaga Beach, Ontario which will be the organizer of the 2022 Secular Ontario AA Roundup (SOAAR).

But today we want in particular to talk about a very special website, AA Beyond Belief.

On September 2, 2015, AA Beyond Belief put up its first post titled Our Vision for AA Beyond Belief, written by John S, the site’s founder, and since that time the posts on the site have been viewed over 945,000 times. Each month about 10,000 individuals visit the site at least twice a month. That’s a lot of people perusing articles written by, for and about people who have found a secular path to sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous.

AA Beyond Belief is also a podcast with the first episode posted on September 13, 2015, and the 172nd episode posted this month, on June 12. The podcasts have been downloaded over 422,000 times since its inception and episodes are downloaded over 15,000 times per month.

Over the years, AA Beyond Belief has broadened its scope to add poetry, news, and audio recordings of various secular AA speakers from around the world. Recently, AA Beyond Belief has been live streaming episodes every Friday on YouTube and Facebook.

Speaking of social media, the AA Beyond Belief YouTube Channel has 2,170 subscribers and content on the channel has been viewed over 195,000 times. The AA Beyond Belief public Facebook page is followed by 1,750 people and the private Facebook group has over 1,680 members. The Facebook group is a gathering place of sorts for people to share information of interest to secular people in AA, and to discuss posts and podcast episodes from the website.

So, that’s just a little background on just how many people are impacted by the website and podcasts of AA Beyond Belief.

Onwards and Upwards

AA Agnostica and AA Beyond Belief serve as a refuge, a home in AA for agnostics, atheists, freethinkers and all others who seek to walk a secular path to sobriety in AA. Through civil and thoughtful discourse, we will learn and grow together in unity, service and recovery.

There are as well several other major websites which haven’t been mentioned yet that can be found here on AA Agnostica: Links. Two impressive ones are, first, Rebellion Dogs Publishing, launched back in September 2011 by Joe C, the author of a very popular daily reflections book, Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life.

And the other is Secular AA. The website was launched in January 2017 and is managed by Courtney S. It does many things, including providing the times and locations of all secular AA meetings. Today, by the way, there are 545 secular AA meetings (remember, there were 99 prior to the launch of the We Agnostics and Free Thinkers – WAFT- conference held in Santa Monica). Courtney is also one of the admins of the Secular AA Coffeeshop Facebook Page that currently has some 1300 members.

The website is also the online home of the International Conference of Secular AA (ICSAA). The next one, because of the pandemic, has been delayed and will now be held in 2021 in Washington, DC.

Now, back to AA Agnostica. Nine years old!

We are planning today to continue on to ten years old, a full decade of this very first space for the worldwide sharing of atheists, agnostics and freethinkers in AA.

And, after a decade, what shall we do? Shall we continue? We don’t know. Haven’t decided yet. But no matter what, the secular AA movement will continue to grow in the rather fascinating way it has grown over its own last decade.

Onwards and upwards, dear friends.


21 Responses

  1. Tracey C says:

    Finding the AA Agnostica and AA Beyond Belief websites transformed my recovery. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And congratulations!

  2. Witek says:

    Thanks to Agnostica, we in Poland started with online meetings for agnostics and atheists. Almost one year ago. I think it is so far the first and only one in this part of Europe. Group name: AA in AA, we meet every Thursday at 9 p.m., local time, on the platform GoToMeeting. Run in Polish, but we have members serve as interpreters, so we invite many speakers from the USA. For example, in July, we will have three wonderful ladies from California. You all are welcome. Thank you very much, Roger.

  3. John B. says:

    AA Agnostica: Where a person can find a wide variety of what works, a wide range of ages both chronological and time in recovery, gender neutral; just a nice place to hang out for anyone trying to stay sober. “Attraction rather than promotion” is gaining more and more traction. Good job Roger! Keep your foot on the gas.

  4. Mark C. says:

    Thank you Roger! AA Agnostica was and is a “game changer” for me along with many others I know. It has been a singular delight of my life to be just one small voice amid the cacophony of Atheists, Agnostics voices who are saying “We EXIST,” and if you don’t like that…well…call your sponsor, do some prayers or something.

    We are “Widening the Gates” for others….we are on the right side of the shifting demographics of “belief.”

    How often it is we hear from others…”I’m the only atheist in my home group. I can’t buy into what others are peddling. I feel unwelcome. I’m not sure I can make it.”

    AA Agnostica and AA Beyond Belief are both game changers for a lot of us.

    Without action, nothing changes.

    Thank you to all of you who are part of Widening the Gates for others….I know many of you have impacted my life, and my sobriety.

    Big Picture: “Imagine” “AA” where saying you are an atheist, or other type of non-theist and no bullshit happens because of that Honesty. We’ve a long ways to go…..

  5. James W. says:

    Congratulations! What a great job of broadening the highway so that all who wish to may enter regardless of their belief or lack of belief!

  6. Lance B. says:

    Thank you, Roger. AA Agnostica has been life changing and life improving for me.

  7. George S says:

    Congratulations and Thank You, Roger! I view the site everyday. AA is better due to your efforts and everyone else that contributes.

  8. Diane I says:

    Congratulations Roger!!! Very well done!! I love AA Agnostica!! Reading these articles and going to my secular meetings, We Agnostics in Hamilton, which you also started has helped me so much! Your service to secular AA has helped so many people!! Kudos to you Roger!!

  9. Gary O. says:

    Congratulations. Happy 9th Anniversary. Your site has been a help to me but, more importantly, to some newer members who I have referred to it over the past several years. It was comforting to them to know that they could be part of a sober community as atheists and agnostics. Good on ya’.

  10. David W says:

    I am so grateful to the people in secular AA that have created both online and in person communities that allow those of us who likely would flounder and fail in traditional AA to stay sober and grow. I just passed 18 months clean recently and I have no idea if I would even be sober trying to conform to the rigidity of traditional groups.

    There is so much opportunity to further expand the scope of healing and recovery in AA without being encumbered by 85 years of what is largely outdated narrow dogma. Secular AA is a treasure.

  11. Thomas says:

    Whooooo HOOOOO — Most deep-felt congratulations, Roger, on achieving this Ninth-Year milestone.

    As well, thank you for soothing my fears concerning the eventual cessation of AA Agnostica for at least the next 12 months – Hey, we live sobriety A day at a time, Right? Well, for me that will most gratefully include AA Agnostica for the next 365 days. Thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU !~!~!

    I am so grateful for having discovered AA Agnostica in early 2012, when ex-wife Jill and I were in southern Oregon attending meetings run by a Bible&BigBook-thumping cabal of evangelical bigots.

    Who knows had I not found AA Agnostica, I may have stopped going to meetings all together with the ultimate result that I might have drunk again – The Horror, The Horror, Oh, the horrible Horror !~!~!

    Over the past nine years, I am most privileged to have actively participated not only in AA Agnostica but in the continuing evolution of Secular AA – for both I am extremely honored and most grateful.

    Though presently in full retirement in Tucson, AZ, I shall continue to observe, mostly from afar, our future growth with an open and glad heart, which includes an intention to attend our next International gathering next year in Bethesda, MD. As well, it is my intention within the next several weeks to initiate yet one other, the third, secular AA meeting here in Tucson on the home turf of Wally P., who is the creator and self-appointed guru of the “Back to the Basics” evangelical movement within AA…

    As one of the other commentators observed, we shall continue to be integrally responsible to insure that the honorable intention of the Responsibility Declaration is available and operable for all: “Whenever anyone, anywhere reaches out for AA, I want the hand of AA always to be there, and for that I am responsible.”

    Again, Thank you Roger !~!~!

  12. Oren says:

    I’m so old that I had Latin in high school. I was about to send “congratulations” to you when I realized for the first time that the word has a Latin origin. Upon checking, I see that it has the meaning of “giving thanks and sharing joy TOGETHER”. A fine word to express my gratitude (another word from the same Latin root) to Agnostica, Beyond Belief, Secular AA, etc. It has been gratifying (there’s that root again!) to know that I am not alone in being a freethinking, non-theistic, SOBER old drunk. Forward, comrades (one day at a time)!

  13. Neil F. says:

    Congratulations Roger. Well done!

  14. Being and feeling a part of this growth saved me from from forever writing off mutual self-help groups. Thanks to all who contributed and participated, and those who continue to do so.

  15. Pat N. says:

    Congratulations, happy anniversary, and thank you, thank you, thank you, Roger. And to dear life-j, all the Johns (I can’t keep them straight), and the rest. Dorothy H., who ramrodded that first Santa Monica celebration, deserves special mention. And Michael from London, our first transatlantic leader.

    I almost died of loneliness because of my addiction to alcohol. AA helped me resolve that problem, and secular AA, led by aaagnostica, made it even better – I could no longer feel so special and unique as a freethinker within AA. I had siblings around the globe.

    Thanks again for your bravery in getting this ball rolling in your special way. I wish you decades more of fellowship and leadership.

  16. Alyssa S. says:

    AA Agnostica helped me so much when I was barely 2 years into recovery. It was the most exciting feeling for me because I was finally safe from judgement. I met so many great folks who have assisted in the shaping of Alyssa & I am so grateful. Although I’ve been on an educational journey, and work & school has consumed most of my time, I still feel I can count on the hand of AA always to be there with these people. It began for me in the chat room that existed here back then & being included in the book Do Tell – Stories by Atheists and Agnostics in AA. Thank you Roger et. al.

    Yours truly, Soda 😉

  17. Joe C says:

    Happy anniversary everyone. AA is 85-years-old this month; AA history isn’t something that happened in 1935 or 1939, only. AA history is ongoing. Today, we celebrate nine years of AA history. The internet is making it easier to record our history, discuss our issues and communicate more widely.

    Zoom has been embraced by the secular community and we were early adapters. With all of AA zooming more people are finding secular AA from our larger AA communities and directly from the throws of alcohol use disorder. I expect we will be talking about this article on Zoom, today.

    I was invited to the San Francisco Marin Intergroup Founders Day celebration Saturday on a panel about remote communities. Here is a stunning example of how we AAs As-a-whole are evolving: “remote” had a geographic barrier definition when conceived. How could we bring AA to the still-suffering in places AA meetings didn’t exist? Now “remote” means any barrier including language, culture, mobility impairments or sensory challenges. Underrepresented populations are included in this AA-as-a-whole initiative. ASL (American Sign Language) interpretations were active for all four hours. The day featured inclusive participants including a vocally imparted member signing to our ASL interpreters who translated in both Spanish and English.

    There were stories told by Latin, Transgender, atheist and a wide variety of AAs now under the definition of remote communities. There was a history of women in AA, talks about service and fact checking some myths of founders day by Writing the Big Book: The Creation of AA author, Bill S. This was the first founders day on Zoom. It, too, was AA history in the making. Many of this pages regulars were in attendance.

    It isn’t overreaching to speak of the influence over AA-as-a-whole that this site, the contributors and the reading community have had. AA looks very different in 2020 compared to nine years ago. Congrats Roger and congrats to everyone.

  18. Deirdre S. says:

    Congratulations, Roger and all the people who contribute the articles that keep people coming back and having a sense of community! One day at a time, we sober people keep going! Widen the door!

  19. Francine D. says:

    Great article Roger, and thank you for sharing your success story with us. I will be 21 months sober next week on the 17th. When I got sober almost two years ago, I was tired, and the effects of alcohol no longer served a purpose. It only had one job to do, and it couldn’t even do that; I needed a way out, something, found my group Brown Baggers Secular AA, and I knew I was home. Almost immediately I was involved in Service. It was a way for me to stay active, to put some of my knowledge to use.

    The group told me about your Website AA Agnostica, and immediately subscribed. I was always the type of person who wanted to know MORE, do MORE, but mostly learn, about my addiction. Your website has provided all that for me; everyday I am on AA Agnostica, seeing what’s New, what I have missed and research. So from the bottom of my heart I THANK YOU ALL, for playing a great part in my recovery.

  20. John L. says:

    Congrats! We have come a long way.

  21. Richard says:

    This is no time to stop, please continue your excellent work. You are needed to keep my sanity as well as thousands more.

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