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.
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.
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.