The Big Tent of AA
Wanted to share some thoughts on returning AA to the “Big Tent” that it was years ago.
I was physically a low-bottom drunk, so when I showed up at the doors of AA in 1990 I was horribly addicted to the drug alcohol and near death. I am proud and very happy to report that I celebrated my twenty five year anniversary of continuous sobriety this year. If that sounds boastful …. It is!
The program I found all those years ago offered me Love and Hope and a chance to escape a horrible death from King Alcohol.
Over the years I have noticed a ‘”creeping religiosity” more and more in my home group, speaker meetings and other meetings, with a “stay sober this way or die” mentality. Mixed in with this is an anti-intellectualism and the idea that “the answers for all of life’s problems can be found in the first 164 pages of the Big Book. I began to hear how Bill W. and Dr. Bob were prophets and the Steps were divinely inspired. WTF????
When my atheist and agnostic friends disagreed they were disrespected and figuratively shouted down. As a Free Thinker in AA I was subjected to the same abuse. How dare we question the Big Book or the Steps or wish to update the program to better help the alcoholic or dually addicted sufferer. Get God or get out!
Some psychologist have described AA as the greatest social movement of the twentieth century.
We need to work to confirm that it is also the greatest social movement for the twenty first century.
Therefore we need to change. There I said it….. CHANGE.
As Free Thinkers, atheists and agnostics we must provide a united front to return the program to welcome the believer and non-believer of any and all persuasions.
One must be able to pick and chose what works for them. In AA or any other recovery group that promotes abstinence.
To quote from “A Freethinker in Alcoholics Anonymous” by John Lauritsen as he reviews the AA Preamble:
This is the True AA, the AA that works. There is no mention here of “God” or “Higher Power” or “Steps” or ‘spirituality”. There’s none of the muddled prose or religious clap-trap found throughout the Big Book and the first part of the Twelve and Twelve.
But we must do this from within the massive framework of AA already available to us. And we must do it with respect and courtesy and kindness.
When the Big Book thumpers and religionist are nasty to you, kill them with kindness!!!
Roger C. at AAagnostica.org has done a wonderful job of this. The successor website, AAbeyondbelief.com with John S. as moderator, will do just a well, I am sure. We also have a number of Facebook groups to support each other.
We all know that the chapter “We Agnostics” is condescending to most of us to put it mildly. It has become part of the ritualization of meetings that I so despise. I believe in an anarchist approach to meetings. No steering committees and pages of rules on how to lead a meeting. The fewer the rules the better!
Here in Kansas City we have a We Agnostic meeting and a FreeThinkers in AA meeting. They both have been very successful.
I simply want to say to my brothers and sisters in AA that we need to speak up when we are atheist/agnostic/freethinking. We need to raise a concern when a group uses the Lord’s Prayer. We need to serve on steering committees if that is what it takes to make your group more accepting and simply not participate in group-speak and group-think.
If no luck with your home group start a secular meeting of your own!!!!!
Again John Lauritsen says it best when referencing the 24 hour plan and the importance of the Fellowship:
“Some god-fixated AA members undermine the 24 Hour Plan by denigrating as “dry drunks” those of us who are sober but not “working the steps”. In their eyes, anyone not striving for “spirituality” is merely sober; it’s the halo that counts, not being alive and well through abstinence. I feel strongly about this: For the recovering alcoholics, sobriety must be the first priority in our lives, because without sobriety, there is no life. WHEN THE GODLY BIG BOOK THUMPERS DISPARAGE OUR SOBRIETY, THEY SHOULD BE CONFRONTED AND FORCEFULLY REBUKED: THEIR PIETY KILLS.
If you wish to comment or gather ideas on the best ways to start a secular group feel free to email me at email@example.com.
With high regards,