AA Acknowledges Atheists and Agnostics in AA Grapevine
In the October issue of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) international journal, AA Grapevine, the Twelve Step organization focused on atheist and agnostic members, which is a new topic since the inception of the journal in 1944.
The Editor’s Letter from the issue stated,
This month, our special section features stories by atheist and agnostic AA members, some who have many years of sobriety. One member quotes our cofounder Bill W., in a 1946 Grapevine, “. . . an alcoholic is a member if he says so . . . we can’t force our beliefs or practices upon him.” In editing these stories, we honored the request of some authors to not capitalize the word God, which is our usual style. Bill W. intended Grapevine to be a mirror of the Fellowship. We hope these stories will shed some light on the joys and challenges of our atheist and agnostic members (“Magazine,” 2016).
AA and its members claim to have more of a “spiritual” focus rather than a religious one, despite frequent use of the word “God” present in the Twelve Steps and AA literature (Olds, 2016). Despite the definition of “God” as a “god of your understanding,” there are some conflicting messages in meetings and literature that can dissuade atheists and agnostics, as Alex M. stated in Grapevine: “I started reading the Big Book, and since the word ‘God’ seemed to be on almost every page, I thought I had to return to the Christianity I was raised under in order to get sober” (Olds, 2016).
AA’s acknowledgement of and focus on atheists and agnostics may be the welcoming that many of that population require, though secular groups like We Agnostics, Atheists, and Free-Thinkers (WAAFT) are also available.
Olds, D. (2016). AA officially recognizes atheist and agnostic memberships in this month’s Grapevine. Retrieved from https://www.thefix.com/aa-officially-recognizes-atheist-and-agnostic-membership-months-grapevine
“Magazine: Editor’s Letter.” (2016). Retrieved from http://www.aagrapevine.org/feature/40005