Our Vision for AA Beyond Belief

By John S.

Today as we launch this new site and begin our journey together, it is entirely appropriate I think to take a moment to look back and reflect upon those who paved the way, who charted the map that brought us this far. There was of course Bill W. and Doctor Bob who discovered some eighty years ago the transformative power found through the simple act of one alcoholic talking to another. Joining them was Jim B. and Hank P., atheists both, and among the first 100 members of AA who helped craft the book from which our fellowship draws it’s name. They helped make Alcoholics Anonymous more inclusive than it otherwise might have been. Jim B. with his many years of sobriety provided solid evidence that even the nonbeliever can find recovery in AA.

We should stop to thank the Nebraskan, Don W. who in 1974 spoke at a Unitarian Church in Chicago. His speech was titled, “An Agnostic in AA: How it Works for Me“, and soon after the first special purpose AA groups for agnostics, atheists and freethinkers began to meet in Chicago Land. We know these groups today as Quad A, and with each meeting they demonstrate that the road we travel is indeed a broad highway.

We are grateful also to Charlie P. and Megan D. who in 1980 founded the We Agnostics Group in Los Angeles. Charlie later went on to form other agnostic AA groups in Austin, Texas. We also remember Ada H., David L. and John Y. who in 1986 founded the We Atheists AA group in New York, the first special purpose AA group in New York for agnostics, atheists and freethinkers.

Thank you to the We Agnostics and Beyond Belief Groups in Toronto for the dignity they displayed in the face of open hostility, and for confirming that we have done nothing wrong. We are as much a part of AA as any other group of people. The commitment of those groups to service work is inspiring to us all.

We thank Roger C. who through the power of the Internet made it possible to connect secular AA members with one another, helping thousands realize they are not alone. AA Agnostica, we thank you.

And thank you Dorothy H., Pam W. and Jonathan G. who had an idea and made it happen with the first International Convention for Agnostics, Atheists and Freethinkers in AA. The experience in Santa Monica still holds a special place in our hearts, and provides the energy which propels us further down the road. We look forward to the next convention in Austin, just a little more than a year away.

All of these fellow travelers are ultimately responsible for AA Beyond Belief. In fact, I would not be here today, typing this message to you had it not been for the chain of events just described. Events that at the time seemed random and isolated, but are now inextricably linked.

“Afoot and lighthearted I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me.”
― Walt Whitman

Inspired and strengthened by those who came before us, we now throw the gate wide open and cheerfully make our way down the road. As you look at this site today, you will see a lot of white space, an empty canvas that will soon be painted with the experience, strength and hope of secular people in AA. We will publish an original article every week that we hope will display the same level of professionalism that was consistently delivered by AA Agnostica. We also expect to include a number of podcasts and recorded interviews.

As AA members who care about the future of our fellowship, we believe in effecting change by working within AA’s service structure. Although we may sometimes publish articles critical of AA, it is criticism coming from good motives. Make no mistake, we are AA and we owe our lives to this fellowship. We aren’t about tearing anything down, we want the helping hand of AA to always be there for the next suffering alcoholic. You can expect to read articles here, written by AA members who are involved with general service. We will learn about AA’s upside down triangle through the sharing of our experiences with one another. It is our hope that this will inspire others to become involved in this important work.

Perhaps nothing is more important in Alcoholics Anonymous than the sharing of our stories with each other. This is the basic foundation of AA, the language of the heart, the ability of one alcoholic to make a personal connection with another through shared experience. We will publish stories submitted by agnostics, atheists and freethinkers in AA to help educate those both in and out of AA of the special challenges facing the secular person seeking help in Alcoholics Anonymous.

We will also publish articles about AA’s history,  report on what is happening in AA today, and what’s new in addiction treatment and recovery. We will keep an open and curious mind to explore almost any subject related to alcoholism and addiction treatment and recovery.

AA Beyond Belief will strive to portray the very best in recovery, and that means humor will play an important role here. We will laugh at ourselves, we will laugh with each other. Nothing is so sacred that we can’t make light of it.

We will build  our community upon a foundation of trust and respect. So join us on this journey. We need writers, readers, thinkers and friends. Send us your story, submit your articles, your poetry, your photos, your art, we will be grateful to hear from you in whatever way you choose to express yourself and share your recovery.

Submit an article to AA Beyond Belief

Source Material:

AA Agnostica, “A History of Agnostic Groups in AA”, Roger C.

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Michael Audley
Michael Audley
8 months ago

What is the controversy, 3 & 11 say God as understood? Sounds like democracy?

Meg B
Meg B
5 years ago

I like to go to meetings so that I don’t forget that I can’t drink without negative results. I love the power of any transformational group work yet the sobriety theme has come for me from AA. I appreciate that people often find joy in believing in a source outside of themselves yet I am not drawn to it for myself. My latest sponsor would not work with me unless I said I believed in a source outside and exclusive of my SELF. She also led a Big Book meeting where the conversation went into retorts on how atheists or… Read more »

5 years ago

Thank you so much for the work being done…one person to another…freethinkers…fresh air indeed for me. Grateful member of AA for 27 years…with continual ebb and flow of frustration with Spirit of AA seeming to me to be more and more of a widespread religious notion.

As expressed in the publications I’ve read so far, I am not opposed to others points of view. I want to remain openminded & respectful and connect with others who are open to the spirit of all…

Scott A.
Scott A.
5 years ago

AWESOME John S., thanks for your good works!
Re-NEWed beginnings here…
things look off to a great start,
with a wonderful summary of our roots,
and I love the aa sphere icon.

Thanks for the reminder… the greatest gift aa gave me in sobriety is the ability to laugh at myself…but it’s a lesson that needs frequent refresher classes.

Laurie A
Laurie A
5 years ago

And let’s not forget the AA’s who convened a fringe meeting, with a panel of speakers, at the 1990 Seattle international reunion. I was there and it was standing room only.