Episode 26: John C. An Atheist AA in Paris

John C. grew up in Amarillo, Texas where he says, “God was good, and if you’re going to be good, you’re going to follow God, and the people who love God are the really good people”. Today, John resides in Paris, France. He’s been sober in AA for over thirty years, and he’s an atheist. He is the person who suggested the second “A” in WAAFT, and he’s presently a member of the Board of Directors for WAAFT IAAC where he is helping plan the convention to be held in Austin, Texas this November.

John’s experience with agnostic AA dates back to the 1990’s when he attended the Village Agnostics AA Group in New York City. He liked the meeting so much that he decided to start an agnostic AA group in Paris. It was that city’s first agnostic AA meeting and is still going strong after some 18 years. Today, there are three agnostic AA meetings in Paris; We Agnostics, Freethinkers Meeting, and Agnostics Meditation. There’s a thriving AA community in Paris with some 50 French speaking meetings and 40 English speaking meetings. John says that the Freethinkers meeting is perhaps the most interesting meeting in the city because they get a good mix of people and a lot of tourists who often aren’t familiar with Freethinker AA meetings.

In November of 2014, John was one of the fellowship speakers at the first WAAFT IAAC. You can listen to his story at the WAAFT IAAC Youtube Page. If you missed his talk in Santa Monica, I would highly recommend that you listen to the recording. You can also read a condensed version at The Recovery Revolution.

I think there is no better way to get to know someone in AA than to hear their story, and John’s story is inspiring. A young man from the Texas panhandle who struggled with the religiosity of AA, but kept coming back because the fellowship was keeping him sober. Today, he is dedicated to helping make AA more comfortable for the nonbeliever, so that others will have an easier time than he had when he was first getting sober in Amarillo.

I don’t know if there is anything I enjoy more than participating in these podcasts. It still amazes me the bond that we alcoholics have with one another, and for us secularists in AA, that bond is even deeper. We definitely speak the same language. I felt as comfortable speaking with John as I would anyone that I might have known for years. He is obviously excited about the convention and dedicated to making it a success. The convention will be all inclusive and have a little of everything for everyone. After speaking with John, I felt even more positive about the convention. It’s going to be a special experience because so many of us will be together in one place.

I hope you enjoy the podcast as much as I enjoyed making it. We did something a little different this time and included a transcript for those who might prefer reading the interview. You can read the transcript by clicking the arrows to page through the window below, or just click here.

As always, please visit WAAFT IAAC for more information about the convention, including a schedule of events and information on booking a room at the $99 rate.


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john cThierry CBenn BJerry FJohn S Recent comment authors

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Thierry C
Thierry C

I would like to reconnect to my former (and only!) sponsor, John C from Amarillo, Texas, who has been living in Paris, France for 25 years. I got sober at the American Church in Paris, on June 11, 1994 and stayed sober since then. It’s probably also because I had a good start with a good sponsor (and a good man). 🙂 I hope John C remembers his former sponsee Thierry C., a Frenchman who was living in Paris like John C and ended up fulfilling his dream when he moved to California. Hope to hear from you, my dear… Read more »

john c
john c

Salut Thierry

Quelle surprise !

Tu peut me contacter à jthomasca@hotmail.com ou bien whatsap +

John S

This is such a great way to start my day. I am more grateful than I could ever express in words for the opportunity to participate in these podcasts and talk to people like John C.


Benn B
Benn B

This was one of the best! I’ve always appreciated John’s candor! A breath of fresh air at WAAFT IAAC #1.

Jerry F
Jerry F

Excellent podcast. Really interesting as you two touched on so many subjects that could be informative articles in and of themselves. I enjoyed it so much that, having listened to it, I read the transcript. That, btw, is a concept that I hope you will continue to use in the future. Listening to and reading the same interview more than doubles the enjoyment and the learning experience. And John C. is one of our more compelling members.

Thank you, both.

Jon S

Listened to this on the YouTube link at the weekend. A brilliant interview. Very insightful. Lots of good experience to share. I wish I’d met atheists like you two when first looking for help in AA. My sponsor was a great guy, genuinely loving and helpful, but finding a fellow atheist might have also meant I could have got sober and remained true to my naturalist worldview.  An excellent discussion of non-AA material in meetings too. As a former “hardcore stepper” I’d have been aghast to see or hear such content.  Would have been one of the people walking out, most probably. Thanks so much, John… Read more »

John S

Thank you Jon. You do amazing work out there educating people about recovery and the options that are available to them. The podcast that you and I did, Leaving AA and Staying Sober, is the most popular podcast we’ve ever posted, followed closely by the podcast with Steve B. about SMART.