Secular AA Comes of Age

We Agnostics and Freethinkers International AA Convention

Though the history of secularism in Alcoholics Anonymous dates back to the founding of AA itself, for the purpose of saving time, let’s fast forward to the current century and to a place called Hollywood.

Pam W. and Dorothy H. met at the We Agnostics meeting in Hollywood, California, where it’s common to see out-of-town visitors who frequently comment on how refreshing they find the agnostic meeting format. Witnessing this, Dorothy and Pam began to ask one another if their group was really that unique. Could there be other agnostic AA meetings out there?

The answer, of course, was yes. Agnostic AA meetings have been occurring since 1975 with the founding of Quad-A in Chicago. After a little research, the two women learned of agnostic AA meetings in cities the world over. There were meetings in New York, Toronto, Austin, Washington DC, Paris, and London, just to name a few. However, like their meeting in Hollywood, each of these groups existed for the most part, in isolation from the others. They weren’t networked, and as a result, many of us were unaware that a secular movement existed within Alcoholics Anonymous.

One night while Dorothy was crashing at Pam’s apartment, the two were talking about these many visitors and newcomers to their home group, and what they were learning about agnostic AA. Dorothy suggested it might be fun to bring all of these agnostic and freethinking AA groups from around the world together in one place for a giant party.

In the podcast I recorded with Pam last September, “Pam W. and the Story of WAAFT IAAC,” she recalled the night when Dorothy came up with the idea of an International Convention for agnostics, atheists, and freethinkers in AA. Dorothy’s energy and enthusiasm seem boundless and can be quite contagious to those around her. Pam described the experience during my interview with her last year, “Before I knew it, I was on the ride. I was on that train!”

The two women soon brought in their friend Jonathan G, and together, the three of them got the word out. In no time at all, AAs from the various agnostic meetings in Southern California pitched in, and as Pam put it, “the Fellowship made the Convention become a reality.”

WAFT IAAC 2014 wasn’t the first gathering of agnostic AAs, and there are many reasons for the resurgence of interest in secular AA meetings. More than a dozen years before the convention in Santa Monica, agnosticaanyc.org had an international list of agnostic AA meetings posted on the Internet. In 2011, just three years before Santa Monica, the situation in Toronto gave rise to  AA Agnostica through which a burgeoning online community was built.

Still, one should not underestimate the importance of WAFT IAAC 2014. This Convention was the first international gathering of secular AAs that took place during the age of the Internet. This is an important distinction because the Internet and social media gave us an efficient way to stay in touch with each other after the convention. We had a means to communicate, to share experiences, and to create a broader fellowship of secular AAs that extended beyond our home groups. We were now in a better position to organize ourselves as a special interest group within Alcoholics Anonymous.

WAAFT Central

There’s something that happened at the convention in Santa Monica which I believe is an important part of our history, and is a story that is little known and seldom told—the story of WAAFT Central. I’ll begin the story with my meeting Dorothy H. a few months before the convention in Santa Monica.

I belonged to a Google Group for agnostics and atheists in AA that consisted of just three people: myself, R.J. R., from Omaha, and Jonathan K. from Minneapolis. We met every Wednesday night at 7:00 pm for a very casual AA meeting. Dorothy, after discovering our group, became a regular at the Wednesday meeting.

RJ and I were friends, bound together by an interest in technology, and a shared frustration with an Alcoholics Anonymous that we perceived to be a Fellowship of Luddites. Together, we had great fun coming up with various plans for rewriting the Big Book, creating a recovery wiki, and other fun techie projects—none of which ever got off the ground.

Then, after one of our Wednesday night meetings, Dorothy told us about an idea, and she gave us an opportunity to do something other than just talk. She shared with us her dream of creating a central resource for agnostics, atheists, and freethinkers in AA that she called WAAFT Central, and she explained her intention of presenting this idea at the convention in Santa Monica.

Intrigued, we were happy to join her in this effort, and we immediately went to work. RJ, built a prototype website that she would show people in Santa Monica. I researched special interest groups in AA and in so doing, discovered GaL-AA (Gays and Lesbians in AA), which I felt was the perfect model for WAAFT Central.

When I got to Santa Monica, I was expecting the idea of this new service organization to be introduced to the entire convention. Instead, it was presented during a smaller meeting that took place in one of the outer buildings on the church grounds. It was here, where Dorothy pitched the idea of WAAFT Central to a group of people, most of whom I didn’t know.  

I recall that some of the people in the room were suspicious about the idea of creating our own website, and they were concerned that it might appear as if we were trying to break away from AA. In response to their concern, I showed them the GaL-AA website and explained that other special purpose groups within AA also have websites. Our site would follow in that tradition. A consensus was reached to go ahead with the project, and WAAFT Central was born.

When we returned home from Santa Monica, Dorothy, RJ, Dianne P. from Toronto, Scott A. from Samoa, and I organized the Board of Directors for WAAFT Central and put together material for the website. We had an international meeting directory (most of which was borrowed from agnosticaanyc.org), pamphlets, group histories, a toll-free helpline, and links to various resources to assist people with starting agnostic AA meetings. We also created a Facebook group that we called, “The WAAFT Central Coffeeshop.”

The experience in Santa Monica was so inspiring to us that we felt it paramount that we all stay in touch between conventions. The Facebook group was a success and today is a thriving community of over 600 people. However, WAAFT Central’s future was less certain.

Principles and Personalities

We began to have disagreements at WAAFT Central, and things slowly started to unravel. Scott A. departed a few months after we started, and later RJ would also leave. We picked up three new board members to replace them: Michelle H. from Ventura, Jesse S. from Reno and Steven W. from New Jersey. It’s hard to understand, even for myself as a participant, but we started fighting about things that just didn’t make sense, that didn’t really matter. Eventually, after several months, we reached a point where our differences were utterly irreconcilable, and we agreed to part ways. Dorothy and Steven would leave the Board, and Dianne, Jesse, Michelle and I would carry on. 

Unfortunately, it seemed that we could never regain our initial enthusiasm and commitment for WAAFT Central. I think part of the problem was the fighting just wore us out, but this was also during the time that I became involved with AA Beyond Belief, and Dianne and Jesse who were both on the IAAC Board, were spending the bulk of their time preparing for the convention in Austin.

At WAAFT Central, we were still taking phone calls, answering emails, and maintaining the website and meeting directory. However, we stopped involving the rest of the Fellowship, and we stopped taking donations because it was too much trouble to maintain a nonprofit organization.  

From the inception, it was always our plan to take WAAFT Central or the idea of it to the convention in Austin and to give it to the Fellowship — that is if they wanted it. Unfortunately, we weren’t up to the task, and because we stopped engaging with the people we were supposed to be serving, we were not that well known. We were really nothing more than a group of people with a website.

Alas, WAAFT Central would not be on the agenda at the business meeting in Austin, nor would there would be an opportunity to present the idea to the entire convention as I had originally hoped would be done in Santa Monica. I accept my share of the blame for this. I could have tried harder, but it was a daunting task to educate people about WAAFT Central. Most assumed that we were one and the same as WAAFT IAAC. Again, that’s our fault, born from our own dysfunction.

Wanting to keep WAAFT Central going, I went to the conference in Austin hoping to find some talented people who would take up the responsibility. I had plans to speak with some people who I knew and respected, but I couldn’t find anyone who could help. I was losing hope. This saddened me, and I felt burdened with the responsibility of somehow finding a way to make this work.

Furthering my sense of despair was the fear of letting down Dierdre S. who had been maintaining the Worldwide Agnostic AA Meeting Directory since 2001. She gave a fabulous talk on the first night of the convention in Austin, and during her presentation, she asked, “Why do we have two lists?” She then suggested that WAAFT Central might be the proper entity for maintaining the international meeting directory since it was an organization with a board of directors. “Damn,” I thought. “If she only knew.”

I had no plan other than to contact Ed W. from Brooklyn when I returned home. I got to know Ed online and from the podcast that he and I did a few months back. I knew he had the technical skills and the interest in such a project, but would he have the time? 

Though I wasn’t very optimistic, I attended the business meeting in Austin with a wee bit of hope that maybe there would be an opportunity to talk about WAAFT Central, but early on it was apparent that would not come to pass. Feeling frustrated, I left the meeting before it ended.

It may have just been my own mood, but it seemed the room was full of tension and anger, and I was still harboring warm memories of what I recall as a genteel and cozy business meeting in Santa Monica two years earlier. It troubled me that we had seemingly devolved. Anyway, the only business I was interested in resolving was WAAFT Central. I could not care less what they called the conference.

Later, I learned that a new board of directors was elected and people were happy with the outcome. They also voted to change the name of the convention from WAAFT IAAC to ICSAA (International Conference of Secular AA). Most of the people with whom I spoke were okay with the business meeting. I suppose in AA, business meetings can be a bit contentious from time to time. I’ll never learn to like that.

ICSAA and Secular AA

On the last day of the convention, my home group was hosting an AA meeting, and when the meeting ended, and as we were heading out to lunch, I received a phone call from Thomas B. He told me that the new Board of Directors of ICSAA wanted to see me right away. He said they had questions about WAAFT Central and they were confused because they all assumed that WAAFT Central was part of WAAFT IAAC, that WAAFT Central and WAAFT IAAC were one and the same.

I rushed over to the room where they were meeting, and I gave them the history of WAAFT Central. It was a relief to speak with people who seemed interested in learning about it. Furthermore, they were talking about Traditions and Concepts, and they made a proposal. They asked if ICSAA could merge with WAAFT Central, the idea being that a single umbrella organization would combine the convention with the services previously carried out by WAAFT Central.

The feeling in the room at that moment reminded me of the warm spirit that I recalled from Santa Monica. I felt as if a sack of bricks was lifted off my shoulders.

I was happy with the idea that the work at WAAFT Central could survive, and that Deirdre’s wish for a single organization to house the meeting directory would come to pass. I trusted these people, and to this day, they still have my full confidence. Besides, I knew the history of this organization, and I have seen it survive in spite of itself. WAFT IAAC became WAAFT IAAC which became ICSAA, and now WAAFT Central would become Secular AA.

I told this new Board that I first needed to get the approval of the other board members of WAAFT Central. Upon arriving home, I called a meeting of the WAAFT Central Board. Only Dianne and Michelle were able to attend. I let them know about the proposal in Austin, and I asked if they would like to make this move. They agreed that we would merge with this new organization and become Secular AA.

I informed the board of ICSAA that WAAFT Central accepted the proposal and that I would transfer the domains secularaa.org and secularaa.com to the new board. It was hard to let go, but I did, and I don’t regret it for a minute.

Just before transferring the site, I had contacted Ed W. to seek his help with updating the meeting list at WAAFT Central. He worked tirelessly, and his devotion was above and beyond the call of duty.

I asked Courtney, the webmaster at Secular AA if he would allow Ed to continue this work, and of course, Courtney was happy to have the help. Ed and Courtney have been working together ever since. The meeting directory is up to date, and Deirdre, having confidence in the new site to carry on the work, took down the meeting list at angosticaanyc.org. Visitors to the New York site are now directed to secularaa.org.

Today, Secular AA is a nonprofit corporation registered in Nevada. It is the umbrella organization from which ICSAA operates. Secular AA is committed to the Traditions and Concepts of Alcoholics Anonymous, and those who serve on its Board of Directors are Trusted Servants, responsive to the fellowship they serve.

The WAAFT Central website has been dismantled and the domains transferred to Secular AA. The WAAFT Central Coffee Shop is now known as the Secular AA Coffee Shop. Ed and Courtney have been engaging with the rest of the Fellowship, seeking volunteers, and reaching out to groups. The board of ICSAA and Secular AA meets quarterly online, and in September they will meet in person in Toronto.

Is it too soon to say that Secular AA has come of age? I don’t think so. We now have a service structure in place that comports with the concepts and traditions of AA. We agnostics, atheists, and freethinkers in AA, we secularists in AA are here to stay, and I believe that we will become ever more integrated into the general service structure of Alcoholics Anonymous.

From our earliest days arguing for a softening of the religious language in the 12 Steps, to our fights for inclusion, to our battles with Intergroups, and our battles with each other; we have reached a point in our history whereby we are no longer some fringe group within AA. We are as mainstream AA as any other special interest group, and that’s a big deal because that is how we will widen the gateway to recovery, and that will ultimately save lives, including our own.


About the Author

John S. lives in Kansas City, Missouri with his wife Susan. He attends meetings at his home group We Agnostics Kansas City. John feels fortunate that there is a secular AA meeting every day of the week in Kansas City, and two a week in nearby Lawrence, Kansas

Audio Version 

The audio version of this story was recorded by Len R. from Jasper, Georgia. Len is interested in starting a secular AA meeting in his area. If you would like to joinh him, please send an email to lenr.secularsobriety@gmail.com

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  1. Bill K. September 7, 2017 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the very interesting history of secularism in AA. One of the AA 12 Step spin offs is Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families (ACA). It, too, is dominated by religious, specifically Christian, language and rituals. I would like to explore the idea of a Secular ACA.
    The primary purpose of a Secular ACA would be to provide support to those folks who suffer with a Wounded Inner Child. The trauma of growing up with alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional parents has left, in many people, such feelings as pain, anger, confusion, shame, and grief. These feelings can have effects on adults by causing unhappiness and even behavioral problems. Recovery is attained by learning to re-parent yourself with kindness and respect – things your biological parents deprived you of.
    The ACA program is modeled after AA.  That is, attend meetings, share, read the literature, and work with a sponsor or other Fellow Travelers. By working the program, a person can learn to become his or her own Loving Parent. Through the process of increasing your awareness of your own feelings and their causes, you can acquire, as The Solution states, a sense of wholeness you never thought was possible.
    ACA has developed a body of standard literature, like The Solution.  It uses the “G-word” a lot, and it also says “as we understand Him” (yes, “Him,” not Her or It or Them).  But these deficiencies can be corrected to suit a secular point of view.  For example, the notion of a “Higher Power” can be replaced by the concept of a “Healing Power.” As a living organism, Evolution has developed in each person a Healing Power that operates naturally for those who work the Program. By working the program, and “turning it over to one’s own inner Healing Power,” the toxic feelings and effects of childhood trauma can be released, or healed.
    If there is any one in the Los Angeles area interested in starting a Secular ACA meeting, this seems like a safe place to start getting organized.
     
    Bill K.

  2. Jeb Barrett May 15, 2017 at 10:56 am - Reply

    What a great summary update, John! Thank you.

    Having enjoyed the great fellowship at the Austin conference, including the very interesting business meeting where many things were hammered out, I am delighted with the refinement of the name Secular AA (SAA) and International Conference of Secular AA (ICSAA). This movement signifies the kind of unity we need moving forward, but also our identity with Alcoholics Anonymous as a whole. I have met no secularists who want anything less. The Austin conference demonstrated a universal desire to grow within AA.  I left with great hope for our future and looking forward to Toronto on the weekend of my 40th sobriety anniversary, believable only because the fellowship has helped make it true, one day at a time! Blessings.

  3. John S May 14, 2017 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    I added this link in the body of the article, but it would be easy to miss. This is the recording of Deirdre S. speaking in Austin about Special Purpose groups in AA. It’s really an excellent talk and if you haven’t heard it, it’s well worth listening to.

    Dierdre S. at WAFT IAAC 2016 

  4. life-j May 14, 2017 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    John, thanks.

    I would like to reiterate a request for the schedule:

    I think it is really important that listings include a means of contact, preferably both telephone number and e-mail. I put it on our Laytonville listing. I have visited some of the groups that are within a couple of hours from here, because I think it is important that we network, but there are two which are even farther – about which I have heard rumors that they may have closed, and just not taken off the schedule – but I do not know! It shouldn’t have to be that the only way to find out is to drive 3 hours out and 3 hours back.

    Besides it is also important for people traveling that they can check in and see if a meeting is happening. We aren’t getting run over with visitors here, but due to some health problems I may have to skip holding a meeting open here and there. It is important that travelers can check in. All the more for us secular people, since we’re so far apart. When you’re traveling and looking for a regular aa meeting it’s usually not that hard to find another, if one is closed. Much harder for us.

    I don’t know whether Courtney and Ed have contact info for all the meetings listed in the schedule. Of course it will require permission to print it, but I think it is very important to check with all the meetings and get the info posted.

    Such contact information can even be used to tie local areas together, which is part of why I’m going out to visit other groups. At the moment we have this international organisation ICSAA, and that it great, and we have a couple of web sites, which are also great, but what we don’t have yet is anything regional – I see the first signs of it with the olympia gathering last year, and toronto is about to do it this summer, but the rest of us can’t even try to pull anything together, except by driving our cars around to the meetings, and only then get a means of future contact. I think it would be great if I could just send out an email to all the groups in northern california, some of them are 6 hours away, but as it is, I can’t.

    Networking is a big part of what can make us grow.

  5. Pat N. May 14, 2017 at 1:07 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for this excellent summary of our subfellowship’s birth pangs. I was vaguely aware of some of it, and will always be grateful to Dorothy, Pam, and the rest of you who struggled and blazed the way. I especially appreciate the temperate and accepting way you recite  the historical details, since I assume some of your scars still hurt.

    I’ve been reminded since the start of all this of the “form, storm, norm, and perform” concept in organizational psychology, which is worth googling, because I think it accurately describes what our movement has been through. I’m delighted that the new enitity and its Board seem moving firmly through norming to performing. I lack the energy to play a terribly active part in it, but will always be grateful to those of you who do.

    I’m looking forward to the Toronto convention,  which I’m sure will be great testimonial to our pioneers.

  6. Joe C. May 14, 2017 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    AA was born in riots and every home group experiences them. Everyone gets a say but not everyone gets their way. As has been added to this helpful historical marker, context is important. There were what we would call agnostic meetings maybe in Japan before 1955 (Buddhists referee to by Bill in AA Comes of Age). There was a We Agnostics meeting in  a 1996 Toronto Meeting directory. It didn’t last but it did exist and the widely held assertion that Beyond Belief is the de facto first Canadian agnostic/secular group was perpetuated with limited research. First, AA is notoriously difficult to research and none, in our immediate sphere, are accredited, full time historians. Still, let’s get the story (which I think is a better word than facts) out there. There’s no harm in making corrections as we go along.

    How big is the agnostic or secular AA population? It can’t be tallied by group counts or conference attendees. We don’t know how many atheists are among the general AA population. Most of us are a sub -set of nonbeliever in that we feel a fresh narrative is needed for AA or our brand of AA. How many atheists go to mainstream meetings and don’t take offensen to the  theistic narrative or our more religious members? Not all women  go to women’s meetings, not all members in their teens or twenties attend ICYPAA or have a young people’s group for a home. Still, they are easy to identify. Atheist who mind their own business in AA are a non-visible minority. They may even pray with the rest just as they would sing along to a campfire version of Mercedes Benz by Janis Joplin (a prayer sung as an acapela musical performance). The words don’t mater to everyone. In the same way we can enjoy Star Wars together without being righteous indignation that it’s not true and ought not be perpetuated many, including some of us can talk with our fellow AAs and not call BS  on their worldview. I’d love it if our triennial survey asked where we all fit in what is a stated AA assertion (A Newcommer Asks), do we belief in the power of God, do we believe in the power of the group or so we not believe in higher powers at? We’ve asked AA if we took drugs  or if we see a psychiatrist (or other mental health professional) in previous surveys so would it be any more outrageous a question  than what we’ve done in the past?

    I think we still are a fringe insofar as we are less that 1/2 of 1% of meeting which is a big fat zero for polling purposes. We are growing – yes; are we a force to be recommend with? Good question. I’m glad your all here and you are a force that matters to me. My fellow readers and writers and podcasters and meeting makers matter a lot – to me. Thanks for another great Mother of a Sunday discussion.

     

    • John S May 14, 2017 at 12:23 pm Reply

      Thanks, Joe. I was told once by someone who has been around for as long time that there were AA meetings for atheists in St. Louis back in the 1970s, but I can’t seem to find any there now. There was one outside of St. Louis, but it recently closed down. It may be that Quad A was meeting in St. Louis perhaps and then just died out.

      • Roger C May 14, 2017 at 12:37 pm Reply

        There are actually rumors of a number of secular groups early on. Charlie Polacheck is said to have been inspired by one in Austin and when it closed he started “We Agnostics” in Hollywood. Ernie Kurtz talks about “‘The Humanist Group’ a New York City AA Group which flourished under this name in the mid-1940’s” (Not-God, p. 371). But these are tough to talk about when you don’t have founders’ names, exact locations and dates, etc. Still all interesting history…

  7. Roger C May 14, 2017 at 11:52 am - Reply

    Hi John,

    Thank you for this excellent bit of history. I would even call it brilliant. I also wrote about several of these issues in A History of Agnostics in AA especially in Part Three: Moving Forward and the final chapter “A Growing Secular Movement”.

    BUT, you are speaking very much as a insider, with great insight, especially with the transition from WAAFT Central to Secular AA. I too regret that this “dream of creating a central resource for agnostics, atheists, and freethinkers in AA” wasn’t discussed more openly at the Santa Monica convention. Your personal involvement in this project very much captures the “maturation” that has occurred in just over a few years as we have indeed witnessed and experienced our secular AA come of age.

    Once again, thank you good Sir.

  8. Jerry F May 14, 2017 at 11:10 am - Reply

    Thank you John for this informative and necessary brief history of our secular AA movement to date. And thank you for not whitewashing some of the more contentious actions that were a very real part of our formation.

    AA, our own umbrella organization, developed along similar lines. Henrietta Seiberling and our famous/infamous Brewmeister are examples of the discored that our organization had to overcome.

    I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Dorothy and Pam and of working with Dianne and Jesse. Judging by the new board members With whom I’ve corresponded, our fledgling organization is in very good hands.

  9. Thomas B. May 14, 2017 at 8:07 am - Reply

    Excellent John !~!~!

    Congratulations for effectively summarizing the sometimes twisted and tortured roads, first to Santa Monica, then to Austin and presently to Secular AA, which combines the functions of ICSAA and WAAFT Central under one umbrella as the general service organization for the special interest group of agnostics, atheists and freethinkers within A.A. that operates in full accordance with A.A.’s history, traditions and concepts of service to all who desire to stop drinking, the only requirement for A.A. membership, whether with belief or without belief.

    Thank you, John, not only for writing this article, but for being such an integral and effective trusted servant, both through WAAFT Central and with AA Beyond Belief during the recent years as Secular AA has coalesced to, indeed,  come of age.

    I am privileged to work with you and other members of the ICSAA Board and have great hope for Secular AA as we continue trudging the road with others in Secular AA and ICSAA towards Toronto for our third international conference August 24 — 26, 2018.

     

  10. John H. May 14, 2017 at 8:00 am - Reply

    Good Morning John,

    As someone who was present for a number of these events as well as the necessary changes that got us to this point it seems that the outcome has been the best possible under the circumstances and you have done us a great service (from a historical perspective) in so coherently laying out how we got from there to here.

    The new BOD is most competently led and staffed and I’m certain that the Toronto meeting will be a great success.

    From my own perspective on the “hard core” Atheist side of things I am assuming that the “balance” in terms of alternative views that was achieved in Austin will continue and that our reliance on our own membership (as opposed to outside groups and speakers) to speak for and present to us will continue as well.

    I’ll be looking forward to the regional meeting in Toronto in September and the next Convention in 2018 in terms of the furtherance of our goals for the inclusion of more “non-believers” into the culture and meetings of AA who have both the will and the courage to speak up for their own beliefs.

    There are many out there who are totally alienated from AA who need to be reached (without recourse to so called “steps” and Oxford Group influenced moral instructions) and its those younger people who remain my primary focus in terms of the sharing the core message of “don’t drink, go to meetings and, when possible, help another alcoholic.”

    I’m trusting that our overall message and convention programs will continue to include, in an active way, the alternative views that may be the only point of entry for a some percentage (in my opinion fairly high) of those who categorically reject most of the tenants of conventional AA as presented in the “Big Book” and “Steps”.

  11. bob k May 14, 2017 at 7:57 am - Reply

    We all know of Jim Burwell, of course, and Hank Parkhurst, THE UNBELIEVER, but these folks weren’t the only secularists among the early members. “There were agnostics in the Tuesday night group (Clinton St.), and several hardcore atheists who objected to any mention of God . . . These men, he could see, believed in each other and in the strength of the group.” (Bill W., Robert Thomsen, P. 230)

    Thomsen had great access to Bill, seeing him almost daily for 12 years. There really is nothing new in secularists forging a path within the broader AA framework. What’s new is our types being organized, vocal, and unashamed. That’s causing some pushback. It’s a consolation to know that the early heathens were not shy in expressing themselves.

    “He (Bill) . . . was in no way prepared for the violent reaction  when he read his 12 steps to the group (early January, 1939) . . . the liberals were appalled . . . There was far too much God in the steps . . . the fights raged on–and these arguments lasted much longer than the first night.” (Thomsen, PP. 253-4) The BB oversells the unity. The secularists were outnumbered and got the small compromises they were able to negotiate.

    • John S May 14, 2017 at 8:30 am Reply

      We are fortunate to have historians of your caliber to help us keep things in perspective. I think history is important to know and understand and as you often remind us, AA history is the great friend of the secularist.

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