Secular AA

Our scope is International to serve the Secular AA Community.
We are an International network that supports the Agnostic, Atheist and Freethinker in AA. Our purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety, to widen the gateway to recovery, and to help make AA ever more inclusive.

Our History

Jimmy Burwell …”God as we understand him“……AA Story “The Viscious Cycle...A founder and contributor to the “Big Book” who realized that AA should be an inclusive entity.

Agnostics and Atheists , Freethinkers,  aren’t new to AA; we’ve been around since the beginning. In fact, when the book Alcoholics Anonymous was first written, it was an Atheist by the name of Jim B. who suggested the phrase “God as we understood Him” be written into the Twelve Steps. In the following decades, AA co-founder Bill W. praised this contribution and credited atheists with “widening the gateway to recovery for all regardless of their beliefs or lack of belief.

The best way to get to know us is to go back to the beginning. Sometime in 1934, Bill W. sat at his kitchen table drinking gin that had been distilled in someone’s bathtub. As he sat there alone with his drunken thoughts, he was delighted to be visited by an old drinking friend, Ebby T. Yet, when Bill offered Ebby a drink, he refused it, telling Bill  ….“I’ve got religion”. It turns out that Ebby had previously been helped by some men from the Oxford Group, a popular Christian evangelical movement of the time which practiced six basic precepts: (1) Surrender your life to God, (2) Take a moral inventory, (3) Confess your sins to God and another human being, (4) Make restitution, (5) Give of yourself to others with no demand for return, and (6) Pray to God for help to carry out these principles. Ebby explained to Bill that he was able to stay sober by practicing these basic principles.

After his last detox at Towns Hospital in New York, Bill joined up with the Oxford Group and sought out to help other alcoholics with what can only be described as an evangelical zeal. Although his efforts weren’t getting anyone else sober, Bill found that it was keeping him sober, a discovery that eventually led him to Dr. Bob and the subsequent founding of Alcoholics Anonymous. When Jim B. came along in 1938, it presented quite a challenge to this fledgling group of drunks because Jim was an avowed atheist with no intention of converting. However, he did want want sobriety and he appreciated and enjoyed the fellowship with other alcoholics. AA Agnostica has published an excellent article on their site that goes into much more detail regarding this history which we recommend reading.

In the years since 1938, thousands of Agnostics, Atheists and Freethinkers have found long-term contented sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous. If we may borrow a phrase from the Bible, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Many thousands of alcoholics have found it easy to translate our literature and the principles of the Twelve Steps into secular language. Our psychic change brought about through the love and support of those who preceded us in recovery is just as real to us as the spiritual awakening is to those who believe in God.

Yet we have also seen many thousands turn away from AA because they could not or would not go through the translation process. The opening and closing prayers made them uncomfortable to the point where they preferred not to participate at all. Even those of us who have found sobriety in AA still feel as if we are holding part of ourselves back, that we are sometimes walking on eggshells so as not to offend our fellow AA. There was a real need for our own meetings, just as there was a need for special meetings for Gays and Lesbians, Doctors, Lawyers, Pilots, Native Americans, and Young People. This is not to say that we exclude others, not at all. Anyone with a desire to stop drinking is welcome at any special purpose AA meeting.

It was the mid 1970’s when the first Agnostic AA groups formed in Chicago, Il giving rise to Quad A. Soon, Agnostic AA groups were starting up in California and New York. By the 1980’s, agnostic AA groups were an accepted special purpose group within Alcoholics Anonymous. In November of 2014, Agnostics, Atheists and Freethinkers from AA groups around the world assembled together for the first time in Santa Monica, California for the We Agnostics and Freethinkers International AA Convention. (WAAFTIAAC)

SECULAR AA has evolved from WAAFT ( We Agnostics and Free Thinkers ) as a development of the maturation process. We are an International Network that supports the Agnostic, Atheist and Freethinker in AA. Our purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety, to widen the gateway to recovery, and to help make AA ever more inclusive.

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What We Do

We maintain the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous.

We encourage members to share their experience with AA as a whole through the General Service Structure as described in the AA General Service Manual.

We provide an international service network for the Agnostic, Atheist and Freethinking members of Alcoholics Anonymous.

We provide a help line at 844-359-2238 to assist anyone with questions about agnostic AA or AA in general.

We support individual initiatives that serve our primary purpose of helping others.

We encourage and support the creation of new AA meetings for agnostics, atheists and freethinkers.

We provide an international directory of Secular AA Meetings.

We work with the General Service Conference to promote pamphlets and other literature that is approved by AAWS and directed toward our demographic.

We provide visible evidence that large numbers of Agnostics, Atheists and Freethinkers have found comfortable and lasting sobriety in AA.


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