Topics & Questions for Discussion: Part 5 Sample Responses



After watching the 5th part of the God as we understand Him movie, we suggest the following topics of discussion:


Let’s discuss some of our own impressions of the Big Book of A.A.


Sample response by a facilitator or group mediator:


The chapter titled “We Agnostics” in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (or other Twelve Step programs like Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, etc) is problematic for some members of AA, NA, OA, etc, especially for those who consider themselves agnostic, atheist, and Buddhist (since Buddhists are technically atheist). The typical complaint is that the “We Agnostics” chapter tries to convince agnostics and atheists to open their minds to the possibility of God or some form of Higher Power. Some find this condescending, since it implies that an atheist or agnostic is less than okay just how they are. There is a strong contingency of atheists and agnostics who get sober and stay sober without ever changing their belief system regarding God. Many of these atheists and agnostics achieve and maintain sobriety within the 12 Step program, with the full acceptance and support of their Twelve Step groups.


Let’s talk about some of our own experiences within the Fellowship of A.A. or other 12 Step fellowships.


Responses will vary.


How might our experience with individuals in A.A. differ from A.A. as a whole?


Sample response by a facilitator or group mediator:


Some persons in 12 Step recovery may complain that they have not felt fully accepted because of their atheist or agnostic beliefs. It might be useful to point out that intolerance and bigotry can be found everywhere. It’s inevitable that some will turn up at AA meetings, but those are just individuals, not Alcoholics Anonymous as a whole. All are welcome, regardless of faith or creed, and all should be made to feel welcome.


Another typical complaint is that individuals in NA meetings are espousing their own religious beliefs, or even their own spiritual beliefs. Again, these are just individuals sharing their own experience, strength, and hope. Hopefully, they are not preaching or trying to convert others to their particular religion.