Alcoholics Anonymous Member
Sad That We're Closed-Minded

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From: Recovery Watch <>
To: Recovery Watch List <>
Sent: Friday, July 09, 1999 5:42 PM
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section

What kinds of further research should we do? Specifically, which statements have we made that are false? What things, specifically, have we "heard that are not being said"?

The AA "Big Book" denounces atheists, agnostics and skeptics, and encourages us to get rid of our "prejudice." Need we say more?

Meanwhile, Narcotics Anonymous actively courts atheists, and has devised suggestions as to how atheists can work the program.

Cliff Walker

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From: Recovery Watch <>
To: Recovery Watch List <>
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section (2)
Date: Friday, July 09, 1999 8:03 PM

Yes and yes and yes. I was a member of AA for short of a year and then publicly renounced my membership. I was a member of NA for several years, but never officially announced anything resembling a renunciation. I go back every few years to collect my annual "chips" -- and watch those who hated me squirm in their seats! I also attended one of the first organizational meetings of Cocaine Anonymous in San Diego in 1983 or so. I attended my first NA meeting in about 1976.

In 1988, I was ordered by the court to attend Twelve Step meetings for two years and one month (without the "benefit" of a drug- or alcohol-related charge). In that time I logged over 1700 meetings and I still have all my attendance verification signature slips. You might say I was rather busy. Truth is, I was scared stiff of the courts and of a patently unreasonable judge; meanwhile, I made the best of a bad situation.

It wasn't until long after this that I even mentioned the fact that I had been held in jail for an extra 24 days because of my initial refusal to attend AA and to go to AA-based treatment. Such an experience will make an activist out of anybody.

Furthermore, I not only read the "Big Book" and the NA "Basic Text" several times each, I typed them both -- cover to cover -- as part of my typing practice when I was teaching myself how to type.

I was also a standing member of the World Literature Committee of NA while they developed their Steps and Traditions manual. During that time, I typed the entire book, analyzed it line by line, and submitted my criticism to the committee.

An editorial I wrote was published in "NA Way" Magazine in 1993.

Also, I am mentioned (not by name) in the current (July, 1999) issue of "NA Way" on Page 16 as "a member of the fellowship" who "pointed out that the committee's efforts were still falling short" in that there was "no material that addressed belief in a higher power that wasn't a supernatural deity." Though I didn't need written verification from the editor of "NA Way" to recognize that they were talking about me, she sent me a letter stating such anyway. I will be publishing a piece from "NA Way" in a future "Positive Atheism."

Chapter 4. "Laying aside .. prejudice" (regarding AA's religious dogma and very specific description of "God") is a prerequisite to getting results in AA, which is (ultimately -- according to Chapter 4) a prerequisite to remaining alive:

"But [the newcomer's] face falls when we speak of spiritual matters, especially when we mention God, for we have re-opened a subject which our man thought he had neatly evaded or entirely ignored. We know how he feels. We have shared his honest doubt and prejudice. Some of us have been violently anti-religious." (page 45)

" soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express even a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, we commenced to get results..." (page 46)

"Do not let any prejudice you may have against spiritual terms deter you..." (page 47)

The "Big Book" offers you two options: Believe in "God" or die. This is elucidated very clearly in Chapter 4:

"To one who feels he is an atheist or agnostic such an experience seems impossible, but to continue as he is means disaster ... To be doomed to an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not always easy alternatives to face." (Page 44)

The terminology "feels he is an atheist" suggests that there is no such thing as a real atheist. Elsewhere, Chapter 4 makes it clear that atheists are being dishonest, implying that everybody knows, deep down inside, that there is such thing as a god or gods. To me, any atheist who is not thoroughly offended by this implication -- this false charge of self-deceit -- has probably dulled his or her sensitivities and has certainly warped his or her sense of dignity.)

Where does it say that in the "Big Book"?

We go one stage further than that in saying that the vast majority of formerly addicted people never seek help for their addictions -- and are leading very full lives. In this sense, it matters not what theology (if any) one subscribes to.

This cannot be said for Alcoholics Anonymous, who are given very stern ultimatums (in Chapter 4 of the "Big Book") to believe in God or be doomed to a miserable death.

How can one who openly promotes ideas that AA considers to be tantamount to heresy find anybody to talk with in an AA group? (Of course, they talk to each other through their monologues, but this is not the same thing as human conversation.) I went to AA for years and years and had no AA friends. I had a few in NA, which openly courts atheists, but I had none -- absolutely none -- in AA. And I had many fewer friends in NA once I came out of the closet and began discussing my atheism and how that does and does not apply to the Program.

There is no antichrist and there is no Bill W. (any more). Where the hell did you get the idea that we think that you think Bill W. was the antichrist?

Cliff Walker
Recovery Watch

"As soon as you're born
      They make you feel small..."
                  -- John Lennon (1940-1980)

"Changes take place, not independent of
      man's will, but on account of man's wills.
      Civilization has progressed by man's
      interference with material conditions."
                  -- Gora (1902-1975)

"The legitimate powers of government extend
      to such acts only as are injurious to others.
                  -- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

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