Atheists & agnostics in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a controversial subject among some in AA. The concept of a Higher Power is alien to an atheist and often not viable for the agnostic. Depending on where a recovering alcoholic first tries AA, the subject of “God” might be too much for someone who doesn’t accept God as real. AA literature is loaded with references to God, yet AA states that a belief in God is not necessary to join AA. Many AA members who are Christians don’t understand how someone who doesn’t believe in God can stay sober.
Can an alcoholic who is an atheist or agnostic stay sober? This is how some have solved the problem – this an except from AA Agnostica:
AA Agnostica is meant to be a helping hand for the alcoholic who reaches out to Alcoholics Anonymous for help and finds that she or he is disturbed by the religious content of many AA meetings.
AA Agnostica is not affiliated with any group in AA or any other organization.
Contributors to the AA Agnostica website are all members of Alcoholics Anonymous, unless otherwise indicated. The views they express are neither their groups’ nor those of AA, but solely their own.
There is an increasing number of groups within AA that are not religious in their thinking or practice. These groups don’t recite prayers at the beginning or end of their meetings, nor do they suggest that a belief in God is required to get sober or to maintain sobriety. If the readings at their meetings include AA’s suggested program of recovery, then a secular version of the 12 Steps will often be shared.
If you asked members of AA who belong to these non-religious groups about their vision of the fellowship, they would probably describe it this way:
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for membership: we are self-supporting through our own contributions. AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution: neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.
AA Agnostica does not endorse or oppose any form of religion or atheism. Our only wish is to ensure suffering alcoholics that they can find sobriety in AA without having to accept anyone else’s beliefs or having to deny their own.
For those who think this is against the true purpose of AA, this a quote from Bill W., an AA co-founder: