Alcoholics Anonymous and Religion
An Articulate, Perceptive Letter to Historian of A.A. and Author Dick B.
It is always refreshing to get a letter from an AA who has done his or her homework in A.A. Conference-approved literature, examined the “wisdom of the rooms” insofar as it offends those who express their belief in God and their religious choice, and who writes well.
The following letter arrived June 19, 2014 from C.A., and it’s well worth your reading it.
“In our 12 and 12 in Tradition 5 on page 153, Bill says; “Finally, he saw that I wasn’t attempting to change his religious views, that I wanted him to find the grace in this own religion that would aid his recovery.” Alcohol had hindered this man’s ability to find GOD. Bill believed that our personal religious beliefs was a necessary aid for our recovery. At one time we believed .they were a liability because we thought GOD had abandoned us, but it was the other way around. We made ourselves feel better about our dilemma by looking and criticizing the hypocrites instead of looking at the vast majority of those that practiced and lived their faith successfully by trusting in GOD.
Page 49 in our Big Book says; “People of faith have a logical idea of what life is all about. Actually, we used to have no reasonable conception whatever. We use to amuse ourselves by cynically dissecting spiritual beliefs and practices when we might have observed that many spiritually minded persons of all races, colors and creeds were demonstrating a degree of stability, happiness and usefulness which we should have sought for ourselves.” Then we came to AA thinking the same way, not realizing that this is the resentment that kept us drinking or could lead to our relapse. Bill gave us many examples on how our religion, outside of AA, can help us in AA. Remember, we are not a religion but we live the principles religion espouses. Page 93 says; “We represent no particular faith or denomination. We are dealing only with the general principles common to most denominations.” Those principles for those denominations are biblical. AA’s principles are the 12 steps.
On page 28 it reads; We “are the children of a living creator with whom we may form a relationship upon simple and understandable terms as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try. Those having religious affiliations will find here nothing disturbing to their beliefs or ceremonies. There is no friction among us over such matters”. Contrary to popular belief, religion was not the hindrance, our thinking was. The next paragraph reads; “Not all of us join religious bodies, but most of us favor such memberships.” “Most” is the key word. It means; almost all: the majority of: the greatest amount.
The Times of AAs’ infancy and adolescence was a time of community and fellowship. Faith and belief in GOD was a rare argument. They trusted and worshipped HIM. Fast forward to the present. Now GOD is not as strong a fixture in our fellowship because HE is not a dictator. It is free will. If you choose to believe atheist, agnostics and skeptics HE will allow it. Some believe that somewhere along the lines we have to modernize GOD. Not in our book, but in our minds. Our book is written from the experience and suffering of those that paved the way for us. GOD made this possible but arrogance can masquerade as confidence and delude us into thinking we can change who GOD is in our lives. Insanity and self-will is powerful and recuperative in each of us and in this day and age it’s easily embraced. If you don’t know why, then you haven’t noticed our media and what it convinces you to believe.
God is the creator. Human nature as it exist today is what GOD gave us. That nature is our instincts. We can lessen their effects on our life with GODS help but they cannot be altered. As much as man tries to change them by science, by laws and social practices, the more our society will be thrown into turmoil. You cannot change what GOD has wrought. He is the ultimate geneticist. Our lives can be modernized but not our instincts. They can be bettered because that is the nature of life, good and evil. They can also be perverted. GOD allows that, but the total destruction and rebuilding of who GOD made us, by man, isn’t going to happen.
If you don’t learn from those priest, minister or Rabbis, you are in trouble. The suggestion wasn’t made lightly. We need to learn who GOD is and how to obey HIS Will. We use them along with our sponsors. But remember, some sponsors aren’t spiritual and a lot of us don’t have that faith in GOD, “that moves mountains.” We are fallible because of our self will and self reliance.Human nature as it exist today, is the same as it was when GOD created us. We can modernize our world and society as a whole, but not us. God broke the template. He is the ultimate solution.
On page 131 in our Book it reads; “alcoholics who have derided religious people will be helped by such contacts. Being possessed of a spiritual experience, the alcoholic will find he has much in common with these people, though he may differ with them on many matters. If he does not argue about religion, he will make new friends and is sure to find new avenues of usefulness and pleasure. He and his family may be a bright spot in such congregations. He may bring new hope and new courage to many a Priest, Minister, or Rabbi, who gives his all to minister to a troubled world.”
We need to study our Book to be knowledgeable about what it takes for the promises to come true. There is no fourth dimension, new design for living or relief from resentments if we are reading the book for sound-bites for our own selfish ends. We have to live and practice it in its entirety.
I will never be convinced AA is the only way to sobriety because my experiences in life has proved otherwise. But i am convinced it has brought over two and a half-million people to GOD and a “new design for living.” I bask in GOD’S love and grace every day. I will be found helping GOD’S children in and out of the rooms as long as I am allowed to breathe. What is love if we don’t give it away.”
C W (name withheld to preserve anonymity)