This website is here to encourage members of Alcoholics Anonymous to establish more A.A. meetings and groups in Michigan that are secular.
Many dictionaries define the word “secular” as “not religious.”
Why does A.A. need to be more secular?
A.A.’s own survey data show that A.A. membership peaked in 1992 and has remained essentially flat since then even though the overall population has increased. At the same time, other demographic data show that the percentage of Americans who characterize their religious affiliation as “none” has gone up dramatically in recent decades.
In fact, the largest single category of religious affiliation among young people in the U.S. currently is “none.”
If A.A. does not widen its gateway to welcome more agnostics, atheists and others who are non-religious, A.A. growth could continue to stagnate and membership might even shrink.
We want the hand of A.A always to be there.
We know through experience that there are many agnostics and atheists with long term sobriety in A.A. who are not being as honest and open about their program as they’d like to be at some meetings. Many remain “in the closet” about their lack of belief in a supernatural higher power.
This should be no surprise. A.A.’s foundational literature is openly critical of atheists and agnostics. Consequently, those who indicate they are unbelievers sometimes find themselves being criticized or even derided by some of A.A.’s more religious members. Many of us with long term sobriety have learned to tolerate A.A.’s religiosity and have become comfortable ignoring it.
This can be fatal for newcomers, however.
What makes an A.A. meeting or A.A. group secular?
Generally, secular A.A. meetings are conducted in a way that does not involve anyone being asked to recite any prayers or readings that invoke the name of any deity. Most secular A.A. meetings begin, as most A.A. meetings do, with a reading of the A.A. Preamble, which declares that A.A. is not allied with any religious sect or denomination.
At a secular A.A. meeting, no one is asked to read a portion of Chapter 5 of the Big Book, “How it Works.” Ritually recited at the beginning of many A.A. meetings, this particular reading repeatedly invokes the name of God and exclaims: “there is One who has all power — that One is God. May you find Him now!”
Instead, other readings from the A.A. “Big Book” might be read aloud at a secular A.A. meeting. These include, for example, the beginning of Chapter 3, “More about alcoholism,” the beginning of Chapter 11, “A vision for you,” or Appendix 2, “Spiritual experience.”
And secular A.A. meetings never close with a ritual recitation from the Book of Matthew, chapter 6, verses 9-13, also known as the Lord’s Prayer. The recitation of Christian Holy Scripture at A.A. meetings causes some people, especially newcomers, to suspect that A.A. may be in denial about just how religious it is.
In secular A.A. groups, alcoholics can feel free to express any doubts or disbeliefs they may have about a supernatural higher power, or about certain aspects of A.A.’s suggested program of recovery. The common A.A. phrases “take what you need and leave the rest,” and “Live and Let Live!” are especially appreciated in secular A.A. groups.
Check out our Start a Meeting! page for a sample meeting format and much more.
Our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page has more to say about why many people, including most federal court judges, are convinced that A.A. is religious despite A.A.’s claims to the contrary.
The word “secular” has gained new legal significance in recent years because of its use in an increasing number of court cases involving A.A. Many newcomers join our fellowship only when they are sentenced by a court to attend A.A. meetings. However, a growing body of case law requires that judges offer “secular” alternatives to defendants who request it. See our Judicial Outreach page for more.
This website is not designed to introduce people to A.A. or offer advice on how to get sober. A lot of other websites do a much better job of that than this one. Our Links can take you to other secular A.A. websites with far more information on how to get sober without getting religion.
Although there are hundreds of secular A.A. groups throughout North America, we know of only three secular A.A. groups in Michigan so far. These are in Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor and Traverse City. Check out our List of Meetings page.
We’re focused on Michigan because it’s our home. We would like to see a larger contingent of recovering alcoholics from Michigan in attendance at the third biennial International Conference of Secular A.A. (ICSAA) to be held in in Toronto, Ontario in August 2018. In addition, we hope to pave the way for ICSAA and secular A.A. groups in general to be well represented at the A.A. International Convention in Detroit, Michigan in July 2020.
We encourage you to use our Contact page if you have any comments or questions. We would especially like to hear from those interested in fostering the creation of more secular A.A. groups and secular A.A. meetings in Michigan.
“…this was the great contribution of our atheists and agnostics. They had widened the gateway so that all who suffer might pass through, regardless of their belief or lack of belief.” (A.A. co-founder Bill W. in A.A. Comes of Age, 1957)