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Grapevine : August 2011
I've heard the cliché many times that AA is a "spiritual program, not a religious one," but if AA literature and attending over 2,000 meetings in western New York have proven one thing to me, it's that AA tends to have a strong Christian influence. I've heard many an AA mem- ber give his or her testament of love and appreciation for a Christian God (sometimes, even Jesus spe- cifically), often times to the rapture and applause of fellow members. I have also witnessed the outright castigation of those who speak about their uncertainty, doubt, skepticism, or non-belief in matters religious or spiritual. I have seen the same members, who trumpet their own "right" to speak about their personal under- standing of spiritual matters, become hostile toward those who share a non- Christian or atheist view. As a member of AA, I believe that this is a "we" program. "We" have a problem. "We" can't claim to love and include everyone who wants to stop drinking---and then make that love conditional on the acceptance of spir- itual beliefs, especially when the only spiritual choice presented in our lit- erature is nothing but a thinly veiled Christian idiom. You can't really love something you don't understand. Quite honestly, that's my reason for not believing in God. I've read and listened to many passionate and erudite believers, and I've yet to come across an explanation of a divine, supernatural being that makes sense to me. Don't get me wrong, though. I definitely agree that, in times of pain or desperation, it helps to visualize an image of strength, love or beauty in the mind's eye. Different people may call that image by different names. I simply believe that our visualizations emanate from within the human psyche, an obscure dimension but not a supernatural one. I love a number of people who are Christian. Because of my upbring- ing, I understand the basis of their beliefs and I am respectful of their opinions ... to the exact extent they are respectful of mine. Conversely, it's easy for a person to become frightened, or even hos- tile, toward that which is unknown. Whether you were raised a believer or not, try asking yourself this question: Does my faith (or, lack thereof ) afford me the courage to put aside my fears for the opportunity of understanding something different? Anonymous I think it's long past time to start asking why there is so much fear and prejudice, specifically toward atheists and agnostics. aagrapevine.org 55