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Grapevine : January 2012
aagrapevine.org 39 he should “Easy Does It” on the “J.C .” language. When the “Wiccan” as- serted himself, I reminded him also that Wicca is a religion, and not to be promoted in AA. So much for tolerance for the non-believer and believers of various faiths. But, as I said earlier, tolerance is a two-way street. At the meeting the following day, virtually the same crowd appeared except for the young Bible reader. I introduced the topic of tolerance for discussion and proceeded to gently challenge those present about their behavior at the previous day’s meeting, reminding them that tolerance must be practiced both ways— both toward those of an agnostic tendency and toward believers of an evangelical tendency. My gentle scoldings were pre- dictably met with asser- tions of “rights,” but were, nevertheless, I suspect, taken under advisement. For too often, it seems, I have witnessed the quiet forbearance by the religious types of “gutter language” and (what they would consider) “blas- phemy” in meetings, while the slightest suggestion of church attendance and Christian worship would be met with outcries of “That’s an outside issue!” We should probably remember that AA was an outgrowth of the Oxford Group—a religious group whose text was the Holy Bible. Bill W. came out of that group to form AA and write a text specifically for alcoholics. AA’s unity does not depend on uniformity, nor even on conformity; it depends on love and tolerance of others with their peculiarities. AA is not the place for doctrinal discussions or debates about religious dogma, but when newcomers attend, such slip-ups are inevitable. This is when the principle of tolerance is most applicable. When such slip-ups occur, it is the responsibility of elder members to gently ex- plain AA’s principles after meetings in privacy. Narrow-minded bigotry (of either pro or anti-reli- gious bias) has no place in AA. We neither promote nor attack another mem- ber’s religious beliefs; norisitourjobtotryto convert anyone to our beliefs. We in AA are here to save drunks—not souls! We shall leave the soul saving to the churches. Our Preamble reminds us that AA “neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.” And finally, our Eleventh Tradition reminds: “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion.” Let’s make the AA environment an attractive one rather than a hostile one—not just by demanding tolerance for us, but by practicing love and tolerance for others. Dave C. Springfield, Mo. Feeling thus emboldened by the comments of the old-timer, the young male newcomer then whipped out his pocket version of the Bible and proceeded to read. Share about this topic on the I-say bulletin board at aagrapevine.org GRAPE_37-39.indd 39 11/28/11 11:47 AM