This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book" by AAWS. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.
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Is AA religious? What is the relationship between Alcoholics Anonymous and religion?
Alcoholics Anonymous and religion can work well together, but it doesn’t have to be faith-based. The AA religious aspect is really just focus on a higher power beyond just yourself.
So, is AA religious? Read on to find out.
Is AA Religious? No.
AA is not a religious organization. It demands belief in a higher power, but you can choose your own conception of what that means, whether that’s a religious god or not.
You need only believe in some power that is greater than yourself, because, as a mere individual, you have no effective mental defense against drinking.
The Big Book specifically addresses agnostics and atheists:
- “Half of us thought we were atheists or agnostics.”
- “If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago. But we found that such codes and philosophies did not save us, no matter how much we tried.”
- “When we saw others solve their problems by a simple reliance upon the Spirit of the Universe, we had to stop doubting the power of God. Our ideas did not work. But the God idea did.”
- “After a while we had to face the fact that we must find a spiritual basis of life–or else.”
- Having faith is not as large a leap as you might think. “Did we not have confidence in our ability to think? What was that but a sort of faith? Yes, we had been faithful, abjectly faithful to the God of Reason. So…faith had been involved all the time!”
Put your prejudice aside. You haven’t been able to solve your problems with your current beliefs. Why not give this new approach, which has worked for millions, a try?
Once you’re willing to entertain the idea of a higher power, you’re on your way. So, is AA religious? Not always because you can decide what kind of higher power you see.
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Here's what you'll find in our full Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book summary:
- How alcoholism is a nearly insurmountable disease that non-alcoholics can't understand
- The key 12 steps of the program, and why they work
- Why Alcoholics Anonymous isn't a cult and why it works