FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. What’s a “Freethinker”?
A. “Freethinker” encompasses the variety of beliefs and non-beliefs held by individual members. Recovering alcoholics who attend secular and freethinker A.A. meetings come together knowing that sobriety can be attained by anyone with the help of A.A. fellowship and principles, without necessarily relying on a god or even a “Higher Power.” Some identify as agnostic, some atheist, some spiritual but not religious—and some choose to use no labels at all.
Q. What are your meetings like?
A. Meetings are quite similar to “traditional/ religious” A.A. meetings. We always read the A.A. Preamble and a secular version of the 12 Steps; a group member leads the meeting and introduces a topic, sharing personal “experience, strength and hope;” and this is followed by open discussion and sharing. Meetings also include readings from both A.A. and non-A.A. literature, including Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life.
Q. Do you conclude meetings with prayer?
A. No we don’t, since prayer is a distinctly religious practice. However, at the beginning of the meeting, those who wish recite the “Serenity Goal” (much like the Serenity Prayer but with no invocation of a god). We close meetings with the Declaration of Responsibility: “Whenever anyone, anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. And for that I am responsible.”
Q. Do you folks work the steps?
A. Some do, some don’t, and some work alternate versions of the steps. Others rely solely on the Fellowship for their recovery and find that works well for them. Some find it useful to substitute the idea “group of drunks,” “good orderly direction,” “gift of desperation” or add another “O” to “God” for the word “GOOD” in the steps.
Q. Do those that attend Freethinkers in A.A. also attend “traditional/religious” groups?
A. Some of us do, and some do not. There are those among us who simply can’t tolerate the “religiosity” that often takes place in traditional A.A. meetings. Others can attend other meetings and simply “take what they like and leave the rest.” Especially if you are early in recovery and NEED to attend the other meetings, we can provide you with tools and tips to face the challenges.
Q. Am I welcome to one of your meetings if I’m religious, or if I think of God as my higher power?
A. Certainly. Our goal is to provide a home for recovering alcoholics of various beliefs. Our members simply appreciate an atmosphere where belief is not made a prerequisite for sobriety, where we can be “true to ourselves.”
Q. Is Freethinkers in A.A. “legitimate” A.A.?
A. Yes. As the Third Tradition says, “The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.” Freethinkers in A.A. is a registered group with Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., and included in international listings of Alcoholics Anonymous Groups.