Is Alcoholics Anonymous a Religion?

Sep 02

It’s got 12 rules for living, a Big Book of teachings and followers worship a higher power, but is Alcoholics Anonymous a religion?

AA was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson (Bill W) and Dr Robert Smith as a solution to help those with an addiction to alcohol. The organisation was originally closely structured around a Christian Fellowship known as The Oxford Group, which appear to have influenced many of the ideas forming the foundation of AA’s suggested twelve-step program. However, members would strongly deny any suggestion that Alcoholics Anonymous is a religion, but I disagree.

Many say that AA is spiritual, not religious and that belief in a higher being, not neccessarily a God, empowers those to overcome their vices. However, the teachings are strongly rooted in religious scripture and require basic Christian beliefs to progress.

To become sober under the guidance of AA, you are to follow 12 steps. These include admitting one’s powerlessness under alcohol, a willingness to make amends to those you may have hurt whilst under the influence of alcohol and turning your will and life over to the care of God.

Further, in the first pages of the Big Book, we hear how Bill W was able to overcome alcoholism after finding God and it is made clear that a belief in some form of God or higher power is neccessary to follow the teachings of AA.

It seems that although Alcoholics Anonymous doesn’t call itself a religion, the organsiation requires you to develop a pretty firm Christian belief in order to succeed on the path to sobreity.

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