If AA is not religious then why do we say the lord's prayer?

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If AA is not religious then why do we say the lord's prayer?

Postby Soberguy27 » Thu May 24, 2018 10:11 am

At almost all the meetings I attend the lord's prayer is always said at the end of the meeting. Being atheist I don't say it but do stand. I have come to except that this is what meetings do. Doesn't it kinda go against what is said in our preamble? Here is what I found online. It's long so you may not want to read it all. I just found it interesting.

All too many AA meetings end with a group recitation of the “Lord’s Prayer” (also known as the “Our Father”), a prayer peculiar to the Christian religion. This practice is wrong — contrary to the spirit of AA unity, and in obvious violation of the Third Tradition and the AA Preamble.

AA members can believe in anything they wish, including the fables of the Christian religion, but they have no right to exclude freethinkers from full membership in the AA fellowship. And we atheists and agnostics are not the only ones involved. There are also Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, Hindus, and many others who are recovering alcoholics.

The AA Preamble

The AA Preamble states: “AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution.” This is clear enough. If anyone claims that the habitual recitation of the so-called Lord’s Prayer does not violate the AA Preamble, then he has the obligation to explain what the Preamble secretlymeans, as opposed to what it so clearly says.

The Third Tradition

The Third Tradition says: “The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.” It does not say, “first-class membership for Christians, second-class membership for everyone else.” It is true that no one is “forced” to say the “Lord’s Prayer”. The fact remains that someone who is not a Christian is forced into either dishonestly saying something he doesn’t believe, or feeling left out as everyone else in the room participates in a Christian prayer ritual. This is unfair and unnecessary.

The Honesty Part of the Program

Many AA members are not Christians, and their sobriety compares favorably with that of the Christian religionists. Nevertheless, the pressure towards conformity is sufficiently great that most of these non-Christian members stand up during the “Lord’s Prayer” (though many of them don’t say anything, or just mumble, or keep their eyes open). They are afraid of “standing out,” and probably — with reason — of being ostracized.

No one’s sobriety is helped if he is forced to pretend to be something he’s not, forced to say something he doesn’t believe, and forced to do something he believes is wrong. AA should encourage honesty, not hypocrisy.

But Isn’t It Traditional?

Reciting the “Lord’s Prayer” after meetings is indeed a habit, and if it is a bad habit, then it ought to be broken. Every sober AA member has broken a dangerous and insidious habit, and it should not be too hard to stay away from the “Lord’s Prayer,” one meeting at a time.

What Makes AA Work?

Probably all sober alcoholics would agree that a requirement for sobriety is not picking up the first drink. Aside from that, alcoholics would give a variety of answers, for AA is an individual program.

I would say that for me, AA consists of the realization that I am powerless over alcohol; that total abstinence is required on a 24-hour basis; that alcoholics can provide practical help and moral support for each other; that life is worth living and things can get better; that honesty is the basis for lasting sobriety; and so on.

There is no evidence that religious belief is necessary for good sobriety. Thousands of alcoholics have stayed sober and helped others to sobriety without having the slightest belief in the supernatural, let alone the Christian version. In the Scandinavian countries, the steps have been reduced to seven, eliminating all references to “God”, and AA seems to work just fine without “Him.”

What Harm Does It Do?

The “Lord’s Prayer” recitation is offensive to non-Christians. It makes it harder for us to feel comfortable in the AA fellowship and it undoubtedly prevents many non-Christian alcoholics from coming to AA in the first place. Who knows how many thousands of alcoholics never made AA because they were afraid it was a religious organization. And their fears will hardly be dispelled when they hear a Christian Prayer at their first meeting.

What If The Group Conscience Wants The Lord’s Prayer?

If so, then the group should officially designate itself a Christian group, whose meetings would be terminated with a Christian prayer. It would be a special purpose group, and should be so listed in the meeting book. Just as there are special purpose groups for young people, or men, or women, or gay people, this would be a special group for Christians.

If a group is open to all who have a desire to stop drinking, then its meetings should not feature a sectarian religious practice that excludes those who are not Christian religionists.

This was written by an aa member with over 50 years of sobriety.
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Re: If AA is not religious then why do we say the lord's pra

Postby Spirit Flower » Thu May 24, 2018 11:49 am

IMO, it is a group conscience decision.

I don't say the prayer but do stand and hold hands. Every year on my anniversary, they ask me to "take us out;" so I say, "Spirit of the universe," and then shut up. they take it from there.
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Re: If AA is not religious then why do we say the lord's pra

Postby PaigeB » Thu May 24, 2018 1:23 pm

Some say the Serenity Prayer to open and close... That is the only prayer I say aloud.

My home group voted to say the 3rd Step Prayer to close. I stand, hold hands and bow my head & say it silently.
If I'm not able to say how I'm working my program today, then I'm not working my program.
The e-AA Group's 7th Tradition link: www.e-aa.org/group_seventh.php
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Re: If AA is not religious then why do we say the lord's pra

Postby Shoreline » Thu May 24, 2018 1:55 pm

Most meetings I've been at say the Lord's Prayer. I'm Christian so I don't have a problem with the prayer. But, it does bother me, that maybe some people are saying it, who do not genuinely believe what they're saying. But I do know some people, that stand up for the prayer, but don't say it. So I think if you did this, it would be completely acceptable (at least in the meetings I've been at).
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Re: If AA is not religious then why do we say the lord's pra

Postby Soberguy27 » Thu May 24, 2018 2:09 pm

Thanks for your input. Standing and saying nothing is fine but, that doesn`t really answered the question.
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Re: If AA is not religious then why do we say the lord's pra

Postby Brock » Thu May 24, 2018 3:15 pm

In my area it’s not said anymore, just the serenity prayer and sometimes the AA responsibility statement - ‘when anyone anywhere reaches out etc.’ It’s mainly because the population here (West Indies) has a mixture of many faiths, and the inter group suggested groups do it this way, but as said already it’s entirely up to individual group conscience votes.

I understand why some would like the change, in much the same way they would like AA Agnostica meetings listed along with regular ones, and the long but interesting explanation in the original post I also saw on an agnostica site. The reason is unselfish in that more people might feel welcome, but I believe AA and it’s predecessors like the Oxford’s and especially the temperance movement, having been based on strong christian principles, and been doing it that way for 200 years, are set in their ways and suspicious of those who want change. And it has changed over the years, the temperance movement was more fundamental Christian than the Oxford, then AA less fundamental than Oxford, we are getting there but change takes time. It may not be right but some, (probably many), will say those agnostica folks already changed some of the words in the steps, if we give them an inch by dropping the prayer, next thing they will be asking for other changes.

So I admire your wishes to make this thing more welcoming for all, but after all these years some are very nervous of anyone wanting to change something that worked well for so long, it will be a tough battle, but best of luck.
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Re: If AA is not religious then why do we say the lord's pra

Postby Blue Moon » Sun May 27, 2018 11:01 am

I suggest you stop presuming to speak for anyone but yourself. I know plenty of Jews in AA who have no problem with it, and they would not thank you for telling us what they think.
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Re: If AA is not religious then why do we say the lord's pra

Postby tomsteve » Mon May 28, 2018 11:28 am

Soberguy27 wrote:Thanks for your input. Standing and saying nothing is fine but, that doesn`t really answered the question.


if the question is:
What If The Group Conscience Wants The Lord’s Prayer?

then you have a choice;
accept the GC says its good and keep attending
or
start a new meeting.

each group is autonomous.

do you have proof that the Lords prayer is offensive to others?

Do not let any prejudice you may have against spiritual terms deter you from honestly asking yourself what they mean to you.
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Re: If AA is not religious then why do we say the lord's pra

Postby shebot83 » Tue May 29, 2018 12:41 pm

In response to Soberguy27 post
"...The “Lord’s Prayer” recitation is offensive to non-Christians. It makes it harder for us to feel comfortable in the AA fellowship and it undoubtedly prevents many non-Christian alcoholics from coming to AA in the first place. Who knows how many thousands of alcoholics never made AA because they were afraid it was a religious organization. And their fears will hardly be dispelled when they hear a Christian Prayer at their first meeting. ..If so, then the group should officially designate itself a Christian group, whose meetings would be terminated with a Christian prayer. It would be a special purpose group, and should be so listed in the meeting book. Just as there are special purpose groups for young people, or men, or women, or gay people, this would be a special group for Christians.

If a group is open to all who have a desire to stop drinking, then its meetings should not feature a sectarian religious practice that excludes those who are not Christian religionists."


I myself am a Christian, but an odd duck at that. I have grown up in the church but only really started going back to church in 2010 after I lost a few friends in accidents. I consider myself to have a very strong belief however my involvement in the church is limited to going once a week. I don't participate that often in anything other than youth group and Taize prayer which I love. That being said, I find it uncomfortable because of the group dynamic, the situation and the "feel" to the room when everyone stands up and says the Lords prayer at the end. It doesn't make it wrong, nor am I suggesting that the individuals in the group do not want to participate. It just feels very fake, forced, and uncomfortable.

I do agree with Soberguy27 in a sense that I believe each group should have a theme. There are a few groups that do have a theme, like "book study group, meditation group, retired community group etc" But I feel like EVERY group needs to post simply their goal, theme, and environment to help AA members find their niche. A group that is centered around Catholic, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish etc. religions would be nice. If the city is large enough to support it, include a group for younger population, older, mixed ages, women only, atheists, and those with PTST which might have been the reason they turn to alcohol in the first place.
IF however, the meeting is in a small town with no other meeting options, I feel it is best to end the group with a quote from the AA book or a positive thinking quote or something else.

As I said in the beginning, I have been raised Christian, however, most meetings I go to, the ending feels forced and uncomfortable. I have a friend who went to ONE aa meeting with me and she is a not a total germaphob, just partially, it took one time of them asking she hold others hands and say the Lords Prayer, (which she does not attend church) and she will never go back with me again. I have asked and told her she doesn't have to participate in it. She said, "its just weird, I can't get into it, I'll find a different way"
I think she has every right to feel that way but as SOBERGUY27 said, it can make people feel awkward, or feel as outsiders. Which is unfortunate. If someone really needs the help, I hope something like this that can be so simply changed as the Scandinavian countries have, doesn't hold someone back from the help they need.
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Re: If AA is not religious then why do we say the lord's pra

Postby Tosh » Wed May 30, 2018 12:35 am

I used to be a foaming-at-the-mouth atheist, but now I'm just an atheist; or a non-theist? Or confused?

Who cares?

But A.A. has it's roots in the Oxford Group, a religious organisation based on what they thought was 1st Century Christianity. Early A.A.'s like Jim Burwell (the militant agnostic) helped soften the religiosity of A.A. and open it up to anyone.

However, from a purely philosophical point of view, nothing exists in an inherent manner; a human mind is involved in the process too. For example if we both saw a car, we both could see different things.

1. I might see a 'cool looking car'.
2. You might see an 'idiotic looking car'.

Same car, just perceived in different ways due to the nature of our minds.

So is A.A. religious? I think that depends upon the apprehending mind. To some it might be. To me it's a spiritual program of action, with an emphasis on the 'action'. There's no dogma I'm forced to believe (I can't force a belief anyway), and the A.A. tenants are all around our drinking (like a 'period of sobriety won't turn us into a normal drinker).
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)
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Re: If AA is not religious then why do we say the lord's pra

Postby positrac » Wed May 30, 2018 2:40 am

Seems these days it is becoming harder and harder to just accept sobriety! Back in my early years no one whined about all of the semantics of the program and why this and that all the time; we just accepted that it must be some reason why we do this or that! I am not poo pooing on anyone and or beliefs because that is yours. But when you start to fight the very existence that got 'us" sober and especially now that you are sober then maybe this could start a mental trend that one could be "cured" and go back out.

My point is life is hard enough on a good day let alone adding fuel to the fire picking the program to death on what we like and don't like; because I have several that come to mind right now and I just accept it is what it is and it has kept me sane and sober over 28 years now and I am humbly grateful for AA and of all the quirks it has because it keeps me real.
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Re: If AA is not religious then why do we say the lord's pra

Postby Soberguy27 » Wed May 30, 2018 9:00 am

Ok, I know each aa group is autonomous but is saying the lords prayer at meetings in conflict with the aa preable? You know where it says aa is not allied with any sect, denonimation, politics, organization, or institutions. Considering that the lords prayer ia a christian prayer, that to me would be a contradition. In meeting guides everywhere there are meetings listed that are for LGBT, Spanish speaking meetings, as well as other language meetings. Shouldn't meetings that include the lords prayer and othe christian prayers be listed as christian meetings? As an atheist I have gotten over the god thing and still attend meetings where the lords prayer is said. I either stand in silence or walk out before the prayer is said. But, for the newcomer who is not religious or even spiritual this can be a big turn off. I have talked to some who just could not get over all the god references. Some of them.never came back and others stayed drunk or just quit on their own with most not being successful. So what are your thoughts on this?
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Re: If AA is not religious then why do we say the lord's pr

Postby positrac » Wed May 30, 2018 10:11 am

Maybe just eliminate all AA meetings and then nobody is offended or felt left out! If people really want sobriety then they will go to any length to get sober and work the steps and do what is necessary for self preservation. All these other distractions are not healthy and just cause riffs in the sober community. And for all of these so called unique people they should make meetings that reflect the beliefs and then only those who are part of these communities can enjoy recovery meetings the way they want them. No more discrimination, no more feeling left out and we all can live happy productive lives.
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Re: If AA is not religious then why do we say the lord's pr

Postby Layne » Wed May 30, 2018 10:11 am

All the God talk was a huge turnoff to me when I first started attending AA; however it got to a point where the desire to change exceeded the pain of remaining the same. That is when recovery started for me. Instead of looking for ways that I would change the program, I looked for ways to change myself.

Incongruities exist in life, accepting that makes my existence more serene. AA is not perfect, but I don't know that it would be as good a classroom for me, if it were. I am not a Christian but I have no problem with saying the Lord's prayer as I look more at the message rather than the words; and it is a powerful one.

People of all religions and people of no religion (which I am) struggle with alcoholism. When the student is ready, the teacher will come. At that point, obstacles previously placed in the path by the student, no longer matter. Only the student can make that happen and when it does, obstacles turn into powerful lessons.

Trying to redesign the path is my ego at work. Walking beside others is where I belong.
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Re: If AA is not religious then why do we say the lord's pra

Postby tomsteve » Thu May 31, 2018 8:27 am

Soberguy27 wrote:Ok, I know each aa group is autonomous but is saying the lords prayer at meetings in conflict with the aa preable? You know where it says aa is not allied with any sect, denonimation, politics, organization, or institutions. Considering that the lords prayer ia a christian prayer, that to me would be a contradition.



do you understand what "allied with" means?
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