a maybe counter-intuitive example of implying required beliefs

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a maybe counter-intuitive example of implying required beliefs

Post by Scott »

From a draft letter to newcomers who are already familiar with other recovery fellowships: "CGAA is an international fellowship of people of many different worldviews, spiritual beliefs, and religions. We carefully word for inclusiveness our steps, traditions, and literature and are careful not to imply an affiliation with or opinion on any religion. When referring to the power outside ourselves that we seek in the twelve steps, we simply call it "power greater than ourselves" or "higher power" to include all possible concepts (including God) and not to exclude any concept.In CGAA meetings, Muslims, Christians, atheists, Buddhists, Jews, Humanists, Hindus, New Agers, Taoists, and people of other philosophies and spiritual beliefs should all feel free to mention their beliefs and religious affiliation or lack of it. When we do so, we are careful not to imply that as a group we all share the same belief or that working our program requires that belief."

I've picked specific statements to illustrate the point:

  1. My only Higher Power is Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I pray to Him and He gives me everything I need and relieves me of my difficulties with gaming addiction.

  2. As someone who doesn't believe in God, I've struggled with Step Two.

This may seem counter-intuitive, but one of these can create a serious problem for some newcomers and the other does not.

Statement #1 is one person's beliefs, stated as his or her personal beliefs, not pushed on anyone else, not implied as required of anyone else, not stated as being part of the steps or CGAA program. While some non-Christians might feel less inclined to talk about recovery with this person, he or she has made no misleading or potentially harmful statements.

Statement #2, on the other hand, contains the strong implication that the CGAA program advocates belief in God, which is not true. If a Hindu, Pagan, Buddhist, Taoist, Humanist, atheist, or agnostic newcomer hears this false implication, concludes that CGAA advocates belief in God, decides against further exploration of CGAA, and leaves never to return, the newcomer is harmed by cutting him or herself off from our support and we are harmed by losing another member.

The point is not to complain about or silence or discipline anyone. The point is to discuss how to maximize the chances of newcomers sticking around CGAA so they can recover.

This particular issue is very difficult to discern for people already familiar with recovery fellowships and lingo because of the automatic translations we already have going on in our heads. We've learned to interpret many statements in ways that make sense to us and help us. Newcomers who are completely unfamiliar with recovery fellowships don't have these auto-interpretations going on. They hear the same statements literally in the way those words are most commonly used outside of recovery fellowships.

If you've read this far, thank you. :) If no one has, it has still been helpful to me in figuring out how to clearly explain this difficult issue.
Last edited by Scott on Mon Jan 13, 2020 7:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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a maybe counter-intuitive example of implying required beliefs

Post by JustSomePatrick »

I've read this far . Great piece Scott. I do think this is an important topic and we would do well to stay concious about accepting any form of a higher power from both newcomers and oldtimers. And indeed we do well by communicating clearly that any interpretation that works for the newcomer is perfectly viable. I think it would be good to write at least a pamphlet about it, maybe even a part/chapter about it in the basic text. I do think though that it will be hard to prevent every member from making mistakes in regard to implying some beliefs over others. I don't think it's something we can or should want to control. But we can repeat it in places like the what'sapp group and we could make a readout about it for meetings maybe? (Online meetings maybe only a scentence or two, but for f2f we could do make a readout about it like the "a spiritual journey" from the NA program?)
I'm interested in seeing what we can do with this idea since I think it's an essential part of our fifth tradition, carrying the message to the still suffering (gaming) addict.
Just my thoughts on the matter btw, read this thread and found it interesting :).
Last edited by JustSomePatrick on Fri Jan 17, 2020 12:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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