An attempt by New York bureaucrats, in 2021, to revise the long standing AA Preamble, written in 1947, replacing the words “men and women” with the word “people” in the first sentence, has been struck down, DISPROVED.
Discussion of the change first drew attention a couple of years ago, when the NEW word was suggested to the General Service Board intended to further a multiple gender political agenda. Unfortunately, the trustees of The Alcoholic Foundation, our General Service Committee, who are supposed to be custodians of our A.A. traditions, have been derelict in their duty by allowing politics to enter AA literature.
Silence is consent. If we don’t stand up and speak out, next they’ll try to remove ‘God’ from our literature.
AA co-founder, Bill Wilson, who foresaw these problems ahead of time, created the AA Traditions to maintain unity and the long term survival of AA.
AA Tradition 2 states “For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience.” There is no AA authority, other than God, as expressed in our group conscious, that can change words in our AA literature.
Further in tradition 2 states, “All such representatives are to be guided in the spirit of service, for true leaders in A.A. are but trusted and experienced servants of the whole. They derive no real authority from their titles; they do not govern. ” The New York office does not have AA literature changing authority.
AA Tradition 4 states “Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.” With respect to its own affairs, each A.A. group is responsible to no other authority than its own conscience. But when it’s plans concern the welfare of neighboring groups also, those groups ought to be consulted. Therefore any changes made in wording of AA literature by New York bureaucrats have no effect on AA as a whole, or upon individual groups.
AA Preamble History
The Preamble was not part of the original Alcoholics Anonymous literature created by AA founder, Bill Wilson in 1934. It was actually created in June 1947 by the AA Grapevine, a magazine publication founded by six AA members with Bill Wilson’s permission. Back then, this magazine was starting to circulate among non-alcoholics. The Preamble was created to serve as public information to describe what AA was and what it wasn’t. The magazine, and thus, the AA Preamble, quickly proliferated into the various chapters of the organization and was even adopted as AA conference-approved literature. Since this short text has become a cornerstone of Alcoholics Anonymous and is printed in every issue of the AA Grapevine Magazine and used to open AA meetings.
However, the Preamble that most of us know today is not the original text. There have been a few wording changes intended to clarify certain points.
The AA Preamble was first published in the June 1947 issue. They used portions of the Foreword to the first edition of the Big Book.
The Grapevine had just begun to circulate among non-alcoholics, and the Preamble was intended primarily to describe for them what AA is and is not. It is still often used for public information purposes.
As time passed, it began appearing in all Conference-approved publications, and many groups now use it to open meetings.
AA Preamble Changes
The original version was slightly different from what we know today. For example:
1) It stated that the only requirement for membership is an HONEST desire to stop drinking, and 2) it contained only the very brief statement “AA has no dues or fees.”
At the 1958 General Service Conference, a delegate pointed out that the word “honest” does not appear in the Third Tradition, and suggested that it should be deleted from the Preamble. Many delegates felt that as AA had matured, it had become almost impossible to determine what constitutes an honest desire to stop drinking, and also that some who might be interested in the program could be confused by the phrase.
The mid-summer 1958 meeting of the General Service Board ratified the deletion, and since then the Preamble has read simply “a desire to stop drinking.” The phrase “AA has no dues or fees” also was clarified to read as it presently does: “There are no dues or fees for AA membership, we are self-supporting through our own contributions.” The current version of the Preamble appears on the first page of every issue of the Grapevine.
A few months later another preamble version was created in Texas, which was followed by another version in Wilmington, Delaware.
AA Preamble Bottom Line
Politics has no place in AA. We will continue using God’s ‘male or female’ genders in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. If you believe you are not a man or women, perhaps choose the gender that you relate to most.
The AA Preamble bottom line:
Each AA group, and each member of the group, makes the final decision on what AA Preamble version to recite, not the New York office.