RELIGION
09/23/2010 10:36 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

AA Co-Founder Scaled Back References To God In Manual

By Whitney Jones
Religion News Service

(RNS) The basic text used for Alcoholics Anonymous programs, known as "The Big Book," initially used stronger religious language but was reduced to appeal to a wider audience, The Washington Post is reporting.

Hazelden, a nonprofit addiction treatment center, will release the working manuscript of the book written by AA's co-founder, Bill Wilson, including hand-written edits and comments, according to The Post.

The changes marked in red, black and green reveal a debate on how openly God should be a part of addiction recovery in the published manuscript, according to "The Book That Started It All: The Original Working Manuscript of Alcoholics Anonymous."

The adoption of more vague religious terms in "The Big Book," including phrases like "higher power" and the "God of your understanding," show how Wilson scaled back the religious tone to engage a broader group of people.

Worship terms were also taken out of the revised version of the book. The seventh step of the 12-step recovery program, which is "humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings" originally stated "humbly, on our knees, asked Him to remove our shortcomings -- holding nothing back."

Nick Motu, senior vice president of Hazelden publishing, agreed with Wilson's decision to take out the strong religious language.

"If it had been a Christian-based book, a religious book, it wouldn't have succeeded as it has," he told The Post.