Battle Over Religion At Alcoholics Anonymous

aa.news3Alcoholics Anonymous famously uses religion as part of its recovery, with “God” appearing four times in the 12-steps.

But two AA groups in Toronto don’t think religion has any place in recovering from alcoholism, and came out with a new 12-step list without the word “God.” Now they are on the outs with the official AA organization.

According to a report in the Toronto Star, the secular AA groups, known as Beyond Belief and We Agnostics, were removed from the roster of local meetings. They are no longer on the Toronto AA website, and will not be in the next printed edition of the Toronto directory.

“They took issue with a public display of secular AA,” says Joe C., who founded Beyond Belief 18 months ago (in keeping with AA’s tradition of anonymity, Joe does not give his last name).

One member, though, said the groups had no right to alter the steps.

“They (the altered Twelve Steps) are not our Twelve Steps,” said the AA member. “They’ve changed them to their own personal needs. They should never have been listed in the first place.”

Here is how they changed the steps – first the original wording:

  1. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  2. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  3. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  4. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  5. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  6. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, prayer only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Now the altered ones:

  1. Came to accept and to understand that we needed strengths beyond our awareness and resources to restore us to sanity.
  2. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of the AA program.
  3. Admitted to ourselves without reservation, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.
  4. Were ready to accept help in letting go of all our defects of character.
  5. Humbly sought to have our shortcomings removed.
  6. Sought through mindful inquiry and meditation to improve our spiritual awareness, seeking only for knowledge of our rightful path in life and the power to carry that out.

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