Toronto AA Fight

CanadaFlagThere’s a kerfuffle in the Toronto, Canada AA community that brings out an ongoing issue in Alcoholics Anonymous. The question is the role of God and religion in recovery.

There are several registered AA groups in Toronto. Two of these, “Beyond Belief” and “We Agnostics” clearly do not follow the AA tradition that puts a strong spiritual component into the recovery message. It came to a head when the BB group posted an altered 12 –steps on a website shared with the larger AA community. BB removed the word God and altered the steps to reflect their own lack of belief. Outrage ensued.

Both the Beyond Belief and the We Agnostics groups were “delisted.” In formal AA speak, that means the groups were kicked out of “official AA.” The minutes of the meeting are an interesting read (scroll down to the New Business section). They make mention of a letter received from the General Services Organization of AA and the rule that it takes a 75% vote to alter the Big Book or the 12-steps. The representative from Beyond Belief argues back that each group has the right to be autonomous.

The resolution seems to be to simply delist both secular AA groups (well, technically, not AA anymore) from the main site.

So the question remains for each area to sort out. How much can AA be altered and still remain “AA?” Noted in the meeting minutes was a comment that no one is against using the 12-step methodology for other addictions. They recognize there is value in the structure, even for such things as sex or shopping addiction – just don’t call it AA.

How does this affect alcoholics in Toronto? Well, searching the main site won’t bring up a directory listing for either of the two agnostic meetings. Presumably, there are secular alcoholics who would benefit from those meetings. This just compounds the difficulty of reaching alcoholics where they are.

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