The recovery free thinkers movement in Toronto, Ontario has been a thorn in the side of Alcoholics Anonymous for a while now. The group in question, The Agnostic Group first came to the attention of AA members a few years ago when some of its members decided to talk to the press, break their spiritual anonymity, and openly air their resentments against AA. Although causing a stir within the Fellowship it soon died away as most irritants do.
Fast forward to present day. As a result of acting against common unity the Toronto Intergroup decided not to allow The Agnostic Group to be considered an official AA Group or be listed in the meeting list. For those who do not know what an Intergroup does here is a quick list of services they offer:
1. Receiving, arranging and following up on Twelve Step Calls.
2. Answering inquiries about AA.
3. Establishing local Public Information Committees.
4. Maintain information about local hospitals and recovery facilities for alcoholics.
5. Publishing local AA meetings lists.
6. Providing a newsletter.
7. Ordering, selling and distributing AA conference-approved material.
In keeping with the Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous the Intergroup Committee is made up of group representatives who make decisions via group conscience. What this means is the decision regarding The Agnostics Group was decided by all members of the Toronto Area Alcoholics Anonymous Fellowship (or at least those who attended their group business meeting when this vote was taken).
One of the reasons The Agnostics Group was considered to not be part of the AA Fellowship is because it changed the wording of the 12 Steps. This is what they follow:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to accept and to understand that we needed strengths beyond our awareness and resources to restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of the A.A. program.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to ourselves without reservation, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were ready to accept help in letting go of all our defects of character.
7. Humbly sought to have our shortcomings removed.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. 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.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
One of the founding members of The Toronto Agnostics Group did not like this, democratically made, decision and has decided to take Toronto’s AA Intergroup to an Ontario, Canada, Human Rights Tribunal. The Human Rights Tribunals in Canada are not a legal court of law but their decisions are considered legally binding. These tribunals are not beholden to any other government body. In my opinion they are the equivalent of a kangaroo court with no checks and balances.
A human rights tribunal (at least the ones in Canada) can also be called, “The – You hurt my feelings and I don’t like that so I’m going to whine to someone – Tribunal”. Basically the tribunal allows someone who can’t accept a situation and/or are unable to look at their part in it and have found a way to manipulate a result to their liking. I don’t know about you but when I was active in my addiction I was a great manipulator. I could manipulate people into allowing me to further engage in my addiction – quite the character defect. This type of system is not recovery oriented at all. The Canadian tribunal system in Ontario, Canada has allowed one individual, with a resentment, to cause Intergroup to waste a great deal of energy and monies that could best be spent on furthering Alcoholics Anonymous’ primary purpose of helping the still suffering alcoholic.
Not only is energy being wasted the media attention this resentful Friend of Bill has garnered is giving Alcoholics Anonymous a bad reputation with the general public who don’t understand our traditions and thus, in the end, could be responsible for a still suffering alcoholic not coming for help and perhaps dying.