Back in the fold: Toronto AA chapters that expunged God
Two secular AA chapters – delisted by the Alcoholics Anonymous Greater Toronto Area Intergroup – have regained acceptance following a lengthy dispute sparked by Larry Knight, 59, above.
Knight, according to this report, was involved with the founding of two godless AA groups in Toronto, one in 2009 and another the following year.
Someone unhappy with the removal of references to God complained to the Intergroup, which then voted six years ago to delist the chapters.
The Intergroup is a communication vehicle for local groups. It creates a directory of local meetings, both online and in hard copy.
Members of the Intergroup voted to delist the two agnostic chapters almost six years ago.
Knight, a woodworker and photographer who credits AA for helping him to stay sober for 23 years, challenged the move with the help of Toronto’s Human Rights Legal Support Centre and this week a mediated settlement was finally reached.
Megan Evans Maxwell, Knight’s lawyer, said:
This is a massive victory for sobriety and inclusion,
She explained that under the settlement, agnostic members still must acknowledge the 12 steps as they are written – including references to God – but can interpret the steps in any way they see as personally meaningful.
In practical terms, that means agnostic meetings can be held without any verbal reference to God, she said.
The settlement means the agnostic groups can participate in the Intergroup and are once again listed in its directories.
Said Knight, who launched the complaint against Greater Toronto Area Intergroup of Alcoholics Anonymous in 2014.
I’m glad it’s over. I took a lot of time off work to do this. The important thing at the end of the day is we’re back.
His first exposure to AA came in 1993 when he entered a treatment centre based on the 12 steps and emerged a sober man.
After 15 solid years in the programme, he and some agnostic friends noticed meetings around the Toronto area taking on a more religious tone and he had trouble with the prevalence of God in the programme (Step 3: Make a decision to turn over our will and our lives to the care of God as we understood Him).
He wasn’t the only one:
A lot of Jewish friends, native friends, became uncomfortable …. They were not very comfortable talking about things in Christian terms … and things were only becoming more Christian. So we created these meetings.
At first, the region’s organising body, Intergroup, embraced its new secular off-shoots, listing the meetings in its directories online and in print.
The acceptance dissolved on May 31, 2011, when Intergroup abruptly expunged the secular groups from its directories.
We upset somebody who stumbled into our meeting. She wasn’t happy about not having enough God stuff and she raised a little muck … They put a motion on the floor to delist us and we were delisted. What happens then is your group becomes invisible to those who are still suffering.
Hat tip: Dave