Saskatoon’s next Secular Organizations for Sobriety meeting is on June 12th.
Repeats: 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month, 8:30 p.m.
Where: The Avenue Community Centre, 201-320 21st St. W., Saskatoon, SK
A secular group in Toronto called Beyond Belief had been listed with Alcoholics Anonymous there up until Tuesday. AA pitched a hissy after Beyond Belief posted a modified 12 step list on their site, with the god parts removed. Another group, We Agnostics, had barely finished their paperwork for joining but got the boot, too. Guilt by association, I guess.
The name of God appears four times in the Twelve Steps and echoes the period in which they were written — the 1930s. It invites those seeking sobriety to turn themselves over to God, who will remove their “defects of character.” They go on to speak of God’s will for the recovering alcoholic.
“They (the altered Twelve Steps) are not our Twelve Steps,” says an AA member who was at Tuesday’s meeting of the coordinating body known as the Greater Toronto Area Intergroup. “They’ve changed them to their own personal needs. They should never have been listed in the first place.”
I’d like to know his rationale for why. I also can’t tell if he means their list, or their group entirely. He’s quoted in the next paragraph as liking the Lord’s prayer and thinks it should good enough for people to step out of the circle if they don’t want to say it. (Presumably the prayer will still work effectively via osmosis?) “He’s doing what he needs to do for him.”
Okay, but if this other guy doesn’t want to pray, shouldn’t secular options be open for him? And shouldn’t those options be listed with AA so people don’t have to hunt all over the place for the information they want?
Maybe Beyond Belief shouldn’t have taken it on themselves to rewrite the steps that make AA exclusively godly. Maybe they just should have made their own independent list. It’s hard to tell by the article if they wanted their version to completely replace AA’s or if they just wanted theirs on the site in addition.
The article quotes a 50 years sober Catholic priest, Pete Watters.
“People and agencies can help,” Watters says, “but the only one who can restore that person to permanent sobriety is God. But that’s the God of your understanding — that can be anything you want.”
Bullshit. It doesn’t matter if people want to pretend GOD is an acronym for “good, orderly, direction.” The notion that one must follow a religious tradition as the only way to remain off the booze happens to be outrageously outdated. It does a great disservice to those in need of help when people continue to parrot this misinformation at truth. Even if they really do believe it, it’s still wrong. Secular versions of AA are proving it’s wrong every time they have a meeting.
Does AA, with its world-wide membership, and 500 weekly meetings in Toronto alone, actually feel threatened by that? A few rinky-dink secular groups are standing up and saying god’s not a necessary step for regaining sobriety and the giant AA is suddenly on the defensive? Do they fear a 21st century David and Goliath showdown here?
We know who won that. Maybe that’s why.