I am really happy to find this community. I was reading about the introduction of a secular 12 Steps to NA World Service. That sounds like a great idea that will meet some resistance. Organizations either adapt or reify into obscurity. AA is having a hard time getting a spirituality pamphlet approved by the Conference floor and some say it's because the inclusion of atheists and agnostics talking about their AA life is untenable to some of the more superstitious members.

I do like NA's new book, Living Clean (2012). It does candidly refer to the many who stay clean in AA while never wavering from their atheist worldview. Sure it could go further, but hey - it's a start.

Roger C's The Little Book: A Collection of Alternative 12 Steps has 20 secular variations and a how to write your own section which I think everyone should do.

I am part of an AA group in Toronto Canada that was unceremoniously excommunicated from Intergroup and dropped from the meeting directory. The group, Beyond Belief Agnostics and Freethinkers Group of AA formed in 2009. September 24th will be our fourth anniversary. In 2011 our group and another one that just got listed with New York (GSO), We Agnostics both got turfed for "changing the 12 Steps."

Two things you need to know about AA (as my friend Bob K says): 1) There are no rules, 2) There are plenty of people to explain them to you.

So as you may suspect, there is no rule about what a group can do, say, or how it represents itself. It is hoped that all groups follow the wisdom of the Traditions but there is no authority beyond the group conscience.

GSO has stewardship of the Twelve Steps and Traditions and where it is within their power to do so, they prevent the modification, extension and alteration of the Twelve Steps except at the insistence (instance) of the Fellowship (defined as 75% of responding groups approving the change). While General Service Office can and should correct any distortions of the Twelve Steps by the media etc., by their own Charter, GSO does not govern groups - GSO serves the needs and wishes of the groups.

Certainly, GSO doesn't leave the governing to Intergroup and in Toronto's case it was a matter of politics, fear-mongering and a betrayal of the Twelve Traditions. Intergroups list groups upon their request - they don't evaluate the merit of a group's legitimacy.

There is a growing need and supply of secular 12&12 literature.

Back in the 1990s Philip Z, a secular Jew, clinical therapist and OA member wrote A Skeptics Guide to the 12-Step (Hazelden). Marya Hornbacher wrote Waiting; A Nonbelievers Higher Power. I wrote a daily reflection book (the first ever secular daily devotional), Roger wrote his 12 Step collection, Vince Hawkings has a few offerings including An Atheist's Unofficial Guide to AA.

AAs Living Sober and NAs Living Clean are not going on about "God could and would if He were sought." How about "God could and would if He existed?"

The law of unintended consequences has had its way in Toronto. While the AA police tried to snuff out the secular voice of AA in their home town, the delisting made the front page of the most read newspaper in the country. Three members were invited to CBC's Tapestry where we maintained our anonymity and confidently but not rudely described the God-free 12 Steps and why they are a natural part of a Fellowship's progression - certainly why they are at very least, essential for a few. What was one agnostic group in Toronto is now a city where there meetings for nonbelievers 5 nights a week (including suburbs).

I have included links to the Front Page Toronto Star article that came out as soon as Intergroup posted their minutes online. Also, from THE FIX an article by Jesse Beach.

I for one am looking forward to the We Agnostics and Freethinkers International AA conference in Santa Monica November 2014. Maybe see some of you there.

Joe C

Tags: 12, AA, Agnostic, Anonymous, Belief, Beyond, NA, Steps, Traditions, Twelve

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