18 June 2011
Toronto, Ontario, Canada - A long-standing rift in the Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) rank and file broke into the open over the weekend as Toronto’s two atheist/agnostic Alcoholics Anonymous groups were thrown off the official city list. The two groups, named Beyond Belief and We Agnostics, had written A.A.'s twelve steps to remove all references to God from them.
The Greater Toronto Area Intergroup, the local A.A. coordinating organization, voted to remove the two groups, named Beyond Belief and We Agnostics, from the published directory of meetings and from its website.
A.A. programs are controversial in the United States and Canada because courts often require alcoholics to participate in them as a condition of probation. But critics to the program counter that the programs are overtly religious, amounting to a government coercion of religious belief and creating an unnecessary obstacle for those who hold no religious beliefs.
The actions by the GTAI would seem to led credibility to the charges of A.A. being primarily a proselytizing organization for promoting religious belief, and that alternative, secular programs need to be found that are inclusive enough to include all regardless of religious beliefs.