Often Wrong but Never in Doubt: Toronto Intergroup vs. the Human Rights Tribunal 


PDF Transcript for Episode # 22 of Rebellion Dogs Radio - Toronto & The Human Rights Tribunal.

The tale of two AAs, one by our architect and Toronto Intergroup's AA 2.0 now with more rules and less love and tolerance.

Arthur Brooks (pictured) gave a February 2016 Ted Talk that demonstrates why a healthy society is a diverse society.

“It's not good enough just to tolerate people who disagree. It's not good enough. We have to remember that we need people who disagree with us, because there are people who need all of us…”

Now if it's true that our strength is in our differences, which of the two views of AA below, has a future?

Spiritual - not religious: Bill Wilson (letter to Father Ford, May 4, 1957)
“To begin with, the Steps are not enforceable upon anyone—they are only suggestions. A belief in the Steps or in God is not in any way requisite for A.A. membership. Therefore, we have no means of compelling anyone to stay away from A.A. because he does not believe in God or the Twelve Steps. In fact, A.A. has a technique of reducing rebellion among doubting people by deliberately inviting them to disagree with everything we believe in.” 
  
Religious - not spiritual: Toronto Intergroup (GTAI) from tribunal filings February 17, 2016
“[7] GTAI, submits that … its purpose is to practice the 12 steps and practice a belief in God. In order to be part of GTAI, a group must be prepared to practice the 12 steps and thus the members of the group must have a belief in God. [9] GTAI also submits that it is a bona fide requirement that groups that wish to be part of this Intergroup must have a belief in the higher power of God.” 

Is that the same AA being talked about? Five years ago, Intergroup cast out agnostic constituents, Five years later, it's judgement day. Be clear that no one has been found to be guilty of anything at this juncture. But as we've seen, newspapers and the blogosphers are buzzing over Toronto Intergroup's discrimination hearing and their radical, religious-not-spiritual defense. In Episode # 22 of Rebellion Dogs Radio looks at the players in this drama: Intergroup, AA World Service, the whistle blower and the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

SoundCloud streaming of this show CLICK HERE  -  POD-0-MATIC streaming of this show CLICK HERE   

What is the Ontario Human Rights Commission's core vales?

"The right to be free from discrimination based on creed reflects core Canadian constitutional values and commitments to a secular, multicultural and democratic society. People who follow a creed, and people who do not, have the right to live in a society that respects pluralism and human rights and the right to follow different creeds.

When we ask people to be tolerant of others, we do not ask them to abandon their personal convictions. We merely ask them to respect the rights, values and ways of being of those who may not share those convictions. The belief that others are entitled to equal respect depends, not on the belief that their values are right, but on the belief that they have a claim to equal respect regardless of whether they are right.”
– Supreme Court of Canada. 2002


How did we get here? How will the Human Rights Tribunal assess Intergroup's discriminatory actions? How will they test Intergroup's defence? What's going to come of AA being before a Human Rights hearing? How can peace be restored to local AA and respectability be restored to AA as a whole? Well, we're going to try to cover all of these issues in a single radio hour. You'll be the judge as to how well we do; do we have the issues soberly covered? Oh, and we'll tell you about Symposium on AA History in Arizona and our visit with AfterParty Podcast in LA, too. So listen up and then have your say. 

Links for this week's show:
 

http://www.torontosun.com/2016/02/19/alcoholics-anonymous-accused-of-discrimination 
http://rebelliondogspublishing.com/rebellious-radio/75percentAAServiceManual_argument
http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/human-rights-and-rental-housing-ontario-background-paper/duty-accommodate 
RebellionDogsBlog:TheVancouverDelistingNovember2014
HRTO File Number: 2014-18832-1 Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario February 17, 2016 
http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/smf-29_en.pdf 
http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/policy-preventing-discrimination-based-creed 
Wilson, Bill, The A.A. Service Manual Combined with the Twelve Concepts of World Service, New York: A.A. World Services, 2015-2016 p 22 
Anonymous, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, New York: A.A. World Services Inc., 1952-2013, p. 131 
http://www.artofmanliness.com/2015/06/02/the-narcissism-of-minor-differences/ 
http://www.ted.com/talks/arthur_brooks_a_conservative_s_plea_let_s_work_together?language=en 
http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/creed-and-duty-accommodate-checklist-accommodation-providers 
https://www.thefix.com/five-aa-myths-critics-and-zealots-share
http://www.sedonamagoretreat.org/symposium-on-aa-history/
https://rehabreviews.com/category/podcast/

 

 

7 comments

  • Lech Lesiak

    Lech Lesiak Edmonton

    While I completely disagree with the GTIA's dictum that the purpose of an AA group is to practice the steps, etc., I also think that the way in which many of us non-believers beard the lion is pointless, divisive, and counter productive. There is little purpose, IMHO, in rewriting the steps and posting them on the wall as one group in Vancouver does. My approach as an agnostic would be simply to ignore all the God stuff in AA dogma, and get on with life. The majority of the AA membership seems to have drunk the Kool-aid, and constantly pitting ourselves against their irrational opinions accomplishes nothing.

    While I completely disagree with the GTIA's dictum that the purpose of an AA group is to practice the steps, etc., I also think that the way in which many of us non-believers beard the lion is pointless, divisive, and counter productive.

    There is little purpose, IMHO, in rewriting the steps and posting them on the wall as one group in Vancouver does.

    My approach as an agnostic would be simply to ignore all the God stuff in AA dogma, and get on with life.

    The majority of the AA membership seems to have drunk the Kool-aid, and constantly pitting ourselves against their irrational opinions accomplishes nothing.

  • Tony

    Tony Buffalo

    "Sobriety - freedom from alcohol - through the teaching and practice of the twelve steps, is the sole purpose of an A.A. group." - Bill Wilson Bill has many qoutable statements in his 30+ years of sobriety and 1,000's of writings. The bottom line over the removal of groups from the schedule and intergroup are that they altered, modified or rearanged the twelve steps and literature. Which is fine, but that makes you not an AA group anymore. Groups have great freedom, but they can't do whatever they want, making up a new program and still use the AA name. It's simple and legal common sense. I can't dye Twinkies green and sell them as Twinkies and not have hostess take an issue with that. We aren't dumb people, just arrogant, apathetic and ego-driven.

    "Sobriety - freedom from alcohol - through the teaching and practice of the twelve steps, is the sole purpose of an A.A. group." - Bill Wilson

    Bill has many qoutable statements in his 30+ years of sobriety and 1,000's of writings. The bottom line over the removal of groups from the schedule and intergroup are that they altered, modified or rearanged the twelve steps and literature. Which is fine, but that makes you not an AA group anymore. Groups have great freedom, but they can't do whatever they want, making up a new program and still use the AA name. It's simple and legal common sense. I can't dye Twinkies green and sell them as Twinkies and not have hostess take an issue with that. We aren't dumb people, just arrogant, apathetic and ego-driven.

  • Rebellion Dogs Publishing

    Rebellion Dogs Publishing

    That sentence of Bill W comes from a February 1958 Grapevine article Vol. 14, No. 9. Wilson, 11 years sober, is talking about drug addicts and those who wanted to make any accommodation for heroin and pill addiction. Bill was also talking about those members who wished for a pure alcoholic’s AA. He was discussing managing multiple views of what's best for AA. He also makes this statement in 1966 in relation to the AA group as a marital counseling, money lending organization (As Bill Sees It p. 79). This bold statement about groups is interestingly bookmarked by two very different claims by the same AA member. Bill’s July 1946 article called, “The Individual in Relation to A.A. as a Group,” where he writes: “… our Tradition carries the principle of independence for the individual to such an apparently fanatic length that, so long as there is the slightest interest in sobriety, the most unmoral, the most anti-social, the most critical alcoholics, may gather about him a few kindred spirits and announce to us that a new Alcoholics Anonymous Group has been formed. Anti-God, anti-medicine, anti-our Recover Program, even anti-each other—these rampant individuals are still an A.A. Group if they think so!” Like the 1958 article, "Problems other than Alcohol: What can be done about them?" The article—as a whole—looks at seemingly contradictory principles and practices. Then, in Bill’s 25th year of sobriety, he writes this April 1961 article—a self-examination of evangelizing his own view upon others—which I’ve already referenced in this show/blog. I touched only on Bill’s feelings that to be rigid is prideful and to be prideful is neither humble nor spiritual. In April 1961 Bill gives an example: In AA's first years I all but ruined the whole undertaking with this sort of unconscious arrogance. God as I understood Him had to be for everybody. Sometimes my aggression was subtle and sometimes it was crude. But either way it was damaging--perhaps fatally so--to numbers of non-believers. Of course this sort of thing isn't confined to Twelfth Step work. It is very apt to leak out into our relationships with everybody. Even now, I catch myself chanting that same old barrier-building refrain, "Do as I do, believe as I do--or else!" Here's a recent example of the high cost of spiritual pride. A very tough-minded prospect was taken to his first AA meeting. The first speaker majored on his own drinking pattern. The prospect seemed impressed. The next two speakers (or maybe lecturers) each themed their talks on "God as I understand Him." This could have been good, too, but it certainly wasn't. The trouble was their attitude, the way they presented their experience. They did ooze arrogance. In fact, the final speaker got far overboard on some of his personal theological convictions. With perfect fidelity, both were repeating my performance of years before. Quite unspoken, yet implicit in everything they said, was the same idea--"Folks, listen to us. We have the only true brand of AA--and you'd better get it!" http://www.aagrapevine.org/node/12311 Tony, you have inspired me. I cherry pick the quotes from AA’s history to borrow real or imaginary authority to help make my claim sound (to me at least) to be “the truth.” Maybe we all do. Back-to-basics find enough to decry that they are real AA. Anarchists and liberals find enough to feel satisfied, too. I am now inspired to think about a blog called, “According to AA History” or “As Bill Sees It: Borrowing Authority” and look all the factions who feel that we best represent the best of AA. Lech also offers wisdom. Because we have autonomy, is it always best to flaunt it? Especially when it irritates others, are we overcoming intolerance or stimulating it? The great thing is we don’t have to have consensus to be AA members and groups. Tradition Five quashes the infighting between groups making it clear that consensus is not needed. We are reminded that each group (the muckers, the atheists and everyone else) has our own purpose “to carry ITS message to the alcoholic who still suffers” so we need not bother ourselves with that group over there’s message or these groups over here. Each group is true to “its” message. This is AA at our best.

    That sentence of Bill W comes from a February 1958 Grapevine article Vol. 14, No. 9. Wilson, 11 years sober, is talking about drug addicts and those who wanted to make any accommodation for heroin and pill addiction. Bill was also talking about those members who wished for a pure alcoholic’s AA. He was discussing managing multiple views of what's best for AA. He also makes this statement in 1966 in relation to the AA group as a marital counseling, money lending organization (As Bill Sees It p. 79).

    This bold statement about groups is interestingly bookmarked by two very different claims by the same AA member.

    Bill’s July 1946 article called, “The Individual in Relation to A.A. as a Group,” where he writes:

    “… our Tradition carries the principle of independence for the individual to such an apparently fanatic length that, so long as there is the slightest interest in sobriety, the most unmoral, the most anti-social, the most critical alcoholics, may gather about him a few kindred spirits and announce to us that a new Alcoholics Anonymous Group has been formed. Anti-God, anti-medicine, anti-our Recover Program, even anti-each other—these rampant individuals are still an A.A. Group if they think so!”

    Like the 1958 article, "Problems other than Alcohol: What can be done about them?" The article—as a whole—looks at seemingly contradictory principles and practices.

    Then, in Bill’s 25th year of sobriety, he writes this April 1961 article—a self-examination of evangelizing his own view upon others—which I’ve already referenced in this show/blog. I touched only on Bill’s feelings that to be rigid is prideful and to be prideful is neither humble nor spiritual. In April 1961 Bill gives an example:

    In AA's first years I all but ruined the whole undertaking with this sort of unconscious arrogance. God as I understood Him had to be for everybody. Sometimes my aggression was subtle and sometimes it was crude. But either way it was damaging--perhaps fatally so--to numbers of non-believers. Of course this sort of thing isn't confined to Twelfth Step work. It is very apt to leak out into our relationships with everybody. Even now, I catch myself chanting that same old barrier-building refrain, "Do as I do, believe as I do--or else!"
    Here's a recent example of the high cost of spiritual pride. A very tough-minded prospect was taken to his first AA meeting. The first speaker majored on his own drinking pattern. The prospect seemed impressed. The next two speakers (or maybe lecturers) each themed their talks on "God as I understand Him." This could have been good, too, but it certainly wasn't. The trouble was their attitude, the way they presented their experience. They did ooze arrogance. In fact, the final speaker got far overboard on some of his personal theological convictions. With perfect fidelity, both were repeating my performance of years before. Quite unspoken, yet implicit in everything they said, was the same idea--"Folks, listen to us. We have the only true brand of AA--and you'd better get it!" http://www.aagrapevine.org/node/12311

    Tony, you have inspired me.

    I cherry pick the quotes from AA’s history to borrow real or imaginary authority to help make my claim sound (to me at least) to be “the truth.” Maybe we all do. Back-to-basics find enough to decry that they are real AA. Anarchists and liberals find enough to feel satisfied, too. I am now inspired to think about a blog called, “According to AA History” or “As Bill Sees It: Borrowing Authority” and look all the factions who feel that we best represent the best of AA.

    Lech also offers wisdom. Because we have autonomy, is it always best to flaunt it? Especially when it irritates others, are we overcoming intolerance or stimulating it?

    The great thing is we don’t have to have consensus to be AA members and groups. Tradition Five quashes the infighting between groups making it clear that consensus is not needed. We are reminded that each group (the muckers, the atheists and everyone else) has our own purpose “to carry ITS message to the alcoholic who still suffers” so we need not bother ourselves with that group over there’s message or these groups over here. Each group is true to “its” message. This is AA at our best.

  • Victoria

    Victoria Toronto

    Joe, Are you serious? Lol Typical Alcoholic behaviour. Why not just "print" the steps as they are, and "read" it any way you want! As according to tradition, we can't police your lips or your lack of respect for traditions. How would you feel about an AA group that changes it to... Step 2. Came to believe "Lord Jesus" could restore us to sanity. Or Step 2. Came to believe "Monitary success" could restore us to sanity. Though I doubt "anything" will restore us, it's a reprieve! Thee Victoria😜

    Joe,
    Are you serious?
    Lol
    Typical Alcoholic behaviour.
    Why not just "print" the steps as they are, and "read" it any way you want!
    As according to tradition, we can't police your lips or your lack of respect for traditions.
    How would you feel about an AA group that changes it to...

    Step 2. Came to believe "Lord Jesus" could restore us to sanity.
    Or
    Step 2. Came to believe "Monitary success" could restore us to sanity.

    Though I doubt "anything" will restore us, it's a reprieve!
    Thee Victoria😜

  • Rebellion Dogs Publishing

    Rebellion Dogs Publishing

    To each their own, Traditions are guidelines and not rules. Jesus, Mohamed, Zeus, Sidartha, or capitalism as you suggested. Tradition Five encourages each group to determine for themselves what "its" message is. Whatever works, AA is about radical inclusion - never exclusive. It isn't for the rest of us to cast judgement on another group's choices.

    To each their own, Traditions are guidelines and not rules. Jesus, Mohamed, Zeus, Sidartha, or capitalism as you suggested. Tradition Five encourages each group to determine for themselves what "its" message is. Whatever works, AA is about radical inclusion - never exclusive. It isn't for the rest of us to cast judgement on another group's choices.

  • George

    George Clinton, MS

    You may be interested to hear that a motion to remove all database directory listings of the Greater Toronto Area Intergroup was adopted unanimously by the A.A. World Services, Inc. Board of Directors in October, 2016. This de-listing action was "based on their [Toronto Area Intergroup's] response to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal Action that they are a religious organization" (from the Quarterly Report from G.S.O., October, 2016, page 5). Apparently the Board thinks that where the Third Tradition says "only requirement," it means "only requirement." :-)

    You may be interested to hear that a motion to remove all database directory listings of the Greater Toronto Area Intergroup was adopted unanimously by the A.A. World Services, Inc. Board of Directors in October, 2016. This de-listing action was "based on their [Toronto Area Intergroup's] response to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal Action that they are a religious organization" (from the Quarterly Report from G.S.O., October, 2016, page 5).

    Apparently the Board thinks that where the Third Tradition says "only requirement," it means "only requirement." :-)

  • Ryan

    Ryan Canada

    NOT LIVING ME LON government of canada US RUSSIA HARASSING

    NOT LIVING ME LON government of canada US RUSSIA HARASSING

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