A Motion to Relist Secular AA Groups

Mike B., a member of the Fellowship Group in Oliver, British Columbia was inspired by the interim decision of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, to craft a motion that he will present to his District on March 20, 2016. If approved by the District, the motion will next be presented as an emergency measure to Area 79 British Columbia/Yukon Area Assembly of Alcoholics Anonymous. If passed by the Area Assembly, the Delegate for Area 79 will take the motion to the upcoming General Service Conference to be held in New York from April 17 to April 23, 2016.

The motion calls for all levels of AA service (Districts, Areas, GSO, General Service Conference, AAWS Inc., and Board of Trustees) to immediately rectify the discriminatory practices within our fellowship that presently exist against secular AA members and groups.

This is good timing for an action like this as it gives GSO an opportunity to encourage diversity and inclusiveness within the fellowship. Similar motions can be brought forth to any Area Assembly that is meeting prior to the General Service Conference in April.

Good luck Mike. We will be following this story with interest.

What follows is the motion as written by Mike B. 

Motion of AA Business:

A: Objective:

To reverse the delisting and disenfranchisement of secular AA groups in Vancouver and Toronto by the intergroup committees in those cities.

B. Background Information:

• Approximately 5 years ago the Greater Toronto Area Intergroup (GTAI) and the Vancouver Area Intergroup (VAI) committees delisted a number of secular AA groups by refusing to list their meetings in the community meeting guides (printed and online) and furthermore banned secular intergroup representatives from voice and vote at intergroup meetings.

• This unacceptable situation has continued for over 5 years despite the ongoing efforts of secular groups to be reinstated.

• As a last resort, a member of a Toronto secular AA group has filed a charge of discrimination with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal against the GTAI, the AA General Service Board and AA World Services. The discrimination charge is based on the fact that the same rights and services provided to all other AA groups and members are being restricted, withheld and denied to secular AA groups and their members; based on creed and secular non -belief in god. The Tribunal preliminary hearing has now been upgraded to a full hearing with all parties ordered to respond in writing to all questions from the Chair within 35 days.

C. Supporting Documentation:

“AA Atheists and Human Rights” by Roger C. dated Feb. 21, 2016.

“Alcoholics Anonymous Accused of Discrimination” by Michele Mandel dated Feb. 19, 2016. Newspaper article from Toronto Sun.

“Does religion belong at AA? Fight over ‘God’ splits Toronto AA Groups” dated June3, 2011 by Leslie Scrivener. Newspaper article from Toronto Star.

D. Action Required:

• This motion requires passing at the District 68 meeting on March 13th, 2016. From there it needs to be taken forward by our DCM, as an emergency motion, to the BC/Yukon area pre-conference assembly held on April 8, 2016.

• When passed at the Area 79 pre-conference assembly our area 79 delegate should take the emergency motion forward to the General Service Conference in New York April 17-23, 2016.

• It is important that this motion move forward with the utmost urgency to mitigate potential bad public relations, financial penalties and negative public opinion.

• It is certain that many rulings will come out of the Human Rights Tribunal before the next AA General Service Conference in 2017. If we get on this thing now we should be able to head off most of the impending damage and settle this unity destroying crisis once and for all.

• This injustice needs to be made right by making secular members and groups whole.

• Instead of marginalising and excluding secular members and groups why not try being more welcoming, accepting and inclusive to this rapidly growing sector of AA.

• Let’s make AA more proactive in accepting secular AA groups and members in order that AA may become more attractive, inclusive, relevant and effective in the future treatment of alcoholism; for all alcoholics!

E. Motion:


• The unacceptable actions of GTAI and VAI have led to a Human Rights Tribunal action against AA and that such action has and will continue to create negative publicity for our fellowship.
• The Tribunal could award severe financial penalties against AA.

• That the actions of GTAI and VAI contravene many of the traditions and principles of AA including:

1. Our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern. Since when do intergroup committees decide what groups are in good standing with all rights and privileges of membership? When were they given the power to decide what constitutes an AA group and the right to expel those that don’t meet their standards?

2. Each AA member has the right to believe or not believe in a higher power. They do not need to believe in any god or deity!

3. AA group conscience is based on the democratic process within each group. Any 2 or 3 members may call themselves an AA group providing they have no outside affiliation. Non- belief in god does not constitute an outside affiliation.

4. Secular AA groups should not be excluded from any level of AA service because they do not believe in god or interpret the 12 steps without God.

5. Lack of action and silence on this issue by districts, areas, GSO and the Board of Trustees is unacceptable and may well be construed by the Human Rights Tribunal as condoning the actions of the GTAI and VAI intergroup committees.

6. AA`s creed of love and tolerance cannot be attained using the tools of discrimination, hatred, bigotry and exclusion of members or groups based on creed; their belief or lack of belief in any god.

Therefore be it resolved:

• That every means, at all levels of AA service (districts, areas, GSO, General Service Conference, AAWS Inc. and Board of Trustees), be taken immediately to rectify the discriminatory practices within our fellowship that presently exist against AA secular members and groups. Be it further resolved that the corrective action be taken as quickly as possible to mitigate any further legal action, financial penalties and minimize and reduce negative public criticism. The unity of our fellowship is paramount in resolving this issue.

F. Submitted by:

Mike B.
The Fellowship Group
Oliver, BC

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Roderick MackinSJGord A.Rich HildebrandChuck D. Recent comment authors

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Hi all, I’m a little late to this party but I think this is an interesting topic and since I have a slightly different take on this, I figured I’d post.  Just to short-circuit questions, my home group is a secular group in Portland, OR (Hi Thomas, you can probably figure out who this is), and I’m fully in support of secular groups in AA. That being said, I would probably oppose this motion if it came up in my district. The reason I would oppose it is that the autonomy that gives secular groups the freedom to have our… Read more »

Rich Hildebrand
Rich Hildebrand

Why not include AA’s pamphlet “Many Paths To Spirituality” in your supporting documents? After all this pamphlet was AA’s way to welcome people with and belief no beliefs into the fold. This will require them to put their money where their mouths are. Neither the conference, Area or any District can tell and Intergroup what to do. All entities in AA are autonomous. But those Intergroups can certainly be told how the pamphlet on spirituality promotes inclusivity for all in Alcoholics Anonymous.

Jack Blair
Jack Blair

Thanks Rich.

An excellent suggestion. Consider it done.


Ann Mattocks
Ann Mattocks

Someone stated, “AA has always been modeled after Christian ideology.” I believe this is incorrect. The earliest members had atheists/agnostics among them who absolutely insisted on “God as I understand Him”. This is not Christian theology.

Jack Blair
Jack Blair

Thank you very much Mike B. Your proposed motion is, I believe, both necessary and vital to AA as a whole. The deist’s within the organization must be stopped from hijacking my beloved AA. With three like-minded friends, I (we) have been discussing what is required to launch a B.C. Human Rights complaint against the Vancouver Area Intergroup office modeled on the Ontario action. Our starting point is that religious bigotry – indeed bigotry of ANY stripe – cannot be allowed to exist in AA unchallenged. Over the last hour though, we have decided to keep going with the preliminaries but… Read more »


Thanks Jack,

Several of us share your same reasoning; we are planning a Human Rights Action as well; the sooner the better to deal with this ridiculous situation here in Vancouver with Intergroup.

Love to speak with you; you can find my phone number on vancouveraaaa.ca My name, Denis K is under the first meeting, my number is to the right.

Denis K

Jack Blair
Jack Blair

Hi Denis.

Yes I will contact you. It’s a no-brainer that we should pool resources. I go to the Tues night meeting of Quad A at 12th and Hemlock. Perhaps we will meet, I hope so.



John S


I promise you that we will publish any news we receive on this developing situation.

Roderick Mackin
Roderick Mackin

Please add my name to your list of advocates.


Donald Turner hit it right on the nailhead….. Well done , finally I actually hear from someone who actually has a grip on reality….. I was a bit worried……Most excellent comment Don…..Hats off to you!

Donald Turner

thx Rich!