Episode 41: Bob K. on AA’s Past, Present and Future

When they suggested he pray, Bob K. responded, “what else you got?” He wasn’t buying the God business and he wasn’t shy about letting anyone know; and though he sat through plenty of meetings with readings from the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, he says in those early days, he wasn’t much interested in any of that “program stuff.”

Key-Players-Front-Cover1-e1422583040318About a month into his AA experience, Bob discovered a new passion for AA history after reading the books Pass It On, and Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers. Today, Bob K.  is widely known as an AA history scholar. He is the author of  Key Players in AA History and many dozens of articles posted at AA Agnostica and  AA Beyond Belief. Presently, he’s working on two new books; one that covers the history alcoholism treatment and the other, a historical fiction featuring Bill Wilson.

Bob has been sober for over twenty-five years, which he attributes to a personality change brought about by following the process of the 12 Steps. He is a founder of the Whitby Freethinkers AA meeting, and he’s actively involved in the Fellowship both online and in his local community. His knowledge of AA’s past provides him with perhaps a unique perspective on the events he has witnessed unfold in Toronto over the past several years—events that may impact Alcoholics Anonymous far into the future.

In this podcast, we talk a little AA history, and then Bob goes into great detail about the Toronto Intergoup’s delisting and disenfranchisement of three AA groups in 2011. We will discuss the action brought before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal by a member of one of the disenfranchised groups, the Tribunal’s Interim Decision  of October 2, 2015, and the  Greater Toronto Area Intergroup’s response of February 17, 2016.

I hope you enjoy this podcast. It was nice to finally get to speak with Bob after knowing him online for the past year. He was the first person who got involved with AA Beyond Belief when the site was starting out, and I don’t know what I would have done without his encouragement, good humor and brilliant writing. He is still very important to me and this site, and it’s an honor to know him.

Thank you, Bob, for taking the time to talk with me. There is no better way to start the day than with a cup of coffee and good conversation with an AA friend.


You may read the podcast transcript by scrolling through the pane below or simply download the pdf file  here.


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  1. Thomas Brinson December 9, 2016 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    Finally able to listen and read this fascinating and most enlightening, as well as funny, podcast.

    Thank you, John and Bob, for a delightful romp through the travesty of GTAI’s delisting machinations . . .

  2. life-j December 7, 2016 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    Bob & John,

    Thanks, good talk. Enjoyed key players too. Someone not in my usual circle of  non-believers said that the HRT had worked a settlement, odd, since I have not heard anything through my usual, more reliable channels, but I guess something outght to trickle out soon?

  3. "Gabe" December 7, 2016 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    Thanks, Bob. Very good to hear some of the details of the hooha around the delisting and disenfranchisement of the agnostic groups by Toronto IG, and your take on it.  Obviously, the lawyers should have looked at Traditions 3 and 4. It might also be relevant that the initial IG vote should have been by substantial unanimity, under Concept XII Warranty 4 ‘That all important decisions be reached …whenever possible, by substantial unanimity”. Here is a little piece on Bill W’s spiritual experience that is roughly in line with what you said about it:  http://www.oocities.org/sanegallery/bwspiritualexp.html.  “The whole secular thing is growing…the secular thing is going to bring in a lot of people who wouldn’t otherwise have come..” Insha’Allah!

    • life-j December 7, 2016 at 5:23 pm Reply

      Gabe, the other thing they haven’t read about obviously from the service manual is about how we need to avoid the “tyranny of majorities” (as well as minorities). But I guess their religious rule is so benevolent we can’t call it tyranny…….

      • "Gabe" December 7, 2016 at 7:32 pm Reply


        Warranty Four:
         “That all important decisions be reached by discussion, vote, and, whenever possible,by substantial unanimity.  Here on the one hand we erect a safeguard against any hasty or overbearing authority of a simple majority; and on the other hand we take notice of the rights and the frequent wisdom of minorities, however small. This principle further guarantees that all matters of importance, time permitting, will be extensively debated, and that such debates will continue until a really heavy majority can support every critical decision that we are called upon to make ….”

  4. Richard H. December 7, 2016 at 12:18 pm - Reply

    In SMART Recovery they talk about VACI  Vital Absorbing Creative Interest.  It sounds like yours is writing Bob.

  5. Jon S December 7, 2016 at 7:59 am - Reply

    Loved this. Well done Bob and John. I really think secular AA is the way forward. There’s certainly a demand for it, and non-faith based AA will only expand as the more spiritual / religious side of the fellowship continues to stagnate.  Bob K is a wonderful writer, and an excellent example of how any atheist can achieve long term sobriety in AA using the 12 Steps and a determination to succeed. Thank you, both.

    • Bob K. December 7, 2016 at 10:40 am Reply

      My great friend in Britain, Jon S., was able to comment on the podcast only minutes after it was posted because I gave him a preview 36 hours ago.

      • Jon S December 8, 2016 at 6:19 am Reply

        I liked it so much I listened twice. I’m seriously worried it’s going to eclipse my current AA Beyond Belief podcast record of 5,000+ listens.

        • Bob K. December 11, 2016 at 8:47 am Reply

          I think your record is, pardon the expression, safe as a church, Elton Jon, but check out the numbers on “The Fraud That Is AA Fundamentalism.”

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