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In 1939, the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous published what has become known as The Big Book
. It outlines 12 steps in which alcoholics admit they have no control over alcohol and that they need the help of a higher power to get sober.
Since then, AA chapters have formed all over the world including online. And the 12 steps have helped millions of alcoholics stop drinking. But the first 164 pages of The Big Book
have remained virtually unchanged.
More than 70 years later, many people are asking whether belief in a higher power is necessary in order to stop drinking. Can atheists and agnostics use the steps to get sober?
Mary talks to Rabbi Shais Taub
who is also known as a Recovery Rabbi. He uses the 12 steps to treat Jewish alcoholics and he says belief in a higher power is absolutely essential.
We'll also hear from Joe, Roger and Joanne. They're part of an agnostic AA Group
in Toronto that has removed God from the 12 steps. But in May 2011, they were removed from the local Toronto AA listings for doing so.
First, Mary's conversation with Adele. Adele is an Ottawa lawyer who wrote to Mary to tell her about how AA helped her find a higher power and spirituality. But before she joined AA, she resented the idea of God.
An AA chip commemorating one year of sobriety