Alcoholics Anonymous as a Cult
Scorecard, Answers 21 to 30.

(To go back and forth between the questions and the answers for Alcoholics Anonymous, click on the numbers of the questions and answers.)

21. Personal testimonies of earlier converts.
A.A. scores a 10.

Half of every meeting is spent listening to the earlier converts "sharing" the message that A.A. and the Twelve Steps saved their lives, and brought them infinite bliss and happiness, and Serenity and Gratitude. And I have never, ever, heard one person "share" the message that the Twelve Step program didn't work for him or her. The A.A. faithful do not bring the dead bodies in from the grave yards, to hear their stories.

And the A.A. members act like the people in the story "The Emperor's New Clothes" while delivering their testimonials. People happily brag that the Twelve Steps have worked for them, and made them into wonderful happy new really spiritual people who are joyously close to God. If someone says that the Steps aren't working for him, then he is just confessing that he isn't spiritual, and he isn't working a strong program, and that God isn't favoring him. So no one wants to admit that he is the only one for whom the Twelve Steps are not working...

While sharing, people also like to beat up on themselves and praise their sponsors:

  • "My thinking is really messed up, but my sponsor is clear-headed and is competent to run my life for me..."
  • "It took me years to learn to really do the Twelve Steps properly. I just goofed off for my first few years in A.A..."
  • "I didn't know what to do, but my sponsor had the answer."

22. The group is self-absorbed.
A.A. scores a 6.

Many A.A. members are extremely absorbed in A.A.; for some, "the program" is their entire life.

I decided I must place this program above everything else, even my family, because if I did not maintain my sobriety I would lose my family anyway.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, anonymous, Chapter B10, He Sold Himself Short, page 293.

(Note how the author falsely equated doing the Alcoholics Anonymous practices with actually maintaining sobriety. They are two very different things, and most A.A. members do not maintain sobriety.)

Likewise, a common A.A. slogan is:
      "You must not allow anything to get in front of your sobriety!"
— Which really means,
      "You must not allow anything to get in front of your A.A. membership!"

While some A.A. members are balanced and do have a life of their own, far too many others make the recovery program and "being in recovery" their new lifestyle. Rather than recovering from alcoholism, and getting on with their lives, they plan to spend the rest of their lives "in recovery", and they have no goals in life other than to be "in recovery" and nurse their sobriety, and "work the program."

There is an immense difference between recognizing that you cannot ever drink alcohol again, for the rest of your life, because you will go nonlinear and get re-addicted if you do, and spending the rest of your life "in recovery", declaring that you cannot ever recover. The difference is that in the first case, you do recover...

Some people are so obsessed with being in Alcoholics Anonymous that they have to go to a meeting every day, or they feel like their life will go to pieces. Some people do two or three meetings a day. For them, Alcoholics Anonymous is simply a new addiction, and that is not at all healthy. Bill Wilson even declared in the Big Book that membership in A.A. was a new dependency, to replace dependency on alcohol.

You say, "...I know I must get along without liquor, but how can I? Have you a sufficient substitute?"
      Yes, there is a substitute, and it is vastly more than that. It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous. There you will find release from care, boredom and worry. Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last. The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead. Thus we find the fellowship, and so will you.
A.A. Big Book, William G. Wilson, Chapter 11, A Vision For You, page 152.

Therefore dependence, as A.A. practices it, is really a means of gaining true independence of the spirit.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 36.

The A.A. apologists argue that being addicted to A.A. is an immense improvement over being addicted to alcohol. And the N.A. enthusiasts say much the same thing, that "Being addicted to N.A. is better than a heroin addiction." If that's the best that can be said for those programs, then that is damning them with faint praise.

"It beats shooting heroin." Yeh, right.

"He will be less likely to drink again, and anything is preferable to that."
The Big Book, 3rd edition, William Wilson, Chapter 9, The Family Afterwards, pages 129-130.

I've talked with ex-wives of alcoholics who stayed married to their husbands while they were drinking, but who had to divorce them after the guys joined Alcoholics Anonymous and became obsessed with "the program." The women said that they had to get divorced, because they didn't even have husbands any more; they had lost their husbands to Alcoholics Anonymous.

Even A.A. founder Bill Wilson reported the problem:

Helping others is the foundation stone of your recovery. A kindly act once in a while isn't enough. You have to act the Good Samaritan every day, if need be.   ...   Your wife may sometimes say she is neglected.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 7, Working With Others, page 97.

After the husband joins A.A., the wife may become discontented, even highly resentful that Alcoholics Anonymous has done the very thing that all her years of devotion had failed to do. Her husband may become so wrapped up in A.A. and his new friends that he is inconsiderately away from home more than when he drank.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 118.

Thanks to A.A., he is now away from home more than when he drank...
It's hopeless. Might as well divorce him, and try to get a man who actually wants to be a husband instead of an obsessed cult member...

And a rehash of the Big Book that is targeted at youths tells this story of an allegedly-successful recovery:

Even after she remarries, she doesn't lose sight of her priorities. She places God first and A.A. second. Her husband is never more than the third most important aspect of her life.
Big Book Unplugged; A Young Person's Guide to Alcoholics Anonymous, John R., page 107.

Also see the cult test item Intrusiveness for more examples of A.A. demanding the members' whole lives.

23. Dual Purposes, Hidden Agendas, and Ulterior Motives.
A.A. scores a 10.

Their publicly-visible purpose is to help people quit drinking, but their secret purpose is to promote their proselytizing fundamentalist cult religion, to get people to Seek and Do the Will of God (as they define The Will of God, of course.)

In drug and alcohol treatment programs, the counselors (who are A.A. and N.A. members) say that they are there to help people, but they are really there to push the patients into their cult religion. They rationalize their actions by saying, "Well of course we should do that. We are helping the patients. We are saving their lives. Everybody knows that A.A. and N.A. are the only way to survive that disease. Nobody can do it alone. Everybody needs a Higher Power to make him quit. The Twelve Steps are how we recovered, and it's how everybody else will recover, too."

The same is true of all of the other Twelve-Step groups; they all pretend to cure something, but they are all really just pushing the same old weird Buchmanite / Twelve-Step religion:

At the moment we are trying to put our lives in order. But this is not an end in itself. Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God...
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 6, Into Action, page 77.

We have no desire to convince anyone that there is only one way by which faith can be acquired.   ...
Those having religious affiliations will find nothing here disturbing to their beliefs or ceremonies. There is no friction among us over such matters.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 2, There Is A Solution, page 28.

Note how Bill Wilson just changed the goal of the A.A. program from "quit drinking"to "acquire faith". Bait and switch.

I must quickly assure you that A.A.'s tread innumerable paths in their quest for faith. You can, if you wish, make A.A. itself your 'higher power.' Here's a very large group of people who have solved their alcohol problem. In this respect they are certainly a power greater than you, who have not even come close to a solution. Surely you can have faith in them. Even this minimum of faith will be enough. You will find many members who have crossed the threshold just this way. All of them will tell you that, once across, their faith broadened and deepened. Relieved of the alcohol obsession, their lives unaccountably transformed, they came to believe in a Higher Power, and most of them began to talk of God.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, pages 27-28.

Crossed what threshold? To where?
Who says that A.A. members are on a "quest for faith"?
It was supposed to be a quest for sobriety.

See the web page The Bait-And-Switch Con Game for many more examples of dual purposes, hidden agendas, and ulterior motives.

24. Aggressive Recruiting.
Score A.A. at a 10.

This is a tricky one. Unlike many religious cults, A.A. does not aggressively recruit on the street corners or in any other public places, nor do they go door to door like some annoying religions that we all know about. The Twelfth Step requires members to recruit new members, but that is done in a low-key manner.

What is not low-key is the practice of using the legal and health care systems to force people to go to A.A. meetings. Alcoholics Anonymous is a coercive religion that routinely uses the court system, judges, parole officers, and treatment counselors to force people to attend its church services.

(Not even Scientology or the Moonies can manage to practice coercive recruiting. They can't get judges to sentence people to their cults, although Scientology has certainly been trying. Scientology has a front group called Narconon which supposedly uses Scientology "principles" to get people off of drugs and alcohol. They have been unsuccessfully lobbying to get municipal contracts to treat alcoholics and drug addicts the Scientology way. So far, A.A. and N.A. cult members keep a firm grasp on that franchise.)

The judge says, "Ninety meetings or ninety days!" and A.A. is more than happy to play along.
As one wag said, "A.A. is in the position of a snake who is being force-fed mice. Not that the snake was all that unwilling."

Those treatment counselors who force people into A.A. meetings are usually A.A. members, and the judges and probation officers sometimes are. But more often, the judges and probation officers are just good, well-meaning people who have been led to believe that A.A. is a wonderful moral organization that gets people off of alcohol and drugs, and is a good moral influence on alcoholics and drug addicts. They believe that for several reasons:

  • First, it is often the therapy program counselors who tell the judges and probation officers that A.A. is good for getting alcoholics to quit drinking. The counselors will even say that A.A. is the only thing that works. Or they will say that "A.A. is the proven way."

  • Second, the therapy program is the city- or state-approved program for treating alcoholics, and the therapy program usually, almost always, uses A.A. and N.A. as part of its course of treatment. Of course — the counselors are almost all A.A. and N.A. members.

  • Third, A.A. has been very successfully promoting itself in the media for many, many years, in violation of the Eleventh Tradition,
    "Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion."

    A.A. members routinely place articles in magazines and journals that are nothing but deceptive propaganda that advertises A.A. as a working treatment program for alcoholism:

    Then shills and promoters of Alcoholics Anonymous plant propagada articles in technical and medical journals — articles that feature bad logic and invalid assumptions and false conclusions:

    A.A. members have repeatedly planted stories of people being helped by A.A. or N.A. in TV programs like Cagney and Lacy. Recently, the TV programs Hill Street Blues, ER and The West Wing have been pushing the idea that everybody, cops, doctors, White House staffers, and even the Vice President of the United States, use 12-step meetings to solve their drug and alcohol problems.

    And then there was the Hallmark Hall of Fame made-for-TV movie, "My Name Is Bill W." (April 30, 1989, 9 PM, ABC TV), which gave a very dishonest, extremely distorted, highly-sanitized version of the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous, like showing Bill W. attending a meeting and getting his feelings hurt because no one recognized him.
          The truth is that Bill Wilson had toured the country on so many speaking tours, and broken his anonymity so many times, and gotten his picture printed in the newspapers so many times, that it was almost impossible for him to not be recognized at any A.A. meeting. Besides, Bill routinely pre-announced his visits to other groups, calling ahead to arrange for a newspaper reporter and a photographer to be present to document the "historic occasion".
          Likewise, the movie shows Bill Wilson and Doctor Bob starting Alcoholics Anonymous in Akron, Ohio, in the spring of 1935. They went supposedly went recruiting in hospitals, and learned how to get alcoholics to join their new sobriety club that they were just inventing as they went along. Nothing could be further from the truth. Bill and Bob were both enthusiastic members of the pro-Nazi Oxford Group cult religion, and they were recruiting new members for the Oxford Group in Akron. The new recruits went straight into the Oxford Group and nowhere else. And both Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob continued recruiting for the Oxford Group all through 1935 and 1936, Bill in New York, and Bob in Akron. And Dr. Bob actually continued being a faithful member of the Oxford Group through 1938.
          Meanwhile, the Oxford Group's leader, Dr. Frank Buchman, went to Nuremberg, Germany, in 1934 and 1935, and attended Nuremberg Nazi Party rallies, and saluted Hitler with Sieg Heil! salutes along with the rest of the Nazis, and then Buchman had lunch with Heinrich Himmler, who was the infamous leader of the Gestapo and the S.S., who would soon run the Hallocaust that exterminated six million Jews, and another six million priests, ministers, gays, Poles, Gypsys, and political opponents.
          Then Frank Buchman attended the Berlin Olympics in 1936 as the personal guest of Heinrich Himmler, and came back to America saying, "I thank Heaven for a man like Adolf Hitler..." None of the founders of Alcholics Anonymous, neither Bill Wilson nor Dr. Robert Smith nor Clarence Snyder, quit the Oxford Group in protest.
          But the screenplay writer William Borchert didn't choose to tell the truth about any of that. He pretended that the Oxford Group never existed. And neither did Frank Buchman or Adolf Hitler.

    There are more discussions of the movie "My Name is Bill W." here and here and here.

    And don't forget the movies like "Twenty-eight Days", "Clean and Sober", and "The Days of Wine and Roses" all of which tell us that the 12-step routine actually works.

    Also, A.A. has lately even been running television commercials, which is also certainly a violation of the Eleventh Tradition, which says that A.A. is supposed to be a program of attraction, not promotion.

  • Fourth, A.A. benefits from the Bible Bias. That is, most Americans have been brought up to believe that religious people are somehow more moral than other people. No matter how we might try to avoid it, we can't help but feel that an organization that encourages drunks and drug addicts to pray and do the Will of God must be some kind of a good group, very religious.

    But, as Sportin' Life sang in Gershwin's opera Porgy and Bess, "It Ain't Necessarily So". (Again, think about Rev. Jim Jones and his People's Temple. They yammered the words "God" and "Jesus" right up to the time that they all drank the cyanide Flavor-Aid®... and forced it on those who did not wish to die... and forced 267 children to drink it...)

In addition, recruiters routinely visit drug and alcohol detox and rehab facilities — if they don't already own and run them — and play mind games on people who are sick and detoxing, and tell them,
"Well, you tried living your own way, and it didn't work out well at all, did it? It turned you into a horrible monster, and a real loser, didn't it? So now you should start living God's Way."
— And it is always "God's Way" as they define it, of course.

This is even documented in the Big Book:

"You've been trying man's ways and they always fail," he told me. "You can't win unless you try God's way."
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, anonymous, Chapter B5, The European Drinker, page 236.

All of chapter seven of the Big Book is a recruiting manual that teaches A.A. members how to go recruiting. That chapter begins with the words,

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail. This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics!
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 7, Working With Others, page 89.

(Oh really? Immunity from drinking? Since when do we vaccinate people against drinking alcohol? And what other A.A. activities fail to help alcoholics to abstain from drinking alcohol?)

See the web page Recruiting Mind Games for a much larger analysis of chapter 7 of the Big Book.

The loaded language with which Bill Wilson described the A.A. program in the Big Book reveals the degree to which A.A. members are supposed to spend their spare time recruiting:

  • "Working with other alcoholics" means recruiting for Alcoholics Anonymous. (A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 7, Working With Others, page 89.)

  • "Helping others selflessly" means recruiting for Alcoholics Anonymous. (A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 7, Working With Others, page 97.)

  • "Keeping spiritually active" means going recruiting for Alcoholics Anonymous. (A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 11, page 156.)

  • "Helping other alcoholics" means recruiting for Alcoholics Anonymous. (A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 9, page 129.)

  • "Self-sacrifice for others" means recruiting for Alcoholics Anonymous. (A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 1, Bill's Story, pages 14-15.)

  • "Acting the Good Samaritan every day" means recruiting for Alcoholics Anonymous. (A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 7, Working With Others, page 97.)

  • "Unselfish, constructive action" means recruiting for Alcoholics Anonymous. (A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 7, Working With Others, page 93.)

  • "Placing the welfare of others ahead of your own" means recruiting for Alcoholics Anonymous. (A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 7, Working With Others, page 94.)

  • "Carrying the message to other alcoholics" — Step Twelve — means recruiting for Alcoholics Anonymous. (A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, Chapter 5, page 60.)

  • And then Bill Wilson gave us this story of a giddy A.A. religious maniac:
    We have indulged in spiritual intoxication. Like a gaunt prospector, belt drawn in over the last ounce of food, our pick has struck gold. Joy at our release from a lifetime of frustration knew no bounds. Father feels he has struck something better than gold. For a time he may try to hug the new treasure to himself. He may not see at once that he has barely scratched a limitless lode which will pay dividends only if he mines it for the rest of his life and insists on giving away the entire product.
    A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, Chapter 9, The Family Afterward, pages 128-129.

    "Giving away the entire product" is a euphemism for recruiting new members for A.A. — "Freely giving that which was freely given to us". So that paragraph really means that you can't ever leave the group, and must spend the rest of your life "working a strong program" and recruiting new members.

The worst promotion of A.A. is the coercive recruiting. A.A. routinely encourages judges, parole officers, counselors and therapists to force people to go to A.A. meeings to "to get help." (Often, the counselors and therapists are themselves members of A.A. or N.A..) And then the A.A. boosters deny any responsibility, and say that they don't force anyone to do anything.

A.A. defenders invariably deny it, but court-ordered attendance is most assuredly the fault of A.A., and N.A.. They encourage it: the A.A. and N.A. true-believer drug and alcohol "recovery counselors" (Twelfth Step recruiters) tell the judges and parole officers that A.A. and N.A. are the only things that work, and that giving people "treatment" — based on the Twelve Steps, of course — and sending people to A.A. or N.A. meetings is the best thing to do with them. "And besides, getting those drunks and dopers praying will be good for them."

A.A. and N.A. could stop it immediately, by telling the courts that they do not want any coerced referrals, and that they will not sign any more court slips. But they aren't about to do that, because they would lose one third of their new recruits if they did.1

The Little Red Book of Hazelden (yes, a clone of the Communist Little Red Book of Chairman Mao) specifically teaches A.A. recruiters to indoctrinate judges, police, doctors, and other officials as part of the proselytizing work. It says that faithful A.A. members can "carry the message" by:

11. By telling the A.A. story to clergy members, doctors, judges, educators, employers, or police officials if we know them well enough to further the A.A. cause, or to help out a fellow member.
The Little Red Book, Hazelden, page 128.

Then that book even goes on to tell recruiters to teach the judges, police, doctors, and other officials just what kind of people A.A. wants coerced into attending its meetings:

By educating doctors, the clergy, judges, police officials, and industrial personnel regarding the type of people A.A. can help, we will avoid flooding our ranks with an unwieldy preponderance of nonalcoholics.
The Little Red Book, Hazelden, page 137.

So much for the lie about how A.A. can't help it if the judges, parole officers, doctors, and therapists force people to go to A.A. meetings.

And Hazelden is merely echoing Bill Wilson's instructions. In a 1939 letter from Bill to Earl T., a founding member of the Chicago A.A. group, Bill wrote:

By educating doctors, hospitals, ministers along this line, you will surely pick up some strong prospects after a bit.
PASS IT ON, The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached the world, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., pages 225-226.

And what is the result of such coercive recruiting tactics?

The centerfold of the November 2002 issue of the AA Grapevine summarized the results of the most recent triennial survey of the A.A. membership. It found that the majority of the A.A. members had been "introduced" to A.A. by pressure or coercion from the health care system or criminal justice system:

32% Treatment facility
12% Court order
8% Counseling agency
7% Health care provider
2% Correctional facility
61% total
See: AA Grapevine, November 2002, pages 32-33.

So 61% of the current membership was forced into A.A. by the health care or justice systems. That is nearly two thirds of the entire membership. If coercive recruiting for A.A. stopped, then A.A. would really shrink.

Now we have available to us some of the results of the 2005 Triennial Survey. We see the same pattern of coercion again:

referred by a treatment facility 31%
by court order 11%
through a counseling agency 8%
by a health care provider 8%
by an employer or fellow worker 5%
Total 63%

Those are almost the same coercion numbers as came from the previous triennial survey — they are just two points higher. And this time they left off the category of "correctional facility". They also didn't ask about parole officers, prison wardens and prison "counselors", and other legal authorities who also routinely force people into Alcoholics Anonymous participation.

Alcoholics Anonymous has been practicing coercive recruiting since Day One. The book Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers describes how Dr. Bob and Bill Wilson shoved their Oxford Group cult religion "treatment" on A.A. Number Three, Bill Dotson, when he was in the hospital in Akron, Ohio:

... they thought it a good idea to have a preliminary talk with his wife. And this became part of the way things were done in the early days: Discuss it first with the wife; find out what you could; then plan your approach. It should be noted, as well, that the alcoholic himself didn't ask for help. He didn't have anything to say about it.
Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980, pages 82-83.

Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob actually felt entitled to shove their own cult religion on other alcoholics regardless of the patient's wishes or beliefs — "for his own good" — the patient didn't get any say in the matter. (That is still the attitude of many so-called counselors and therapists today.)

And since A.A. does not actually work to make people get and stay sober, A.A. cannot rationalize that it was done for their own good.

Recently, Jake Ginsky of the Boulder Weekly described a clever round-about way to force people into Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings:

  • There's big money to be made in diagnosing kids who only dabbled with drugs a couple of times as hard-core addicts, in need of imprisonment and residential treatment. And once in there, the parents can't even get their children back because the staff "experts" say that the kids need treatment. And it's also a cute way to force either the kids or their parents or both to go to Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or Al-Anon 12-step meetings, as part of the "treatment" program.
  • There are tens of thousands of adolescents whom a raft of experts say are coerced into entering drug treatment each year by schools, parents or the courts, despite not having any serious drug problem.
  • Joel Brown of the Center for Educational Research and Development estimates that "less than 10 percent" of the kids who enter treatment at the insistence of their schools actually have problems.
(See: "Drug Mistreatment Feeding teens to the correctional complex", Jake Ginsky [], Boulder Weekly, March 2-8, 2000.)

Bill Wilson constantly complained that alcoholics exhibited immense selfishness, and Bill's solution to the problem was to get everybody working "selflessly" to recruit more A.A. members:

Selfishness — self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate.   ...
... the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn't think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us!
The Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 5, "How It Works", page 62.

But he will be curious to learn why his own convictions have not worked and why yours seem to work so well. He may be an example of the truth that faith alone is insufficient. To be vital, faith must be accompanied by self sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, page 93.

Those terms, "self sacrifice" and "unselfish, constructive action" are so vague and generic that they could mean anything that Mr. Wilson or A.A. want them to mean. And Bill usually wanted them to mean, "Go recruit some more members for our little 'fellowship'."

"You can always tell when someone isn't telling the truth, because he doesn't speak clearly. Euphemism is a cover for either ignorance or dishonesty. In other words, if you can't state it in a clear simple declarative sentence, then either you don't know what you are talking about, or you are trying to prevent me from understanding what you are talking about, and both bug me."
Tucker Carlson, in an advertisement for his TV program "Unfiltered" on Public Television, August 6 to 27, 2004.

And there is a guilt-inducing accusation implied there: "Your faith isn't vital because you are selfish."
"So quit being selfish. Go recruiting for us. Go get us some more 'babies' and 'pigeons' if you want your faith to work."

Note that getting new cult members out recruiting soon is called "actionizing", and it's a common cult characteristic. Actionizing is just another flavor of the propaganda stunt called "self-sell" — get people to sell themselves on whatever you are trying to sell them. New cult members sell themselves on the cult and its dogma while trying to convert others, so the cult benefits from such recruiting activities twice — the recruiting work gets the cult more new recruits, and it also helps to indoctrinate and convince the recent recruits.

A hidden aspect of all of this recruiting is that A.A. is actually an enormously selfish program. The talk about getting rid of selfishness is hypocritical. Everything in the A.A. program is about "my sobriety." Members go recruiting because they are taught that they will lose their sobriety — that they will relapse and die drunk — if they don't spend all of their spare time recruiting and teaching newcomers. (That is use of the propaganda tricks of fear mongering and induction of phobias.) In addition, some of the status of older A.A. members is based on how many newcomers they have recruited and sponsored. So A.A. members are doing it for themselves as much as for the other alcoholics.

Theoretically, the Eleventh Tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous, which states that A.A. is a program of attraction, not promotion, bans such proselytizing. But A.A. members do it anyway. Even Bill Wilson himself as much as told A.A. members to ignore Tradition Eleven in order to build up the A.A. organization:

To reach more alcoholics, understanding of A.A. and public good will towards A.A. must go on growing everywhere. We need to be on still better terms with medicine, religion, employers, governments, courts, prisons, mental hospitals, and all enterprises in the alcoholism field. We need the increasing good will of editors, writers, television and radio channels. These publicity outlets need to be opened ever wider.
Twelve Concepts for World Service, William G. Wilson, page 54.

That is a program of promotion, not attraction. And Bill Wilson and gang did break the Eleventh Tradition whenever it suited their purposes, making radio broadcasts, and touring the country, grandstanding and promoting A.A.. Bill Wilson got his story and picture printed in the newspapers so many times that by 1944 he was the most famous "anonymous" person in the USA. And then he and Marty Mann even went and testified before Congress, pushing Alcoholics Anonymous as the solution to the nation's alcohol problem. That's promotion. And that's also breaking anonymity.

Alcoholics Anonymous Tradition Eleven says,
"Our public relations should be guided by the principle of attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films."

But A.A. has always been conducting a promotion campaign ever since the very first days. In the book Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, Bill Wilson calls missionary work to distant cities and countries "pioneering", and says:

Pioneering in A.A. of course has not stopped. I hope it never will.
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, William G. Wilson, page 80.

And Bill Wilson rationalized his promotion of A.A. in this story by declaring that good publicity about A.A. "does not manufacture itself.":

Years ago we found that accurate and effective publicity about A.A. simply does not manufacture itself. Our over-all public relations couldn't be left entirely to chance encounters between reporters and A.A. members, who might or might not be well informed about our fellowship as a whole. This kind of unorganized "simpliticity" often garbled the true story of A.A. and kept people away from us. A badly slanted press could prolong preventable suffering and even result in unnecessary deaths.

When in 1941 the Saturday Evening Post assigned Jack Alexander to scout A.A. for a feature story, we had already learned our lesson. Therefore nothing was left to chance. Had Jack been able to get to St. Louis for the Convention he himself could have told how skeptical he had been of this assignment. He had just finished doing a piece on the Jersey rackets, and he didn't believe anybody on a stack of Bibles a mile high.

After Jack checked in with us at Headquarters, we took him in tow for nearly a whole month. In order to write his powerful article, he had to have our fullest attention and carefully organized help. We gave him our records, opened the books, introduced him to nonalcoholic Trustees, fixed up interviews with A.A.'s of every description, and finally showed him the A.A. sights from New York and Philadelphia all the way to Chicago, via Akron and Cleveland. Although he was not an alcoholic, Jack soon became a true A.A. convert in spirit. When at last he sat down at his typewriter, his heart was in it. He was no longer on the outside of A.A. looking in; he was really inside looking out.   ...

The kind of help we gave Jack Alexander — our organized service of public information — is the vital ingredient in our public relations that most A.A.'s have never seen.   ...   Could this be a ballyhooed promotion stunt, something quite contrary to A.A. traditions?

Not a bit.
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, William G. Wilson, pages 35-36.

Alcoholics Anonymous has always had a policy of aggressive promotion, not attraction.

The A.A. history book PASS IT ON adds this bit of information:

It was not long before Alexander was "converted"; his cynicism evaporated; and his endorsement of the Fellowship was so wholehearted that he was to remain a close friend for years to come. (He became a trustee in 1951 and remained on the board until 1956, although, because of poor health, he attended few meetings.)
'PASS IT ON': The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached the world, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. staff, 1984, page 346.

Jack Alexander was not the neutral observer of A.A. that he pretended to be. He too was an active promoter, even one of the leaders, of Alcoholics Anonymous. (He became a member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous.) Indeed, Bill Wilson wrote about the creation of his second book, Twelve Steps And Twelve Traditions:

The final draft was widely circulated among our friends of medicine and religion and also among many old-time A.A.'s. This rigorous checkup was topped off by none other than Jack Alexander, who added the final editorial touch.
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, William G. Wilson, page 219.

So, Jack Alexander helped to create Twelve Steps And Twelve Traditions? That book was undoubtedly Bill Wilson's most vicious and dogmatic book, a piece of industrial-strength cult religion propaganda. Anybody who could edit and approve of that text was not a neutral reporter at all. He was a religious fanatic and a genuine nut-case.

And today, A.A. has front organizations to promote A.A.:

  • ASAM (the American Society of Addiction Medicine),
  • NCADD (the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence), and
  • the NAADAC (the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors).

Also see the web page "Recruiting Mind Games" for more information on the aggressive and deceptive recruiting practices of Alcoholics Anonymous.

25. Deceptive Recruiting.
The Group Hides What Membership In The Group Will Eventually Entail.

A.A. scores a 10.

Prof. Margaret Thaler Singer lists this item as one of the key characteristics of a destructive cult. The group does not tell newcomers what the group is really about and what will be required of members if they join. Cults usually have dual purposes — they advertise one purpose to the public, and keep their other purpose hidden.

Alcoholics Anonymous has a hidden agenda. It advertises that it exists to help people quit drinking, but its hidden goal is to convert them to Bill Wilson's Buchmanite religious beliefs:

To some people we need not, and probably should not emphasize the spiritual feature on our first approach. We might prejudice them. At the moment we are trying to put our lives in order. But this is not an end in itself. Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God...
The Big Book, 3rd and 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 6, Into Action, pages 76-77.

So the real purpose of Alcoholics Anonymous is to get people to Seek and Do the Will of God. Quitting drinking seems to be a secondary goal. But they don't tell new recruits about that in the beginning. They just emphasize the need to quit drinking.

Similarly, Al-Anon advertises on the radio that they offer help to families and friends of alcoholics:

"I don't know who he is any more. I don't know who I'll meet — my husband or somebody else..."
"We are the family and friends of alcoholics. We may be different, but we have one thing in common: We want our lives back."

They don't tell you that you won't get your life back — that their real goal is to get you to devote your life to practicing their bizarre religion — doing the Twelve Steps, wallowing in guilt, and confessing how sick you are for wanting your husband to quit drinking.

Bill Wilson continued, rationalizing why A.A. members should hide the religious nature of Alcoholics Anonymous from outsiders while doing the 9th and 10th steps:

It is seldom wise to approach an individual, who still smarts from our injustice to him, and announce that we have gone religious. In the prize ring, this would be called leading with the chin. Why lay ourselves open to being branded fanatics or religious bores? We may kill a future opportunity to carry a beneficial message.
The Big Book, 3rd and 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 6, Into Action, page 77.

When Bill speaks of "a future opportunity to carry a beneficial message", what that really means is, "a future chance to recruit the individual who still smarts from our injustice." Bill was always scheming to enlarge his cult.

In chapter 7 of the Big Book — the A.A. recruiting manual — Bill Wilson told recruiters not to alarm new prospects by talking about the religious nature of the Alcoholics Anonymous program:

Stress the spiritual feature freely. If the man be agnostic or atheist, make it emphatic that he does not have to agree with your conception of God.
There is no use arousing any prejudice he may have against certain theological terms and conceptions about which he may already be confused. Don't raise such issues, no matter what your own convictions are.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William Wilson, Working With Others, page 93.

Why stress "the spiritual feature" freely?
Because you aren't supposed to stress the religious feature.
Keep on yammering, "It's spiritual, not religious" when the prospect says, "I don't want to join a religion."

(Note how Bill implied that non-members were "prejudiced" and "confused" about religion. As usual, Bill declared that he had all of the true answers about God, life, and everything, and anyone who disagreed with him was ignorant, prejudiced, and "confused about certain theological terms and conceptions".)

The statements: "make it emphatic that he does not have to agree with your conception of God" and "Don't raise such issues" are instructing the recruiter to deceive the prospect, to hide the intense religiosity of Alcoholics Anonymous from him. In the end, the prospect will have to agree with A.A. about God. It is impossible to work the Twelve Steps without believing in the A.A. version of God. But newcomers are not told that up front.

Bill Wilson declared that we could use any conception of "God" that we wished, and A.A. literature teaches us that A.A. members have even gotten good results from praying to bedpans or motorcycles. I also hear about doorknobs and mountains. Can you imagine having Baal Bedpan or Doorknob Almighty answering your prayers in Step Eleven, and giving you your daily work orders and the "sure power" to carry them out?

Step 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Bill Wilson taught recruiters to dole out the truth about the Alcoholics Anonymous program only a little bit at a time, dispensing only as much true information about A.A. as the new prospect could tolerate, just a teaspoonful or less, but never more:

...drinkers would not take pressure in any form, excepting from John Barleycorn himself. They always had to be led, not pushed. They would not stand for the rather aggressive evangelism of the Oxford Group. And they would not accept the principle of "team guidance" for their own personal lives. It was too authoritarian for them. In other respects, too, we found we had to make haste slowly. When first contacted, most alcoholics just wanted to find sobriety, nothing else. They clung to their other defects, letting go only little by little. They simply did not want to get "too good too soon." The Oxford Groups' absolute concepts — absolute purity, absolute honesty, absolute unselfishness, and absolute love — were frequently too much for the drunks. These ideas had to be fed with teaspoons rather than by buckets.
      Besides, the Oxford Groups' "absolutes" were expressions peculiar to them. This was a terminology which might continue to identify us in the public mind with the Oxford Groupers, even though we had completely withdrawn from their fellowship.
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, William G. Wilson, pages 74-75.

Bill Wilson was certainly arrogant enough.

  • Just wanting to quit drinking was not nearly good enough for Bill Wilson — the newcomers to A.A. also had to share Bill's extreme religious beliefs — which were those of Frank Buchman's Oxford Groups — but Bill Wilson hid that ugly fact from the newcomers.

  • Then Bill even sneered at the newcomers who did not wish to join his version of the Oxford Group religion, by saying that they didn't want to "get too good too soon", and implying that they were wrong — "defective" — for not liking the fascist authoritarian nature of Frank Buchman's Oxford Groups.

Note the deception inherent in that program:
  • Bill Wilson hid the Oxford Group origins of Alcoholics Anonymous, and masked its religious doctrines.

  • Bill Wilson declared that he could foist Oxford Group religious beliefs on his alcoholic recruits if he just used different names for things — "different terminology" — so that the new recruits would not recognize the Buchmanism right away.

  • Bill Wilson cleverly fed the authoritarian Buchmanism to "the drunks" a mere teaspoonful at a time — "...we found we had to make haste slowly..."

  • Newcomers who only want to quit drinking, not join a religion, will learn the real truth about the A.A. program only a tiny bit at a time, "by teaspoons." They won't find out what membership in the group really entails until later, after they have become committed, well-indoctrinated, members. That is deceptive recruiting.

  • Then Bill Wilson taught A.A. recruiters that technique of soft-pedaling and hiding the religious nature of the program in chapter seven of the Big Book, which is the recruiting manual of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Hiding the true nature of A.A. has been the standard recruiting strategy since the very earliest days of Alcoholics Anonymous. The A.A. history book Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, by Bill Wilson, described the debate surrounding the creation of the Big Book, "Alcoholics Anonymous", where the early A.A. members debated about how much truth to tell to the public:

Fitz wanted a powerfully religious document; Henry and Jimmy would have none of it. They wanted a psychological book which would lure the reader in; when he finally arrived among us, there would then be enough time to tip him off about the spiritual character of our society.   ...   As umpire of these disputes, I was obliged to go pretty much down the middle, writing in spiritual rather than religious or entirely psychological terms.
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age (1957), William G. Wilson, page 17.

So, Bill says, he compromised and downplayed the religious nature of the organization, and only told part of the truth, in order to "lure the reader in":

  • "Alcoholics Anonymous is not a religious organization", and
  • "It's spiritual, not religious", and
  • "Alcoholics Anonymous requires no beliefs".
  • "There will be time enough to reveal the religious nature of A.A. to the newcomers later on, after they have finally arrived among us..."

(Also notice how cutely Bill Wilson blamed his dishonesty on the other A.A. members, rationalizing that he had to do what they said. What happened to Bill Wilson The Moral Giant, and Bill the leader who was so much better than his fellow alcoholics, and Bill the spiritual teacher who practiced the Oxford Group's Four Absolutes, like Absolute Honesty, when the other alcoholics were not good enough to do so?)

See the web page "Recruiting Mind Games" for the details of those deceptive recruiting practices.
See the letters web pages for a description of how A.A. old-timers still do that to newcomers today.

A.A. also uses numerous bait-and-switch stunts to deceive newcomers and "keep coming back" until they are sufficiently indoctrinated to be told the real truth. Like: telling people that "It isn't religious, it's spiritual", or telling people that they can have any Higher Power, or any God as they understand Him, and then, only later, revealing the fact that a new member must believe in a very specific kind of dictatorial God who will receive confessions and miraculously remove "defects of character," including the desire to drink alcohol; a God Who has a very strong Will and Who literally dictates orders to members — those members who sit quietly and listen for God to broadcast his dictates.

And then the newcomers find out that they are supposed to spend the rest of their lives following the orders of that Dictator, and they are supposed to spend the rest of their lives dependent upon A.A. for instructions in what to do and what to think. That's quite a progression, from complete freedom of religion to complete slavery.

"Follow the dictates of a Higher Power and you will presently live in a new and wonderful world..."
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William Wilson, Working With Others, page 100.

Which new world?

See the file on "The Bait-and-Switch Con Game" for many more ways in which A.A. hides from newcomers what membership in A.A. will really entail, including:

Lastly, institutional A.A./N.A. routinely advertises itself as the best and only successful drug and alcohol treatment program, without ever revealing that the expensive treatment program is little more than an indoctroduction to the A.A./N.A. 12-step cult religion, and without revealing that the "treatment" works about the same as no treatment at all. Hiding the fact that the A.A. program does not work to sober up alcoholics is the biggest deception of all.

26. No Humor.
A.A. scores a 10.

You just do not tell jokes about Bill Wilson or Dr. Bob Smith, or poke fun at the core principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. A.A. claims to have a lot of humor — they brag about it — because they laugh a lot about other things. You can tell all of the "stupid drunk" jokes you want, you can laugh at yourself all you want — self-deprecation is almost a requirement of the program, and you can tell jokes about your friends. But thou shalt not tell jokes that directly poke fun at A.A. or its program. And thou shalt not ridicule the more illogical, irrational, stupid, or absurd parts of the A.A. dogma. (Hint: try some of my jokes out on them. I hear that A.A.-indoctrinated drug and alcohol counselors have a hissy-fit when they see them...)

The stern leaders say, "That isn't funny. This isn't a joking matter. People die over this stuff."

Exactly correct. And lack of genuine humor is one of the things that is killing people.

27. You Can't Tell The Truth.
A.A. scores a 10.

Being able to tell the truth presupposes that there are people who want to hear the truth, and who will tolerate hearing it, and there are far too few of those people around. There are many things you can't openly share in meetings, starting with:

  • "I don't practice the Twelve Steps. I use just one rule: 'Just never drink alcohol, not any at all, not ever, no matter what.'"

  • "A.A. has too much cult religion stuff in it."

  • "I avoid the Twelve Steps just like I avoid toxic waste dumps, and for the same reason: I don't want to get poisoned."

If that doesn't start a war, try:

  • "I don't do the 12 steps, I don't have a sponsor, and I don't believe in the Big Book, but I'm successfully staying sober anyway."

  • "The Twelve Steps don't work. The Twelve Steps of Bill Wilson are twelve of the stupidest steps for achieving sobriety that any brain-damaged burned-out old alcoholic ever thought up. They have absolutely nothing to do with staying sober. Haven't you ever noticed that the word 'sobriety' doesn't even appear in the Twelve Steps? Not even once?"

  • "And for that matter, neither do the words 'quit drinking', 'health', 'recovery', or 'abstinence.'"

  • "What the Twelve Steps are really about is turning someone into a true believer in a cult religion, not quitting drinking."

  • "Bill Wilson was insane, really insane, a raving lunatic, suffering from 301.81 Narcissistic Personality Disorder and/or 297.10 Delusional (Paranoid) Disorder, Grandiose Type (Delusions of Grandeur), as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 3rd and 4th Editions, (DSM-III-R and DSM-IV) which is the diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association."

  • "The whole 12-step program is just a copy of Frank Buchman's fascist Oxford Group cult religion."

You know what fireworks will result. If you can actually calmly, sanely, rationally, discuss these issues like some sober, mature, adults, then you have found a wonderful group that I've never heard of. (Or else you walked into one of the secular, rational recovery kinds of meetings, like SMART or SOS or WFS...)

The A.A. true believers actually feel like you are being unfair if you tell the truth about Alcoholics Anonymous. And, they say, you might "confuse those who could have been helped." "Not In Front of the Newcomers" is a common AA slogan for halting any criticism of the A.A. "program".

Note the glaring contradiction between not being able to tell the truth and the constantly-repeated claim that success in Alcoholics Anonymous requires "grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty." (The Big Book, page 58.) That hypocritical statement is read out loud at the start of every A.A. meeting.

It's interesting to watch newcomers learn what to say when they "share." Some beginners will say that they don't like all of the praying and God talk, that it isn't for them — that they just want to quit drinking. Those remarks are always met with a stony silence. Someone sidles up to them after the meeting, and lets them know that the proper behavior is to keep those opinions to oneself, and "Fake It Until You Make It", and go through the motions and pretend to have no problems with all of the religious stuff.

In A.A., you can disagree all you want just as long as you don't say it out loud. I've never heard a beginner voice objections to all of the religiosity twice. Most of those beginners never returned, but nobody ever voiced those objections out loud twice.

A corollary to not being able to tell the truth is not being able to ask for the truth. If you question "The Program", and ask for the true facts, like the actual A.A. recovery rate, or the cult religion history of Alcoholics Anonymous, you will get standard slogan responses: "Take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth," or "Keep it simple stupid," or "It was your best thinking that got you here," or "Keep your own side of the street clean," or "When you point a finger at others, there are three pointed back at you," or "You are in denial." Ask a candid question, get a canned answer.

28. Cloning — You become a clone of the group leader or other elder group members.
A.A. scores a 10.

In A.A., the cloning is not as obvious as in other cults that wear strange foreign uniforms or unusual hair styles. Here, the cloning is internal and mental. You must adopt a new identity, which is "alcoholic". You must become a Stepper. You new last name will be "alcoholic", as in "Hi. My name is Harry, and I'm an alcoholic." No matter what you may have thought of yourself before A.A., you will end up talking about yourself in terms of the stereotypical alchoholic — declaring that you are full of resentments and "powerless" over your "spiritual disease", and how you are selfish, self-seeking, egotistical, "sitting on the pity pot", and suffering from sundry other "moral shortcomings" and "defects of character." You will learn that you have all of the same "character defects" as the A.A. founder Bill Wilson. In fact, you are just like him.

One of the standard A.A. slogans is "Don't compare — Identify!"2 The newcomers are supposed to eventually come to consider themselves to be alcoholics no different from all the rest of the membership of A.A.:

      I was in the A.A. program about 9 months before I could admit I was an alcoholic. I really did not like that word. At meetings, the speakers talked about what they had done, the jails that they had been in, the institutions, jobs they had lost.
      I wasn't identifying with any of these things. One day, a guy said at a meeting that it wasn't the things that he had done that had caused him to come to A.A. and to realize that he was an alcoholic, but the things that he neglected to do as a result of his drinking. And from that day until today I have never had any problems in saying that I was an alcoholic. (44-F-18/w)
Because of this initial tendency to look for differences, the counsel to newcomers has been summed up in another simple phrase, "Don't compare — identify!" It is through identifying with others that most newcomers to A.A. learn what an alcoholic is and become able to face up to the reality that this is what they are:
      By listening to a lot of the people I heard speak I started to identify with them. I realized I was very similar to them, and if they were alcoholics, I was too. (39-M-0/9)
The Alcoholics Anonymous Experience: A Close-Up View For Professionals Milton A. Maxwell, Ph.D., pages 63-64.
(The sociologist Milton A. Maxwell, Ph.D., was a member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc..)

Likewise, Maxwell also wrote:

Breaking out of one's defensive, egocentric shell and becoming interested in, and involved in, the well-being of other persons is probably the most significant, observable change in orientation which occurs when a person "begins to get the program."
The Alcoholics Anonymous Experience: A Close-Up View For Professionals Milton A. Maxwell, Ph.D., page 126.

Excuse me, but who says that all alcoholic newcomers have "defensive, egocentric shells" and don't care about other people? That is just another A.A. stereotype of "The Alcoholic". Nevertheless, the proper new A.A. clone will proudly declare that he was that way, before he got fixed by the program.

Also see the cult test item Revision of Personal History, especially Andrew Meacham's description of "reverse denial", where properly-indoctrinated A.A. members confess behavior that they don't actually do.

29. You must change your beliefs to conform to the group's beliefs.
A.A. scores a 10.

A.A. is just one huge crazy belief system. The price of admission to the club is that you must "come to believe" what they believe.

Bill Wilson deceptively declared that you don't have to believe anything when you join A.A. — that you are free to believe whatever you wish, but the truth is just the opposite.

  • First, Bill told the newcomers that they didn't need to believe anything in particular, and then he told them to quit thinking and just be gullible:

    Alcoholics Anonymous does not demand that you believe anything. All of its Twelve Steps are but suggestions.   ... all you really need is a truly open mind. Just resign from the debating society and quit bothering yourself with such deep questions as whether it was the hen or the egg that came first. Again I say, all you need is the open mind."
    Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 26.

    An open mind? Open to what?

  • But then, on the very next page, Bill pulled a bait-and-switch stunt, and declared that the goal of the A.A. program was to acquire faith in his religion, and to come to believe in his version of God:

    I must quickly assure you that A.A.'s tread innumerable paths in their quest for faith. ... You can, if you wish, make A.A. itself your 'higher power.' Here's a very large group of people who have solved their alcohol problem. In this respect they are certainly a power greater than you, who have not even come close to a solution. Surely you can have faith in them. Even this minimum of faith will be enough. You will find many members who have crossed the threshold just this way. All of them will tell you that, once across, their faith broadened and deepened. Relieved of the alcohol obsession, their lives unaccountably transformed, they came to believe in a Higher Power, and most of them began to talk of God.
    Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, pages 27-28.

    Many members crossed what "threshold" that way?
    Their faith in what broadened and deepened?
    Faith in an A.A. group?
    ...morphing into faith in the Alcoholics Anonymous version of "God"?

    Bill Wilson is describing a process of gradual religious conversion, not a quit-drinking program.

    (Oh, and there is nothing "unaccountable" about how a cult changes people's religious beliefs. It is a common, well-known process.)

In Alcoholics Anonymous, you must come to believe many things:

  • Step One: You must believe that you are powerless over alcohol, and incapable of managing your own life.
  • Step Two: [We] Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. So you must believe that you are insane.
  • You must believe in God, and you must believe in a particular version of God Who cares about how insane you are, and how much you drink.
  • You must believe that it's okay with God for you to abdicate your role in life and turn your will and your life over to the care of "God as we understood Him" in Step Three.
  • You must believe in a Higher Power who will micro-manage the world and change physical reality to do favors for you.
  • You must believe that God really wants to spend all of His time taking care of you in Step Three.
  • You must believe that God really wants to hear your confessions.
  • You must believe that years of constantly wallowing in guilt and confessing your "moral shortcomings" will be therapeutic and helpful, rather than drive you crazy.
  • You must believe that God will answer your demand for a miracle and remove your shortcomings in Step Seven.
  • You must believe that God has a Will and wants you to be His slave and do specific jobs for him.
  • You must believe that God will talk to you and tell you what to do in Step Eleven, and also give you the "sure power" to do it. (And you must believe that the voices in your head are really God talking, and not delusions.)
  • You must believe that Twelfth-Step work — recruiting more people into Alcoholics Anonymous — even by deceptive or coercive means — is a good thing to do.
  • You must believe that the Twelve Steps actually work and accomplish something positive.
  • You must believe that Bill Wilson was sane and good — and not a vicious raving lunatic, a compulsive liar, a thieving con man, and a sexual predator.
  • And you must believe that the grandiose, grossly unrealistic and bombastic things that Bill wrote in the Big Book (and 12X12) are something more than the scribblings of a deluded mad man.

And you must accept and believe all of that without question. The Big Book goes on to tell us that:

I was beginning to see that I would require implicit faith, like a small child, if I was going to get anywhere.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, The News Hawk by Jim Scott, Page 259. (Titled Traveler, Editor, Scholar in the first edition.)

30. The End Justifies The Means.
A.A. scores an 8.

A.A. states that its end goal is a wonderful life of sobriety, spirituality, and "rigourous honesty", and in order to get there, it is willing to "Fake It Until You Make It", and "Act As If", and practice deceptive recruiting, and withhold information from the newcomers...

A.A. has an easy rationalization for its behavior: "It will save the alcoholics' lives." Also, "It will bring them closer to God," and, "It will get them to Seek and Do the Will of God."

A.A. rationalizes a lot of stuff: abusive treatment of new recruits, illegal, unconstitutional coerced attendance, fanatical adherence to dogma, deceptive recruiting, irrationality, gross distortion of the "success rate", and hiding the real history of Alcoholics Anonymous and its founders, just to name a few items.

to answers 31 to 38.


1) Bufe, Charles, Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or Cure?, 1998, 2nd edition, page 88. Bufe calculates that from 33 to 40% of current A.A. members were originally coerced into attending A.A. meetings.
The centerfold of the November 2002 issue of the AA Grapevine reported that nearly two thirds of the current membership was coerced, pressured, or routed into A.A. meetings by the criminal justice or health care systems.

2) The Alcoholics Anonymous Experience: A Close-Up View For Professionals Milton A. Maxwell, Ph.D., pages 64 and 93.

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Last updated 7 April 2014.
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