Spirituality Vs. Legalism; Alcoholics...

Spirituality Vs. Legalism; Alcoholics Anonymous

Posted in the Bellingham Forum

Bruce Deile

Baring, WA

#1 Dec 4, 2011
From website 'Spirituality Vs. Legalism in Alcoholics Anonymous' by Charlie Bishop, Jr.(AA historian):

Click Chapter heading 'It's All About the Money'; here is a snippet (superseded is [surprisingly] spelled with an "s" though):

3. The spiritual principles of A.A., the Steps, the Traditions and the Concepts and Warranties therein, have been ignored and superceded by corporate legalism. In 1987-88, the General Service Conference approved a major Charter change in Article 2, paragraphs 2, 3, and 4:“In countries where a General Service Conference exists, the United States/Canada Conference will delegate (franchise) sole right to publish our Conference-approved literature to the General Service Conference of that structure.” This has been used to sue A.A. members in other countries and place one Conference in authority over another. The Mexican and German lawsuits are clear examples of this. The GSC did not intend nor approve of this use of the new Article 2.

4. The General Service Conference of A.A. has seemed powerless to date to correct these legal abuses of the spirituality of the Fellowship. The GSC has not discussed the topic of these lawsuits and other legal issues. It has not even been put on the GSC agenda. Some trusted servants in A.A.W.S., GSO, GSB, and Trustees, as well as GSC members, have blocked any effort to discuss these legal and spiritual matters in the GSC.

Two advisory actions of the GSC that the GSB, A.A.W.S., Inc., and the AA Grapevine initiate NO litigation in defense of copyrights and trademarks as per Tradition Ten and Warranty Five failed to pass in 1995-96.

5. The Fellowship has not been informed of all this by many Delegates. No regional forums on the topic have been held. No A.A. communications, letters to A.A. groups, Box 4-5-9, the AA Grapevine, etc., have mentioned the topic. The thousands of A.A. members in the U.S. and Canada have been kept in the dark. As one GSO servant justified:“This doesn’t rise to the level of a GSC agenda item.”

These legal matters have never reached the floor of the General Service Conference of A.A. The Fellowship’s group conscience where the will of God is to be found? The GSC has not been consulted about all these legal matters.
Bruce Deile

Baring, WA

#2 Dec 4, 2011
Interesting stuff on his site. It's dry reading at first glance, but well worth the effort as it is very helpful in gaining understanding of abuse of power in AA.
Bruce Deile

Baring, WA

#3 Dec 4, 2011
Maybe not...the site sells vintage AA books, some apparently for thousands of dollars. But there are thought provoking points raised....I'm reading 'AA Comes of Age' right now, so the discussion of Rockefeller, AA's Trustee's, etc.--usually dry, boring stuff--is interesting in a way of understanding reasons why I and many others I've seen and spoke with in AA, have experienced tremendous harm along with AA's helpfulness throughout the years.
Bruce Deile

Bellingham, WA

#4 Dec 5, 2011
That site is interesting....just read again in 'AA Comes of Age' how AA's use of the circle and triangle symbol was chosen because "seers of antiquity" understood the circle to ward off evil spirits. That sure raises eyebrows. Here's another snippet from the above website :

The Medallions Lawsuit

In the late 1980s, another thorny legal problem emerged concerning the circle and triangle symbol used at that time to identify A.A.-Approved Literature.“AAWS decided to withdraw all permission to use the AA logo that had been freely granted up to that time. Its use had been mainly by jewelry and trinket manufacturers for making and marketing their products to A.A. members (2).” About 170 permits were granted by that time.“AAWS notified them all about the withdrawal of permission and asked them to discontinue any current or future use of that symbol. All but two agreed:

After further negotiations with the two who refused failed, it was decided by AAWS to bring suit against the offenders. The General Service Conference was never consulted, although there was no emergency of any kind existing that made immediate action necessary.

It was after some $180,000 spent on legal fees, and it became apparent that AAWS was going to lose the lawsuit, AAWS agreed with the defendants in this case to allow the circle and triangle to enter the public domain.

After this fiasco, AAWS decided to no longer use the circle and triangle as an official logo on any AA literature. However, they did state that A.A. members could continue to use this logo if they so desired. This action was (also) taken without consulting the (GS) Conference.

This is what I know about this matter. The rest is all history, except the Trustees have repeatedly thwarted any attempts to put this issue on the Conference agenda to be discussed by the entire Fellowship. Such discussions that have taken place, have been in a time and place that the Trustees could control the outcome.(2)

Bruce Deile

Bellingham, WA

#5 Dec 5, 2011
Also, consider this quote in AA Comes of Age (p. 282):

"...:that while AA is important to the existence of the individual, no individual must be vital to the existence of AA. It is AA that is important, important to those whom society has rejected and to those who have rejected society, important indeed to all of human society as a symbol of the power of the great spiritual reservoir upon which all may draw who aspire to a true way of life."

That was Bernard B. Smith, Chairman, General Service Board of AA 1951-1956


Especially important when one is encouraged to make AA their higher power (!)(which is a suggestion recommended to members reluctant to turn their lives and wills over to God "as we understood Him").
Bruce Deile

Bellingham, WA

#6 Dec 6, 2011
I think that's where much of the abuse comes from...if you criticize something in AA that is in violation of AA's code (love and tolerance of others) and/or Traditions, if the powers that be do not want to admit that, then the individual raising the issue is then open to attack; conform or be cast out, even if they know they have a valid issue that needs addressing.

I've explained before, mine involved addressing segregation within AA--relegating openly gay members to "gay special interest" meetings when there may well be nothing special interest about a person's sexual orientation. Members should be free to share (in their "drunkalogies") about their sexual orientation involving societal discrimination and that discrimination causing them to turn to alcohol oblivion as a self destructive means of trying to cope with the hurt of discrimination/rejection. This is not allowed because as it raises the ire of those who do not want people speaking openly and freely of being gay (in relation to their alcoholism) because it is perceived to force them into accepting gayness as a societal norm. They want to maintain the status quo in which gay people, by and large, are not considered normal.

This even involved gay men with AIDS not being allowed to share of that in relation to their alcoholism. It was categorized an "outside issue" and their attempts to share openly and honestly about it (so they wouldn't drink over it), were suppressed. Chuck M. quit AA becasue of it, and died excluded from "the last house on the block". Ed N. brought the matter up at an an AA state service meeting (Page, Arizona; 1992 or 93)--it might have been called an Area service meeting--forgot the name of it but it's above the district meetings. Ed N. asked the delegates or DCM's if AA is was big enough for someone like him (a gay man; HIV+) and the consensus (equivalent to something like a group conscience) was "no, they didn't believe so". That's when Ed and Damon accepted further segregation, leaving the gay mens meeting (where they were not allowed to discuss being HIV+ as it related to their alcoholism) to begin "Positively Sober" (a gay men's HIV+ "special interest" meeting).

One other point--around the time Chuck M. was prohibited from discussing his HIV status in the gay mens meeting, I was at a regular AA meeting where a senior citizen shared of his having recently been diagnosed with cancer. Members were very supportive, and complimneted him and encouraged him to remain strong and not drink over a very difficult time for him. Why the would gay men with AIDS be denied similar support, instead bashed with an unjust perspective of the Traditions?

Bruce Deile

Bellingham, WA

#7 Dec 6, 2011
Ooops...hadn't proof read until now...that should have ben "drunkalogues" not "drunkalogies". Funny.
Bruce Deile

Bellingham, WA

#8 Dec 6, 2011
Pardon the writing...hunt and peck...sloppy...time consuming.

Tell me when this thread is updated:

Subscribe Now Add to my Tracker

Add your comments below

Characters left: 4000

Please note by submitting this form you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator. Send us your feedback.

Bellingham Discussions

Title Updated Last By Comments
News No exploding trucks? Try these weird toysa . Nov '16 Dr Wu 12
News Bellingham woman creates 'Nasty Woman' t-shirt Nov '16 Arshan Gero 2
help. Oct '16 1234wspc 1
News Linux Sucks (May '14) Oct '16 mansaya 4
News Longview coal terminal environmental review rel... (May '16) Sep '16 serious 3
News Fatal gang stabbing in Whatcom County (Jan '12) Sep '16 Pissedoffclowntruth 5
News Shot fired at Hot Shotz bar (Oct '07) Aug '16 chuck a nut 33

Bellingham Jobs

More from around the web

Personal Finance

Bellingham Mortgages