Alcoholics Anonymous "Cult" (?)
Posted in the Bellingham Forum
#1 Jan 30, 2013
From an online search:
Mind Control Tactics Of Alcoholics Anonymous
...."There is no other cult that has managed to infiltrate the United States court system and have people court ordered to attend its meetings. Under the pretense of being "spiritual, not religious" AA has slipped past the Constitution of the United States and has set up a system of enforced religious indoctrination. This cult has also infiltrated the medical, psychology, psychiatry, and social services fields; there are numerous professionals who will suggest or "prescribe" AA as a viable method of overcoming addiction. Many of these people are not even aware that alternative programs exist. Over 90% of the addiction rehabilitation centers in the United States are based on the 12-step program; very few offer an alternative. The mainstream media almost always portrays 12-step programs in a positive light. Public criticism of these programs creates the same kind of reaction as criticizing a major religion."
That's just a snippet from that particular page. There are other good points made as well, such as AA teaching reliance on the AA group (and its controlling "old-timers"), etc.
This all came to mind recently as I attended an AA meeting for the first time in about 5 years. Had attended AA regularly for well over 10-15 years (clean and sober since 7/18/85), but left it after being targeted for abuse (malicious gossip and slander [including loss of employment], etc., etc.)
Pleasantly surprised to experience an excellent meeting--very helpful and uplifting. The topic centered on a part of the Big Book (AA's text) and how so long as a person is spiritually fit they should have no trouble being around alcohol. If they do (have trouble) it is because there is something wrong with their spiritual condition.
I shared how I've always agreed with that but that it just occurred to me that AA literature ('Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers'?) explained Dr. Bob struggled with the compulsion to drink until he had about a year and a half of sobriety. So he might not have been very comfortable around alcohol during that time. Did that mean he was spiritually unfit, even after having worked (what was then) the six steps of AA? Not necessarily. His "spiritual condition" might well have been good, but he simply hadn't been graced with the understanding and acceptance in his mind that alcohol was no longer an option. It took time for that.
I shared further that as soon as I admitted I could no longer drink/drug, the desire to do so left me. I thenceforth have had no trouble being around alcohol. But that wasn't because I was instantaneously rendered "spiritually fit" or was somehow touched more by God than other people (which is what that passage can lead one to believe and may have done so for me in the back of mind contributing to self-righteousness). Or that I'd even done anything--I hadn't practiced any spiritual principles or anything in order to be comfortable around alcohol.
So I concluded sharing by saying sobriety for me was a gift--God's grace. And that if anyone is struggling with a compulsion to drink it may only mean they have a different path of recovery--not that they are somehow spiritually amiss.
My share was well received by some, but noticed not all agreed. And the next meeting I attended it was controlled by oldtimers emphasizing in the Big Book that one has to work the program to be spiritually fit, and "if you want what we have have and are willing to go to any lengths to get it", etc.
Meaning controlling dynamics were strongly in play. Controlling cult dynamics. Numerous examples, but short on time....one of them was that an old-timer shared that a newcomer cannot discern the Big Book without a sponsor (mentor. spiritual counselor). That sort of thing that establishes dependence on the older members. More on this later, but yes--AA is controlled not only within by court ordered influences, but social service workers, etc.
#2 Jan 30, 2013
This second meeting attended--the one with the strong controlling influences--brought back the harm I'd experience years ago in AA. With old-timer members stalking me outside the meetings, threatening me because "that is not the message we gave you!".
What had happened was I'd gained time and experience in AA and then returned to Anchorage, AK where I'd originally gotten sober. But my sharing--my "message"--was politically incorrect, even though it was in accordance with the AA Big Book and 12 Traditions. The problem was it didn't line up with the brand of AA the controlling members were espousing. So they let me know they were "willing to go to any lengths" to suppress me. That may seem a bit ridiculous, but it really isn't when people's lives are considered to be at stake...if one carries the "wrong" message newcomers might die from alcoholism because of it. Or so the rationale goes.
They did suppress me--much to my harm over time as it isolated me from what can be a very helpful program (AA).
Recognized right away in this location recently that the same dynamics were at play. Abide by the controlling members...or else. Which is very unfortunate, but ties in with the other thread (I'll bump it up) where William James and Reinhold Niebuhr blame group dynamics, or "corporate dominion", for much of the abusiveness.
Not only is AA incorporated (A.A. World Services, Inc.), but again, as pointed out above, it is controlled by ruling members within society (judges court ordering people, social workers with the power to involuntary commit people, etc.). Perhaps all under the umbrella of "dogmatic pluralism".
Either way, it helped to see that AA can be very helpful when it's mutual--one alcoholic helping another. But evidently that mutuality and equality was lost along the way, with AA literature even describing how Dr. Bob and early AA old-timers use to make newcomers get on their knees and recite certain prayers, etc. Can only think that had to be one of the times when spiritual arrogance--and not humility--began to take hold in AA's "message". Can you imagine being court ordered and being required to do that? Fortunately I was never court ordered to AA, went there voluntarily, but have the feeling one of my nephews was court ordered after a DWI in Alaska.
One last point real quick...this recent meeting attended--they even now require a person to announce themselves as an alcoholic before sharing or else they are not allowed to participate in the meeting. And if a person expresses an opinion that is not in accordance with the Big Book (AA's text) the opinion should be disregarded. That's stated at the start of the meeting. Big Book ambiguity and paradoxes notwithstanding.
#3 Jan 30, 2013
Just bumped two old threads up...there are others on AA I'd written...scroll down to see or try next page...
#4 Jan 30, 2013
The threads bumped up disappeared...they were up here at top moments ago. Scroll down for them I guess.
A little more....in this last AA meeting attended, not only were the newcomers told the Big Book cannot be discerned by the newcomer themselves (that it requires a sponsor to teach them), but it was also said that...
"They told me if I did certain things, then certain promises would come to pass. And they said if those promises did not come to pass, then I should go back and see where I need to work the program more thoroughly."
Meaning it's the individuals fault should they not be right spiritually. That principle is explained in Big Book as, "Our problems were of our own making"; "We manufactured our own misery"; and if I am disturbed for any reason it is because there is something the matter with my spiritual condition. Etc.
I don't disagree with those parts of the Big Book, but think it's harmful when they are taken out of context and applied absolutely. For example, concentration camp prisoners in Nazi Germany were not at fault, but suffered profoundly. By taking AA's points out of context, they could have been persecuted further with the teaching that they're misery was of their own making--it was their own fault somehow. They were responsible (and not those inflicting evil upon them). Like the Book of Job--an existential conundrum--was Job suffering due to his own personal sin or circumstances beyond his control? Taking those Big Book verses out of context can be easily done and the harm rendered can be very difficult to extricate because even with all things considered it can be practically impossible at times to know the source of one's suffering.
#5 Jan 30, 2013
As for the other threads, see the one's particularly that show Dr. Silkworth and Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick (both cited in AA's Big Book") clearly denote AA religious. That's important in regards to AA being court ordered. AA's teaching belief in and reliance upon God (no matter how pluralist the context may be), is clearly religious. Personally, I believe in God so that aspect of God being the solution to one's alcohol problem does not bother me. But definitely believe it should not be court ordered because of that (state sanctioned religion).
#6 Jan 31, 2013
PP.162,163 " "Thus we grow. And so can you, though you be but one man with this book in your hand. We believe and hope it contains all you will need to begin."
This contradicts old-timers who say we need an old timer to discern the Big book. Some meeting certainly have that dogma, though. My experience is that different AA meetings have very different personalities just as individuals have very different personalities as well as opinions. Over the years, I've just had to find meetings that don't have that sort of dogma, and have a message that is consistant with what I believe and what is effective for me. The fellowship has grown very different from the original program in many, many cases. Shotglass.
#7 Jan 31, 2013
Wow. That's really good you're able to quote the Big Book in refuting that. I'd only recalled reading of people getting sober in remote locations all alone when all they had was the Big Book to help them. Yeah, I've tried to do the same as far as finding the right meetings. But it's not always easy when people are so convincing in claiming they have the "right" AA. Easy to get sucked into dependence on them instead of God.
#8 Jan 31, 2013
Also, thought this morning about how it could be my reluctance to actually rely on God that has made me vulnerable to people such as those described above setting themselves up as hierarchy mentors. When my reliance on God seems good, which doesn't seem often, I get the sense that such cult like dynamics lose their power real quick. I can see through them. But when complacent, or lacking grace, or whatever it may be, I've easily fallen into placing charismatic "God-conscious" members on a pedestal (one very influential old-timer in Anchorage, who has sponsored many, many people and often would speak before standing room only crowds once referred to the corner where he and some others sat as the "God-conscious corner"--meaning they were the most God-conscious people in the room).
#9 Jan 31, 2013
It's difficult to explain how hard it is to distance oneself from such influential AA members. Here's one example...when getting sober in 1985, I insulted an oldtimer woman in a meeting when I shared that her preaching was very offensive, and that it was absurd for her to be preaching God while simultaneously smoking a cigarette. She was livid. In fact, days later she shared of fighting a compulsion to actually run me over in the parking lot (though she didn't actually specify it was me she was referring to it was clear given the context).
Well...that same woman never forgave me for embarrassing her in front of a large group of people like that. Granted, it was terribly inconsiderate on my part, but here's the difficult aspect of this: Over time, that woman resumed preaching in the meetings, and had many people convinced of her closeness to God as she was sponsoring many young women and everybody in the room acquiesced to her preaching the program to them. Even I over time was won over, as it seemed her words were so spiritual and true. However, meanwhile, over a span of many months, that woman would exact revenge upon me on the group level with any chance she got. Blatantly ridiculing and mocking me at times. So was this person so close to God as she portended? It seemed impossible to discern that she wasn't so holier than thou if it weren't for her practicing revenge so blatantly. Someone truly turning their lives over to God, practicing the 3rd step, etc., would act in a spirit of forgiveness and maturity. But were it not for that, it was practically impossible to tell that the woman wasn't working the program far more effectively than anyone else. That's what I mean by charismatic personalities being so convincing, and influential over others, at times in AA. There are countless examples.
#10 Feb 2, 2013
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
That biblical verse came to mind concerning having doubts about God's existence. It would seem most people do have doubts, but the essence of those meetings espousing the "real" AA appear to claim differently. That they don't have any doubts at all. It is their assurance that may be the "attraction not promotion". But if it were true, why is it those groups fitting that "brand" of AA are also so controlling and manipulative of others simultaneously? And why is it, considered from a fundamentalist perspective, that Jesus Christ--i.e. religious terminology--is taboo even within such groups (Big Book advises staying away from religious terminology so as not to arouse prejudice in the newcomer...which means, fundamentally considered, that Jesus Christ is not mentioned or acknowledged when the spiritual/religious foundation is formed when working the 12 steps).
AA's roots are Protestant: the Oxford Group and early AA meetings involved reading from the bible, specifically the Book of James. So how can that be? Are the "God conscious" assured members stealth Christians? Or brazen pluralists under a pretense of being Christian? Old fashioned Pharisee's? Are the meetings controlled by a secret society within AA's (anonymous) secret society? And/or is that government influence, under the guise of "Cooperation With The Professional Community"?
It's very difficult to know, even after being heavily involved in AA for many years. But the recommendation by "shotglass" in previous post about simply finding a meeting free from all this is not so easy at all.
#11 Feb 2, 2013
Okay. Finally occurred to me. Under one of these threads here someone posted about Zionist something or other. It comes across as gibberish, but contain key words loaded with meaning. "Zionism" and "Illuminati" have been referred to numerous times on threads I've begun searching for answers to all this mess. Just read a webpage on something about those terms, and although I'm usually not the least interested in such subjects or theories/conspiracies, some of it rang true. Particularly about the Christian leaders in this country being posers--not really Christian leaders at all. Mega-churches and the like--all funded by some secret establishment. I can believe that. They've seldom ever been anyone I could relate to. Wondered the other day if that is deliberate--if they're strange on purpose. And have often wondered where the abuse was coming from in forcing me to avoid the U.S. Christian establishment. Have posted elsewhere it (the U.S. church establishment) gives me the willies. Specifically brought to mind Alaska Bible Institute in Homer and the terrible abuse I experienced from the leaders there in 1996/97. What with AA being court ordered (and btw, where are the Libertarian's on that--they are most certainly aware AA's court ordering people violates the Constitution--State sanctioned religion--yet not a sound from them), can see it's not only the church establishment influenced by this.
One other thing--that AA group in AA that held so much influence over me in seeming to have the most "God conscious" members--they also were real big on Emmet Fox, recommending his book 'Sermon on the Mount" (as it was handed out to AA newcomers in early AA before Big Book was written). Yet even Fox proved heretical: in the second chapter, if remembering correctly, Fox actually takes an Old testament proverb--if a man's ways are right with God he'll make even his enemies be at peace with him--and applied it in an absolutist sense by saying Christian martyrs' martyrdom was on their own shoulders; had they only loved their enemies sufficiently they would not have been martyred. It was their fault. That is a brazen heresy--easy to see by even one who finds more and more ambiguity in the Christian religion the more I study it. Because even Jesus was not at peace with his enemies--he was crucified by them.
Finally, there must be an element of Pharisee in those asserting they have the only true brand of AA. Their emphasis on assurance of faith is juxtaposed with Jesus on the Cross--"Why hast Thou forsaken me?
#12 Feb 2, 2013
Oops. Meant to write in second to last paragraph above:
"One other thing--that AA group in Anchorage that held so much influence over me...."
Not "..that AA group in AA". I must be exhausted from all this hunting and pecking and messed up that sentence.
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