Alcoholics Anonymous:
Lying To Save One's Life
Barbara Dove

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Barbara Dove"
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section-AA bashing
Date: Wednesday, May 09, 2001 8:56 AM +0100

Why are Twelve Steppers consistently the most desperate liars who write to our Forum?

I mean, I can appreciate if you think the Program is keeping you off drugs, but don't they teach you folks values such as honesty any more?

Or is it all about protecting the reputation of the Program even at the cost of the truth?

Is AA about helping people stay clean? or is AA only about AA? I left the Program years ago when I discovered the latter to be the case -- I being constitutionally incapable with being dishonest with myself.
 

After I completed a 180-day sentence for shoplifting, I was court-ordered to attend meetings. I refused on religious grounds, and was sent back to jail for an additional 30 days, of which I served 24 and was then released by mistake.

I then attended meetings under force of law for three years, and I still have all slips to prove that I attended 1,754 meetings during that time (that's an average of almost two meetings a day). In addition to that, I worked my way up to the World-level Literature Committee in Narcotics Anonymous.

I cannot work the Steps because I am an atheist, and atheists cannot "become entirely ready to have God remove all our defects of character," etc., seeing as how atheists openly and readily admit that there's no such thing as the supernatural. We atheists are unwilling to lie to ourselves or others about this, and I would consider myself patently dishonest if I even tried to work the Twelve Steps. As a result, I (like almost all honest atheists) endure many indignities at the hands of our theistic fellows. These indignities include being publicly defamed by the likes of yourself.
 

I prepared an hour-long speaker's meeting presentation on the Traditions, and delivered it before a major Washington State regional shindig. One woman later told me she had an orgasm while listening to the speech. I was on the verge of taking her up on the offer when I found out she was underage.

You can read my outline for this speech if you want, because I have it posted online. This outline took me three weeks -- full time -- to prepare. I had narrowly escaped getting the living shit beat out of me by the Area Chair over my views, and had mentally decided to leave the Program when I was invited to do the speech.

I later worked on the development of NA's Twelve Concepts project and am credited with having successfully lobbied NA to change how the concept of "Higher Power" is described in NA literature.
 

Most people who try AA do not stay sober, either. AA admits this in a very obscure memo that they publish describing the results of their Triennial Survey. The reason "treatment" doesn't work is because they utilize the AA program, which itself does not work.

To say that AA is not affiliated with treatment centers is a convenient technicality, but it is a bald-faced lie, and I wish AA would stop urging its members to continue telling this lie.

No.

AA is not about helping people stay clean any more than its business arm, the addiction treatment industry, is about helping people stay clean.

AA is interested only in protecting its own reputation and that of its business arm, the addiction treatment industry.

When confronted with the dirty truth about AA's dismal recidivism rates, AA members act as if they are going to die if the dirty truth becomes known -- even to themselves!

And the dirty truth is this: AA does not work for over 95 percent of those who try it!

AA has allowed itself to become institutionalized to the point where a judge can order people to undergo religious instruction at Twelve Step meetings, or order an individual to undergo religious instruction at a Twelve Step-based "treatment" center. By signing meeting attendance verification forms, AA groups give their assent to this barbaric and highly illegal practice.

Addiction "treatment" is one of the few "medical" procedures that a court can require someone to endure: they cannot require me to undergo chemotherapy or to remain on life-support.

Addiction "treatment" is the only "medical" procedure that is addressed exclusively by indoctrinating the victim with religious dogma.

The sad part is that AA has taught you that the only way you can stay clean is to "carry the message" of AA to others. In other words, if you don't stump for AA, you will "relapse" and you might die as a result. Thus, for many AA members, stumping for AA becomes more important than truth itself.

Did I answer my question?

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

Graphic Rule
Added: May 10, 2001

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Barbara Dove"
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section-AA bashing
Date: Wednesday, May 09, 2001 7:39 PM

Some choice!

Get a job!
 

If they "have found their own God" then they are no longer atheists, but have succumbed to the coercive evangelism of the Twelve Step religion (or they are lying about their god-beliefs in order to get along in the AA program -- very common behavior, I have found). But one cannot possibly have "found their own God" and still remain an atheist. This is as dishonest as AA's semantic dance of trying to distinguish between the words religious and spiritual -- all of which is a monumental bait-and-switch head game designed to coax people into joining the program.

Again, I reiterate: Why are Twelve Steppers singly the most desperate liars who write to our Forum? Why!?
 

You slander me by suggesting that I have made this my life's goal.

Anybody who would dare to "knock" the AA Program is in for some serious opposition from the likes of yourself: by "knocking" the AA Program (by telling the truth about it), we are lied to, lied about, seen as sick, threatened, beat up, and worse.

I don't blame anybody for keeping quiet about the program. As with the Syndicate, it is patently unwise to talk about what you know.

Your letter is just one of many examples of why I would have been better off simply placing my tail between my legs and pursuing a "normal" life, rather than taking a few years out of my life to expose the fraud which I know the Twelve Step religion to be.
 

I said no such thing. I challenge you to find any quotation from the body of my work that can even be twisted into saying that.

You are a liar.

My willingness to work as a volunteer, working my way to the World level of the service structure, combined with my willingness to "keep coming back" in the face of threatened and actual physical violence (long after I stopped getting the slips signed), shows you to be the liar that you are.

Worse, you lie for the purpose of trying to convince me (and others) that yours is a position of truthfulness.

What would Bill W. think of you?

Actually, I think he'd be lauding your patent disrespect for the truth, because I feel you and he are cut from the same cloth. He was a liar and a bigot (and took lots of LSD during the 1950s), and the servant is never greater than his master.
 

I was there for the wrong reasons: I was there because a judge ordered me to be there!

And AA and NA go along with this injustice by signing those attendance verification slips!

If AA was truly a volunteer program and truly anonymous, it would recommend that the groups stop signing those forms.

But by signing those slips, AA shows its colors -- shows its appreciation for the most effective recruiting arm that any religion could possibly want: coercion by violence under threat of law. This is no better than what the Roman Catholic Church did during the Inquisition and what the Protestant churches did during the Reformation.
 

Correct! AA is a religion and a political movement. AA is not about remaining abstinent; AA is only about self-promotion of its religious dogma and its political ideologies. AA's only goal, at this point, is political power.

This is the main reason why AA does not work.

If AA were about remaining abstinent, she certainly would have abandoned anything that shows itself ineffective at keeping people abstinent, and would have embraced anything that shows itself to work toward keeping people abstinent. Instead, AA's basic plan of action, the "Big Book," has remained entirely unchanged since 1939.

But AA is a highly politicized religion, having spent its first seven years (1935-42) as the subsidiary ministry of a highly coercive political-religious cult known as the Oxford Group movement -- which group endorsed Adolf Hitler in 1936. This group was patently fascist in its ideology, touting what it called "God Control" as a viable government policy. Those fascist leanings are evident in AA's current philosophy and in the way AA deals with the public. AA can mask these leanings by cloaking them under the mask of "God" and "spirituality."

AA also has roots in the Washingtonian Society, which was one of the original groups to promote the idea of Prohibition. Since criminalizing the recreational use of drugs does not work (as was shown during the Prohibition Era), AA led the move to portray recreational drug use as a medical problem. The book One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest shows the problems of addressing criminal behavior as a medical problem. This book spookily foreshadows the very problems involved in AA's dogma of addressing the recreational use of drugs as a disease: were it simply a crime, one would simply do the time and be done with it; now that it's a "disease," the victims of the Twelve Step policies never overcome the stigma of youthful indiscretions. I advocate a third alternative: let people take drugs, but slap them silly for real crimes such as assault, theft, DUI, and child neglect. More than that, if it can be shown that drugs played a role in someone committing a real crime (such as child neglect), make the abuse of drugs an aggravating factor. But stop throwing people in prison for smoking pot and tooting a little coke, for gaud sakes!
 

Is there a difference? If so, I'd like to see it.

You are pathetic, suggesting that I ought to be discredited because I talk about NA rather than AA, when AA and NA both advocate and practice the same brutal policies.

I went to NA because AA flat-out would not honor my decision to remain an atheist. NA at least accommodates atheists and agnostics, allowing us to express the honest thoughts in our minds and still be considered members in good standing. AA insists that we change our tune (or at least lie about our honest opinions) if we are to be considered members in good standing. This is the only difference of importance that I note: NA at least gives lip service to shedding AA's antiatheist bigotry. (Although the book poo-poohs it, that bigotry is practiced just as vehemently if not more so by NA's rank-and-file membership.)
 

You cannot wiggle out of this one, either: You are a liar because you have told untruths. It is the telling of untruths that makes one a liar, not any "experiences that have actually occurred" (whatever that means). That's what the word means. I have shown your accusations of me to be lies. That's why I call you a liar. I don't need to know anything about your "experience," I need only to read what you have said both to me and about me, and to compare those statements with what I know about myself.
 

Whatever happened to that tried-and-true method called abstinence? Whatever happened to simply not putting the stuff into your body? How could the simple act of not ingesting alcohol do anything but solve a drinking problem?

(This is where almost all Twelve Steppers start to twitch, because crucial to the AA religious dogma is the notion that one has somehow lost control of one's arm muscles. Then, when they finally reach the point where drinking has become more trouble than it's worth, when they finally make and keep the decision to stop drinking, they then give credit to the rescuing deity of the AA religion. Truth is, everyone solves their drinking problem the same way: through deliberate abstinence. The only exception involves those who have been able to learn and practice methods of moderation.)
 

It's too bad that my own country literally forced me to undergo this highly coercive form of religious evangelism. It's too bad that both AA and NA, in their literature, emphasized that if I did not get straight with "the God thing," I would surely die. I don't blame anybody for getting "hung up" on this brutal aspect of the AA religion.

AA's "suggestion" is more than simply a "suggestion," and to call it a "suggestion" is a bald-faced lie in AA's part, a monumental bait-and-switch:

From the AA "Big Book":

 

"If you think you are an atheist, an agnostic, a skeptic, or have any other form of intellectual pride which keeps you from accepting what is in this book, I feel sorry for you." (AA cofounder Dr. Bob, on page 181)

"To one who feels he is an atheist or agnostic such an experience seems impossible, but to continue as he is means disaster ... To be doomed to an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not always easy alternatives to face." (page 44)

 

Using the ultimate form of coercion, Alcoholics Anonymous says you have two options: religion or death:

 

"But after a while we had to face the fact that we must find a spiritual basis of life -- or else. Perhaps it is going to be that way with you. But cheer up, something like half of us thought we were atheists or agnostics." (Page 44)

 

Note that atheism and agnosticism are forms of dishonesty here -- delusions (we thought we were atheists). AA is not ashamed to paint agnostics (and other nonbelievers) as being dishonest with themselves, implying that they "really do" believe -- deep down inside:

 

"But [the newcomer's] face falls when we speak of spiritual matters, especially when we mention God, for we have re-opened a subject which our man thought he had neatly evaded or entirely ignored. We know how he feels. We have shared his honest doubt and prejudice. Some of us have been violently anti-religious." (Page 45)

"...as soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express even a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, we commenced to get results..." (page 46)

"Do not let any prejudice you may have against spiritual terms deter you..." (page 47)

 

No kidding! The word difficulty is an understatement. AA admits that recovery from alcoholism plays second-fiddle to getting religion -- er, spirituality. Frankly, hundreds of thousands of us have not liked the "God part."

And don't forget that AA has a captive audience of impaired people -- and knows it:

 

"[We] often found ourselves handicapped by obstinacy, sensitiveness, and unreasoning prejudice. Many of us have been so touchy that even casual reference to spiritual things make us bristle with antagonism. This sort of thinking had to be abandoned.... Faced with alcoholic destruction, we soon became ... open minded on spiritual matters. ... In this respect alcohol was a great persuader. It finally beat us into a state of reasonableness." (pages 47-8)

 

Most of AA's allies will admit that AA does have its "religious trappings" or that some components of the AA program are "spiritual in nature"; however, the Big Book places the religious conversion experience as Priority Number One. The Big Book admits that recovery from addiction is secondary to religious conversion:

 

"Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power? Well, that's exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem.... [That] means, of course, that we are going to talk about God. Here difficulty arises with agnostics." (Page 45)

 

I rest my case against Alcoholics Anonymous.
 

Yes, for some reason, unbeknownst to me, some people appear to actually derive pleasure from heaping abuse upon others.
 

Since AA is the Mother of all Twelve Step programs (and since AA grants permission to the other programs to use and adapt its Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions) in order for this point to be valid, it is your responsibility to show that AA differs in any essential respect from the other Twelve Step programs.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

Graphic Rule

Material by Cliff Walker (including unsigned editorial commentary) is copyright ©1995-2006 by Cliff Walker. Each submission is copyrighted by its writer, who retains control of the work except that by submitting it to Positive Atheism, permission has been granted to use the material or an edited version: (1) on the Positive Atheism web site; (2) in Positive Atheism Magazine; (3) in subsequent works controlled by Cliff Walker or Positive Atheism Magazine (including published or posted compilations). Excerpts not exceeding 500 words are allowed provided the proper copyright notice is affixed. Other use requires permission; Positive Atheism will work to protect the rights of all who submit their writings to us.