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A Minority report to conference 2012

To Alcoholics Anonymous from Alcoholics Anonymous - A call for moral inventory and leadership in A.A.

Contents

Page

Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………

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Section 1 Analysis of past and current events, USA, Canada, UK………………………. ……………

1

Section 2 Business has no business in A.A……………………………………………………………….18

Section 3 The antithesis of Big Book Sponsorship: Examples of A.A. sponsorship, using quotations from A.A. published literature………….…………………………………….29

Section 4 Analysis of A.A. Traditions and Concepts applied to past and current events, examining the difference between assertive and punitive behaviour…………………………

32

Section 5 No Police force in A.A.? An analysis of passive behaviour…………………………………….40

Section 6 Examination of the difference between minority groups, minority opinions, a tyranny of very small minorities

45

Section 7 Inventory………………………………………………………………………………………

46

Section 8 A.A.’s Future: Adaptation or Evolution? ……………………………………………………….50

Section 9 Are we communicating the A.A. message in the right way? ……………………………………54

Section 10

Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………….62

A Minority report to conference 2012

To Alcoholics Anonymous from Alcoholics Anonymous - A call for moral inventory and leadership in A.A.

This document comprises an analytical and critical survey of the Fellowship in 2011, discussing the complex dynamics surrounding current events occurring in the USA, UK and Canada and relating these to past events and to AA Traditions and Concepts. The discussion begins with two examples of active leadership, one by Bill W. in the 1940s, the other by a committee in Santa Monica California USA, in 1958; it then moves on to include current events. The outcome exposes a hazardous departure from Tradition, serious and growing internal divisions and public concerns. It also exposes a widespread and hazardous misconception in the application of A.A. Traditions. And a situation where neither A.A. Tradition, nor General Warranties of Conference are withstanding in today’s fellowship. This causes us to feel duty bound to place this as a minority report before the UK General Service Conference 2012.

SECTION

1

Analysis of past and current events, USA, Canada, UK

The following is an extract from A.A. Comes of Age. Bill W’s response to protect A.A.’s public relations by thwarting the plans of a potential figurehead with a “wonderful vision” and his “message”. Today one only has to replace the word “radio” with “website.” An example of Tradition Two and Concept IX in action:

“An old story, revealing several aspects of A.A.’s public relations problem, comes to mind: One of our pioneer

members conceived the idea of starting a group in his city by radio…

of ‘Twelve Lectures on Alcoholics Anonymous.’ These were a strange mixture of A.A. and his own religious ideas. He soon put them on air with all the vigour of a Chautauqua orator. Contrary to our expectations, he got a modest result. Inquiries came in and he started a group. Now flushed with success, he was smitten with a

wonderful vision

So he wrote a hot letter to this effect: ‘To hell with the trustees, the world is waiting for my message. I’ve got the

right to free speech and I’m going on air whether you like it or not.’ This ultimatum was an alarming poser. It looked like promotion, professionalism, and anonymity-breaking all in one package…. every ad man and salesman in Alcoholics Anonymous would soon be selling A.A.’s wares, willy-nilly. We would loose control of our public relations.…………. We assured our well-meaning friend that we would certainly uphold his right to free speech. But we added that he ought to uphold ours, too. We assured him that if his ‘lectures’ went on air, we would advise every A.A. group of the circumstances and ask them to write strong letters to the sponsoring life assurance company, letters of a kind the sponsor might not like to receive. The broadcast never went on air.” (AA comes of Age pages 130-131)

So our promoter friend constructed a series

We advised him that the trustees felt his message inappropriate for national consumption.

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The following is another example of Tradition Two and Concept IX in action; an A.A. committee taking an uncompromising stand against a power driving leader in 1958. This action split the A.A. group, thus protecting A.A. from wider disunity and subsequent bad press. True to Tradition Two, the prediction that the “arch deacon” would either accept the group conscience or wind up drunk came eventually, but only after 20 years. The subsequent history of Synanon shows that a cult run by an alcoholic can be very successful with long-term viability. The group’s leader Chuck D (who incidentally was to some years later appoint himself Pope, and his wife, High Priestess of the cult Church of Synanon), recalled his 1958 not so spiritual baptism with concept IX, wonderfully executed by A.A. trusted servants. - They intuitively knew how handle situations which seem to baffle us today.

“It happened right in the middle of an A.A. meeting. Our whole gang had taken over the Saturday night meeting of the Santa Monica A.A. group at Twenty Sixth and Broadway and built it up from its attendance of ten people to an attendance of about forty five or fifty. There was some objection on some issue by the members of the Board of

Directors of the A.A. club. I recall the leader stopping the meeting. They didn’t like us. The alkies didn’t like the addicts, and they didn’t like me in particular…and they didn’t like my gang because they were mostly addicts. They made things difficult for us. I remember getting up in the meeting and saying, ‘All right, let’s go home-the hell with this.’ So the whole meeting got up, and we all got into our automobiles and came down to the club, and we never went back to A.A. again.” (From the Desk of Juan Lesende: How Drug Abuse Treatment Turns into Mistreatment By Juan E. Lesende - September 18th 2009)

Where did it come from? Synanon Church and the medical basis for the $traights:

Wikipedia – Synanon: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synanon Chuck Dederich Still Rules Synanon, but Now He Has 1,300 Subjects and a $22 Million Empire -- By Barbara Wilkins --PEOPLE magazine's archive: October 11, 1976, Vol. 6, No. 15:

Dederick Charles E: (The link may show “no text available”, if so click blue link “search for this page title”. Search results may show “No page title matches”, If so click on the blue “Dederick Charles E link, about halfway

down the page.):

Finding Aid for the Mitchell-Synanon Litigation Papers, 1979-1989 University of Tennessee Special Collections

We wonder how A.A. would have responded, if Chuck had decided to operate his franchise as an autonomous group of A.A., for example “the Synanon group of A.A.” instead of going it alone. Or if the A.A. members had left the A.A. group all to Chuck by saying “Each group is autonomous!” “Live and let live!” “Vote with your feet!” instead of having the backbone to stand and defend A.A. Tradition. Would the intergroups and GSO of the 1960s have continued to register his groups and how much damage would the extraordinary abuses that were to occur in his cult have done to A.A.’s public relations, were his cult to have remained in A.A.?

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One can only take an informed guess from the words of Bill W. in the article about “Our promoter friend” who turned “alarming poser” (AA comes of Age page 130- 131), how he and those trustees would have responded to the rise of the figurehead Joe McQ; who elevated himself to "teacher" and author of the book “Carry This Message – guide to Big Book Sponsorship;” which carries his “message.” - a “strange mixture of AA and his own religious ideas” (AA comes of Age page 130) and his treatment centre Recovery Dynamics program.

The following are extracts from “Carry This Message – a guide to Big Book Sponsorship”, by Joe McQ:

“As sponsors we know, there are certain things we require of a sponsoree [sic]… … … he has to carry out his

assignments and do the things you ask him to do” (page 25). “… … we are working with an undisciplined person. Assignments should be given, and the sponsor should make it

clear to the person that assignments have to be done by a specific time…

sponsoree [sic]… … He has to carry out his assignments and do the things you ask him to do … … Dr. Bob said ‘Get down on your knees.’ And they took step 3… … But an alcoholic can do just about anything you make her do. If you insist that she do certain things, she’ll get them done. She has to go from the undisciplined to the disciplined… … At our treatment centre, Serenity Park, we require all the clients get a sponsor within the third week… The sponsor teaches discipline… … everything is working on this undisciplined person… …. An undisciplined person may fight discipline, but it has to be enforced to help the person….” (Pages, 26, 27) You can’t just say to the sponsoree [sic] ‘go start on your inventory’ because it might take him a month, maybe two. Create a schedule by saying something like, ‘We are going to work on resentments for two days’ then do the other inventories similarly, with a schedule for each one which doesn’t allow the sponsoree [sic] to skimp, but moves him or her along at a good pace….(Step Four assignment). You need to move your sponsoree [sic] along pretty fast…. but you need to keep the sponsoree [sic] busy and keep her moving… you should just move him right on through them bam, bam, bam, bam. Keep the momentum… ” (Page 65) “Remember that all the people in our fellowship groups are not really alcoholics… … … They aren’t really alcoholics – because an alcoholic can’t do that. They don’t usually stay; they just come in an out of our fellowship. ”

But they don’t have a message to share…

there

are certain things we require of a

(Page 65)

The Online Oxford dictionary definition of brain wash:

verb [with object] pressurize (someone) into adopting radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible means: people are brainwashed into believing family life is the best (as noun brainwashing) victims of brainwashing http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/brainwash

Extracts from “The Steps we took”, Joe McQ. of the ‘Big Book Study Tapes’:

“There is a story in the Bible how all this conflict began. The Garden of Eden story… … the Bible says ‘we are God-like’… … So he created Adam and Eve and put them in Serenity Park…. One day a snake came up to Eve and he said… … ‘Hey Eve you’ve got self will’… … Eve had never heard such a thing so she said ‘What’s that?’… … So the snake ran it down to her. He said ‘You can do whatever you want to!’ She couldn’t wait, she ran to tell Adam, ‘Adam, Adam we’ve got self –will.’ He probably said ‘What in the world is that?’ So she explained it to him… …” (Page 40, 41) “I think one of the mistakes many people are making today is this: not only as individuals, but groups of people, get together and talk about their problems. They never seem to talk about what to do about them… … … There is no growth in this way of doing; in fact they just magnify their problems. I call this ‘group sickness…’ (Page 128) “I think Jesus may have been teaching the principle of the first step when he said ‘deny thyself.” (Page 19) “Step 1 opens the door to Step 2. I like to use the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) (Page 24)

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“The Bible says, ‘…ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.’(John 8:32).” (Page 25) “David said in the 23 rd psalm, ‘The Lord is my shepherd.’ (Page 53) “It’s like in the Bible, where it says there is time for everything. (Ecclesiastes 3:1).” (Page 64)

“Jesus said, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.” (Page 124) “I love the passage in the Bible that says, ‘ Thou shalt not be afraid of the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in the darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.’(Psalms 91:5-6) “I also like the story of David the little shepherd boy and the giant Goliath.” (Page 146)

That “

they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10) (page 155)

“When we finish step 9 we get the promises.” (Page 123)

“Since Bill didn’t have the capacity to write like a great expert in spiritual things, he laid out a beautiful, simple daily exercise.” (page 137)

This program may well have worked in his treatment centres. But by mixing this outside enterprise inside A.A. and by placing the books in the hands of the still emotionally suffering alcoholic sponsors who barely understand how irrational they are, the dictatorial, judgmental and disciplinarian terminology he used therein, has now left A.A. with the legacy of a cult following and an abusive style of coercive sponsorship from which it will take a lot of effort to recover. - A legacy of the violation of Traditions four (long form) six and twelve.

A disaffected alcoholic tells his story:

“Thanks for this forum guys and gals. I am having grave difficulties with AA, as my experiences with it are not good, and I have been looking for a site to confirm my prejudices. I thought I had found it in the Orange Papers, but methinks that the author doth protest too much, and I am being turned off this site. I have been subjected to the primary purpose group by my sponsor whilst in treatment, and this was the tipping point for me. However, I was judging AA - all AA by the rantings of Chris R. Now I see that there ARE moderates in AA, people like yourselves, because whilst I realise that AA is not for me, I do respect the argument that it IS good for some people, and I look forward to reading the posts in this forum”. (aacultwatch forum subject entitled “AA cult.”) http://aacultwatch.co.uk/default.aspx

In 1941 the good news was written in the press and A.A. began to take off:

“Because of the absence of figureheads and the fact there is no formal body of belief to promote, they have no fears that Alcoholics Anonymous will degenerate into a cult.” (The Jack Alexander article about AA, page 23)

We wonder if the co-founders of AA would say the same thing if they were around today. Today our public image is not so good:

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1998: The Independent: "Cult or cure: the AA backlash" ---- "Alcoholics Anonymous is under attack. Those who have been through its mill claim it is `authoritarian' and `fascistic', employs brainwashing techniques and is cult- "

like in its attitude to members. Ursula Kenny talks to the disaffected who have rejected its road to recovery

2009: The Independent: "Tom Shone takes on the all powerful cult of Alcoholics Anonymous"

Washington Post: “AA Group Leads Members Away from Traditions” by Marc Fisher, July 22, 2007:

Newsweek: A struggle inside AA, by Nick Summers, May 6th, 2007:

Cult Help and information library:

The public debate moves on from the press into various A.A. member’s websites and forums and non-AA related websites, including the parent toddler website mumsnet.com. - The disaffected A.A. members posting their experiences: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?

There can be little doubt, there is evidence that coercive sponsorship is being deployed by a minority of groups in A.A. and this is beginning get A.A. the reputation of being a cult. To avoid further loss of public confidence in A.A. and if vulnerable people are to be protected from abuse, then we need to see more examples of the Santa Monica pro A.A. Tradition elder statesmanship of 1958. (Concept IX in action). --In this modern World however, to be of effect to meet the present day needs of the fellowship, this needs to be both communicated and operating throughout the A.A. World Service Structure, top to bottom, as soon as possible.

The incidents with Chuck D. and “Our promoter friend” show that in the past, cult groups in AA have been stopped before they could even begin by active intervention of “trusted servants” and “elder statesmen” upholding A.A. Traditions. They recognised the link between figureheads and “degeneration into a cult.” (Jack Alexander article about AA, page 23) In other words, the rise of a “tyranny of very small minorities invested with absolute power.” (Concept V). These “trusted servants and” “elder statesmen” in the 1940s and 1958 were therefore evidently “prudently ever on guard against tyrannies great and small.”(Concept 12, warranty six). They also clearly understood the Traditions to be principles upon which the survival of the

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fellowship depends, rather than “just suggestions.” They evidently understood it to be their responsibility and duty to be active guardians of Traditions by informing “Traditions violators that they are out of order” (Concept 12, warranty five). They evidently understood their duty of care to protect a vulnerable minority from coercion and abuse, “That care will be observed to respect and protect all minorities,” (Concept 12, warranty 6). They evidently understood their responsibility and authority as “trusted servants” that they were trusted to actively guard the principles of AA Traditions and assert their leadership in Tradition Two, to perform the “duty of leadership, even when in a small minority, to take a stand against a storm,” (Concept IX), - The upholding of Tradition Two, of which Bill W. was later to go to great lengths to explain in the Twelve Concepts for World Service in 1962:

“…All of this is fully implied in A.A.’s Tradition Two. Here we see the ‘group conscience’ as the ultimate authority and the ‘trusted servant’ as the delegated authority. One cannot function without the other” (Concept X) “Hence the principle of amply delegated authority and responsibility to ‘trusted servants’ must be implicit from the top to the bottom of our active structure of service. This is the clear implication of A.A.’s Tradition Two” (Concept II) “Trusted servants at all A.A. levels are expected to exercise leadership, and leadership is not simply a matter of submissive housekeeping” (Concept VII) “Leadership is often called upon to face heavy and sometimes long-continued criticism” (Concept IX) “All around us in the world today we are witnessing the tyranny of majorities and the even worse tyranny of very small minorities invested with absolute power” (Concept V) “that care will be observed to respect and protect all minorities… …That our Conference shall ever be prudently on guard against tyrannies, great and small, whether these be found in the majority or in the minority” (Concept XII:

Warranty 6). “Feeling the weight of all these forces, certain members who run counter to A.A.’s Traditions sometimes say that they are being censored or punished and that they are therefore being governed. It would appear however, that A.A.’s right to object calmly and privately to specific violations is at least equal to the rights of the violators to violate. This cannot accurately be called a governmental action” (Concept XII, warranty 5).

In contrast to the leadership described above, recent history reveals the apparent lack of it, perhaps a 20-30 year trend toward liberty above that of our common welfare,

leading to a “tyranny of apathetic, self-seeking, uninformed,…

V), this in turn, has led to the presence of figureheads, and the motivation for an “even worse tyranny of very small minorities invested with absolute power” (concept V), and in some groups, a “degeneration into a cult” (Jack Alexander article about AA, page 23). This has resulted in abuse of the vulnerable and bad press for AA, as reported in the Independent (UK) and in the Washington Post (USA).

majorities” (concept

The difference between good service leadership and no leadership at all in the face of

rising dictators, spells the difference between future A.A. unity and anarchy. If A.A. continues the current trend in autonomous groups, “personality before principle” speaker recordings, lectures, guides and trinket business, then this may eventually lead to a systemic failing of the “but one ultimate authority” in Tradition Two. The experience of the disintegration of the Washingtonian movement (Language of the Heart page 5; Tradition 10, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions page 180-183)

predicts the future:

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If, on the other hand, A.A. opts for A.A. Tradition, “Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole”, then the

exception to group autonomy in Tradition 4 implies that “elder statesmen” and “Good Service Leaders” (concept IX) will face their responsibility to intervene when necessary. As Synanon cult leader Chuck D recalled 1958: “They made things

difficult for us…

his encounter with “Our promoter friend”: “We assured our well-meaning friend that we would certainly uphold his right to free speech. But we added that he ought to uphold ours, too. We assured him that if his “lectures” went on air, we would advise every A.A. group of the circumstances and ask them to write strong letters…

… letters of a kind the sponsor might not like to receive.” (A.A. comes of Age page 131)

and we never went back to A.A. again.” And as Bill W. recalled

A.A. is dealing with a new phenomenon, for which most are unprepared. It presents an extremely complex debate and it is a toxic cocktail of the following ingredients:

Global internet communication; the outside influence of a very narrow minded, dishonest, fundamentalist Christian rendering of A.A.’s program and history; a generation of “elder statesmen” who have no experience of dealing with a serious problem in A.A; who also lack knowledge of A.A. history and the ability to apply Traditions and Concepts; and the majority of whom appear to see no threat in placing liberty above that of our common welfare.

This cocktail has produced not so much cult groups, but a collection of cult groups of various descriptions, which together amount to a neo-Oxford Group fundimentalist movement. These groups have international connections with figureheads as leaders:

Joys of Recovery, (Detroit USA – London UK, David C.), Primary Purpose group of AA (Dallas), (global affiliation, Cliff B. Myers R., Chris R.), Back to Basics, (Global affiliation, Wally P.), Road to Recovery, Plymouth UK- Pacific Group USA (Wayne P- Clancy I).

The new dynamics to AA presented by outside published literature and global internet communication may have exposed a weakness in our service structure to which AA has yet to adapt. The speed and reach of electronic communication today means that the behaviour of one individual AA group, or a minority, can now have an enormous negative and permanent impact on the whole A.A. public relations. More over, this speed and reach of communication can give power driving figureheads a platform to influence AA, not only in their own locality, but internationally. With the reach and permanence of worldwide web, it is questionable whether the resultant damage to A.A. public relations and loss of public confidence caused by these groups is sustainable for the fellowship as a whole, if this is permitted to continue.

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For example, The Joys of Recovery group (Detroit – London, David C.):

Extracts from the “Big Book Recovery” website hosted by a David C:

Counsellors, Psychiatrists

The general approach for the majority of cases is for us to discontinue seeing psychiatrists and counselors [sic] if you are seeing them for treatment of the symptoms of alcoholism eg [sic] alcoholic depression… … Also there are likely to be contradictions between the two courses of treatment. We chose between the two. If we chose to do the ”

Alcohol In Solid Form

AA programme, we stopped seeing the counsellor/psychiatrist until we had done the first nine steps

Prescribed

mood-altering drugs? Drugs that are mood altering (eg [sic] "antidepressants") are often prescribed

for the symptoms of the alcoholism. This is true even when alcoholism is not named by the doctor as the condition for which he or she is prescribing the drugs; for example, many of us are diagnosed as having a variety different

sorts of psychoses and types of depression, which turn out to be the symptoms of alcoholism …

prescribed for the symptoms of alcoholism, then they are to be considered as alcohol in solid form: we must be

willing to come off these ‘chemical mood-changers’ … …We ask the doctor: ‘Would it be alright if I came off the

drugs if I go to lots of AA meetings?’… …

these drugs then we really must follow all the suggestions of the programme.”

“Sexual conduct

If they are

It is very important that if the programme is to be a substitute for

Later

on, as part of Step 5, we give an account of our secret thoughts to our sponsors. Many revealed things to

our sponsors that we had never told anyone before. (This is applicable also to all our darkest thoughts, not just

those of a sexual nature”) “Trust Our Sponsors

So it will be very difficult for us to trust in the programme and the Higher Power unless we can trust our sponsors first ” “But I’m doing the Programme and I’m still feeling down http://bigbookrecovery.com/step_twelve.html#all_affairs

If you think you’re doing the programme and not feeling good, then we have good news for you. There is every chance that you’re wrong — you’re not doing the programme. The answer is to find out what it is you are doing that you shouldn’t; or what it is you are not doing that you should.”

Victims of the abusive sponsorship in London and Detroit share their experience with each other on an internet forum:

“I was reflecting on when I first was recruited in to joys and I was thinking about how uncomfortable I felt. ………….I remember crying to my sponsor about the pain I was having and explain to her that I never felt my body freak out so much not even when I was in to partying and taking drugs as I did when I came in to joys and she was just starting to yell at me. I remember the first time she really screamed at me when I called to check in I was in my standing in my kitchen and I just recently dumped my ex boyfriend and he just moved out I felt I was moving forward in my life on to a healthy and higher road and then my sponsor screamed at me and I just felt like this behavior [sic] feels way more unhealthy then the what the boyfriend I just dumped did. I felt like she was just waiting for him to leave so I would be alone and she could yell at me and start the abusive and control cycle. I studied the cycle of abuse wheel in high-school and I think that describes perfectly my relationship with my joys sponsor there were definably honeymoon periods and tension building periods and then the terrible acting out phase. I remember I always felt extremely uncomfortable art [sic] the 4 joys meetings I attended weekly. Being on the outside now I can see that a lot of the things that I struggled with such as panic attacks were due to being in joys I don’t have those anymore. I have also realized why I was attracted so much to joys and that it did meet many of my unmet needs such as belonging friendship caring involvement and many many [sic] more. Now that I am out of the group I have to work harder to try and meet these needs and when I don’t I find myself missing joys.” (aacultwatch forum; subject entitled “Gut feelings”)

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“Another gradual change in their cult environment involved the persistent push for a greater commitment. It always had to be more, and soon the members felt overwhelmed and wondered if they could ever make it. Could they ever be pure enough? Could they ever reach enlightenment? Their leaders were the only proof that these standards were achievable. For me in joys was will I ever get done with 9 and when I get done with step 9 I will be happy. I have sence [sic] learned that being done with nine is really about accepting the cult belife [sic] system and passing it on. I felt even more inner torment when I was done 9 then I did befor.[sic] They created this false impression that once I got done step 9 life would be grand which was quite the oppiset,[sic] but it did apper [sic] that way on the outside. Cult leaders used various techniques to tighten their hold on the group. One of the more effective was scapegoating [sic]. One member would be publicly humiliated in front of the group. This created dread among the cultists because they never knew when it would be their turn and never wanted to be used as a negative example I have been the scapegoat at joys they tear you up in there shares. I have also played the role of tearing others up in there shares and trying to push them in a relapse when they wouldn’t accept the group”. (aacultwatch forum; subject entitled “Elite club”) http://forums.delphiforums.com/aacultwatch/messages/?

A.A. Grapevine articles by professional alcoholism councillors:

A Plea for Non-interference (AA Grapevine May 1990, Vol.46 no.12).

I have a high regard and respect for AA's Twelve Step program and have witnessed countless success stories…

I am also aware of unnecessary human pain and suffering among recovering members…… Often I have heard AA

members who think they know best for all alcoholics and perceive that if you just ‘work the program’ everything will be fine. That is not always the case. There are members in your program who have experienced traumatic, life-

threatening events and who need professional help and, sometimes, medication……… On several occasions I have had clients who were extremely suicidal and had sought professional help. Recently, two clients threatened suicide, and because AA members thought they knew more than the medical and psychological professions, the individuals almost died… …yet AA members stepped in and convinced my clients to discontinue use of the medication. ……… Members often advise vulnerable, emotionally confused people not to seek medical and mental health

assistance, and to take no drugs………

children by three or more members of their families and had experienced other abuses as well. Both were

emotionally and psychologically fragile………

addresses the issues of obtaining outside professional help when it is necessary…

a position where people want to die and it's up to me to try and protect them from self-harm. I am the person in the

trenches, passionately dedicated to saving lives and helping all people recover not only from alcoholism but other life threatening problems. Please stop telling other recovering AA members not to consult physicians and psychotherapists. Please stop telling members that they are ‘breaking sobriety’ by taking needed medication. Please stop enabling members to attempt suicide. (Extracts of an article by P…B…, alcoholism councillor, Colorado)

two suicidal individuals of whom I speak had been sexually abused as

The

I

suggest that each AA member read in the Big Book where it

I do not like to be placed in

“Dear Grapevine, Playing Doctor” (AA grapevine January 2010)

“As a psychologist in addictions, with 23 years of recovery in AA, I would like to express concern about the letter titled ‘Misdiagnosis’ (Dear Grapevine, September 2009). While it is true that many people in mental health have inadequate addictions training, it is also true that many people with addictions have other mental health issues. I have not seen the sign, ‘I have one disease--alcoholism--and if I take care of that one disease, everything will be okay,’ at any meeting, nor is this sentiment reflected in any AA literature. Many people have co-occurring substance/alcohol and psychiatric disorders that interact with each other. Untreated bipolar disorder is not conducive to ongoing sobriety, for example. Neither is active psychosis. The list goes on. Dr. Bob and Bill W. emphasized respect and cooperation with the mental health professional community.

We emphasize not playing God in AA; let's remember not to play doctor, too.

Anonymous”

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The advice given in David C’s Big Book Recovery website on professional counsellors, medication and step 5 are a direct contradiction with the Alcoholics Anonymous “Big Book” and the “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions”:

“Those of us belonging to a religious denomination which requires confession must, and of course will want to go to the properly appointed authority, whose duty it is to receive it… … If we cannot or would rather not do this, we search for our acquaintance with a closed – mouthed, understanding friend. Perhaps our doctor or psychologist will be the friend. It may be one of our own family, but we cannot disclose anything to our wives or parents which will hurt them or make them unhappy.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, “Big Book” page 74,) “This person may be one’s sponsor, but not necessarily so… … Perhaps, though, your relationship to him is such that you would care to reveal only a part of your story. If this is the situation, by all means do so… … It may turn out, however, that you’ll choose someone else for the more difficult and deeper revelations. This individual may be entirely outside of A.A. – for example, your clergyman or your doctor. For some of us, a complete stranger may prove the best bet.” (The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 62)

“An A.A. sponsor does not offer services such as those provided by counsellors, the legal, medical or social work communities, but may sometimes help the newcomer to access professional help if assistance outside the scope of A.A. is needed. (Questions and answers on sponsorship, page 14) http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/p-

“A.A. Does not….solicit members….follow up or try to control its members…. make medical or psychological diagnoses or prognoses… … provide … … any medical or psychiatric treatment; offer religious services; engage in education about alcohol… … or any other welfare or social services; provide domestic or vocational counselling…” (Members of the clergy ask about Alcoholics Anonymous page 18)

“If we recognise religion is the province of the clergy and the practice of medicine is for doctors, then we can we can helpfully cooperate with both” (Concept 12, warranty five)

It is a sad day indeed, when victims of abuse in A.A. seek support elsewhere; when the safeguards and procedures already available are not being used; when professional alcoholism counsellors write to the A.A. Grapevine, asking A.A. to read its own literature.

It is a sad day when a District Committee Member (D.C.M.) in the USA, does not appear to be able to find important information from within the A.A. Service structure; but instead, the concerned A.A. member feels the need to source it from a non AA UK internet forum:

“In this USA area, about 2 1/2 years ago in 2008, a Yellow cover book - "Back to Basics " by Wally P.,

began to

be passed around; soon many were buying it and some malcontented [sic] people from a few AA groups began to gather to discuss the book. They were generally outspoken and not recieved [sic] well by AA groups and the strong opposition seemed to bond the malcontents to each other. They had a fixed idea of how the 12 steps should be done, an out of balance view of AA history and statistics. Like claiming that AA once had 75% success rate; and futher [sic] claimed AA lost that sucess [sic] rate when AA became organized! The movement has grown more active and now "seeds" meetings and discussion rooms with individuals who push their views. Now, there seems to be an organized effort for 6 to 10 "Back to Basics" people to meet before a target meeting - they split up a few small groups - go to various tables or each Meeting Room and steer discussions into issues which give them a format to present half truths and thier [sic] "sprituality" [sic] claims. Many of us "regular" AA people are concerned. It seems to me that your experiences are similar and may be repeated here in this USA area. I found your "Cultwatch" site on the Bing search engine. The information is valuable and appreciated by me and I have passed the web address on to a DCM friend”. (aacultwatch forum; subject entitled “Back to Basics movement”) http://forums.delphiforums.com/aacultwatch/messages/?

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There needs to be better communication within the fellowship.

This is a statement at the bottom of the page on Wally P’s Back to Basics website:

“After receiving notification from the General Service Office about our mission statement, the Board of Directors of the Back to Basics Foundation met in a special session and voted to change the wording of the statement so it would be in compliance with the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The Board also voted to move all materials pertaining to other Twelve Step programs to separate web sites, so there would be no confusion about the primary purpose of the Back to Basics Foundation.

We ask for your patience in this matter because, at the present time, we have no means to accomplish this objective. We have no paid employees, and continue to operate with a negative cash flow. If it is God’s will, there will be sufficient individual donations to make the wishes of the Board of Directors a reality.

The Back to Basics Foundation is a 501 (C) 3, not-for-profit Corporation dedicated to saving the lives of alcoholics.

Our modified mission statement is listed below”

Perhaps the A.A.W.S. Trustees ought to take note of Bill W’s leadership when passive negotiations fail with “Our promoter friend” turned “alarming poser” (A.A. Comes of Age page 130 -131), such as they have with Wally P; and when necessary, to call on support from the A.A. groups. If Wally P says his foundation “at the present time has no means to accomplish this objective,” then perhaps he needs some assistance. We are sure some two million A.A.s worldwide would be only too willing to help both another alcoholic and the Trustees as well. “Strong letters … … … letters of a kind the sponsor might not like to receive” as Bill W. put it, is a powerful dissuasive tool for any Traditions violator. And as Bill W. recognised, the “right of petition” is recognised in any democratic society. It cuts both ways.

We wonder why warranties five and six have not been carried out to their full. Why information about Back to Basics has not been disseminated throughout the world service structure down to the G.S.Rs and a request to intergroup Public Information committees to inform the general public of misuses of the A.A. name.

“Privately, however we can inform Traditions violators that they are out of order. When they persist, we can follow up by using such other resources of persuasion as we may have, and these are often considerable……

to this end we shall need to maintain a continuous education of our public communication channels of all kinds

concerning the nature and purpose of our Traditions………

inform the general public also; especially upon misuses of the name Alcoholics Anonymous. This combination of counter forces can be very discouraging to violators or would be violators. Under these conditions they soon find their deviations to be unprofitable or unwise." (Concept 12, warranty five). “Finally, any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group provided that, as a group, they have no other purpose or affiliation”. (Concept 12, warranty 6).

And

Whenever and however we can, we shall need to

The assertive leadership in protection of “our common welfare” was well demonstrated by Bill W, the “trusted servants” involved with Chuck D. in 1958 and recently by those in the Toronto intergroup in Canada:

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“Toronto’s A.A. Intergroup Bounces Atheists after Spirited Battle” by Dirk Hanson, The Fix, 06/06/11, issue 141:

http://www.thefix.com/content/does-aa-need-god “Is There A Place For Atheists in Alcoholics Anonymous? – A long-simmering feud is spreading around the world, after one AA establishment voted to expel two atheist/agnostic groups in Canada” by Jesse Beach, The Fix 14/06/11: http://www.alternet.org/story/151294/is_there_a_place_for_atheists_in_alcoholics_anonymous?

No doubt the courageous Toronto “trusted servants” have received plenty of “accusations…… gobs of rumour, gossip and general scuttle-butt” (Concept IX), perhaps attempts to twist warranty five “incitement to public controversy,” to try and throw them off beam. However, although it is unfortunate this matter has gone public, when compared to the incitement to public controversy caused by the behaviour in cult groups, described in the Washington Post and The Independent, and the potential incitement to public controversy to be caused by A.A groups re-writing the A.A. program, each according to their dictator’s own sundry ideas, personal beliefs and prejudices, the article does show A.A. (In Canada at least) to have a legitimate organised structure with a duly elected responsibility and authority, rather than a headless anarchy.

“Salute to Canada – Our congratulations and thanks to Canada; no finer AA exists.” (Bill W. May 1951, Language of the Heart page 191)

For an A.A. group to re-write the Twelve Steps is to violate Tradition 4, 4(Long Form).

“For instance no group or intergroup could feel free to initiate, without consultation, any publicity that might affect AA as a whole. Nor could it assume to represent the whole of Alcoholics Anonymous by printing and distributing anything purporting to be AA standard literature” (Bill W. A.A. Grapevine March 1948, Language of the Heart page 81). “Our literature is a principle means by which A.A. recovery, unity, and service are facilitated” (Concept XI). “And again, “Some [of the Washingtonian local groups] dipped into their treasuries to finance their own publications. There was no overall editorial policy……We are sure that if the original Washingtonians could return to this planet they would be glad to see us learning from their mistakes…… Had we lived in their day we might have made the same errors. Perhaps we are beginning to make some of them now.” (Bill W. AA Grapevine August 1945. Language of the Heart page 5) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washingtonian_movement

However, the principle applied to the atheist-agnostic groups in Toronto ought to be applied to any dual purpose group presenting itself as an “on your knees pray to God” Christian “early AA” - neo Oxford Group, or any other religion:

“Some years ago, numbers of AAs formed themselves into “retreat groups” having a religious purpose. At first they wanted to call themselves AA groups of various descriptions. But they soon realized this could not be done because their groups had a dual purpose: both AA and religion”. (Bill W. AA Grapevine February 1958; Language of the Heart page 222).

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“Speaking for Dr. Bob and myself I would like to say that there has never been the slightest intent, on his part or mine, of trying to found a new religious denomination. Dr. Bob held certain religious convictions, and so do I. This is, of course, the personal privilege of every A.A. member. Nothing however, could be so unfortunate for A.A.’s future as an attempt to incorporate any of our personal theological views into A.A. teaching, practice or tradition.” (Bill W. AA Comes of Age page 232) “Beyond a Higher Power, as each of us may vision him, A.A. must never, as a society, enter the field of dogma or

theology…

Bill sees It page 116)

Lest we kill our usefulness by being bogged down in theological contention” (Bill W. Letter 1954, As

“This was the great contribution of our atheists and agnostics. They had widened our gateway so that all who suffer might pass through, regardless of their belief or lack of belief.” (Bill W. A.A. Comes of Age page 167) “The atheist may stand up in an A.A. meeting denying God, yet reporting how he has been helped in other

ways”…

unbeliever mix happily and usefully together” (Bill W. “Pass it On page 172-173)

we make no religious requirement of anyone…

In

this atmosphere the orthodox, unorthodox, and the

We wonder if the motivation behind the Toronto atheist group’s actions is out of a sense of insecurity arising from the influence of Traditions 4, 6 and 12 violations; the missionaries of the dishonest rendering of AA’s history by fundamentalist Christian authors emanating from the USA; Dick B. Joe McQ and Wally P.

Extracts from “By the Power Of God, A Guide to Early A.A. Groups & forming similar Groups Today” by Dick B:

“Of course the A.A. of yesteryear is truly gone forever. There is no Dr. Bob – physician, Bible student, ‘Prince of Twelve-Steppers,’ ambassador for Christ. There is no loving Anne Smith,- ‘Mother of A.A.’ ‘Founder’ nurse, evangelist, employment agent, and dispenser of ‘spiritual pablum’[sic] … …There is no quiet time…. where the Bible is studied,…prayer is made to God……. (page xiii) There is a Good Big Book/Bible study group in California……There is also a ‘Safe to Talk about Jesus meeting’…….There is a Big Book/Bible study meeting in Florida. There are spiritual retreats for AAs and their families in at least seven locations in the United States and one in England. (Page xiii)

- So also ‘Absolute purity.’…. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out…. (Page 42)

And – ‘Absolute unselfishness’….So likewise who ever he be of you that forsaketh not all…. (Page 42)

- And ‘Absolute Love’ A new commandment that I give unto you that ye love one another …(Page 42)

Carrying the Message…As part of AAs Twelfe [sic] Step…And he[Jesus] said unto them….(Page 189) Possible Approaches in Meetings 1. Listening to the readings of scripture. Perhaps segments of the Oxford Group book, How to read the Bible [Roger Hicks, How to read the Bible (London: Moral re- Armament, 1940)]”

(Page 215)

“Alcoholism can be cured. Today’s people have just changed the language to satisfy the unbelievers” (page 233)

Dick B’s Alcoholics Anonymous History website:

Extracts from “Back to Basics Alcoholics Anonymous Beginners meetings” By Wally P:

“In order for the process to work, newcomers need to be matched up with A.A. members who are willing to guide

them through the four one hour sessions……

accompanied by their sponsors/sharing partners… For the Newcomer: 1.Your primary obligation is to attend all four sessions…. 2. We will read the appropriate parts of the ‘Big Book’ to you…. (Page 38) “It is time to assign sponsors or sharing partners to those who need them. Will the newcomers please stand. These are the people who are about to take the Twelve Steps” (Page 39)

Newcomers

do not attend beginners’ meetings alone, they are

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“Next the author instructs us to check what we have put on paper. Here the sponsor or sharing partner can be very helpful: Check…When in doubt and when it is important, what does another person who is working two way

prayer think about this thought or action?

guidance has come. This is the secret of unity….Then the author explains, to what many of us, is the most difficult

part of all…Obey

with it… [How to listen to God, p3]” (page 120) “It is time to make a commitment to working with others…please stand. This is the Twelfe [sic] Step question ‘Will you carry the message to other alcoholics?’ please answer, one at a time, ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ After you have answered, please be seated. [Have each newcomer answer the question]” (page 146)

Talk

over together what you have written…Tell each other what

Carry

out the thoughts that have come. You will only be sure of guidance as you go through

The following are some early A.A. definitions of God and prayer, by what some of today’s back to basics “original A.A”. “On your knees” missionaries might call the “Original AA members” or “The first One Hundred”, “Big Book Authors,” “founders”:

“Most of us in Akron didn’t like all this praying…….We’d had enough of it in the Oxford Group. I still don’t like praying in A.A. I don’t like the Serenity Prayer. New York brought it in, and we resented it. We thought they were bringing back the Oxford Group” (1942, Oscar W. Early Akron A.A. group member) (Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers, page 271) 1937: “And their concept of a Higher Power was different from that of the groupers, who were not prepared to accept light bulbs and Third Avenue buses as examples of “God as I understand Him.………… This, too, was an attitude that represented a fundamental difference between the A.A.s and the Oxford Groupers. A.A.s were more and more inclined to allow newer members to arrive at a concept of a Higher Power in their own time and manner.” (Pass It On, page 161) “Try to find your own God – As you understand Him.” (Quote of Dr. Bob) ( Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers page 281) 1940: “ At his time – January – 1940 he wasn’t making you get out of bed to pray on your knees, to pray with you, I’m not sure that would have worked too well with me.” A recollection of Dr. Bob by John S. (Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers page 276) 1941:”Any concept of the Higher Power is acceptable. A sceptic or an agnostic may choose to think of his inner self, the miracle of growth, a tree, man’s wonderment at the physical universe, the structure of an atom, or mere mathematical infinity. Whatever form is visualized, the neophyte is taught that he must rely on it, in his own way, to pray to the power for strength.” (Jack Alexander article about AA page 19)

It has to be seriously considered whether an A.A. group affiliated to a website is not in fact affiliated to an individual member’s private enterprise. Whether groups so affiliated to an outside enterprise can call themselves A.A. groups, whether GSO and intergroups ought to register groups so affiliated, unless the group and website are separately incorporated, giving no implication that the two are connected.

It has to be considered whether it is still wise for GSO to register groups without prior consultation with the local intergroup and whether certain groups which operate outside the A.A. service structure ought to be A.A. registered, when separately incorporated companies are competitively trading off the AA name and encouraging their own groups to operate both inside and outside AA:

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Back to Basics AA meetings list:

Back to Basics Foundation – (Donations accepted):

Back to Basics merchandise:

Competitive public information:

It has to be considered whether it is wise to register groups that are directly or

indirectly affiliated to non-AA 12 step treatment centre programs which trade off the

A.A. name:

Kelly Foundation, Joe McQ’s “Recovery Dynamics”:

“Big Book Study” A.A. Groups:

“Big Book study” A.A. groups directory:

Primary Purpose group of AA (Dallas) Big Book study groups directory:

“Showcasing the work of the Kelly Foundation and Serenity Park with our partners in Japan: Serenity Park Japan and Serenity Program, Inc. Carrying the message and the legacy of Joe McQ to alcoholics and addicts around the world. Please contact the Kelly Foundation for more information: www.kellyfdn.com

(Featuring the plaque of Joe McQ (Founder). Bill W, Dr, Bob. And the Twelve Steps

of Alcoholics Anonymous (Scroll available from GSO).

Joe McQ memorials:

Charlie P memorials:

(Donations accepted)

As Bill W. States:

“That we must, at all costs, avoid the professionalization of AA; that simple Twelfth Step work is never to be paid for; that AAs going into alcohol therapy should never trade on their AA connection; that there is not, and never can be, any such thing as an ‘AA therapist’. (Bill W; Co-founder of A.A., A.A. Grapevine, June 1946, Language of the Heart page 29)

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"Our membership Tradition does contain, however, one important qualification

even indirectly, to other activities, however worthy. If we do so we shall become hopelessly compromised and divided. We think that AA should offer its experience to the whole world for whatever use can be made of it. But not its name. Nothing can be more certain. (Bill W. ‘Tradition Three’, AA Grapevine 1948, Language of the Heart page 79-80)

We

cannot lend the AA name,

The new dynamics to A.A. have exposed a double headed executive and created a situation in which neither A.A. Traditions nor warranties of Conference are withstanding. Clearly in Today’s A.A. a group can have another purpose or affiliation, contrary to warranty six:

“Finally, any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group provided that, as a group, they have no other purpose or affiliation.”

There appears to be no body ultimately responsible for ensuring that the provision in this warranty is upheld.

There is no clear ultimate authority of Tradition Two; neither the trustees and GSO, nor the A.A. group Conscience appear to have clear delegated and ultimate responsibility, since both the intergroup and GSO can register A.A. groups. Paradoxically, the present authority GSO has to register groups, over and above the intergroup conscience, serves a “tyranny of very small minorities invested with absolute power” (Concept V) rather than the ultimate authority of the A.A group conscience within the intergroup. Therefore the ultimate authority in the A.A group conscience is hamstrung. There is now a strong case for the trustees and GSO to pass ultimate authority and responsibility for group registration directly to the A.A. group conscience within the intergroups.

“A.A as such ought never be organised; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.” (Tradition Ten) “A condition to be avoided at all costs is double headed business or policy management. Authority can never be divided into equal halves.” (Concept X) “The main principles of Tradition Two are crystal clear: the A.A. groups are to be the final authority; their leaders are to be trusted with delegated responsibilities only.” (Concept I)

While the A.A. Service Structure deliberates, perhaps not yet adapted to the speed of modern communication and the newfound skills of our ubiquitous and ever perennial “ promoter friend” (AA comes of Age page 130), the disaffected victims of coercion and misrepresentation are leaving, A.A. is getting the public image of being a religious cult and intergroups are experiencing strained relationships.

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Extracts from conference question and committee responses, UK General Service Conference 2011, Committee 4, Question 2:

“Can Conference make suggestions on how groups and Intergroups can work better to carry the message to the still suffering alcoholic? - There is evidence that strained relationships between some Groups and Intergroups could be inhibiting the effectiveness of our primary purpose.” (AA service News 145, 2010) “This committee found that strained relations between some groups and Intergroups can inhibit the effectiveness of ”

our primary purpose…

(Committee 4, Question 2) (AA Service news 147, 2011)

With 30 certified facilities worldwide (Kelly Foundation website) and nearly 400 treatment centres using Recovery Dynamics materials (“Carry This Message”, Joe mcQ, rear cover) indoctrinating alcoholics in Joe McQs hybrid A.A./Recovery Dynamics program, alongside subtle indoctrination of A.A. members via “Joe and Charlie” Big Book Study audio recordings; and a global affiliation of Primary Purpose Big Book Study A.A. groups, headed by the Primary Purpose Group of A.A. (Dallas); intergroups ought to prepare a strategy for de -programming any confused, brainwashed newcomers who believe they are on a dual purpose mission to educate A.A. and the still suffering alcoholic. Moreover, Public Information committees ought to be developing a strategy for informing the general public, especially emphasising the fact A.A. is not a religious organisation or an alcoholism education program.

“Of highest importance would be our relations with medicine and religion. Under no circumstances must we get into competition with either. If we appeared to be a new religious sect, we’d be done for. (AA Grapevine June 1955, Language of the Heart page 150)

“Education will not only pay off in numbers treated; it can pay off even more handsomely in prevention… … Now who is going to do all this education? Obviously, it is both a community job and a job for specialists. Individually, we AAs can help, but AA as such cannot, and should not, get directly into this field.” (Bill W. AA Grapevine March 1958. Language of the Heart page 186-187)

“Nothing however, could be so unfortunate for A.A.’s future as an attempt to incorporate any of our personal theological views into A.A. teaching, practice or tradition.” (Bill W. AA Comes of Age page 232)

“Beyond a Higher Power, as each of us may vision him, A.A. must never, as a society, enter the field of dogma or

theology…

Bill sees It page 116)

Lest we kill our usefulness by being bogged down in theological contention” (Bill W. Letter 1954, As

“If we recognise religion is the province of the clergy and the practice of medicine is for doctors, we can helpfully cooperate with both” (Concept 12, warranty 5)

“We have no doctrine that has to be maintained, no membership that has to be enlarged, We have no authority that has to be supported, no prestige, power, or pride that has to be satisfied” (Concept 12, warranty five)

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Section Two

Business has no business in A.A.

Extract from Tradition six:

“An AA group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to related facility or outside enterprise lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.”

Business has no business in A.A. If A.A. members allow it on separate tables in A.A. meetings and events, then as Bill W. put it “every ad man and salesman in Alcoholics Anonymous would soon be selling A.A.’s wares, willy-nilly. We would loose control

of our public relations.” (Bill W. A.A. Comes of Age page 130-131). Our ubiquitous

and ever perennial “promoter friend” has been, and always will be, with us and he will always need to be restrained. Today A.A. business thrives, anything from a Big Book study guide, CD, T shirt, to a bumper sticker. (Google search: Alcoholics

Anonymous merchandise for a list of companies trading off the A.A. name). By Tradition, A.A. members need to be aware that these outside enterprises ought never be mixed in A.A. groups or A.A. events.

A few select items:

Sober Speaker Water from Natural Springs - 16.9floz. “Attention Meeting Secrataries!!! [sic] Let your speakers feel the gratitude with our signature SPEAKER WATER!! The most refreshing h2o available for speakers of all kinds! Attention Speakers!!! We thank you for carrying The Message of experience strength and hope. Each sleek plastic bottle is 16.9floz. Guaranteed to keep you sober while you share. Our Price: $1.00

Recovery "Welcome" Newcomer Chocolate Bar

…this Premium Chocolate Bar is the perfect gift for any Newcomer! This is a very unique and fun way to say Welcome! This Recovery Bar comes in either Milk Chocolate or White Chocolate. It measures approx. 6.5" x 1.5". Our Price: $4.95 http://www.my12stepstore.com/product418.html

Bill W. Bobblehead

This Resin figure of the AA Founder makes a super fun gift! 7 inches tall. Our Price: $21.95

AA Big Book Study Edition

6"x9" Leather Bound Hard Cover Retail Price: $32.00 The First 164 pages of The Big Book with lined pages opposite text for note taking

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Lost and found Book Bindery

If you have a Big Book, then you already know how important they are. Most of us (including me) owe our lives to the message this book carries. We have "marked them up" in every way imaginable and every note has a special meaning in our recovery. http://www.bigbookfixer.com/index.html

Big Book Study Guide

The purpose of this Study Guide is to enable the student to better understand the information the authors of the book Alcoholics Anonymous … … http://ppgaadallas.org/study_guide.htm

Gold plated medallion

4c Gold Leaf Plated AA Annual Sobriety Birthday Medallion/Coin

Plated with 24c gold leaf, this beautiful AA sobriety medal has a raised circle/triangle showing the year of sobriety with the Legacies of; Recovery, Unity & Service. The words, “To Thine Own Self Be True”, are stamped around the coin’s edge. The Short version of the Serenity Prayer is stamped on the reverse.

£15.00

A newcomer victim of Big Book Study struggles with her step workbook:

“I am concerned that we are not reaching people who cannot read well or cannot read at all. I am new to the program and making my way through the Steps. I struggle to understand the "Twelve and Twelve," even with a college degree and help from my sponsor and other AAs. Meanwhile, my roommate, also newly sober and with a grade school education, can't make any sense of her Step workbook and is about to give up. How many people do we lose this way? How many, when asked to read from the Big Book at a meeting, stumble through a few sentences, acutely embarrassed, and never come back? A literature-based program effectively shuts out people who desperately need help but do not have good reading skills”. (Dear Grapevine, Shut Out; A.A. Grapevine November 2010)

Kelly Foundation Big Book Study/ step guide books, Recovery Dynamics materials, Books by Joe McQ:

Other newcomers’ views:

“I've been doing telephone service since I got sober. I answer the phones at our intergroup office in the mornings. Some of my favourite calls are from newcomers who say, "I need to go to some of your classes." They think we're in school! …” (Class is in Session. A.A. grapevine November 2010)

The view of Bill W. Co-Founder of A.A:

“Education will not only pay off in numbers treated; it can pay off even more handsomely in prevention… … Now who is going to do all this education? Obviously, it is both a community job and a job for specialists. Individually, we AAs can help, but AA as such cannot, and should not, get directly into this field.” (Bill W. AA Grapevine March 1958. Language of the Heart page 186-187)

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The view of Norman Y in 1977, who Joined A.A. in 1939:

“‘I never read a word in A.A.’ he said. ‘You don’t have to read. You don’t have to have all these pamphlets they put out. You can learn to live this program by learning to think. A.A. is a wonderful thing to know and apply’ he said, ‘- but in your life. You’ve got to live it out in the street. You see somebody having a little problem, help them, no matter who they are. That’s A.A.” –Norman Y. (Dr. Bob and The Good Old Timers page 251-250)

When Norman finally got a job, in 1940, helping other blind people, he started to put aside ten percent of his salary to pay for speaking trips, contributions at meetings, and other A.A. expenses. (Dr. Bob and The Good Old Timers page 182-183)

Have some quarters of the fellowship lost sight of the A.A. spirit of gratitude and service, freely given without need to satisfy their cravings for personal prestige or material reward?

This trend in A.A. merchandise began perhaps, many years ago with our “promoter friend” in the plastics moulding industry selling bits of plastic the A.A. group; a reward to man, for what is but God’s grace; The chip to wedge open the door to a free market. “To Thine Own ‘Self’ be True” instead of “But for the grace of God go ‘I’ ” An appeal to the senses and a round of applause to inflate an ego. Afterward this can be viewed as an A.A. group that “wallowed in emotionalism and had mistaken it for true religious feeling” (Step 2 Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions page 33). “This had been our blind spot. We had supposed we had humility when we really hadn’t.” (Step Two, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions page 33). If reward is to be given at all, better a gift of A.A. literature to encourage a newcomer’s deeper understanding of his illness and to broaden his understanding of honesty and humility.

A victim of A.A business shares her story:

Extract from “unrecorded”, A.A. Grapevine August 2007 Vol. 64 No. 3

Some “

schoolteacher, was horrified to discover that his AA talk had been recorded and sold without his knowledge. Since part of his story included a description of how his recovery from alcoholism helped him accept his sexual orientation, he was concerned that his professional standing would be jeopardized if the recording wound up in the wrong hands. Of course, the whole situation could have been avoided if the taper simply had asked his permission to record the talk. Another AA member I know, a clergyman, delivered a rather earthy talk at an AA convention. Someone sent the recording to his bishop, landing the clergyman in hot water. Certainly, the tattletale was a large part of the problem here. But if there's one place where we shouldn't have to worry about the repercussions of our sharing, it's an AA meeting. So, what does "anonymous" mean to members during these times of ever-present audio recorders?

speakers are recorded without their knowledge or permission. For instance, one friend of mine, a gay

….One time, I walked into an AA convention where I was speaking and was surprised to see the taper set up with

20

dozens of pre-made labels with my full name emblazoned on them. I told him to blot out my last name. He begrudgingly complied. No one on the committee had mentioned that they intended to record and sell my talk… … Another time, I was seated on the dais as a banquet speaker during another AA convention. The tapers bustled

about, setting up their recording system. Finally, I said, "Is anyone going to ask me if it's all right to record my talk?" They were perplexed by the question…………… Similarly, if we have to agree to be recorded before being invited to tell our AA stories, then Alcoholics Anonymous has lost its way………. Evidently, many audio recording businesses aren't familiar with the last page of the "A.A. Guidelines on Conferences…….Some tapers act as "booking agents" for AA meetings, conventions, round-ups, and conferences. They're business people, and they recommend, as speakers, those whose recordings sell lots of copies: the polished, the sensational, the humorous, and the well-known. Generally, tapers won't recommend speakers who won't allow their talks to be

recorded, because it's a bad business decision for them……

tapers………………

I'd like to see AA wean itself from its dependence on

I don't want to walk away from the AA meeting with a brand-new CD. I want to walk away

from the AA meeting with an empty hand, a full heart, and a new twist on an old message that gives the recipient a

big spiritual dividend--while no one realizes a dime in profit.

Anonymous

It is a sad day for A.A., when speakers are chosen for their innate ability to captivate and entertain an audience. Have conventions become a business? Have they become a power game for “Our promoter friend” to exploit what Dr. Silkworth described as “unhealthy emotionalism”? (A.A. Comes of Age appendix E:a)

Say no to nothing, A German recluse bursts out of her shell at ICYPAA 51

…I set down my bags, went out for a smoke, and was kidnapped by ICYPAA old-timers. I got back about 13 hours later with two other AAs who crashed in my bed. After two hours of sleep, I jumped out of bed and yearned for more. That was two days before the conference actually started… … I have truly been rocketed into a fourth dimension I never knew existed. I always believed I would experience the Promises in my life, but I never expected them to all be thrown at me over one short weekend. I stood in the meeting room with 3,500 drunks under the age of 30, and I had chills running down my spine and tears in my eyes. Little did I know this was the mere beginning--the pre-conference speaker. I stood on my chair and danced to Bob Marley. After all, this was why I came; however, I was feeling very uncomfortable and uncool… … … The spirituality in the room could have knocked me over. I took a second to recompose myself, then I leaned over to my new friend, with his green, red and yellow mohawk, and said, "This is it." He smiled and looked down at me and just said, "Yeah, ha-ha, awesome, right?" I knew at that moment I had found that feeling I had chased since my first drink: total acceptance, absolute love and a freedom to act stupid… … … The first bit of advice I received was very useful. I was riding through Atlanta in the back of a pickup truck, and the "old-timers," who had been to at least three

ICYPAAs before, said, "Say no to nothing, do it all, and sleep as little as possible… … … But before I knew it, I was on the stage at a nightclub full of sober people, raving with the D.J. I stopped and thought, Can this be right? Can this be spiritual? Can sobriety be so much fun? I asked God for an intuitive thought or decision, only to be thrown back into reality by a song that said, "Shut up and dance… … … At the beginning of each meeting, the

speaker would introduce him or herself, "Hi, I am

people would return with, "Hi,

lots and lots and lots and WHOOOOOLE BUNCHES!

Whooo!" (This was accompanied by a group pelvic thrust toward the speaker which seemed to get bigger later in

the weekend)… … … That is the attitude I left with. If you think you can't enjoy life in sobriety, "B

There was so much power, gratitude and inspiration in Atlanta that I can never imagine having the desire to drink return to me… … … We are the next generation of old-timers, the future of this Fellowship. We, young people in AA around the world, are on fire with recovery.” (Say no to nothing, A German recluse bursts out of her shell at ICYPAA 51 AA Grapevine February 2010)

and I am an alcoholic," and then the thousands of young

,

t!"

,

we love you,

21

“THAT voice, I thought. That's the woman on the tape!

… … The woman whose voice I recognized was

sitting in front, sharing on gratitude … … I had goose bumps as I listened to her; I began to shake, and my

heart pounded in my chest… … It was Sandy… … …

friend and said, ‘I have to talk to that woman.’… … … I touched her arm… … … she had no idea who I was. ‘I recognized your voice,’ I managed to choke out. "I have one of your tapes. You saved my life.’… … … I dragged out one of my boxes of AA speaker tapes. I probably have over 100 tapes. I was going to find Sandy's tape. I hadn't listened to it in years, but I knew it was in one of two boxes. I opened the first box and sighed. The tapes were piled on top of each other with no order to them, no neat little rows. I knew I was in for a long afternoon. I reached in and pulled out the first tape my fingers touched. I turned it over: The tape had a black and red label on it and the name Sandy was written across it with a date. (THE VOICE ON THE TAPE After almost two decades, she stumbles upon the woman who saved her life. AA Grapevine November 2010)

After the meeting I turned to my sponsor and my

Extract from “A New Approach to Psychotherapy in Chronic Alcoholism,” by Psychiatrist Dr. W.D Silkworth M.D Journal Lancet, July 1939:

“These ex-alcoholic men and women number about one hundred at present … … … Many creeds are represented among the group and the greatest harmony prevails. … … … Considering the presence of the religious factor, one might expect to find an unhealthy emotionalism and prejudice. This is not the case, however;” (A.A. Comes of Age, appendix E:a, pages 304-305)

A victim of unhealthy emotionalism shares her story:

“At the 2005 International Convention, an old-timer began to tell his story onstage at the closing meeting… …

Audience members called out, "Who are you?

began again. Again the audience shouted at him, "Who are you?" He became flustered and lost his train of thought. He couldn't regain it, and he was ushered off the stage. I was so sad that we missed this treasured member's story due to formality of introduction. Please, let's remember to honour our old-timers and all our members …” (Dear Grapevine, formulaic greetings; AA Grapevine July 2010)

… The old-timer couldn't hear what they were shouting, and he

The history of Synanon tells its own story. Synanon cult leader Chuck D. was “said to

be an admired speaker at A.A. meetings”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synanon

The Synanon cult provided everything its members needed, from merchandise to alcohol free dances:

“Every year companies donate products to the Synanon Foundation by the carload: beef, shoes, furniture, clothing and building materials. ("Our tax-exempt privilege gives us the right, really, to hustle goods and services," says Dederich. "And they can write it off.") Synanon is also the nation's second largest supplier of promotional specialties—those ballpoint pens, wallets and T-shirts given away as merchandising gimmicks.” (Chuck Dederich Still Rules Synanon, but Now He Has 1,300 Subjects and a $22 Million Empire -- By Barbara Wilkins --PEOPLE magazine's archive: October 11, 1976, Vol. 6, No. 15:

“Many men flocked to Synanon's alcohol-free dances to do the Hoopla with attractive Synanite women--after first playing The Game.” [Photo Los Angeles Times]

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Is A.A. beginning to turn on to the same triumphant road as the Washingtonians?

Washington movement mass public events:

“Lets cast our eyes over the Grapevine piece about the Washingtonians and excerpt a few sentences: ‘Mass meeting in 1841, at City Hall Park, New York City, attracted 4,000 listeners. Speakers stood on upturned rum kegs,’ ‘Triumphant parades in Boston. Historic Faneuil Hall jammed.’ (Overdone self-advertising – exhibitionalism? Anyhow it all sounds very alcoholic doesn’t it?) … … … The original strong and simple group purpose was thus dissipated in fruitless controversy and divergent aims.) And again, ‘Some [of the Washingtonian local groups] dipped into their treasuries to finance their own publications. There was no overall editorial policy”. (Bill W. AA Grapevine August 1945. Language of the Heart page 5)

Alcoholics Anonymous 2010 mass public event:

“FOUNDERS' Day comes once a year in the city of Akron, in the state of Ohio

Sunday, when a procession of motorcycles went to Dr. Bob's gravesite. Here there was such harmony, emotions, spiritual awareness and respect shown for Dr. Bob, People come from all over the world to take part in this celebration. Last year, at 7:30 A.M., the roaring of motorcycles was all I could hear. Thousands of bikes--all different styles, models and colors--were lined up into four single file lines that took up the radius of one city block, near the University of Akron. The police blocked off the streets to provide safety for the motorcade and to prevent the bike procession from being broken up. As the bikes proceeded to the cemetery, people on the sidewalks cheered for us. Some waved, some gave peace signs, and others held up signs with slogans on them. The best sign I saw was on a fluorescent orange posterboard. In large, bold, black marker lettering, it said, "Ain't it great to be sober?" … … As we approached the graveyard, the cemetery fence was lined with fellow alcoholics who cheered us on… … … At Dr. Bob's gravesite, bagpipers played "Amazing Grace."… … Next, everyone put a coin of recovery on the gravestone…” (Bikes and Bagpipes A rider in the annual Founders' Day motorcade finds new spirituality in Akron; A.A. Grapevine July 2010)

… … the best part was on

(Overdone self-advertising – exhibitionism? Anyhow it all sounds very alcoholic doesn’t it?) (Bill W. AA Grapevine August 1945. Language of the Heart page 5)

Dear AAs: Dr. Bob and I have a problem. In actuality, AA has a score of ‘founders,’ men and women without whose special contributions AA might never have been. But somehow the title ‘founder seems to have attached itself almost solely to Dr. Bob and me – a phenomenon due perhaps to the general lack of information about our early days… … … But we are beginning to ask ourselves if this overemphasis will be good for AA in the long run. Is so much sentiment for the ‘founders’, entirely wise? (AA Grapevine October 1947. Language of the Heart page

108)

“While I thank God that I was privileged to be an early member of A.A., I honestly wish that the word ‘founder’ could be eliminated from A.A. vocabulary”. (Bill W, letter 1945, As Bill Sees It page 67)

“For this reason Dr. Bob and I have often deplored being called co- founders because such titles may create the impression that we pretty much invented, structured and spread AA all by ourselves. Nothing could, in fact be further from the truth.” (Bill W. AA Grapevine March 1960. Language of the Heart page 297)

Are A.A. member organised alcohol free dances, social events, “spiritual” retreats, sustaining the newcomer’s withdrawal from society and promoting an unhealthy emotional and social dependence on the A.A. members who organise and attend these events?

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“So our rule is not to avoid a place where there is drinking, if we have a legitimate reason for being there. That includes bars, nightclubs, dances, receptions, weddings, even plain ordinary whoopee parties… … … … If you are a person who wants to eat in a bar, by all means go along. Let your friends know they are not to change their habits on your account. At a proper time and place explain to all your friends why alcohol disagrees with you. If you do this thoroughly, few people will ask you to drink. While you were drinking you were withdrawing from life little by little. Now you are getting back into the social life of this world. Don’t start to withdraw again just because your friends drink liquor.” (Alcoholics Anonymous “Big Book” page 101-102).

Road to Recovery AA group (Plymouth, UK) Website Diary dates page (September

2010):

Friends of Scotland AA introduce Step N ahead into “emotional sobriety” with Wayne B from St Petersburg Florida USA & Sean D from Washington DC USA. Panmure St, Dundee, Scotland. On Fri 30th Sept & Sat/Sun Oct 1/2nd 2011. Cost £20 PRE registration & £25 on the day.

Welcome to AA reunion in Bristol God willing the honourable member for the Pacific Group, los Angeles, is coming to Bristol to be the principle guest speaker at the AA reunion 14,15,16, October 2011 at the council House, Bristol

Stateline Retreat the ‘original’ Woodstock of A.A. Welcome to the official home of Stateline Retreat December 8, 9, 10&11 2011 Stateline Retreat, Las Vegas USA, Dec 2011 http://www.statelineretreat.org/

We question how much power and influence A.A. related business people have now got in A.A? Tradition tells us it is time to reverse the trend of business being done in A.A. before too many more people and A.A. as a whole suffers the consequences of it. There needs to be a simple and uncompromising message of A.A. Tradition, coming from all who serve in the A.A. service structure and at all levels. The A.A. name needs protection. It may be suggested that A.A. members boycott any merchandise produced by outside enterprises which operate under A.A. name and to discourage any individual A.A. members who misuse the A.A. name for their personal gain. It may be suggested members boycott public exhibitionist A.A. events; and discourage those who organise them.

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“Public ill will could stunt our growth; even bring it to a standstill.” (Bill W. AA Grapevine, June 1955. Language of the Heart page 150)

“We cannot lend the AA name, even indirectly, to other activities, however worthy. If we do so we shall become hopelessly compromised and divided. We think that AA should offer its experience to the whole world for whatever use can be made of it. But not its name. Nothing can be more certain." (Bill W. Tradition Three, AA Grapevine 1948, Language of the Heart page 79-80)

We question whether content of A.A. literature is now beginning to be influenced from by A.A. related business. Whether the book “The home Group Heartbeat of A.A.” is not contributing to organised A.A. groups with a hierarchical pyramid power structure, by highlighting the traditions deviant Little Rock Plan as a lesson from experience, but without mentioning it was Traditions deviant. We question whether this book should be reviewed and edited.

Lessons from experience, Tradition nine and meetings led by the A.A. co-founders:

Tradition Nine (Long form):

“Each A.A. group needs the least possible organization. Rotating leadership is the best. The small group may elect its secretary, the large group its rotating committee and the groups of a large metropolitan area their central or intergroup committee”

Bill W, New York 1939: “They were structured to the extent that there was always one speaker and Bill- maybe half an hour each - and then a long coffee session, a real get together. We were often there till 12 o’clock, started at

eight.…

sober a week or a year, If you felt you would like to speak in a year or in a month or two weeks they let you get up

and speak, and they didn’t throw you out if you were drunk, either. They felt it was encouraging, hoping some word would stick.” (Ruth Hock, the first secretary of the New York General Service Office. Pass it on page 219)

At this time there were no 90-days requirements. No birthdays – no recognition was made if you were

Dr. Bob, Akron: “Oldtimers remember early meetings as being pretty much the same as they are now, with a few exceptions. There was no chairperson or secretary to introduce the speaker. Through the mid - 1940’s, it was felt that grand titles and flowery introductions might go to an alcoholic’s head…. … … … We had our sense of humour, but for us, recovery was a life - or- death matter. Nor was there any clapping. At that kind of meeting, applause would have seemed out of place” (Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers page 220-221)

It can be noted that a successful numerical growth rate for A.A is not a goal in itself; means do not justify the ends. Spiritual growth has to be maintained as well. The cult of Synanon was numerically very successful until it collapsed, as was the Washingtonian movement.

“Our whole gang had taken over the Saturday night meeting of the Santa Monica A.A. group … … and built it up

from its attendance of ten people to an attendance of about forty five or fifty… … … We were building something new and different”. (Chuck D. Synanon cult leader,) (From the Desk of Juan Lesende: How Drug Abuse Treatment Turns into Mistreatment By Juan E. Lesende - September 18th 2009)

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“We had a well defined purpose; to focus on the content of our Basic Text and improve the effectiveness of our

Fellowship… … …Only a couple of “old timers” expressed their concern … …. ….

suckers up and let them see what happens at our meetings and what the members of our Group do between

meetings… …. …

those places where suffering alcoholics wind up seeking shelter and help. We try to get to them before they become ‘discussionized.’… … … So what we have in Dallas is a group of alcoholics who try to emulate the man who was our inspiration. A spark that was thrown off that spiritual bonfire, Joe McQ., landed in Dallas, Texas and ignited another spiritual bonfire which throws of many sparks and has ignited and is igniting other spiritual bonfires around the world. It seems to me this Group of Big Book oriented alcoholics was destined to be exactly what it has become… …” Cliff B. Primary Purpose Group of A.A. (Dallas) http://www.kellyfdn.com/BigBookStudy/bbstudygroups.htm

I wish I could dig those old

Those who make up our Group are very active in taking the message of the Big Book into

“We have no doctrine that has to be maintained. We have no membership that has to be enlarged. We have no authority that has to be supported. We have no prestige, power or pride that has to be satisfied.” Bill W. (Concept 12, warranty Five)

There appears to be a misconception by some in A.A. that service committees ought neither endorse nor oppose private enterprise elsewhere in A.A., because it is an outside issue. This ignores Tradition one, each is part of the whole. Private enterprise inside A.A. and the misuse of the A.A. name outside A.A. are not outside issues. They violate Tradition. A.A. sponsorship is not an outside issue it is part of the A.A. program.

“We are apt to warp the traditional idea of ‘principles before personalities’ around to such a point that there would be no ‘personality’ in leadership at all. This would imply rather faceless automatons trying to please everybody regardless.” (Concept IX)

Such warping of the traditional idea of ‘principles before personalities’ appears to lead to a misconception that Traditions violators should not be named in internal discussions on such matters. Skirting around such issues merely leads to politics outside committee meetings, unaccountability and ineffective action. Clearly Tradition Twelve is not there to provide a convenient anonymity cloak for those who violate Traditions, but to protect the fellowship. It can be seen from warranty five that Tradition violators need to be identified in order to effectively apply the principles of warranties five and six.

“Privately, however we can inform Traditions violators that they are out of order. When they persist, we can follow up by using such other resources of persuasion as we may have, and these are often considerable… … … This combination of counter forces can be very discouraging to violators or would be violators. Under these conditions they soon find their deviations to be unprofitable or unwise… … …Some deviators have suffered rather severe personal criticism from individual A.A. members, and this is to be deplored. However, this is no reason for us to stop reminding all concerned of the undesirability of breaking A.A. Traditions before the entire public. It can be said that the difficulties of those who contravene the Traditions are chiefly troubles of their own making." (Concept 12, warranty five).

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Additional extracts from A.A. literature:

“Through the mid - 1940’s, it was felt that grand titles and flowery introductions might go to an alcoholic’s head.”

.

(Dr. Bob and the Good old Timers page 221)

“Don’t applaud me. Don’t applaud any alcoholic” (Dr. Bob and the Good old Timers page 221)

“It is traditional in Alcoholics Anonymous that we do not make speeches.” (Bill W. A.A. Comes of Age page 52)

“AA Is Not Big Business” by Bill W. AA Grapevine November 1950:

“Our Traditions are set down on paper. But they were written first in our hearts. For each of us knows, instinctively, I think, that AA is not ours to do with as we please. We are but caretakers to preserve the spiritual quality of our Fellowship; keep it whole for those who will come after us and have need of what has been so generously been given to us… … … So the hour has come when you must take these things into your own keeping. We ask that you guard them well, for the future of Alcoholics Anonymous may much depend on how you maintain and support these life - giving arms of service.” (Language of the Heart page 124)

“They forget that, during their drinking days, prestige and the achievement of worldly ambition were their principle aims. They do not realize that, by breaking their anonymity, they are unconsciously pursuing those old and perilous illusions once more. They forget that the keeping of one’s anonymity often means the sacrifice of one’s desire for power, prestige, and money. They do not see that if these strivings became general in A.A., the course of our whole history would be changed; that we would be sowing the seeds of our own destruction”. (Bill W., As Bill Sees It, page 198)

“They tell us that we alcoholics are the biggest rationalisers in the world; that fortified with the excuse we are doing great things for AA we can, through broken anonymity, resume our old and disastrous pursuit of personal power and prestige, public honours, and money – the same implacable urges that when frustrated once caused us to drink; the same forces that are today ripping the globe apart at its seams. Moreover, they make clear that enough spectacular anonymity breakers could someday carry our whole society down into that ruinous dead end with them.” (Bill W. AA Grapevine January 1955. Language of the Heart page 216)

“If, through enough anonymity lapses, we finally caused the press, the public, and our alcoholic prospects themselves to wonder about our motives, we’d surely lose this priceless asset; and along with it, countless prospective members. Alcoholics Anonymous would not then be getting more good publicity; it would be getting less and worse. Therefore the handwriting on the wall is clear. Because most of us can already see it, and because the rest of us soon will, I’m fully confident that no such dark day will ever fall upon our society” (Bill W. AA Grapevine January 1955. Language of the Heart page 217)

“We envisaged the writing of a uniform A.A. literature, the development of a sound public relations policy.” Bill W. 1962 (Concept I)

“Our literature is a principle means by which A.A. recovery, unity, and service are facilitated” Bill W. 1962 (Concept XI).

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“Suppose, for instance, that during the last twenty five years, AA had never published any standard literature – no books, no pamphlets. We need little imagination to see that by now our message would be hopelessly garbled. Our relations with medicine and religion would have become a shambles. To alcoholics generally we would today be a joke and the public would have thought us a riddle. Without its literature, AA would certainly have bogged down in a welter of controversy and disunity” Bill W. (AA Grapevine May 1964; Language of the Heart page 348)

Together “

Elatedly, somebody soon says, ‘Maybe we’ll soon find gold on top of that mountain.’ Then to our amazement we do strike gold – not nuggets in the streams, but fully minted coins. The heads of these coins each declare, ‘This is pure gold – twenty-four carats.’ Surely, we think, this is the reward for our patient plodding back there in the everlasting brightness of the Highway. Soon, though, we begin to notice the words on the tails of the coins, and we have strange forebodings: Some pieces carry rather attractive inscriptions. ‘I am Power,’ ‘I am Acclaim’ ‘I am Wealth’ ‘I am Righteousness’ they say, but others seem very strange. for example: ‘I am the Master Race’ ‘I am the Benefactor’ ‘I am Good Causes’ ‘ I am God’ This is very puzzling. Nevertheless we pocket them. But next come the real shockers. They read: ‘I’m Pride’ ‘I’m Revenge’ ‘ I’m Disunity’ I’m Chaos’ Then we turn up a single coin- just one – which declares: ‘This is the devil himself.’ Some of us are horrified and we cry, ‘This is fool’s gold, and this is a fool’s paradise… … … … … Here were the same old goals - power, fame, applause. Besides I had the best alibi known – the spiritual alibi. The fact that I really did have a spiritual objective always made this utter nonsense seem perfectly right. I couldn’t tell a good coin from a bad one; it was spiritual gold - bricking at its worst. I shall forever regret the damage I did to the people around me. Indeed, I still tremble when I realize what I might have done to AA and to its future.” (Bill W. AA Grapevine June 1961; Language of the Heart Page 256)

with numbers of friends, I decide to take a brief detour. We pick our path and happily plunge along it.

“But AA unity cannot automatically preserve itself. Like personal recovery, we shall always have to work to maintain it. Here, too, we surely need honesty, humility, open-mindedness, unselfishness and, above all--- vigilance. So we who are older in A.A. beg you who are newer to ponder carefully the experience we have already had of trying to live and work together. We would like each A.A. to become just as much aware of those disturbing tendencies which endanger us as a whole as he is conscious of those personal defects which threaten his own sobriety and peace of mind. For whole movements have, before now, gone on benders, too!” (Bill W. A.A. Tradition, How it developed Page 4.)

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Section Three

The antithesis to Big Book Sponsorship: Examples of A.A. Sponsorship, using quotations from A.A. published literature.

Ernie G. recalls Bill W and Dr. Bob:

but “

page 226).

it was all suggestion, he’d never give an order, Bob was the same way.” (Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers

A.A. sponsorship - A few quotes of Dr. Bob, A.A.’s co-founder:

whatever “

you do, whoever you talk to, don’t push”……”Don’t push. Just tell them that you found yourself in

A.A. and how grateful you are and how things have changed. Talk about yourself. Then tell them “If you need help, want help, Join A.A.” ( Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers page 284) “Don’t applaud me. Don’t applaud any alcoholic” (Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers page 221)

“I don’t believe I have any right to get cocky about getting sober. It is only through God’s grace that I did it” (Dr.

Bob and the Good old Timers page 221 “If you speak for more than 15 minutes you’re going to repeat yourself.” (Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers page

224)

“If the speaker doesn’t say exactly what you think he ought to say, don’t criticize. He may be saying exactly what the man in the back row wants to hear.” (Dr, Bob and the Good old Timers page 272) “But you watch what the man does as well as what he says” (Dr, Bob and the Good old Timers page 225)

“As finally expressed and offered, they [The Twelve Steps] are simple in language, plain in meaning. They are also workable by any person having a sincere desire to obtain and keep sobriety. The results are proof. Their

simplicity and workability are such that no special interpretations, and certainly no reservations, have ever been necessary” (Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers page 227) “Our Twelve steps, when simmered down to the last, resolve themselves into the words ‘love’ and ‘service’. We understand what love is, and we understand what service is. So let’s bear these two things in mind.” (Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers page 338) “At his time – January – 1940 he wasn’t making you get out of bed to pray on your knees, to pray with you, I’m not sure that would have worked too well with me.” (John S.) (Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers pages 276)

it “

On page 171-172) “Try to find your own God – As you understand Him.” (Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers page 281) “Dr. Bob said you had to sponsor yourself as well.…. That you should stand back now and then and look at yourself and sort of laugh, then help yourself.” (Oscar W, Akron AA group member. (Dr, Bob and the Good old Timers page 226)

A recollection by Dr, Bob’s son, Smitty: “But Smitty noted, his father didn’t come on strong about philosophy or

religion, because he didn’t want to scare them off.” ( Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers page 310)

became a question of adopting that which would work and rejecting that which would not”. (Bill W. “Pass it

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Dr. Bob’s memorial:

“Dr Bob’s was the humility that declines all honours, the integrity that brooks no compromise; his was a devotion

to man and God which in bright example will shine always. (DR. BOB IN MEMORIUM, A.A. Comes of Age page 10) “Visiting the graves of Dr. Bob and Anne, Bill found no grand memorial, no mention of A.A. – just a simple stone” (Dr, Bob and The Good Oldtimers page 334)

A few quotes on A.A sponsorship by AA’s co-founder Bill W. (Dr. Bob’s Sponsor)

While I thank God that I was privileged to be an early member of A.A., I honestly wish that the word ‘founder’ could be eliminated from A.A. vocabulary”. (Bill W, letter 1945, As Bill Sees It page 67)

“It is traditional in Alcoholics Anonymous that we do not make speeches.” (Bill W. A.A. Comes of Age page 52) “Recovery being a life –or death matter for most alcoholics, it became a question of adopting that which would work and rejecting that which would not. For example: “The principle of aggressive evangelism so prominent in the Oxford Group had to be dropped…… Experience showed that this principle …… would seldom touch neurotics of our hue……. Alcoholics who talked too much on public platforms were likely to become inflated and

get drunk again”…

It was discovered that all forms of

by the hundreds or gave a temporary spiritual inflation resulting in collapse…

the word ‘absolute’ was put in front of these attributes, they either turned people away

”When

coercion, both direct and indirect, had to be dropped. We found that ‘checking’ in the hands of amateurs too often

resulted in criticism, and that resulted in resentment, which is probably the most serious problem the average

alcoholic is troubled with…

atheist may stand up in an A.A. meeting denying God, yet reporting how he has been helped in other ways”…

We can never say to anyone (or insinuate) that he must agree to our formula”… “The

”we

make no religious requirement of anyone…

In this atmosphere the orthodox, unorthodox, and the unbeliever

mix

happily and usefully together ……(Bill W. “Pass it On page 171-172)

“A very tough-minded prospect was taken to his first A.A. meeting. The first speaker majored on his own drinking

pattern. The prospect seemed impressed. The next two speakers (or maybe lecturers) themed their talks on ‘God as I understand Him’. This could have been good too but it certainly wasn’t. The trouble was their attitude, the way

they presented their experience. They did ooze arrogance. In fact the final speaker got far overboard on some of his

personal theological convictions. With perfect fidelity, both were repeating my performance of years before. Quite unspoken, yet implicit in everything they said, was the same idea - “Folks listen to us. We have the only true brand of AA – and you’d better get it. The new prospect said he’d had it – and he had. His sponsor protested that this

wasn’t real A.A. But it was too late; nobody could touch him after that. He also had the perfect first class alibi for yet another bender. When last heard from, an early appointment with the undertaker seemed probable” (Bill W.

AA Grapevine April 1961; Language of the Heart page 252)

“Drinkers would not take any pressure in any form, excepting John Barleycorn himself. They always had to be led,

not pushed. They would not accept the principle of ‘team guidance’ for their own personal lives. It was too authoritarian for them. In other respects we had to make haste slowly. When first contacted most alcoholics just wanted to find sobriety, nothing else. (Bill W. A.A. Comes of Age page 74).

“At T Henry’s house eighteen of the Akron alcoholics listened stolidly to our proposals…

The moment we were

through, those alcoholics really did work us over…. they rejected the idea of missionaries. Paid workers, they said, would ruin our good will with alcoholics; this would be sheer ruin…… Their contention that going into big business and hiring paid missionaries would destroy us turned out to be absolutely correct.” (Bill W. AA comes of

Age page 145-146)

“They forget that during their drinking days prestige and the achievement of worldly ambition were their principle aims. They do not realize that by breaking their anonymity, they are unconsciously pursuing those old and perilous illusions once more. They forget that the keeping of one’s anonymity often means a sacrifice of one’s desire for power, prestige, and money. They do not see that if these strivings became general in A.A., the course of our whole history would be changed; that we would be sowing the seeds of our own destruction as a society.” (Bill W. Letter, 1958 As Bill Sees It page 198)

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Tradition Eleven: “This tradition is a constant and practical reminder that personal ambition has no place in A.A. In it each member becomes an active guardian of our fellowship” ( Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions page 187) Tradition Twelve: “ We simply could not afford to take the chance of letting self –appointed members presenting themselves as messiahs representing A.A. before the whole public.… Moved by the spirit of anonymity, we try to give up our natural desires for personal distinction as A.A. members both among fellow alcoholics and before the

general public”…

Anonymous can ever have.” (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions page 191-192)

We are sure that humility, expressed by anonymity, is the greatest safeguard that Alcoholics

For his service to society in a life spent in selfless dedication to the needs of those who suffer from alcoholism, Bill W. was nominated to receive six honorary university degrees, including an honorary doctor of laws degree at Yale University, he was nominated to be included in “Who’s Who in America” and to receive the Lasker Award; an honour for exceptional achievement in the field of medical research and public health administration. - He declined all the invitations to receive personal honours. The Lasker Award was awarded to Alcoholics Anonymous. (Reference: Pass It On page 311-314, 350)

Extracts from Bills W’s letter to Yale University:

“This is to express my deepest thanks to the members of the Yale Corporation for considering me as one suitable

for the degree of Doctor of Laws…

conscience, that I now feel obligated to decline such a mark of distinction……. Now this is the reason: The tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous – our only means of self government – entreats each member to avoid all that particular kind of personal publicity or distinction which might link his name with our society in the general public mind……. we practice this anonymity absolutely, it will guarantee our effectiveness and unity by heavily restraining those who public honours and distinctions are but the natural stepping stones to dominance and personal power… … no honours at the public level is our protective shield”. (Pass it on page 311-312)

It is only after most careful consultation with friends, and with my

Bill W’s memorial:

“A simple tablet in the East Dorset cemetery affirms Bill’s deep belief in the spirit of anonymity”. “The Headstone reads: William G. Wilson, 1895-1971” “There is no mention of A.A.” (Pass it on page 406)

A recollection of some early A.A. meetings led by Bill W in 1939, described by Ruth Hock, the first secretary of the New York General Service Office:

“They were structured to the extent that there was always one speaker and Bill- maybe half an hour each - and

then a long coffee session, a real get together. We were often there till 12 o’clock, started at eight.…

there were no 90-days requirements. No birthdays – no recognition was made if you were sober a week or a year, If you felt you would like to speak in a year or in a month or two weeks they let you get up and speak, and they didn’t throw you out if you were drunk, either. They felt it was encouraging, hoping some word would stick.” (Pass it on page 219)

At this time

“Each time Bill spoke, he had a different approach. There was no pre-formulated message, and his talks apparently varied in length as much as subject matter.” (Pass it on page 219)

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With the passing away of the protective vigilance of Bill W in 1971 and the rise to the era of the messiahs, missionaries, and false prophets, beginning with the meeting of Joe McQ and Charlie P in 1973; we wonder if these events are not connected to the slowdown in growth rate of the fellowship since the 1970s.

Section Four

Analysis of A.A. Traditions and Concepts applied to past and current events, examining the difference between assertive and punitive behaviour.

The incidents with Chuck D. illustrate the paradox involved in preserving A.A. unity, similar to the biblical paradox: “Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it” (luke17.33). The “trusted servants” “elder statesmen” of 1958 demonstrated this by having the courage to assert AA Tradition, at the price of a heated argument in which a few might leave AA and get drunk. Thus they lost unity in order to preserve it. - A.A. remained unified, while Chuck D. left with his cult and was arrested whilst drunk some 20 years later. This battle of wills between the “elder statesmen" “trusted servants” of the A.A. group conscience and a well intentioned dictator is the implication of Tradition Two:

“Being the founder, he is at first the boss. Who else would be? Very soon, though, his assumed authority to run

everything begins to be shared with the other first alcoholics he has helped. At this moment the benign dictator becomes the chairman of a committee composed of his friends. These are the group’s hierarchy of service – self-

appointed of course, because there is no other way……Growing pains now beset the group…

The group conscience is about to take over……

group cannot get along without him…… A few haemorrhage so badly that – drained of all A.A. spirit and principle - they get drunk. At times the A.A. landscape seems to be littered with bleeding forms.” (Tradition Two,

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions page 137-139).

the revolution is on.

The

arch deacon is one who just as surely convinced that the

It can be seen from the above that for the power of Tradition Two, “but one ultimate authority,” to operate in A.A. “elder statesmen” or “trusted servants” must also face their responsibility to lead the revolt to challenge dictators. If leadership is weak and the revolt does not take place, recent historical evidence is that some groups may retain the hierarchical pyramid structure of a cult, rather than the upside down triangle structure of A.A. - The “benign dictator” mentioned in Tradition Two becomes malignant. It can also be seen that where the “ultimate authority” of Tradition Two is operating healthily in A.A., there will also be those who feel their unreasonable demands for total liberty are being restricted.

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Feeling “

they are being censored or punished and that they are therefore being governed…

the weight of all these forces, certain members who run counter to A.A.’s Traditions sometimes say that ”

(Concept 12, warranty five).

Abusive/coercive sponsorship within a cult group is clearly a public matter affecting other groups and AA as a whole, “an incitement to public controversy” (Concept 12, Warranty 5), which warrants intervention under the exception to group autonomy in Tradition 4. The responsibility to protect the vulnerable from abuse, preserve A.A. unity and AA public relations lies with the “trusted servants” and “elder statesmen” within the intergroup. However, responsibility also lies at regional and board levels, to unequivocally support such interventions.

“Hence the principle of amply delegated authority and responsibility to “trusted servants” must be implicit from the top to the bottom of our active structure of service. This is the clear implication of A.A.’s Tradition Two….” (Concept II).

A responsible protective action to assert duty of care in protecting the vulnerable and AA public relations, where cult groups occur and where continued abuse is reported, would be for the intergroup public information committee to inform all agencies and other A.A. groups in the area which may be referring alcoholics to the group, to recommend they not to send referrals to that group.

“Whenever and however we can, we shall need to inform the general public also; especially upon misuses of the name Alcoholics Anonymous." (Concept 12, warranty five). “Finally, any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group provided that, as a group, they have no other purpose or affiliation." (Concept 12, Warranty six)

It can be seen that any group of alcoholics gathered together for the purpose of the control, coercion and abuse of the vulnerable has another purpose other than sobriety and is a misuse of the name Alcoholics Anonymous.

Such measures, which basically amount to saying: “No.” or “We are not obliged to cooperate with, or to be governed by, the unreasonable dictates of a “tyranny of very small minorities invested with absolute power.” (Concept V) cannot be regarded as governmental or punitive, but assertive of Traditions One and Two. They are simply informative of AA Tradition and warranties of conference.

AA's "

violate. This cannot accurately be called a governmental action." (Concept XII, warranty Five.)

right to object calmly and privately to specific violations is at least equal to the rights of the violators who

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Such application of AA tradition does need more than just a little courage on behalf of those serving on an intergroup committee, for it is likely to be met with stiff resistance because:

“Instincts on the rampage balk at investigation. The minute we make a serious attempt to probe them, we are liable to suffer a severe reaction.” (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions page 46)

- As Bill W. encountered with “Our Promoter friend” who turned “alarming poser”

with his ultimatum: “To hell with the trustees, the world is waiting for my message. I’ve got the right to free speech and I’m going on air whether you like it or not.” (AA comes of Age page 130-131) And as the “trusted servants” of 1958 encountered with Synanon cult leader Chuck D: “All right, lets go home-the hell with this.’ So the

whole meeting got up, and we all got into our automobiles and… … we never went back to A.A. again.”

Warranty five states:

“…we still say ‘fine. Only we hope you won’t designate your efforts as an A.A. group or enterprise.’ These examples illustrate how far we have already gone to encourage freedom of assembly, action, and even schism. To all those who wish to secede from A.A. we extend a cheerful invitation to do just that. If they can find a better way we are glad.” (Concept 12, warranty 5).

In the case of Chuck D, given the history of Synanon, the committee of “trusted servants” could congratulate themselves on a job well done. However, in instances where they do not wish to secede, but insist on staying to ruin A.A. unity instead, then

a committee of “trusted servants” is likely to have to face a slightly different situation, and one which requires them to:

“…take a stand against a storm

settled……. face heavy and long- continued criticism…. and face those who powerdrive, they are the ‘politckers,’ They make accusations. Maybe they are violent, malicious. They pitch gobs of rumors, gossip, and general scuttle- butt to gain their ends – all for the good of A.A. of course!” (Concept IX).

to stick flat footed to one’s convictions about an issue until the matter it is

The Traditions violators may defiantly twist Tradition One insisting their “rights,”

much like “Our promoter friend”: “I’ve got the right to free speech…

like it or not.” (AA comes of Age page 130-131) Or they may twist warranties five and six; seek sympathy from newer members of the fellowship who are ignorant of Traditions, claiming they are being “punished”, or “governed”. - It would appear however, that when the ultimate authority in Tradition two is operating healthily in A.A., “The influence of ultimate authority must always be felt,” (Concept X) and there will at times be those who:

whether you

“Feeling the weight of all these forces… ”

are therefore being governed…

sometimes say that they are being censored or punished and that they

(Concept 12, warranty five).

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It can be understood that the state of “feeling” censored, punished or governed is not the same thing as the actual state of “being” censored, punished or governed, the two are distinctly different as can be explained in the following paragraphs:

Where such defiance is met from a small tyranny, there is the duty to protect from “tyrannies great and small” (Concept XII, warranty six). As Bill W. demonstrated with “Our promoter friend” (AA comes of Age page 130-131), Tradition one affords the equal liberty to any A.A. member, group, intergroup and AA as a whole, as does a small tyranny afford to itself: “No AA can compel another to do anything.” (Tradition One, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions page 133). There is no compulsion to submit to, or cooperate with unreasonable demands of a small tyranny if their actions affect other groups or AA as a whole. – Such a compulsion would amount to the majority being governed by a “tyranny of very small minorities invested with absolute power”. (Concept V). If negotiation fails, de-listing a group and informing the public in such cases is both an option and a duty under warranties five and six:

“Whenever and however we can, we shall need to inform the general public also; especially upon misuses of the name Alcoholics Anonymous." (Concept 12, warranty five). “Finally, any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group provided that, as a group, they have no other purpose or affiliation”. (Concept 12, warranty 6)

Tradition Four states:

“Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole.” – Further explained by Bill W: “…Yet please note one important qualification. It will be seen that such extreme liberty of thought and action applies only to the group’s own affairs…… Obviously if any individual, group, or regional committee could take an action that might seriously affect the welfare of Alcoholics Anonymous as a whole or seriously disturb surrounding groups, that would not be liberty at all, It would be sheer license, it would be anarchy, not democracy”. (Bill W. “Tradition four”, AA Grapevine March 1948, Language of the Heart page 81).

"Our membership Tradition does contain, however, one vitally important qualification. That qualification relates to

the use of our name Alcoholics Anonymous

however worthy. If we do so we shall become hopelessly compromised and divided. We think that AA should offer its experience to the whole world for whatever use can be made of it. But not its name. Nothing can be more certain." (Bill W. Tradition Three, AA Grapevine 1948, Language of the Heart page 79-80)

We cannot lend the AA name, even indirectly, to other activities,

“In AA, the group has strict limitations, but the individual scarcely any.” (Bill W. AA Grapevine February 1958 - Language of the Heart pages 222-225).

“On such issues our common welfare is paramount” (Tradition Four (Long Form)

It can be seen from Traditions Three and Four that an individual alcoholic’s unconditional right to be an A.A. member is all inclusive, never exclusive, but there is no such right afforded to any two or three alcoholics gathered together as a group. There is “one important qualification” which is all exclusive except for as a group

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they have no other purpose or affiliation. – Therefore any two or three alcoholics gathered together as a group may not necessarily qualify themselves to be called an A.A. group, as stated in warranty six:

“Finally, any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group provided that, as a group, they have no other purpose or affiliation”.

And confirmed in warranty five:

“If individual A.A.s wish to gather together for retreats, Communion breakfasts, or indeed any undertaking at all, we still say ‘Fine. Only we hope you won’t designate your efforts as an A.A. group or enterprise.”

As Bill W. explains:

“I think we might sum it up like this: “AA members who are so inclined should be encouraged to band together in

groups to …….

dual purpose group should not insist that it be called an AA group nor should it use the AA name in its title.”

(Bill W. AA Grapevine February 1958. Language of the Heart pages 222-225).

But they ought to refrain from calling themselves AA groups……

But obviously, such a

It can be understood, that any two or three alcoholics gathered together as a group has no right to insist that any other A.A. member, group, intergroup or any part of A.A. calls them an A.A. group.

It can be understood that a group’s autonomy, or in other words, its liberty to violate all A.A.’s Traditions, its “right to be wrong” extends strictly to its own affairs. There is a well defined boundary in Tradition Four at which an A.A. group’s autonomy ends and where the principles of Traditions One and Two take precedence; assuming “trusted servants” and “elder statesmen” are willing to apply the able leadership of Tradition Two, Concept IX; and the “specific application” of Tradition Four:

“Tradition Four is a specific application of general principles already outlined in Traditions One and Two. Tradition One states: ‘Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part of a great whole’…… our common welfare comes first …………. there is but one ultimate authority…” (Bill W, Tradition Four, Grapevine March 1948. Language of the Heart, page 80).

Hence

It can be understood that whenever trusted servants exercise their “right of decision” (Concept III) to refuse A.A. registration to alcoholics gathered together as a group with another purpose or affiliation; this cannot accurately be called punitive or governing, but a responsible, informative and assertive statement of Traditions One, Two and warranties 5 and 6. It follows that if a “such a dual purpose group should not insist that it be called an AA group nor should it use the AA name in its title.” (Bill W. AA Grapevine February 1958. Language of the Heart pages 222-225), then there

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is no compulsion in Tradition One for to any part of A.A. to register it as one. – It can be seen that if, at any time a compulsion were to be imposed on a trusted servant’s “right of decision” then this would violate the principle in Tradition One and Concept III, thus making Traditions and warranties of Conference invalid.

“No AA can compel another to do anything”. (Tradition One , Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions page 133)

“We ought to trust our world servants with these discretions, because otherwise no effective leadership can be possible. Let us consider in detail, therefore, why the need for a ‘right of decision’ in our leadership is imperative, and let us examine how this principle can be applied practically in all levels of our structure of world service” (Concept III) “Therefore some traditional and practical principle has to be devised which at all levels will continuously balance the right relation between ultimate authority and delegated responsibility.” How, then are we to accomplish this? …… The right A.A. solution has been found, however, in the latter part of Tradition Two, which provides for “trusted servants.” This really means that we ought to trust our responsible leaders to decide, within the understood framework of their duties, how they will interpret and apply their own authority and responsibility to each particular problem or situation as it arises.” (Concept III)

It can be understood that whenever trusted servants exercise their “right of decision” to refuse A.A. registration to alcoholics who as a group, do have another purpose or affiliation; then this cannot accurately be called expulsion from A.A. membership. This is because if as a group, they have another purpose or affiliation, then according to Tradition and the provision in Warranty 6, they have expelled themselves from any right to call their group an A.A. group, as stated by Bill W:

But obviously, such a dual purpose group should not insist that it be called an AA group nor should it use the AA name in its title.” (Bill W. AA Grapevine February 1958. Language of the Heart pages 222-225).

“Finally, any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group provided that, as a group, they have no other purpose or affiliation”. (Concept 12, warranty 6).

The trusted servant’s “right of decision” to refuse A.A. registration to a group, does not expel any individual alcoholics within the group from A.A. membership since A.A. registration is only applicable to alcoholics gathered together as a group. It can be understood in Tradition Three, that individual alcoholics are unconditionally entitled to be members of any A.A. group and as well, indulge in any ex-curricula group activities they wish to. – Ice hockey, football, religious sects and denominations, atheist societies, arts and crafts, whale watching, the study of coercive techniques, flower arranging, leatherback turtle conservation, bullying techniques, paint ball, hang gliding, knitting, cult psychology, ballet dancing, member’s social clubs, horse riding, alcohol free dances and social events, rock climbing, - the list is endless. However, if an A.A. group with such dual purpose were to hit the headlines with news of A.A. newcomers being trampled by horses or swallowed by whales; or if the neighbouring A.A. groups were disturbed by the need for them to give first aid to

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newcomers showing up at their meetings traumatised by hoof shaped head injuries; then it can be seen in A.A. Tradition, since each group is part of the whole, the principles of Traditions One and Two take precedence over the dual purpose group’s autonomy. The trusted servants and elder statesmen within the intergroup are therefore responsible to apply the “specific application” of Tradition Four.

The trusted servant’s “right of decision” to refuse A.A. registration to a group cannot accurately be called an act of government or punishment because the group and its individual A.A. members are not, in any way whatsoever, being coerced or commanded to stop any other purpose or affiliation, nor are punitive sanctions being applied. Instead, the trusted servants, being “happy joyous and free” under Tradition One, are glad to extend a “cheerful invitation” to “those who wish to secede from A.A.” as stated in warranty five:

“If individual A.A.s wish to gather together for retreats, Communion breakfasts, or indeed any undertaking at all,

we still say ‘Fine. Only we hope you won’t designate your efforts as an A.A. group or enterprise’…

wish to secede from A.A. we extend a cheerful invitation to do just that. If they can do better by other means, we

are glad.” (Concept 12, warranty five)

To all who

If on the other hand a dual purpose group’s dictators do not wish to secede, it can be understood that a trusted servant’s “right of decision” to refuse them A.A. registration as a group, relates purely to a protective action against misuse of the A.A. name. It has nothing to do with individual’s membership, or restricting A.A. member’s liberty as individuals or as a group, - It can be seen in Warranty five; their liberty is not restricted in any way, whatsoever:

“If individual A.A.s wish to gather together for retreats, Communion breakfasts, or indeed any undertaking at all, we still say ‘Fine. Only we hope you won’t designate your efforts as an A.A. group or enterprise.” (Concept 12, warranty five).

They may wish continue to misuse the A.A. name by calling themselves an A.A. group, but they may not insist others call them an A.A. group. Nor may they insist that an intergroup does not apply the “specific application” of Tradition Four and warranties 5 and 6; nor may they compel trusted servants not use their “right of decision”:

“No AA can compel another to do anything.” (Tradition One, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions page 133)

“Finally, any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group provided that, as a group, they have no other purpose or affiliation”. (Concept 12, warranty 6) “Whenever and however we can, we shall need to inform the general public also; especially upon misuses of the name Alcoholics Anonymous." (Concept 12, warranty five).

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Herein lays the key to the paradox in A.A. Traditions One and Two, and how the ultimate authority in Tradition Two is applied without coercion, command or governance, through the liberty afforded to the individual in Tradition One; and “must be implicit from the top to the bottom of our active structure of service.” (Concept II).

It can be seen that the trusted servant’s “right of decision” to refuse A.A. registration to a group only the removes the A.A. name from other purposes or affiliations. It does not affect individual liberty or A.A. membership whatsoever, in any other way. It can be seen that A.A. group service leaders are free to lead their group to any activity they choose, for example, the recreations of tennis, white water rafting, coercive book study, bungee jumping, no-one would attempt to stop them; but if these group leaders are irresponsible to lend the A.A. name to such another purpose or affiliation, lets say, bungee jumping; then the implicit nature of “but one ultimate authority” within the service structure trusts the responsibility of not lending the A.A. name to the delegated authority of whoever is responsible for registering the group:

“We cannot lend the AA name, even indirectly, to other activities, however worthy. If we do so we shall become hopelessly compromised and divided. We think that AA should offer its experience to the whole world for whatever use can be made of it. But not its name. Nothing can be more certain." (Bill W. Tradition Three, AA Grapevine 1948, Language of the Heart page 79-80)

It can be understood a trusted servant’s “right of decision” to refuse A.A. registration to a group with another purpose or affiliation is responsibly assertive of the following:

Tradition One: “Our common welfare should come first,” Tradition Two: “There is but one ultimate authority,” Concept II: “Hence the principle of amply delegated authority and responsibility to “trusted servants” must be implicit from the top to the bottom of our active structure of service. This is the clear implication of A.A.’s Tradition Two….” Concept X: “…All of this is fully implied in A.A.’s Tradition Two. Here we see the “group conscienceas the ultimate authority and the “trusted servant” as the delegated authority. One cannot function without the other ” Concept IX: “Good service leaders, together with sound and appropriate methods of choosing them, are at all levels indispensible for our future functioning and safety.”

Such action is assertive of the “specific application” of Tradition Four, as stated by Bill W:

“Tradition Four is a specific application of general principles already outlined in Traditions One and Two.

Tradition One states: “Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part of a great whole…… our common welfare comes first………….there is but one ultimate authority…” (Bill W, Tradition Four, Grapevine March 1948. Language of the Heart page 80).

Hence

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This “right of decision” also ensures the integrity of AA Traditions and Warranties of Conference:

“Finally, any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group provided that, as a group, they have no other purpose or affiliation”. (Concept 12, warranty 6).

It can be understood that assertive behaviour to ensure the integrity of A.A. Traditions

and warranties of Conference and to protect the A.A. name, cannot accurately be claimed to be punitive or governing. And it can be understood that if the “right of decision” granted to a trusted servant to refuse A.A. registration to alcoholics who as a group have another purpose or affiliation were to be removed by obligation, then

the principles of Traditions One, Two and warranties 5 and 6 would be rendered invalid.

Section 5

No police force in A.A.? An analysis of passive behaviour

A common argument advanced to avoid responsibility for taking action with regard to

a group’s Tradition four violation is that there is no “police force” in A.A. We do not judge, there are no prosecutors or courts. There is no human power of authority. This argument is also used as a defence and an excuse to justify Traditions violations and anti social behaviour.

Whilst there is no police force as such, this avoidance of responsibility is largely due

to a misconception concerning the freedom granted to the individual A.A. member in

Traditions One and Three. This same freedom is not granted to the group under the exception to group autonomy in Tradition Four.

“In AA, the group has strict limitations, but the individual scarcely any.” (Bill W. AA Grapevine February 1958 - Language of the Heart pages 222-225).

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The misconception also appears to arise from the following sentence in Concept Twelve, warranty five. This is often taken out of context and misinterpreted as “There is no police force in A.A.”

“Always remembering Group autonomy and the fact that A.A.’s World Headquarters is not a police operation, the most that can be done in most cases is to make an offer of mediation.” (Concept 12 warranty five)

It can be understood that in this context this guidance is directed at Headquarters; and in the concept it is made with reference to severe internal disputes between groups which pose some risk of attracting unwelcome public attention; and that it is not a function, responsibility or authority of Headquarters to police such matters. This concept bears no relationship to the concept of delegated responsibility and authority of trusted servants in Tradition Two, and their “right of decision” to carry out their elected duties according to A.A. Traditions. As demonstrated by Bill W. with the “alarming poser” and the “trusted servants” who faced Chuck D. in 1958. They judged a situation, decided to make an uncompromising stand on Tradition, and then took appropriate action; using their “Right of Decision” as stated in Concept III and their final authority in concept X.

“This means that we ought to trust our responsible leaders to decide, within the understood framework of their

duties, how they will interpret and apply their own authority and responsibility to each particular problem or situation as it arises. This sort of leadership discretion should be the essence of the “Right of Decision” (Concept

III)

“The principle of ultimate authority runs clear through our structure. This is necessary, because all our service affairs and activities have to lead up somewhere for final responsibility. Ultimate authority is also needed so that each worker or service classification of servants knows where and who the final boss is.” (concept X)

“This ‘right of decision’ should never be made as an excuse for failure to render proper reports of all significant actions taken; it ought never be used as a reason for constantly exceeding clearly defined authority, nor as an excuse for persistently failing to consult those who are entitled to be consulted before an important decision or action is taken.” (Concept III)

It can be understood in Tradition Two, that the spiritual power of “but one ultimate authority” is delegated to the human powers of responsibility and authority, exemplified in the latter half of the sentence “our leaders are but trusted servants;” and amplified in the Twelve Concepts for World Service. Though there are no police, there should nevertheless, be an actual force to Tradition Two if it is operating healthily, and when trusted servants and statesmen are fulfilling their responsibility and their duty as active guardians of our Traditions and of our fellowship.

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This force for unification, and forces, “the ties that bind us together” are described by Bill W. on page 3 of “A.A. Tradition How it Developed.” Also described is the force for disintegration, “which would rent him apart” and forces which “would divide us if they could”. When applied, the genuine force for unification is powerful enough to rupture “deacons,” as illustrated in Tradition Two.

“A few haemorrhage so badly that – drained of all A.A. spirit and principle - they get drunk. At times the A.A. landscape seems to be littered with bleeding forms.” (Tradition Two, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions page

137-139).

“So long as the ties that bind us together prove far stronger than those forces which would divide us if they could, then all will be well………But A.A. unity cannot automatically preserve itself, like personal recovery, we shall always have to work to maintain it” Bill W.

In order to maintain A.A. unity, the power of “but one ultimate authority” in Tradition Two is trusted to be applied with a will and by our statesmen and trusted servants:

“And at times the Conference will need to take certain protective actions especially in the area of Tradition violations. This action, however, need not be aggressively controversial at the public level. Let us now consider some typical situations that may often require Conference consideration and sometimes definite

action……

purposes. As A.A. grows in size and public recognition, the temptation to misuse our name may increase. This is why we have assigned to our Conference a protective task in respect to such conditions. The Conference is as we know the ‘guardian’ of the A.A. Traditions. There has always been some confusion about this term ‘guardianship’ perhaps we should try to clear it up. ………….Privately, however, we can inform Traditions violators that they are

out of order. When they persist, we can follow up by using such other resources of persuasion as we may have, and

these are often considerable……

opinion…… And to this end we shall need to maintain a continuous education of our public communication channels of all kinds concerning the nature and purpose of our Traditions……… Whenever and however we can, we shall need to inform the general public also; especially upon misuses of the name Alcoholics Anonymous. This combination of counter forces can be very discouraging to violators or would be violators. Under these conditions they soon find their deviations to be unprofitable or unwise……………….Feeling the weight of all these forces, certain members who run counter to A.A.’s Traditions sometimes say that they are being censored or punished and that they are therefore being governed……” (Concept

Individuals,

sometimes outside organisations may try to use the A.A. name for their own private

we

shall have to rely mainly on the pressures of A.A. opinion and public

12, warranty five).

No police force here, but clearly there exists a genuine ‘force’, and a ‘power’ against Tradition violators, in order for them to “feel the weight of all these forces;” but this is only when there is a willingness on the part of those who are trusted and delegated to apply these forces. Conference delegates are there to lead, but final responsibility and authority lies with the statesmen and trusted servants leading the group conscience. This demonstrated by the Toronto intergroup and the trusted servants who faced Chuck D. in 1958.

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When ultimate responsibility and final authority are acting in unison, and when they are uncompromising in stating adherence to the principles of A.A. traditions; and when this is implicit from the top to the bottom of the service structure; then this when the actively powerful and unifying force of “but one ultimate authority” in Tradition Two becomes fully operational.

“The main principles of Tradition Two are crystal clear; the A.A. groups are to be the final authority; their leaders are to be trusted with delegated responsibilities only” (Concept I) “…All of this is fully implied in A.A.’s Tradition Two. Here we see the ‘group conscience’ as the ultimate authority and the ‘trusted servant’ as the delegated authority. One cannot function without the other” (Concept X) “Hence the principle of amply delegated authority and responsibility to ‘trusted servants’ must be implicit from the top to the bottom of our active structure of service. This is the clear implication of A.A.’s Tradition Two” (Concept II) “Trusted servants at all A.A. levels are expected to exercise leadership, and leadership is not simply a matter of submissive housekeeping” (Concept VII) “The principle of ultimate authority runs clear through our structure. This is necessary, because all our service affairs and activities have to lead up somewhere for final responsibility. Ultimate authority is also needed so that each worker or service classification of servants knows where and who the final boss is.” (concept X) “This ‘right of decision’ should never be made as an excuse for failure to render proper reports of all significant actions taken; it ought never be used as a reason for constantly exceeding clearly defined authority, nor as an excuse for persistently failing to consult those who are entitled to be consulted before an important decision or action is taken.” (Concept III)

This is why Headquarters is not a police operation and why there is no police force as such, because all A.A. members are responsible, and at all levels. It can be seen however, that if delegated responsibility and authority is not implicit from top bottom of our service structure and if the majority of statesmen at group level are part of a “tyranny’ of apathetic, self seeking, uninformed…. majority.” (Concept V), then the “but one ultimate authority” of Tradition Two will not be fully operational, and those forces which would divide us if they could, become stronger.

For example, if a situation were to occur such as the one encountered by the trusted servants with Chuck D in 1958 at intergroup level today; and where trusted servants were neither supported by implicit responsibly and authority, of the statesmen and trusted servants within A.A. groups, and the service structure; through intergroup, Conference, board, and regional recommendations; then their delegated authority would be diminished. There would be little stand against a “tyranny of very small minorities invested with absolute power” (Concept V); and little protection from “tyrannies great and small.” (Concept 12 warranty 6).

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle." (Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents. Edmunde Burke) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Burke

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In those intergroups experiencing strained relationships with some of their groups, there might well be some people in service who can identify with Edmunde Burke’s statement. The one ultimate authority in Tradition Two can only hold A.A. unity so long as the good men are willing to associate in their combined responsibility and delegated authority. This is implied in concept V:

“Throughout his political speculation De Toqueville insisted that the greatest danger to democracy would always be the ‘tyranny’ of apathetic, self seeking, uninformed… … … majorities” (Concept V)

In other words:

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

It can also be understood that there would be little stand against a “tyranny of very small minorities invested with absolute power” (Concept V) if trusted servants serving at levels from intergroup, region to Conference delegates were not supported by responsible statesmen leading the group conscience at group level.

“The A.A. groups today hold the ultimate responsibility and final authority for our world services…… The groups assumed this responsibility at the St. Louis Convention in 1955.” (Concept I)

“I am responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.”

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Section 6

Examination of the difference between minority groups minority opinions, a tyranny of very small minorities.

There appears to be some confusion between protecting minority groups, minority opinion and protecting against a tyranny of very small minorities.

Minority groups are described in “Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers” in chapter XIX, page 239, “Minority groups within A.A. gain acceptance.” The protection of minorities such as these, provided by Warranty Six refers to the all inclusive A.A. membership for the individual alcoholic under Tradition Three. Minority opinion is described in Concept V. It is clear in A.A. Tradition that that the protection of the minority groups and of minority opinion does not extend to minorities forming special purpose groups, nor does it bear any relation to minority groups with malign dictatorships, who are in violation of Tradition 4. AA members who gather together as groups with a dual purpose or affiliation are described in “Language of the Heart” pages 222-225. A.A. Tradition and warranties of Conference serve to protect the A.A. name against such minority groups.

Any society which is indifferent to the abuse of the vulnerable is destined to corruption and collapse sooner or later, A.A. will be no exception unless the safeguards already available are put in place to prevent it. For a cult groups to exist in A.A. such as the Joys of Recovery, is not acceptable. It shows an immoral failure of duty of care, a failure of Traditions, Concepts and warranties of conference; especially Traditions One, Two, concepts IX, XII (warranties 5 and 6).

Generally how exclusive have A.A. meetings become? doctors and lawyers meetings, women’s meetings, gay meetings; and the host of meetings with very strange titles. Of course, anyone is welcome, except those baffled newcomers who don’t know, who at first point of contact with A.A., might feel excluded simply by the title’s insinuation on the meetings list. Here leadership could be exercised by simply stating the A.A. groups date, time and venue on meeting lists.

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Section 7

Inventory

Extract from Bill W’s address to the 20 th anniversary St Louis convention (AA Comes of Age page 231 -233):

“In the years ahead we shall, of course, make mistakes. Experience has taught us that we need have no fear of doing this, providing that we shall always remain willing to confess our faults and to correct them promptly. Our growth as individuals has depended upon this healthy process of trial and error. So will our growth as a fellowship. Let us always remember that any society of men and women that cannot freely correct its own faults must surely fall into decay if not into collapse. Such is the universal penalty for failing to go on growing. Just as each A.A. must continue to take his moral inventory and act upon it, so must our whole society do if we are to survive and if we are to serve usefully and well.

I have great faith that we shall never embrace and persist in a fatal error; and yet we still might do so, fallible human beings that we are. This is the area in the future life of A.A. where we can never be too prudent or too vigilant. Let us not suppose, just because A.A. as a whole has never had a grievous problem, that it never will…… Within A.A, I suppose we shall always quarrel a good bit……. We shall have our childish spats and snits…… Any bunch of growing children (and that is what we really are) would hardly be in character if they did less. These are the growing pains of infancy, and we actually thrive on them. ……

But there are nevertheless certain areas where anger and contention could prove to be our undoing. We know this because stronger societies than our own have been undone. The whole modern world is in fact coming apart as never before because of political and religious strife; because men blindly pursue wealth, fame, and personal power, regardless of the consequences to anyone, even themselves. These are the destructive drives that are inevitably spurred on by self – justification, and in all their disastrous collisions they are powered by righteous indignation, then by unreasoning anger, and finally blind fury. With the most heart felt gratitude I can report that we have never yet had to endure any such trials by fire in A.A. In all these twenty marvellous years no such thing as religious or political dissension has touched us. Very few have tried to exploit A.A. for wealth or fame or personal power…… ”

This year, 2011 marked another A.A. anniversary, which a few might have acknowledged. This, the 40 th anniversary in which A.A. has stood without Bill W’s ever prudent, ever vigilant “Stop Look Listen” (Concept 1) leadership. This passed away with him on January 26 th 1971. As we can survey the fellowship today, perhaps it is now time to “Stop Look Listen.” Perhaps we have taken our eyes off the ball with “Our promoter friend”. Perhaps it is time to look very seriously at our Traditions, not as suggestions, but the very principles upon which the survival of our fellowship depends. Just to the degree that we deviate from these principles is precisely the degree to which the fellowship disintegrates.

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Perhaps it is now time to look very closely at concept IX. And ask ourselves, to which party do I belong to, the politician’s or the statesman’s?

A ‘statesman’ is an individual who can put the principle of A.A. Tradition before their own personality; self sacrificing, ever vigilant, prudently on guard, with an integrity that brooks no compromise; like the Statesmen who encountered Chuck D. in 1958.

“A statesman is an individual who can……

footed to ones convictions about an issue until it is settled…….face heavy and sometimes long-continued criticism………gobs of rumours, gossip, and general scuttlebutt…” (Concept IX)

even

in a small minority take a stand against a storm…….stick flat

Examples of non alcoholic Statesmen in A.A. history:

“Much later we realised what Mr. Rockerfeller had really done for us. At risk of personal ridicule, he had stood up before the whole world to put in a plug for a tiny Society of struggling alcoholics” (Bill W. referring to the help given to A.A. by John D. Rockerfeller Jr.) (A.A. Grapevine May 1955. Language of the Heart page 147)

“Dr. Silkworth let me work with a few people in the hospital at the risk of his reputation.” (Bill W. AA Grapevine July 1968. Language of the Heart page 285)

“At very considerable risk to his professional standing Harry Tiebut ever since continued to endorse A.A. and its work to the psychiatric profession.” (Bill W. A.A. Comes of Age page 4)

The following paragraph is an example of the voice of one of today’s Statesmen; though it is unfortunate the review committee could not come out with a unified voice on this principle:

“Finally Tradition Two tells me we have but one ultimate authority – a loving God as He expresses himself in our group conscience. It seems to me if we allow interpretations of the Big Book through study guides we will also undermine our ultimate authority.” (From A.A. World Services “Big Book Study Guides: Reviewing a position paper – AA Service News, No.127 Summer 2006 / Box 459, vol.51, No.6. December 2005)

A ‘politico’ is an individual who carries a principle only so far as for it not be of personal cost to himself; he absolves himself of his delegated responsibility and authority by trying to keep the peace, trying to please the people, one “who is forever trying to ‘get the people what they want” (Concept IX), by twisting sayings like “I have no opinion. I neither endorse nor oppose” “Live and let live!” “There’s nothing we can do, each group is autonomous.” “Keep your side of the street clean.” “Hand it over” “God will sort it out”, “Its God’s will!” “Vote with your feet!” Politicians, please be aware, the disaffected are “voting with their feet.”

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“No society can function well without able leadership at in all its levels, and A.A. can be no exception……but when he too meekly becomes an order- taker and exercises no judgement of his own – well, he isn’t a leader at all…. A ‘politico’ is an individual who is ‘forever trying to get the people what they want’…… Good leadership never passes the buck”…… “As individuals and as a fellowship, we shall surely suffer if we cast the whole job of planning for tomorrow onto a fatuous idea of providence. God’s real Providence has endowed us human beings with a considerable capacity for foresight and He evidently expects us to use it”. (Bill W, Concept IX).

Extract from the Conference Charter - Great Britain:

Article 3. Conference in relation to A.A.

“The Conference will act for A.A. in Great Britain in the perpetuation and guidance of its services and it will also be the vehicle by which A.A. in Great Britain can express its views on all matters of vital A.A. policy and all hazardous deviations from A.A. Tradition…….” (A.A. Service handbook for Great Britain section 9.1)

The General Service Board

“The General Service Board is the custodian of the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous in Great Britain. As such it has the responsibility to ensure that the Traditions are preserved intact and that the fellowship of A.A. in Great Britain acts in accordance with the Traditions.” (A.A. Service handbook for Great Britain section 9.1)

Perhaps it is time to reflect on all previous Conference recommendations regarding the use and display of non A.A. published literature and trinket business in A.A. meetings and in A.A. conventions, events; and also, recommendations on special purpose groups. Have previous recommendations stuck firmly to the principle of A.A. Tradition or have they deviated? Can the fellowship afford Conference to make compromises on Traditions? Is the fellowship suffering the consequences?

“The Conference, as we know, is the ‘guardian’ of the A.A. Traditions” (Concept 12, warranty five)

Is the broadside of A.A. Tradition being delivered in Conference recommendations, or is it the narrow side “To get the people what they want”?

UK General Service Conference 2011:

Extracts from conference question and committee response:

“Can Conference make suggestions on how groups and Intergroups can work better to carry the message to the still suffering alcoholic? - There is evidence that strained relationships between some Groups and Intergroups could be inhibiting the effectiveness of our primary purpose.” (AA service News 145, 2010) “All service bodies are reminded that AA is an inclusive fellowship. Adherence to AA Traditions, concepts and warranties ensures inclusivity. This committee found that strained relations between some groups and Intergroups can inhibit the effectiveness of our primary purpose. The principles of Unity, right of participation, that minority opinion must be heard and that no service body has the authority to take punitive action were emphasised to help resolve some of the difficulties encountered.”(Committee 4, Question 2) (AA Service news 147, 2011).

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Another side to A.A. Tradition:

“In AA, the group has strict limitations, but the individual scarcely any.” (Bill W. AA Grapevine February 1958 - Language of the Heart pages 222-225).

Tradtition One: “Our common welfare should come first…” Tradition Two “There is but one ultimate authority…” Concept 12 warranty six: “That our conference will be ever prudently be on guard against tyrannies great and small, whether these be found in the majority or in the minority.” Concept 12, warranty five “Feeling the weight of all these forces, certain members who run counter to A.A.’s Traditions sometimes say that they are being censored or punished and that they are therefore being governed… ” Tradition Two: “A few haemorrhage so badly that – drained of all A.A. spirit and principle - they get drunk. At times the A.A. landscape seems to be littered with bleeding forms.” (Tradition Two; Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions page 137-139). Concept 12, warranty 6: “Finally, any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group provided that, as a group, they have no other purpose or affiliation”. (Concept 12, warranty 6) Concept 12, warranty five: “These examples illustrate how far we have already gone to encourage freedom of assembly, action, even schism…….If they can do better by other means, we are glad.”

“A.A. started in a riot. It grows in riots” (Warren C. ‘Good Old timer’, joined A.A. 1939) (Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers, page 209)

There can be no peace without justice, no serenity in anarchy, no unity without adherence to Tradition. Our history and Traditions tell us that we need never fear internal controversy, argument, split and schism. But what we do need to fear is a false unity at the price of Traditions and false pride at the expense of humility. We do need to fear public controversy caused by the communication of a garbled message and deviance from Traditions. The integrity of A.A. Traditions and warranties of Conference must be preserved in their active principles, because if they are compromised it will lead to our disintegration.

A quote of Dr. Bob on humility:

thing which not too many of us are blessed.” This was not the “fake humility of Dickens’s Uriah Heep” Nor was it “the doormat variety.” (Dr. Bob and the Good old timers page 222).

a

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Section 8

A.A.’s Future: Adaptation or Evolution?

Bill W, - Extracts from “Lets Keep It Simple But How?” AA Grapevine July 1960; Language of the Heart page 303 - 307):

“We shall be stepping over a new threshold into our future. We shall rejoice as we think of the gifts and the wonders of yesterday. And, as we re-dedicate ourselves to fulfilling the immense promise of AA’s tomorrow, we shall certainly survey how we stand today. Have we ‘kept A.A. simple’? Or, unwittingly, have we

blundered?

we possibly square today’s Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions, General Service Conferences and International Conventions with our original coffee-and-cake AA? …… Genuine simplicity for today is to be found, I think, in whatever principles, practices, and services can permanently ensure our widespread harmony and effectiveness. Therefore it has been better to state our principles than to leave them vague; better to clarify their applications than to leave these unclear; better to organize our services than to leave them to hit-or- miss methods, or to none at all.

Most certainly indeed, a return to the kitchen table era would bring no-hoped for simplicity. It would only mean wholesale irresponsibility, disharmony, and ineffectiveness ………… A formless AA anarchy, animated only by the ‘lets get together’ spirit, just isn’t enough for AAs here and now. What worked fine for two score members in 1938 won’t work at all for more than 200,000 of them in 1960. Our added size and therefore greater responsibility simply spells the difference between AA’s childhood and its coming of age. We have seen the folly of attempting to recapture the childhood variety of simplicity in order to sidestep the kind of responsibility that must be faced to ‘keep it simple for today’. We cannot possibly turn back the clock and shouldn’t try.”

Therefore we ask, has A.A. kept faith with Dr. Bob’s warning, ‘lets keep it simple’? How can

1962 Bill W

“We are sure that each group of workers in world service will be tempted to try all sorts of innovations that may often produce little more than painful repetition earlier mistakes. Therefore it will be an important objective of these Concepts to forestall such repetitions by holding the experiences of the past clearly before us. And if mistaken departures are nevertheless made, these Concepts may then provide a ready means of safe return to an operating balance that might otherwise take years of floundering to rediscover.” (Introduction to the Twelve Concepts for World Service.)

1958, February, Bill W.

“Now there are certain things that AA cannot do for anybody, regardless of what our several desires or sympathies may be. Our first duty, as a society is to ensure, our own survival. Therefore we have to avoid distractions and multipurpose activity. An AA group as such, cannot take on all the personal problems of its members, let alone the problems of the whole world. Sobriety – freedom from alcohol – though the teaching and practice of AA’s twelve steps, is the sole purpose of an AA group. Groups have repeated tried other activities they have always failed. We have to confine our membership to alcoholics and we have to confine our AA groups to a single purpose. If we don’t stick to these principles, we shall almost certainly collapse. And if we collapse, we cannot help anyone … …

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… … Therefore I see no way of making nonalcoholic [sic] addicts into AA members, Experience says loudly that we can admit no exceptions, even though drug users and alcoholics happen to be first cousins of a sort. If we persist in trying this, I’m afraid it will be hard on the drug user himself, as well as on AA. We must accept the fact that no nonalcoholic, [sic] whatever his affliction, can be converted into an alcoholic AA member.” (A.A. Grapevine February 1958. Language of the Heart page 223)

1958, January - August, Santa Monica

Synanon began with Charles E. Dederick. He had been an alcoholic for twenty years, and a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. In January of 1958, he “had no job, two cents in my pocket, and was living off unemployment benefits, in a small apartment near the beach in Ocean Park, California.” (Yablonsky, L. 1965. Synanon the tunnel back) He, and other friends from AA, started a regular weekly meeting. In this meeting, mainly because of Charles, or “Chuck” Dederick, as he became known, the discussions became heated…. …. … This AA group met until a dramatic break that solidified the difference between Synanon, and A.A. This is the story as told by Chuck:

“The break with Alcoholics Anonymous occurred about the middle of August (1958) It happened right in the middle of an A.A. meeting. Our whole gang had taken over the Saturday night meeting of the Santa Monica A.A. group at Twenty Sixth and Broadway and built it up from its attendance of ten people to an attendance of about forty five or fifty. There was some objection on some issue by the members of the Board of

Directors of the A.A. club. I recall the leader stopping the meeting. They didn’t like us. The alkies didn’t like the addicts, and they didn’t like me in particular… … and they didn’t like my gang because they were mostly addicts. They made things difficult for us. I remember getting up in the meeting and saying, ‘All right, let’s go home-the hell with this.’ So the whole meeting got up, and we all got into our automobiles and came down to the club, and we never went back to A.A. again…. … … We were building something new and different… … … We have a live-in situation, with family characteristics. We emphasize self-reliance rather than dependence on a higher being. We assumed a responsibility; we had to get up the rent, we had to feed the people when they came in, and so on. This was the point at which the few alcoholics in the club began to fall out. They didn’t want any responsibility. In fact, it was even verbalized. ‘We don’t want to do this; we want to have a lot of fun; we want to have a club as a club.’ The alkies began to say, ‘Well, it’s our club,’ and I said, ‘No, it’s my club.’ I became the champion of the addicts, chucked the alcoholics out, and Synanon was then fully launched for addicts.”(Yablonsky, L. 1965) (From the Desk of Juan Lesende: How Drug Abuse Treatment Turns into Mistreatment By Juan E. Lesende - September 18th 2009)

The Washingtonian movement evolved into multi purpose activity and collapsed. The Oxford Group evolved renaming itself Moral Rearmament in 1938. The cult of Synanon evolved into multi purpose activity and collapsed.

AA has stood the test of time because it cannot evolve like other organisations, Traditions and Concepts prevent this. The direction of AA evolution was from diversity to simplicity. AA cannot evolve to get any simpler than groups with meeting rooms, single purpose, single affiliation, and a service structure to support them.

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It is important to distinguish between adaptation and evolution. The service structure must organise and adapt to changes in society, but the A.A. group is bound by A.A. Tradition, its teaching of the twelve steps through least possible organisation.

Tradition Nine (Long form):

“Each A.A. group needs the least possible organization. Rotating leadership is the best. The small group may elect its secretary, the large group its rotating committee and the groups of a large metropolitan area their central or intergroup committee”

Bill W, New York 1939: “They were structured to the extent that there was always one speaker and Bill- maybe

half an hour each - and then a long coffee session, a real get together. We were often there till 12 o’clock, started at

eight.…

sober a week or a year, If you felt you would like to speak in a year or in a month or two weeks they let you get up and speak, and they didn’t throw you out if you were drunk, either. They felt it was encouraging, hoping some

word would stick.” (Ruth Hock, the first secretary of the New York General Service Office. Pass it on page 219)

At this time there were no 90-days requirements. No birthdays – no recognition was made if you were

AA. Grapevine 2010 I struggle to understand the "Twelve and Twelve," even with a college degree and help from my sponsor and other AAs. Meanwhile, my roommate, also newly sober and with a grade school education, can't make any sense of her Step workbook and is about to give up. How many people do we lose this way? How many, when asked to read

from the Big Book at a meeting, stumble through a few sentences, acutely embarrassed, and never come back? A literature-based program effectively shuts out people who desperately need help but do not have good reading skills”. (Dear Grapevine, Shut Out; A.A. Grapevine November 2010)

“Education will not only pay off in numbers treated; it can pay off even more handsomely in prevention… … it is both a community job and a job for specialists… … but AA as such cannot, and should not, get directly into this field.” (Bill W. AA Grapevine March 1958. Language of the Heart page 186-187)

Norman Y, 1977, joined AA in 1939 “‘I never read a word in A.A.’ he said. ‘You don’t have to read. You don’t have to have all these pamphlets they put out. You can learn to live this program by learning to think. A.A. is a wonderful thing to know and apply’ he said, ‘- but in your life. You’ve got to live it out in the street. You see somebody having a little problem, help them, no matter who they are. That’s A.A.” –Norman Y. (Dr. Bob and The Good Old Timers page 251-250)

“We have no doctrine that has to be maintained. We have no membership that has to be enlarged. We have no authority that has to be supported. We have no prestige, power or pride that has to be satisfied.” Bill W. (Concept 12, warranty Five)

What worked structurally in 1938 wouldn’t work in 1960, what worked in 1960 doesn’t appear to be working very well in 2011. Perhaps there needs to be a willingness to be open to change.

There are the new dynamics of non-AA published literature, global internet communication; the fellowship is much larger and yet the new communication channels make it more intimate.

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If the fellowship has grown too big for the Trustees in the UK and USA to cope with the numbers of those who exploit the fellowship, perhaps some of this responsibility could be passed to the groups via communication to them.

There needs to be new thinking to suit new situations. The way in which groups are registered could be considered. The passing of responsibility of group registration from GSO to the intergroup would free the A.A. group conscience to discern whether a particular group that is operating outside the service structure is operating according to Tradition and warranties of Conference; whether it is one that is simply exercising its right to group autonomy by not being part of the intergroup; or whether the group is misusing the AA name by other purpose or affiliation. These matters could be settled locally by intergroup conscience.

Improved communication in the fellowship could be encouraged. Where internationally affiliated cult groups exist, AA groups and intergroups could be encouraged to communicate with each other directly across regional and international boundaries instead of being isolated, giving information exchange and cooperation.

As responsible individuals any A.A. member is fully entitled to act freely according to his or her own conscience. Letters or emails could be sent to any Traditions violator, group, or company that is misusing the A.A. name.

“I am responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.”

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Section 9 Are we communicating the A.A. message in the right way?

Most A.A. members are probably aware the numerical growth in AA has stagnated in recent years. While there may be many contributing factors, we question only one aspect here, whether A.A’s roots in both medicine and religion are being communicated truthfully and holistically in present day A.A. public and newcomer relations. Or has there been too far a shift toward promoting A.A. as a spiritual/ religious program, away from that which is essentially a pragmatic program of coping with alcoholism as an illness?

It would appear from the earliest days to the present, the presentation of A.A. as a spiritual program is misunderstood and a great barrier to overcome for many if not most newcomers. For many people in society, the words “spiritual” and “religious” are interchangeable, for others they mean the same thing. A question to ask is: Do people now think A.A. is religious? Do the use of the word God and the serenity prayer in public relations/ newcomer literature give a religious impression and put numbers of alcoholics off from making initial contact? Would the removal of the word God and the serenity prayer from public relations/ newcomer literature and replacing them with terms such as “some power beyond themselves” be more effective in attracting and retaining sceptical newcomers?

“Just before leaving for Akron, Dr. Silkworth had given me a great piece of advice. Without it A.A. might never have been born. ‘Look, Bill,’ he had said ‘you’re having nothing but failure because you are preaching at these alcoholics… …talking to them about the Oxford Group precepts… … then you top it off by harping on about this mysterious spiritual experience of yours… … …why don’t you turn your strategy the other way round? … … Aren’t you the fellow who once showed me that book by the psychologist William James? … … … Have you forgotten Dr. Carl Yung in Zurich… …Bill you have got the cart before the horse… … You’ve got to deflate

these people first… … So give them the medical business, and give it to them hard. Pour it right into them about the obsession that condemns them to drink and the physical sensitivity or allergy of the body that condemns them to go mad or die if they keep on drinking… … Maybe that will crack their egos deep down…. … Only then can

you try your other medicine, the ethical principles…

” (Bill W. AA Comes of Age page 68)

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“The word God still aroused some antipathy. When the thought was expressed that there might be a God personal to me this feeling intensified. I didn’t like the idea. I could go for such conceptions as Creative Intelligence, Universal Mind or Spirit of Nature but I resisted the idea of a Czar of the Heavens… … My friend suggested what then seemed a novel idea “Why don’t you choose your own concept of God?” – Bill W. (Alcoholics Anonymous “Big Book” page 12)

“Fitz fell at once into a hot argument with Henry about the religious content of the coming volume. A newcomer Jimmy B., who like Henry was an ex salesman and a former atheist also got into the hassles. 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.” (A.A. comes of Age page 17)

“Dr. Howard a psychiatrist… … made an important contribution… … Bill said the psychiatrist’s ‘idea was to remove all forms of coercion, to put our fellowship on a ‘we ought’ basis instead of ‘you must’ basis… … … ‘Dr. Howard read [the manuscript] and brought it back the next day’… ‘You have to take out the must. You have to take out the God – the complete God.’ ” (Pass It On page 204)

“ Dr. Harry Tiebut, the first psychiatrist ever to hold up the hands of our fellowship for all to see… … … The

year was 1939, and the book Alcoholics Anonymous was about to hit the press… …we had made prepublication copies in multigraph [sic] … … One of them fell into Harry’s hands… …he at once resolved to show the new volume to a couple of patients, since known to us as Marty and Grenny … …At first the book made little impression … … its heavy larding with the word God so angered Marty that she threw it out of the window, flounced off the grounds… … and proceeded… on a big bender… … Back in her quarters, Marty finally brought herself to leaf through its pages once more. A single phrase caught her eye and it read ‘We cannot live with resentment’… … Forthwith she attended a meeting… … Returning … … she found Grenny intensely curious…

… Her first words to him were ‘Grenny we are not alone any more!’ ” (Bill W. A.A. Grapevine July 1966. Language of the Heart page 369)

“The unbeliever” (first edition “Big Book,” Alcoholics Anonymous) “I asked the doctor to tell me the truth.” (Experience Strength and Hope page 5) “Make it just a power that will help.” (Experience Strength and Hope page 5)

“Educated Agnostic” (first edition “Big Book,” Alcoholics Anonymous) “He told me of other men who had found sobriety through the recognition of some power beyond themselves. If I cared to I was to consider myself invited to a gathering the following Tuesday where I could meet other alcoholics who had stopped.” (Experience Strength and Hope page 104)

“Of highest importance would be our relations with medicine and religion. Under no circumstances must we get into competition with either. If we appeared to be a new religious sect, we’d be done for. And if we moved into the medical field, as such, the result would be the same.” (Bill W. AA Grapevine June 1955, Language of the Heart page 150)

“A NEW APPROACH TO PSYCHOTHERAPY IN CHRONIC ALCOHOLISM” Dr. W.D Silkworth M.D., Journal Lancet, July 1939. “These ex-alcoholic men and women number about one hundred at present. One Group is scattered along the Atlantic seaboard with New York as a center. [sic] Another and somewhat larger body is located in the Middle West… … … The fellowship is entirely indifferent concerning the individual manner of spiritual approach so long as the patient is willing to turn his life and his problems over to the care and direction of his creator. The patient

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may picture the Deity in any way he likes. No effort is whatever is made to convert him to some particular faith or creed. Many creeds are represented among the group and the greatest harmony prevails. It is emphasized that the fellowship is non-sectarian and that the patient is entirely free to follow his own inclination. Not a trace of aggressive evangelism is exhibited……Considering the presence of the religious factor, one might expect to find an unhealthy emotionalism and prejudice. This is not the case however; on the contrary there is an instant readiness to discard old methods for new ones which produce better results.” (A.A. Comes of Age, appendix E:a, pages 304-305)

Bill W. AA Grapevine April 1961 “We much regret that these facts of A.A. life are not understood by the legion of alcoholics in the world around us. Any number of them are bedevilled by the dire conviction that if they ever go near AA they will be pressured to conform to some particular brand of faith or theology. They just don’t realise that faith is never a necessity for AA membership; that sobriety can be achieved with an easily acceptable minimum of it; and our concepts of a higher power and God as we understand him afford everyone a nearly unlimited choice of spiritual belief and action” … … … How to transmit this good news is one of our most challenging problems in communication, for which there may be no fast or sweeping answer. Perhaps our public information services could begin to emphasize this all-important aspect of AA more heavily. And within our own ranks we might well develop a more

sympathetic awareness of the acute plight of these really isolated and desperate sufferers … …

… Though three

hundred thousand did recover in the last twenty-five years, maybe half a million more have walked into our midst, and then out again… … Yet we can’t well content ourselves with the view that all these recovery failures were entirely the fault of the newcomers themselves … … We didn’t communicate when we might have done so. So we AAs failed them. Perhaps more often than we think, we still make no contact with those suffering the dilemma of no faith.” (Language of the Heart page 251 -252)

It is clear the Oxford Group influence in the formative years of A.A. was as much negative as positive. When compared to the combined influence of others in organised religion and the medical profession, who kept AA on course as a non religious organisation, the time span of Oxford Group influence was very small; two years in New York and five years in Akron. The Oxford Group connection was also a public relations liability. In view of the influence in A.A. today of fundamentalist Christian non A.A. published literature which advocates early A.A. meetings as Oxford Group meetings, we question whether the Oxford Group connection ought now be confined to the A.A. history books, and not be mentioned at all in any public information and newcomer literature.

“The Oxford Groupers had clearly shown us what to do. And, just as importantly, we had learned from them what not to do as far as alcoholics were concerned. We had found that certain of their ideas and attitudes could not be sold to alcoholics. For example, 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 Groups. And they would not accept the principle of ‘team guidance’ for their own personal lives.” (A.A. Comes of Age page 74)

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“He said he was an alcoholic too… … a chemistry professor who was barely managing to hold on to his teaching post. He had come to the Oxford Group at his wife’s urging, but he could not stand their ‘non- sensical’ [sic] talk about God, nor did he like all these ‘aggressive people’ who were trying to save his soul. And while he could not accept Bill’s ‘weird’ religious experience, he certainly did agree with what Bill said about alcoholism… …he stayed drunk on and off for 11 years before finally getting sober in the A.A. program.” (Pass It On page 132)

“By the time the article was written, A.A. had become separate from the Oxford Group in both New York and Ohio, and Frank Buchman’s remarks about Hitler had given rise to accusations that the O.G .was pro- Nazi. With war in Europe against the Nazis and feelings on all fronts running high, Bill understandably wanted to avoid being associated with anything controversial, particularly when the fellowship so needed favourable publicity.” (Pass It On page 246)

“But all of us East and West were placing increased emphasis on Dr. Silkworth’s expression describing the alcoholic’s dilemma: the obsession plus the allergy” (AA Comes of Age page161)

“This incident led Sam Shoemaker to apologize to Bill later, after he himself had broken with the Oxford Group in 1941. Shoemaker wrote: ‘If you ever write the story of A.A.’s early connection with Calvary, I think it ought to be said in all honesty that we were coached in the feeling that you were off on your own spur… … … You got your inspiration from those early days, but you didn’t get much encouragement from us and for my own part in that stupid desire to control the Spirit, as he manifested Himself in individual people like you, I am heartily sorry and ashamed.” (Foot note Pass It On page 178)

“Bob and Sister Ignatia began to work more and more closely through the fall of 1939 in getting drunks into St. Thomas for treatment. One thing worried her, however: Alcoholics Anonymous seemed closely connected with the Oxford Group. ‘At the time, I feared we might become involved with a religious sect of some kind,’ Sister Ignatia recalled. She then asked Father Vincent Haas, a newly ordained priest, to investigate the meetings for her… … … Fortunately, the group had moved to Kings School by this time, and father Haas was favourably impressed.” (Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers” page 189)

“On the second day of the New Year, 1940, Dr. Bob wrote Bill: ‘Have finally shaken off the shackles of the Oxford Group.’ ” (Dr. Bob and The Good Old Timers page 218)

“Speaking for Dr. Bob and myself I would like to say that there has never been the slightest intent, on his part or mine, of trying to found a new religious denomination. Dr. Bob held certain religious convictions, and so do I. This, of course, the personal privilege of every A.A. member. Nothing however, could be so unfortunate for A.A.’s future as an attempt to incorporate any of our personal theological views into A.A. teaching, practice or tradition.” - Bill W. (AA Comes of Age page 232)

“Beyond a Higher Power, as each of us may vision him, A.A. must never, as a society, enter the field of dogma or theology. We can never become a religion in that sense. Lest we kill our usefulness by being bogged down in theological contention.” - Bill W. (Letter 1954, As Bill sees It page 116)

“This was the great contribution of our atheists and agnostics. They had widened our gateway so that all who suffer might pass through, regardless of their belief or lack of belief.” - Bill W. (A.A. Comes of Age page 167)

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Are today’s AA members generally being made fully aware of the depth of the mental illness of alcoholism?

Dr. Harry M. Tiebut. M.D. (Therapeutic Mechanism of Alcoholics Anonymous, The American Journal of Psychiatry, January 1944.

“Characteristic of the so-called typical alcoholic is a narcissistic egocentric core, dominated by feelings of omnipotence, intent on maintaining at all costs its inner integrity. While these characteristics are found in other maladjustments, they appear in relatively pure culture in alcoholic after alcoholic. In a careful study of a series of cases, Sillman reported that he felt he could discern the outlines of a common character structure among problem drinkers and that the best terms he could find for the group of qualities noted was ‘defiant individuality’ and ‘grandiosity’. In my opinion these words were accurately chosen… … … This experience I label for want of a better term, a ‘psychological awakening.’… … … In retrospect, it is apparent that the patient became aware of his basic ego centricity. For the first time he was able to penetrate behind the façade of his rationalisations and defence reactions and to see that always hitherto he had put himself first. He was literally unaware that other souls existed except insofar as they affected him… … … While one can question the permanence of this new pattern, there can be no question as to the fact that the experience itself occurred…. … … The narcissistic component in the character is submerged, at least for the time being… … Regardless of his final conception of that power, unless the individual attains in the course of time a sense of the reality and nearness of a Greater Power, his egocentric nature will re- assert itself with undiminished intensity, and drinking will again enter into the picture…” (Extracts) (AA Comes of Age, Appendix E:b, page 309-317)

ALCOHOLISM AS A MANIFESTATION OF ALLERGY W.D. Silkworth Medical Record, March 17, 1937

“Alcoholism is considered by many physicians a chronic condition that gradually unfolds itself to a dismal end… … … It is our purpose to show that there is a type of alcoholism characterised by a definite symptomatology [sic] and fixed diagnosis of a constant and specific pathology; in short, that true alcoholism is a manifestation of an allergy… … … he now has to drink from necessity in order to keep going… … Later, irritability and lack of concentration supervene. He is not the man temperamentally that he used to be… … …he is compelled to increase the amount he consumes, and a prolonged spree replaces a short intoxication… … …He has a feeling of anxiety which amounts to a nameless terror… … …At this point, even during periods of partial or complete sobriety, he develops a state of vague fear, then depression and lack of concentration… … … He is under such tension in the effort to control himself that he has to have a drink in order to hold himself together… … But he believes he must have it, even though he realises that, in his particular case, a single drink will plunge him into such a condition that a prolonged spree will be the inevitable result. After the first drink, and only then, does he experience the physical phenomenon of craving… … … I can not emphasis too strongly the point that this man does not go on a spree for pure deviltry or desire…… The inevitable conclusion is that true alcoholism is an allergic state, the result of gradually increasing sensitization by alcohol over a more or less extended time…” (Extracts) (Medical Record, March 17, 1937)

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Bill. W. Letter to Dr. Carl Yung, 1961

“My Dear Dr. Yung … … This letter has been long overdue…. … … Though Rowland H., has long since passed

away, the recollections of his remarkable experience while under treatment by you has definitely become part of A.A. history…. … … … Having exhausted other means of recovery from his alcoholism it was about 1931 that he became your patient … … … I believe he remained under your care for perhaps a year… … … He then relapsed

into intoxication

of events that led to the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous…. … … First of all, you frankly told him of his hopelessness, so far as any further medical or psychiatric treatment might be concerned. This candid and humble statement of yours was no doubt the first foundation stone upon which our society was built … (Extracts) (AA Grapevine January 1963. Language of the Heart page 276-279)

… … … Then followed a conversation between you that was to become the first link in a chain

Dr. Bob:

“You see, back in those days, we were groping in the dark,” Dr. Bob said. “We knew practically nothing of alcoholism.” (Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers page 104)

“Medical textbooks weren’t very helpful, either, Bob said. ‘Usually, the information consisted of some queer treatment for D.T.’s, if a patient had gone that far. If he hadn’t you prescribed a few bromides and gave the fellow a good lecture.” (Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers page 105)

A list of some of A.A.’s other roots:

Dr. W.W. Bauer; American Medical association. Dr. Earl M. Dr. John L. Norris, (non-alcoholic trustee) Dr. O. A. Kilpatrick, psychiatrist Dr. Ester L. Richards Dr. Leonard V. Strong, Jr.(non-alcoholic trustee) Dr. A. Weisse Hammer Dr. Stouffer, Chief psychiatrist Philadelpia General Hospital Dr. Dudley Saul Dr. Kirby Collier Dr. Dwight Anderson Dr. Dan Craske Dr. Brown Dr. Johnstone, psychiatrist Dr. Forster Kennedy, neurologist

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A.A. Comes of Age p.4 A.A. Comes of Age p.4 Pass it On page 268 Pass it On page 358 Pass it On page 201 Pass it On p181-184 Language of the Heart Page 362 Language of the Heart Page 363 Language of the Heart Page 363 Language of the Heart Page 370 Language of the Heart Page 370 AA Comes of Age page 22 AA Comes of Age page 22 AA Comes of Age page 29 AA Comes of Age page 183

Do statements such as the following in public relations give an impression of A.A. as being religious?

“The origins of Alcoholics Anonymous can be traced to the Oxford Group, a religious movement popular in the United States and Europe in the early 20th century. Members of the Oxford Group practiced a formula of self-improvement by performing self-inventory, admitting wrongs, making amends, using prayer and meditation, and carrying the message to others”.

Early A.A. history does appear to tell us that the more we focus on the “religious /spiritual” aspect in our public relations and newcomer relations, the less appealing we will be to the majority of still suffering alcoholics, and to the professionals who refer them to us. It would appear the same is true today.

“Scared Off”

“I could not agree more that when a meeting is closed with hand-holding the Lord's Prayer, we may lose many a newcomer. This has been my experience over the years. I have "lost" many a hard-bitten alcoholic who has scornfully left, saying: "I want none of that religious stuff!" and the like.” For myself, I also have a feeling that once more organized religion, in this case, Christianity, is being subtly introduced into our program.”

AA Grapevine November 1998

“Cult-like or welcoming? Reluctant conformity”

I am a former member of a religious cult, and my children consider AA to be similar in some ways. I am also not comfortable with holding hands and saying the Lord's Prayer at the end of a meeting for the same reason. AA is a spiritual, not a religious, program. I conform because that is how I've been taught and I don't want to appear different, but I would love to see this change for the benefit of everyone in the Fellowship, regardless of beliefs.”

AA Grapevine December 2010

“Why are we shouting? Chanting is bad for AA’s public relations, an old-timer assers”. AA Grapevine September 2010 “…By 1988, in my experience, the "Hi, Bob!" chant was pretty much commonplace at meetings in the Northeast. This is a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, where we share our experience, strength and hope. It is not a cult, religion or group therapy… … … An AA friend was watching television in the late 90s' when a show portrayed a facsimile of an AA meeting… … … My friend said that her husband actually laughed out loud when the group chanted: "Hi, Bill!" she said her husband asked sarcastically, "Is this the AA that you go to?" What does this mean? It means that we are a joke to much of the public. Our public relations are harmed, therefore reducing the effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous. … … … I had my last drink of alcohol in February 1970 and was active in AA through the '70s… … How many more alcoholics must perish before we reverse this religious cult thing that I feel Alcoholics Anonymous has morphed into… …Anyone listening?”

“Cult-like or just welcoming? Meetings filled with religiosity”, AA Grapevine December 2010

“Oh yes, I am listening, Bob. And I have done just that

sober in Chicago 37 years ago and have been sober one day at a time since, all thanks to AA, its members, service work and regular attendance at meetings. But about 10 or so years ago I noticed my attendance at meetings was dropping off. That started the round of checking out all sorts of groups in my area, only to find a level of noise, chanting and cult-like religiosity that I found very off-putting. One day at a time might change how I see things, but for now my Higher Power, AA friends and the Big Book will have to be enough”.

stopped going to meetings, pretty much. I got

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“Dear Grapevine, My AA” AA Grapevine November 2010 “I have been sober since 1968 and am afraid that I won't recognize my AA in another 15 years… … it seems that no one realizes that the Lord's Prayer is not in agreement with our Preamble. And I personally don't care for the chanting and pumping of the hands… … I have three alcoholic children, two of whom are in recovery. I have grandchildren and great-grandchildren and I want the program to be there when they need it.”

Bill W:

“Finally, I am often asked why I do not publicly acknowledge my very real debt of gratitude to the Oxford Group. The answer is that, unfortunately, a vast and sometimes unreasoning prejudice exists all over this country against the O.G. and its successor M.R.A. My dilemma is that if I make such an acknowledgement, I may establish a connection between the O. G. and Alcoholics Anonymous which does not exist at the present time. I had to ask myself which was more important: that the O.G. receive credit and that I have the pleasure of so discharging my debt of gratitude, or that alcoholics everywhere have the best possible chance to stay alive regardless of who gets credit.” (Bill W. Pass It On page 173)

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Section 10 Conclusion

This report gives analysis of hazardous departure from Tradition, serious and growing internal divisions and public concerns.

There is evidence Alcoholics Anonymous is being influenced by outside business interests; a minority of A.A. groups are adopting organised educational programs, hierarchical pyramid power structures and international affiliations. There is evidence of fundamentalist Christian literature distorting AA history to the extent that it presents early A.A. groups as evangelical Christian Oxford Groups and which advocates their return. There is evidence in the press, internet and within the fellowship that AA is beginning to get the reputation of being a religious cult.

A widespread and hazardous misconception in the application of A.A. Traditions presents a situation in A.A. where neither A.A. Tradition, nor General Warranties of Conference are withstanding. Unless remedial action is taken at all levels, the present dynamics in A.A. parallel that of the Washingtonian movement and signal an early warning of impending collapse.

This report makes recommendations.

“Of highest importance would be our relations with medicine and religion. Under no circumstances must we get into competition with either. If we appeared to be a new religious sect, we’d be done for. (Bill W. AA Grapevine June 1955, Language of the Heart page 150)

“Education will not only pay off in numbers treated; it can pay off even more handsomely in prevention… … it is both a community job and a job for specialists… … but AA as such cannot, and should not, get directly into this field.” (Bill W. AA Grapevine March 1958. Language of the Heart page 186-187)

“We are sure that each group of workers in world service will be tempted to try all sorts of innovations that may often produce little more than painful repetition earlier mistakes. Therefore it will be an important objective of these Concepts to forestall such repetitions by holding the experiences of the past clearly before us. And if mistaken departures are nevertheless made, these Concepts may then provide a ready means of safe return to an operating balance that might otherwise take years of floundering to rediscover.”

The “AA Service manual combined with the Twelve Concepts for World Service” online:

Minority report submitted August 2011, revised and re-submitted October 2011. Background documents enclosed.

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