home group [Plymouth Road to Recovery (cult) group] annually holds
its own Pre-Conference meeting to discuss the issues raised by the
various questions. This is really helpful to newer members who are
often a bit baffled by Conference etc and also encourages more
experienced members to get involved and understand the issues. The
main points raised in relation to this question were as follows. •
Officers are not being elected resulting in no sponsoring in. •
Follow the guidelines for service positions. Value the experience of
previous holders of the post. Read ALL available literature. Speak to
other Intergroups/Regions if no experience locally. • Many
sponsors in our group prepare sponsees for service as an integral
part of recovery. Many share about how service has taken their
recovery to new levels • There are occasions when willing and
able members are blocked from service positions because someone does
not like them or their home group. Worse still people who don’t
want to do the job are voted into service positions just to keep less
popular people out. • Lack of positive leadership/sponsorship in
AA generally. Individual autonomy does not mean that experience
should not be offered, advice from oldtimers can save a lot of time
wasting and repeated mistakes. “
fact that someone is willing and/or able does not in itself
constitute a right to a service position in an intergroup. That is a
matter for the intergroup itself. Again where someone is “blocked”
from a position because they or their group is disliked begs the
questions why so? Maybe there is a sound basis for this antipathy.
Interestingly I would regard the mere fact that someone doesn't want
the job as being something of a recommendation in itself. This would
serve to exclude those members who are driven rather by the pursuit
of personal power and influence than a service ethos (even an
unwilling one!). Finally I thought the whole point of a voting system
was to elect the popular choice and keep out the unpopular one(s).
Something to do with democracy or so I believe.”
again the Plymouth group blows its own trumpet! It sounds good but
unfortunately the reality is quite different as if so often the case
with the cult. This group like so many others treats service in AA
as a kind of career progression. CVs are frequently hastily
constructed in order to boost promising candidates up the ladder to get them to the delegate stage as fast as possible where they are then in a position
to pursue a strictly cult agenda (under the guidance of course of
their all-knowing sponsors). For this reason some of our “trusted
servants” can no longer be trusted! We echo the sentiments of the
above responder. Maybe we should not be in such a hurry to fill
service positions when they fall vacant. Getting rid of the Region
layer of the hierarchy (a completely redundant part of the service
structure – and extremely undemocratic by the way!) would be a good
start and do much to relieve the 'strain'. The proliferation of
service positions in intergroups also seems entirely unnecessary and
demonstrates an inefficient use of resources .. as in too many chefs!
Moreover we're entirely ungobsmacked that AA members don't wish to
work alongside cult members. The experience is pretty uninspiring at
the best of times! As for the last point made above: “advice”
in cult circles is rarely offered - dogma driven
'direction' however is available in abundance!
initiative, …... recently arrived ….. in Denmark to [discover] "a
vision for you" had a stronghold here....
As far as
I can determine the Clancy-clan of the Pacific group had their
philosophy migrating to an airbase somewhere in Germany. A Dane
picked it up and brought it to Denmark. He is out drinking this day.
It's terribly unloving. There are some pretty better-knowing
narrow-minded people running their own show (the mens-only group will
reject a woman desperately seeking a meeting and having 1K in the pot
that they go away on a yearly weekend self-developing ; ripping my
is: that apparently Finland had AA splitting into two separate
organisations. Simply because the hardliners with a Vision for You
got the boot.
you doing with them over there? Having our fellowship high- jacked by
bigots is awful enough as it is. ( I can stay away) But watching
people relapsing because of their weird rules is even worse.
regards, in fellowship
Thank you for your mail. We haven't put much
on the site about what is going on in continental Europe until
recently so it's interesting to hear from you. We always appreciate
as much detail as people can supply about their own experiences of
'cult' activity. Our own efforts are mainly concentrated on exposing
them and providing AA members with as much information as possible so
they can make their own decisions. Essentially what is happening is
that AA is beginning to split into factions in the UK with the
'dogmatists' going in one direction and the remainder of the
fellowship in the other. Their hardline attitude simply drives
newcomers away. In the long run if AA does not take action then the
fellowship will simply disintegrate. Membership numbers are
falling in the UK [down to 20,000 'regular' members - AA's own estimate] and this is a trend we expect to see continue (not
all due to cult activity we should say!). Nevertheless we
remain optimistic that members will finally face up to what is going
on and start to take the issue seriously - and act!"
(Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous)
thanks to our correspondent. Any further information would be
first, there were no Catholic members in AA, but their participation
was made possible by the final separation of AA from the Oxford
In New York, the first
Catholic member was Morgan R., who acted as AA's first unofficial
with the Catholic Church. Morgan submitted the manuscript of the book
("the Big Book") to the New York Archdiocesan Committee on
Publications and received a favorable response. The Committee, Morgan
reported, "had nothing but the best to say of our efforts. From
their point of view the book was perfectly all right as far as it
went." A few editorial suggestions were readily and gratefully
incorporated, especially in the section treating of prayer and
one change was requested. In Wilson's story, he had "made a
rhetorical flourish to the effect that 'we have found Heaven right
here on this good old earth.' " It was suggested he change
"Heaven" to "Utopia." "After all, we
Catholics are promising folks something much better later on!"
Catholic non-alcoholic who profoundly influenced AA in its early days
was Fr. Edward Dowling of the Society of Jesus. Although his
involvement with AA was only one of many apostolic and charitable
works, his influence on AA was considerable. His work is valuable as
a pattern for Catholics who wish to relate constructively to AA and
other recovery groups.
Dowling was a Jesuit from
St. Louis and was the editor of a Catholic publication called The
Upon reading the Big Book, he was favorably impressed and saw
between the 12 steps and aspects of Ignatian spirituality—perhaps
especially the Ignatian admonition to pray as if everything depends
on God and to work as if everything depends on oneself.
made Wilson's acquaintance on a cold, rainy night in 1940. Wilson
grudgingly admitted the visitor, thinking his unexpected guest was
yet another drunk demanding help and attention. Soon, as they talked,
the Jesuit began to share an understanding of the spiritual life
which was to influence Wilson from that day forward.
is all the more remarkable because Wilson had never known any
Catholics intimately and felt a lingering prejudice against members
of the clergy, of whatever denomination.
Wilson viewed his meeting
with Dowling as "a second conversion experience." The
crippled Jesuit, he said, "radiated a grace that filled the room
with a sense of Presence" (interestingly enough, Wilson used the
same expression, "sense of Presence," to describe his
impression of Winchester Cathedral in England, which had obvious
Catholic associations and where he had first experienced a desire for
God many years before). Wilson was feeling depressed
and angry at God because, at the moment, he seemed to be a failure:
Wilson's biographer tells it, "When Bill asked if there was
never to be any satisfaction, the old man snapped back, 'Never. Never
any.' There was only a kind of divine dissatisfaction that would keep
him going, reaching out always."
priest went on: Having surrendered to God and received back his
sobriety, Wilson could not retract his surrender by demanding an
accounting from God when life did not unfold according to
preconceived expectations. Even the sense of dissatisfaction could
be an occasion of spiritual growth.
then hobbled to the door and declared, as a parting shot, "that
if ever Bill grew impatient, or angry at God's way of doing things,
if ever he forgot to be grateful for being alive right here and now,
he, Father Ed Dowling, would make the trip all the way from St. Louis
to wallop him over the head with his good Irish stick." And so
began a twenty-year friendship between Wilson and Dowling, who
remained Wilson's spiritual advisor.
was deeply attracted to the Catholic Church and even received
instruction from Fulton Sheen in 1947. Wilson's wife Lois, looking
back on it all, was sure that he was never really close to
conversion; but a close friend thought otherwise: "I had the
impression that at the last minute, he didn't go through with his
conversion because he felt it would not be right for AA."
simplest explanation is that Wilson remained profoundly ambivalent
about organized religion and its doctrines.Just as he had
shied away from the "Absolutes" of the Oxford Group, so
he could not see his way to accepting Catholicism's own absolutism—in
particular, papal infallibility and the efficacy of sacraments:
"Though no disbeliever in all miracles, I still can't picture
God working like that."
infallibility, Wilson wrote to Dowling: "It is ever so hard
to believe that any human beings, no matter who, are able to be
infallible about anything." In a 1947 letter to Dowling he
said, "I'm more affected than ever by that sweet and powerful
aura of the Church; that marvelous spiritual essence flowing down by
the centuries touches me as no other emanation does, but when I look
at the authoritative layout, despite all the arguments in its favor,
I still can't warm up.
No affirmative conviction comes . . . P. S.
Oh, if only the Church had a fellow-traveler department, a cozy spot
where one could warm his hands at the fire and bite off only as much
as he could swallow. Maybe I'm just one more shopper looking for a
bargain on that virtue— obedience!"
Sheen Wilson wrote: "Your sense of humor will, I know, rise to
the occasion when I tell you that, with each passing day, I feel more
like a Catholic and reason more like a Protestant!"
is precisely the challenge faced by Catholic apologists in witnessing
to those in recovery groups: bringing the head and the heart
difficulties with Catholic faith tell us that—without dilution—we
must make our faith and its graces more accessible by connecting
faith with experience. This does not mean we can neglect reasoned
apologetics—far from it. We must respect people's intelligence.
But, as Sheen noted, in some cases, our reasoning "leaves the
modern soul cold, not because its arguments are unconvincing, but
because the modern soul is too confused to grasp them."
we offer a plausible account of the religious implications of 12-step
recovery, we can perhaps get a receptive hearing for a fuller
evangelization and catechesis.
the convention marking AA's twentieth anniversary (the society's
"coming of age"), Dowling said, "We know AA's 12 steps
of man toward God. May I suggest God's 12 steps toward man as
Christianity has taught them to me." He then went on to draw out
the parallels between AA's steps of recovery and God's redemption of
the human race in Christ, who is both the Incarnate God and the New
Adam of redeemed humanity.
concluded with Francis Thompson's poem The Hound of Heaven,
suggesting that the poem was "[t]he perfect picture of the
AA's quest for God, but especially God's loving chase for the AA."
important, though somewhat later, Catholic influence on AA was Fr.
John C. Ford, S.J., one of Catholicism's most eminent moral
theologians. In the early forties, Ford himself recovered from
alcoholism with AA's help. He became one of the earliest Catholic
proponents of addressing alcoholism as a problem having spiritual,
physiological, and psychological, dimensions.
said that alcohol addiction is a pathology which is not
consciously chosen, but he rejected the deterministic idea that
alcoholism is solely a disease without any moral component: "[I]t
obviously has moral dimensions, and that is one reason why the
clergyman is thought to have a special role to play.
answer the question: Is alcoholism a moral problem or is it a
sickness, I think the answer is that it is both. I don't think it
is true to say that alcoholism is just a sickness, in the sense
that cancer or tuberculosis are sicknesses. I think there are too
many rather obvious differences between the two to classify
alcoholism as a sickness in that sense. On the other hand, I don't
think it is true either to say that alcoholism is just a moral
problem. There are still a good many people who look at an
alcoholic as a good-for-nothing with a weak will or one who doesn't
use his willpower . . .
keep saying, 'Don't do it again,' over and over. I don't believe he
does it just because he wants to do it or because he is willful.
When you look at the agony that the alcoholic inflicts upon himself
over the course of the years, it seems to me to be very difficult to
say he wants to be that way or he does it on purpose. . . . I think
it is fair to speak of alcoholism as a triple sickness—a sickness
of the body, a sickness of the mind, and also a sickness of the
impressed by Ford's insight, asked him to edit Twelve Steps and
Twelve Traditions (with the Big Book, this is the basic text of
12-step recovery) and Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age. In
part, Wilson's concern in these books was to present the AA program
in a way acceptable to Catholic sensibilities.
contribution to AA was therefore twofold: He drew on both religion
and psychology to show alcoholism as a synthetic problem requiring a
synthetic remedy, and he took seriously the quasicompulsive nature of
addiction while rejecting both absolute determinism and the attendant
pitfalls of a purely therapeutic approach. He drew on psychological
insights, but ultimately shared the sentiments of Dr. Bob, who used
to say, "Don't louse it up with psychiatry."
so many ways, Ford's approach to addiction and recovery remains a
model of spiritual discernment for our own time.”
Setting aside both the underlying (and explicit) evangelistic
tendencies and that peculiarly clerical conceit which suggests that
they may possess some special expertise when it comes to matters of
morality (emphasising thereby the importance of retaining a clear
distinction between the 'religious' and the 'spiritual' domains)
there are some interesting questions raised here about the “moral”
dimension of addiction.
Recently decided by the
Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.This will likely
be adopted by other jurisdictions as precedent setting
this appeal, we consider whether summary judgment was properly granted
to an employer that required a long-term employee whose job
performance was satisfactory to submit to random alcohol testing and
terminated her employment when a test showed she had used alcohol.
Because the record revealed that the basis for the testing and
termination was the employee's voluntary disclosure that she was an
alcoholic and not the result of inadequate job performance, the
imposition of these conditions constituted direct evidence of
discrimination. As a result, the burden of persuasion shifted to the
employer, requiring it to show that the employment actions taken
would have occurred even if it had not considered plaintiff's
disability, see McDevitt v. Bill Good Builders, Inc., 175 N.J. 519,
525 (2003), a burden it failed to satisfy as a matter of law. We
therefore conclude that summary judgment dismissing plaintiff's
disability discrimination claim was inappropriate.”
many rights are suspended while you are in prison, courts have
protected a prisoner’s constitutional right to access the state and
federal courts. This right includes a prisoner’s ability to prepare
and submit petitions and complaints, including federal habeas corpus
petitions and civil rights actions. The Supreme Court held in Bounds
v. Smith that “the fundamental constitutional right of access to
the courts requires prison authorities to assist inmates in the
preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by providing
prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from
persons trained in the law.” In other words, the Supreme Court
believes that prisoners need a way to learn the law in order to take
full advantage of their constitutional right to access the courts. If
the state stands in the way of your ability to do legal research or
get legal assistance, you may be able to file a suit claiming that
you have been denied access to the courts.”
aacultwatch has been set up by members of Alcoholics Anonymous who are concerned about the development of a movement within the Fellowship that we refer to as a cult.
It is our view that this cult has as its aims the control of AA in Great Britain and the promulgation of its own version of the recovery programme that is both a corruption of the message and the spirit of the Fellowship.
Our aim is to raise awareness of this threat and encourage members to act according to their conscience to marginalize this movement. Local members are in the best position to judge what should be done in their area but already some experience has been gained in the Fellowship on how to respond to this malign influence, and some of these ideas are also presented on the blog.
Finally we seek to restore AA to a healthily disorganised state where no faction within the Fellowship may seek to impose its will upon the rest, and that the rights of the individual are always upheld. For those AA members who are interested in supporting us in our efforts we can be contacted via our email address above