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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: The Cult of the 12 Steps

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Cult of the 12 Steps

I have been meaning to write about Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 step programs for awhile now. I do not personally know anyone who has been in the program, but what I have uncovered is quite disturbing. Awhile back I watched an episode of South Park (clip below) that dealt with AA. At first I thought the steps mentioned in the episode was a joke…that was until I did a quick search on the internet. There they where, all 12 steps of the AA cult. The steps in the episode were the actual steps.

What’s the harm you might ask? After all, AA has helped countless individuals kick their addiction! The problem for me is the steps. Throughout the steps is this notion that alcoholism is a disease which its victims are powerless to stop without the help of a higher power. This implies that the individual cannot be held responsible for his or her actions and only god can stop the individual from remaining a victim. Even if I was not an atheist I would find this notion both appalling and disturbing. In fact, here’s an excellent post by one of my fellow contributors at The Liberty Papers, Chris Byrne a practicing Catholic who wrote a more exhaustive post about the 12 steps both at his blog Anarchangel and The Liberty Papers.

Below is a clip from the South Park episode I mentioned. I apologize for the poor quality but this was the only clip I could find (you may need to turn up the volume). I was hoping to find the whole episode but this scene does a good job of making the point.


Blogger MICKY said...

10:03 PM  
Blogger MICKY said...

From Bill's Story:
Co - founder of AA, Bill Wilson's story has been in every edition of the book Alcoholics Anonymous.
With ministers, and the world's religions, I parted right there. When they talked of a God personal to me, who was love, superhuman strength and direction, I became irritated and my mind snapped shut against such a theory.
To Christ I conceded the certainty of a great man, not too closely followed by those who claimed Him. His moral teaching -- most excellent. For myself, I had adopted those parts which seemed convenient and not too difficult; the rest I disregarded.
My friend suggested what then seemed a novel idea. He said, "Why don't you choose your own conception of God?"
That statement hit me hard. It melted the icy intellectual mountain in whose shadow I had lived and shivered many years. I stood in the sunlight at last.
It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning. I saw that growth could start from that point. Upon a foundation of complete willingness I might build what I saw in my friend. Would I have it? Of course I would! Thus was I convinced that God is concerned with us humans when we want Him enough. At long last I saw, I felt, I believed. Scales of pride and prejudice fell from my eyes. A new world came into view. The real significance of my experience in the Cathedral burst upon me. For a brief moment, I had needed and wanted God. There had been a humble willingness to have Him with me -- and He came. But soon the sense of His presence had been blotted out by worldly clamors, mostly those within myself. And so it had been ever since. How blind I had been.
At the hospital I was separated from alcohol for the last time. Treatment seemed wise, for I showed signs of delirium tremens.
There I humbly offered myself to God, as I then I understood Him, to do with me as He would. I placed myself unreservedly under His care and direction. I admitted for the first time that of myself I was nothing; that without Him I was lost. I ruthlessly faced my sins and became willing to have my new-found Friend take them away, root and branch. I have not had a drink since. Simple, but not easy; a price had to be paid. It meant destruction of self-centeredness. I must turn in all things to the Father of Light who presides over us all. These were revolutionary and drastic proposals, but the moment I fully accepted them, the effect was electric. There was a sense of victory, followed by such a peace and serenity as I had never know. There was utter confidence. I felt lifted up, as though the great clean wind of a mountain top blew through and through. God comes to most men gradually, but His impact on me was sudden and profound.
For a moment I was alarmed, and called my friend, the doctor, to ask if I were still sane. He listened in wonder as I talked.
Finally he shook his head saying, "Something has happened to you I don't understand. But you had better hang on to it. Anything is better than the way you were." The good doctor now sees many men who have such experiences. He knows that they are real.
While I lay in the hospital the thought came that there were thousands of hopeless alcoholics who might be glad to have what had been so freely given me. Perhaps I could help some of them. They in turn might work with others.
There is no mention of JESUS CHRIST in the BIG BOOK or the 12 STEPS. Wilson was used by SATAN to delude millions of people.
John 3:16 (chapter 3, verse 16 of the Gospel of John) is one of the most widely quoted verses from the Christian Bible. It has been called the "Bible in a nutshell" because it is considered a summary of some of the most central doctrines of traditional Christianity:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
A typical interpretation of the verse might go as follows:
For God so loved the world... - God is a God of love and this love motivates his action in the rest of the verse
· ...that he gave... - there was God giving something, his son as a sacrifice
· ...his only begotten[1] Son... - the human Jesus of Nazareth is also the Son of God, and also the Second Person of the Trinity
· ...that whosoever... - that salvation is open to all who will believe.
...believeth... - being saved is based on belief or faith, rather than based on human works. Him... - the belief being in Jesus, the Saviour.
...should not perish... - implies the fate of those who do not believe, that is the doctrine of hell.
...but have everlasting life. - shows the reward of those who believe, that is the doctrine of heaven.
Peace Be With You

3:34 AM  
Blogger MICKY said...

There is absolutely no scientific foundation to the notion that some people have an allergy to alcohol. An allergy (more properly speaking – hypersensitivity) is a well-defined medical condition where the body produces antibodies in response to an antigen. A detailed description can be found in
No scientific researcher has ever found any human who produces antibodies in response to alcohol.

3:39 AM  
Blogger MICKY said...

Nowhere in the 12 steps does it say that you should quit drinking, or help anyone else to quit drinking, either. Nowhere do the words SOBRIETY, RECOVERY, ABSTINENCE, HEALTH, HAPPINESS, JOY, & LOVE appear in the 12 Steps. The word ‘alcohol’ is only used once, when it was PATCHED into the 1st Step for the word “sin.” But Wilson wrote “ We are powerless over ‘alcohol’… Oxford Group Slogan; “We are powerless over sin & have been defeated by it.

3:40 AM  
Blogger MICKY said...

Oxford group soul surgery techniques called for augmentation of guilt leading to the conversion experience. The alcoholics had learned, through their own conversion, a different method, augmentation of fear with an initial diminution of guilt. “It’s not your fault it’s a disease. There is nothing you can do about it. You’ll die unless you believe.” When a person was properly convinced & reached a point of proper desperation, guilt was then applied to bring about conversion of God control. These new groupers [Steppers] were motivated not primarily by guilt, but by fear. The other groupers [Steppers] being god controlled through guilt would use guilt to manipulate others.
Peace Be With You

3:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in the fellowship. There is, as you say, a "concentration" of sorts on the concept of belief in a higher power as a foundation on which one builds recovery from alcohol addiction.

(the whole "allergy" thing aside, it is definitely possible for a human to develop an addiction/dependancy on alcohol. Some in AA just use the term "allergy" as they use the term "disease;" they mean the same thing, a dependancy or addiction)

HOWEVER, you can be an agnostic or atheist and still be a member of AA. The only requirement for membership in AA is a desire to quit drinking. That's it. You don't need to believe in Jesus or Vishnu or Bob Dobbs or anything except that it's possible you might be an alcoholic.

You can find agnostic and atheist groups in AA. I myself believe in, and see in others' daily practice, the possibility that one can be spiritual without believing in an ultimate power.

11:01 AM  
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8:47 PM  

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