"Dear Father XXX
I am disappointed to hear that your church is allowing Alcoholics Anonymous
to hold meetings on its premises. Whilst I am sure that this was done from the
best of intentions, I would suggest that an examination of the precepts of this
organization as laid out in its literature and shown by the type of witnessing
known as "sharing" in its meetings is incompatible with the Christian faith as
understood by Catholics, or indeed any Protestant denominations I am familiar
with. It's bogus "spirituality" has more to do with superstition, magic and
occultism than Christianity. As a matter of fact (recorded in AA's own official
biography of him, "Pass it On") this movement's co-founder Bill Wilson was an
enthusiastic lifelong participant in séances in which he claimed to contact the
spirits of the dead.
AA also explicitly encourages the heresy of indifferentism, which suggests
that any conception of God (euphemistically downgraded in AA to "higher power")
is as good as any other. Even the absurd notion that people can pray to things
like light bulbs, doorknobs or chairs is routinely suggested in AA meetings as a
step on the way to abdicating responsibility for one's own life and trusting
implicitly that Alcoholics Anonymous has all of the answers one will ever need
on how to live one's life.
You may be surprised to know that Alcoholics Anonymous has very little to say
about the nature of alcohol addiction as a health problem, but has a great deal
to say about the supposed importance of embracing some very strange concepts
concerning the nature of God, the purpose of prayer and the notion that
"spiritual diseases" exist. These ideas are not really compatible with
mainstream Christianity, although they may share some features with eccentric
sects like Christian Science.
Alcoholics Anonymous had its origins in the 1930s in an evangelizing
protestant sect known as the Oxford Group, run by the Rev. Frank Buchman. This
movement was highly controversial, partly because of accusations of deceptive
recruiting and religious heresy (Catholics were actually banned by the Vatican
from participating in it) and partly because of the notorious far-right
political sympathies of its leader who openly praised Hitler.
The sacrament of Confession, familiar to me as a baptized Catholic is
sacrilegiously distorted in AA so that one is encouraged to divulge one's
guiltiest secrets (supposedly with God's blessing) to an AA "sponsor" whose only
qualification to hear them is that he or she has been a drunkard. Such a person
is, of course, un-ordained, untrained, unaccountable and not sworn to
This organization has a morbid and sickly religiosity which is entirely its
own and is not compatible with Christianity. To anyone who is involved with it
for any length of time it becomes clear that its "spirituality" is a matter of
making AA itself the central authority and guide in one's life, not God. This
becomes very clear as one hears old-established members talk with undisguised
contempt and disdain about the Christian religion, whilst literally giving AA
writings such as the so-called "Big Book" (really called "Alcoholics Anonymous")
the same reverence and affording it the same authority as Christians would
reserve for the Bible.
AA successfully misrepresents itself to the outside world as a
no-strings-attached self-help and support group. In reality it is closer to
being a peculiar and exclusive medico-religious cult. Despite its protestations
of ecumenical religious open-mindedness, it actually requires beliefs and
practices which set it quite apart from any other religion and make it a de
facto religion in its own right.
I know quite a lot about this organization
because in the past I had a problem with drinking too much. I am pleased to say
that this is no longer an issue, but for a time I did become involved with the
movement. However, I was repelled by its heretical religiosity, its dishonesty
and the obvious danger of some of its practices to the mentally ill or
I don't think this movement should be taken at face value, any more than
should, say, the Moonies or Scientology (who also run a plausible addiction
"recovery" program). In particular, AA's claim that there is nothing in its
teachings that can possibly conflict with a person's prior religious beliefs
needs close examination. I don't believe that claim stands up to honest
I am not alone in having these concerns. There has for some considerable time
been a growing body of criticism of AA in print and on the internet amongst
ex-members, mental health professionals, researchers and members of churches
about the unaccountable way this movement intrudes a skewed and loaded
"spiritual" agenda into supposed help for vulnerable people.
I hope you don't mind my airing these views. When I first heard of Alcoholics
Anonymous I assumed it to be an obviously benign movement, but considerable
firsthand experience of the organization and its message has caused me to think
I don't know who wrote the original, but I'm pretty sure it's public domain,
so if anyone feels like enlightening their local clergyman, feel free to use
Thanks to Ben of the Orange Papers Forum for digging it up again.
PS, I'm going to try and get it to the two local churches here in town that hold the 4 biggest meetings in the area. Will this make AA go away? No, but they do get cheap if not free rooms from the churches. If they had to go out a rent out space at say an Elk's Club or something, it would put a serious financial hurt on them and cause disruption and confusion.