AA is a Cult, part 10

Bill Wilson, via Orange Papers

Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob continued recruiting alcoholics Brooklyn, New York and Akron, Ohio to Buchmanism. Another Oxford Grouper, Clarence Snyder, was doing the same in Cleveland. Frank Buchman liked hobnobbing with the rich and famous and garnering attention for his cult. A group of anonymous poor drunks must have seemed insulting to his ego and Bill’s power grab must have been a threat. 

Bill W. positioned himself as leader of the “Alcoholic Squad” of the Oxford Group. He was pushed out of the Group. Bill packed up his alcoholics and took them with him. He started by writing the Twelve Steps during a “guidance” session of automatic writing. He took the Six Steps of the Oxford Group, split each in two, and presented it as his own (or perhaps God’s) invention. 

Let’s examine the Six Steps and the Twelve and see how they compare.

  1. A complete deflation
  2.  Dependence on God
  3. A moral inventory
  4. Confession 
  5. Restitution 
  6. Continued work with others in need

    Anyone who’s ever “worked the steps” of AA or another Twelve Steps group will instantly recognize the phrase “moral inventory”. The concepts of deflation, dependence, confession, and limited restitution should also be familiar. When it comes to ” others in need” bear in mind that Oxford Group had an official anti charity policy, even in the face of tremendous need during the Great Depression. It really means recruitment. 

    These were the steps Bill W, Dr. Bob, and Clarence Snyder claimed helped them quit drinking: six steps for joining the Oxford Group. You may notice that words like “drinking” and “sober” appear nowhere in this text, which only makes sense if you understand cultic bait and switch. If we understand these as a path toward cult membership, every word becomes more sinister. 

    “Complete deflation” is like having your will broken by an army movie drill sargeant. Will, pride, and ego obliterated, along with self-esteem and individuality. “Dependence on God” of course means dependence on the group and its leader. The “moral inventory” is everything that plagues you with guilt, the most powerful weapon an emotional abuser could hope for. “Confession” to the group is more guilt and exposure. “Restitution” and “help” are both about sharing the Group gospel. 

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