This post mentions a series of faith healing deaths in a list, including child deaths.
Twelve Steps groups are faith healing cults. They discourage discussion of medical and mental health services as “outside issues”. They actively encourage members to go off doctor prescribed medications, from mood stabilizers to methadone to aspirin. Instead, they say members should turn all their cares over to God (as they understand Him), who will reward their faithfulness with healing.
That’s exactly what my faith healing cult Home In Zion Ministries taught. God wanted us to have faith in Him even when our senses told us someone would die without medical care. Some of them did die: babies in childbirth, a mother who hemorrhaged, two cousins starved, a toddler who was attacked by a swarm of yellow jackets, and a pedestrian my grandmother leader mowed down. Their deaths didn’t change one word of her theology.
Likewise in Alcoholics Anonymous and other Twelve Steps groups there are deaths. Orange-Papers.Org has catalogued numerous “AA ‘No Meds’ Horror Stories” giving examples of members told by their sponsors or other group members to cease medications, and the sometimes deadly results. A majority of the deaths detailed ther we’re suicides, after someone stopped taking prescription antidepressants or mood stabilizers.
AA recklessly endangers mentally and physically ill members. In addition to offering to be your God (in Step 2), AA is happy to play doctor. When people die after following the advice of their group and sponsor, steppers shrug it off. “They weren’t working the program” and dismissive utterances of “dry drunks” take the place of compassion and reflection. One of the days cults damage people is by teaching them love and mercy should be conditional on compliance.
This is not a matter of a few rogue sponsors or renegade meetings. From the early days of AA, when Bill W. and Dr. Bob were chain smoking cigarettes and hosting all night “sober parties” and Bill was merrily “thirteenth stepping” his favorite mistress, there were serious heated debates about drugs. Specifically, did taking an aspirin count as a slip or not? Ultimately Bill W. decreed that a spiritual person who was “working the program” could rely on their “Higher Power” for healing.
While there is not an official AA rule against taking medicine, the social pressure to conform with faith healing s maintained through the sponsor system. Sponsors make a kind of cult genealogy and people who can trace their lineage, sponsor to grand sponsor, all the way up to Bill W. and Dr. Bob are as proud of this as Mormon descendants of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young are of their heritage.