AA is a Cult, part 40

Today I want to start looking at the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. Like the Twelve Steps, the Traditions were lifted from or inspired by AA founder Bill Wilson’s former religion, the cultic Oxford Group founded by Frank Buchman. AA is the direct descendant of the Oxford Group and retained its practices of public confession and channeling God. 

Each tradition has a short and long form. We will examine each tradition in both forms. Long forms were published first, in an AA Grapevine issue in 2946 written by Bill W. While the word “tradition” may invoke ideas of holidays and holy days (or Fiddler On The Roof), the AA use of the term more directly translates to “code of conduct” or “rules”. Here then are the rules of AA. 

1st Tradition. Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part in a great whole. A.A. must continue to live or most of us will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterward. 

Short: Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on A.A. unity. 

This tradition states that the group comes first, and its members after. The ” great whole” of “A.A. unity”, ” our common welfare”, “comes first.” People who join AA aren’t looking for a “great whole” to be “but one small part of.” They want to quit drinking. So the Tradition says that if an alcoholic focuses on what they need to get and stay sober instead of what AA needs to get and retain members, they will “surely die.” 

This is cultic fear mongering, deception, and devaluation of the individual. Threatening critics with death by alcoholism is not “spiritual.” Obfuscating the fact that AA fails for 95% of those who try it, this tradition claims without their 5% success rate, “most of us” will die. Individual welfare comes after the goals of the cult: the individual who focuses on themselves is portrayed as selfish. (Ironically one AA slogan advises members to “Work a selfish program”, but that just means not complaining about the horrid misbehavior of other members.) 

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