Tenth Tradition. No A.A. group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside controversial issues — particularly those of politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever.
Short: Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside iissues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
To properly understand the tenth Tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous, we must first review a little history. AA was founded by the rotgut guzzling bounder Bill Wilson and disgraced blackout drinking physician Dr. Bob Smith. Both men found sobriety when they were drafted into the flashy and fabulous Oxford Group, founded by Frank Buchman.
Buchman liked to be seen as important and well connected. He sought out celebrities and titled nobility to convert to his mishmash faith of Christianity, idolatry, and the occult. He presented his religion as uniquely suited to conflict resolution and himself as a master mediator. But his political preferences for capitalism and fascism were quite obvious. Buchman spent the 1930s attending Nuremberg rallies, courting top ranking Nazis, and saying things like “Thank Heaven for a man like Hitler” (because at least he wasn’t a communist.)
These objectionable behaviors were all evident before and during the tenures of Bill W. and Dr. Bob. They didn’t mind that their leader praised Hitler. They didn’t object or leave or try to change things from within. Instead each man became an enthusiastic recruiter, going into private hospital rooms to prey on alcoholics in withdrawal. They started meetings for alcoholic converts to the Oxford Group. By 1939 when the Big Book of AA was published and AA was truly divorced from Oxford, Buchman’s Nazi activities had damaged the Group’s reputation.
This Tradition reflects what Bill and Dr Bob learned from Buchman’s mistakes. It protects the group from public scandal, but at the cost of doing the right thing. Obviously supporting Nazis is wrong, and Buchman and his religion deserved scrutiny for it. But this Tradition also prevented AA from supporting desegregation of public schools and venues, from protesting extradicial murders, from supporting laws that keep guns off school campuses. It prevents marching against the illegal and inhumane anti refugee executive action signed on Holocaust Rememberance Day.
Notice the bait and switch. First it says only those statements which might “implicate” AA are forbidden. But by the end members are admonished not to express any views at all. The group’s “apolitical” position is required of every member. If you’re a pro-choice activist, believe Black Lives Matter, or want to fight against fascism, AA doesn’t wanna hear it. And they’d prefer you said nothing about it any time, in case the group is held responsible for your views. That’s not healthy detachment from politics.