Letters, We Get Mail, CCLXXIV

[The previous letter from Green is here.]

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters274.html#Green ]

In Facebook, "Agent Green" of the "Green Papers" wrote:

http://www.facebook.com/n/?orange.papers%2Fposts%2F290892684263403∣= 52cee29G25f2680eG8ba9e5dGe&bcode;=Y5HXUEdQ&n;_m=orange%40orange-papers.info

So, to recap:

We agree that the Triennial graph is a frequency distribution which shows that 26% of people who are in their first month of AA attendance will remain after a year. (5% / 19% x 100 = 26%). You, however, have stated that 81% of newcomers will leave after their first/second meeting, and that the surveys used to compiled the Triennial data will have missed those newcomers and therefore they won't be represented in the 19% in their first month. You don't state how your figure of 81% was derived, or provide any references for it.

My response to your points that: A) 81% of newcomers leave after their first meetings; and B) The surveys don't count newcomers who leave after a meeting or two; and C) Those newcomers will have left before the surveys are undertaken. Are as follows:

A) If it were true that 81% of new arrivals at AA left straight away it would mean (converting % into people) that an average meeting would be comprised of 81 + (and from the graph) 19+13+10+9+8+7+7+6+6+6+6+5 in their first year. That's 183 people in their first year, and additionally a few people with more than a year of meeting time (remember, you Orange, have claimed that only 5% or less people make it out of their first year, so not many). That would mean almost half the meeting are new people who will never return and the vast majority of the rest are in their first year — is this the make-up of a typical AA meeting? I don't think so... but if it were...

B) The surveys are taken in thousands of typical meetings. If almost half the people there are at their first/second meeting, why did they not put their hands up when asked "who here is in their first month?" Why does the survey data only show 19% for those in their first month if so many newcomers are present? The answer is that the vast numbers of people arriving and leaving are not real and are just made up by you Orange, where is your proof?

C) Those newcomers left before the survey guy arrived? I don't think so. Newcomers arrive in a steady stream, which means an average meeting would have the same proportion of newcomers to non-newcomers as the whole AA population. They would show up if they were real, they don't because you've made them up.

What say you?

Hello again, Green,

  1. When you claim that 183 people are in their first month, your mathematics are faulty. Adding 81 to 102 is meaningless number-fumbling. The chain of 12 numbers that you added together — "19+13+10+9+8+7+7+6+6+6+6+5" — is the percentages of the first-year membership that are in each month, not counts of people. Those percentages should add up to 100, and they would have, except for round-off error where they rounded up a couple of more times than they rounded down, so they total 102.

    Previously, you suggested that 1000 newcomers per month come to a large A.A. meeting or set of meetings in an area, and 80% of them drop out after just a few meetings, leaving 200 to become new A.A. members in their first month, present to be counted in a triennial survey. They become the 19% of the membership whom the survey counted as in their first month of A.A. membership. That actually sounds very accurate.

    I never said that 81% drop out before the survey. That number sounds about right, but I never said 81%. You said 80%. I said that the number was indeterminate.

  2. [I said that] The surveys don't count newcomers who leave after a meeting or two.

    Obviously, the survey cannot count people who are not there to be counted. People who are not going to A.A. meetings will not get counted as members. This point is so self-evident that you have to be really obtuse to refuse to see it.

    If almost half the people there are at their first/second meeting, why did they not put their hands up when asked "who here is in their first month?"

    Where do you get the idea that almost half of the people present at meetings are in their first or second month? I never said anything like that, and neither did the triennial survey. The survey stated that 19% of the newcomers present were in their first month, and 13% were in their second month. Those numbers add up to 32%, not 50%. Obviously, those people did raise their hands and get counted. So why are you claiming that they didn't raise their hands and get counted?

    And those are official A.A. numbers. I didn't make them up. My proof is the A.A. triennial survey.

    Then you said,

    That would mean almost half the meeting are new people who will never return and the vast majority of the rest are in their first year

    No, again, you are trying to project some generalization about the whole membership from a few numbers that only describe the newcomers.

    The triennial survey chart that we are arguing about was a survey of the people in their first year of A.A. membership. It did not say one word about the other people who had more than a year of A.A. membership, or how many of them were present at meetings.

    We shall have to look elsewhere to find some information about that. If we look at the official A.A. web site, it says that the average sobriety time of A.A. members is 8 years. That is of course absurd and impossible. That would mean that there are almost no newcomers to A.A. at all.

    • There would have to be one 16-year oldtimer for every newcomer in order for the two of them to average out to 8 years of sobriety.
    • Or, there would have to be two 12-year oldtimers present for each newcomer in order for the three of them to average out to 8 years of sobriety.
    • Or, there would have to be three people with over 10 years — almost 11 years — of sobriety for each newcomer in order for the four of them to average out to 8 years of sobriety.
    Obviously, none of those situations is true. Just go to any A.A. meeting and look around.

  3. You say,

    Those newcomers left before the survey guy arrived? I don't think so.

    What you like to think has no bearing on the mathematics.

    Newcomers arrive in a steady stream, which means an average meeting would have the same proportion of newcomers to non-newcomers as the whole AA population. They would show up if they were real, they don't because you've made them up.

    Your statement that "an average meeting would have the same proportion of newcomers to non-newcomers as the whole AA population" is a truism. The "average" A.A. meeting would of course be the same as a slice of the whole A.A. population. An average of A.A. cannot be anything else. But that is still a meaningless statement that says nothing about the newcomers and their dropout rate.

    If the newcomers were arriving in a steady stream and then staying in A.A., then the graph would have shown the same number of people in each month: 8.33%. One twelfth of the newcomers would be in each month. The triennial survey would have produced a flat horizontal line.

    But that isn't what the Triennial Survey showed. It showed 19% of the 1st-year people were in their first month, and only 5% in their 12th month. The triennial survey showed a steeply-declining exponential curve. That shows a high dropout rate. Again, this point is self-evident and undeniable.

    Figure C-1 from page 12 of the Commentary on the Triennial Surveys (from 1977 to 1989), A.A. internal document number 5M/12-90/TC
    Also see: Addiction, Change & Choice; The New View of Alcoholism, Vince Fox, M.Ed. CRREd., page 66

And guess who else found that A.A. has a 95% dropout rate in the first year? Dr. Ron Whitington, the Chairman of the General Service Board of A.A. in Australia. He gave a speech on the subject that was reprinted in A.A. Around Australia, which is the Australian equivalent of The Grapevine:

"A well conducted professional study," (page19) that showed "some 5% of newcomers are still attending meetings after 12 months. This is a truly terrible statistic. Again we must ask 'Where does the fault lie?'" (page 2)
— Dr. Ron Whitington, Chairman General Service Board, AA Around Australia, Spring Edition, No 90, October 1994

Now if you wish to accuse Dr. Ron Whitington, the Chairman of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous in Australia, of lying and just making up numbers, go right ahead. But you should have some solid facts to back up your accusations.

You could also claim that alcoholics in Australia are totally different from alcoholics in America, and maybe A.A. is no good for Australians. But again, you should have some facts to support your allegations.

Or you could claim that A.A. in Australia is somehow lacking and incompetent, and not like "the real A.A." in America. But again, based on what evidence? Should A.A. in Australia just shut down because they have a 95% dropout rate in the first year, and fail to help the alcoholics?

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "There were alcoholics in the hospitals of whom A.A. could
**     touch and help only about five percent. The doctors started
**     giving them a dose of LSD, so that the resistance would be
**     broken down. And they had about fifteen percent recoveries."
**     === Nell Wing — PASS IT ON, page 370.
**     (Nell Wing was an early secretary of A.A. and Bill Wilson.)
**     Apparently, for treating alcoholics, LSD works three times
**     better than cult religion.

May 23, 2009, Saturday, back to Carmen's time:

Geese begging at boats
The Family of 5, wowing the children while begging at boats.

Geese begging at boats
The Family of 5, begging at another boat.
The previous boat didn't offer any munchies, so the geese quickly moved on to other prospects.

Canada Goose family
The Family of 5
Well, those boats were unproductive, so this family of geese is coming back to me.

[More gosling photos below, here.]

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters274.html#Richard_B ]

Date: Wed, November 16, 2011 2:13 pm     (answered 20 November 2011)
From: "Richard B."
Subject: Fw: History of Agnostic Groups

----- Original Message -----
From: Jason K.
To: sober
Sent: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 2:55 PM
Subject: History of Agnostic Groups

John pointed this out to me at the meeting last night. Damned good article.

http://www.americanhumanist.org/HNN/details/2011-11-a-history-of-agnostic-groups- in-alcoholics-anonymous

A History of Agnostic Groups in Alcoholics Anonymous: Part 1

By Roger C


Two agnostic groups — We Agnostics and Beyond Belief — were kicked off the official list of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) group meetings in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) on May 30, 2011. It made the front page of Canada's largest daily newspaper, the Toronto Star: "Fight over 'God' splits Toronto AA groups."

The GTA Intergroup passed a motion at its regular monthly meeting that the two groups "be removed from the meeting books directory, the GTA AA website, and the list of meetings given over the phone by Intergroup to newcomers." The motion passed 24 to 15 with 9 abstentions.

Beyond Belief had been around for more than a year and a half. Twelve people attended its first meeting on September 24, 2009. We Agnostics had its first meeting almost a year later, on September 7, 2010. And both meetings were growing. To give more people an opportunity to share, Beyond Belief had added another room to its Thursday meeting, and it had recently added a closed weekly meeting on Saturdays.

The action taken by the GTA Intergroup was extreme. But there has always been tension between agnostics and the Christian members of Alcoholics Anonymous. What happened at the Intergroup meeting in that church basement in Toronto merely exposed a long-festering wound in AA.

Bill and Jim

The "God" part in the 12 Steps comes from Bill Wilson. The rest of it, "as we understood Him," was Jim Burwell's contribution. But let's start at the beginning.

The first meeting of AA took place when its soon-to-be co-founders met on Mother's Day in 1935, with Bill trying to help Dr. Bob sober up in Akron, Ohio.

In January of 1938, Jim Burwell joined the fellowship. AA consisted of a group in Akron and another one in New York. The latter group held one meeting a week, at Bill's home in Brooklyn, which was attended by six or eight men. Only three men in that group, including Bill, had been sober more than a year. AA was a fledgling organization, to say the least.

Bill and Bob were both members of a Christian revivalist movement, the Oxford Group. "The early meetings were quite religious, in both New York and Akron. There was always a Bible on hand, and the concept of God was all biblical," Jim reported.

Into that mix came Jim, "their self-proclaimed atheist, completely against all religion."

Jim presented quite a challenge to the group, as he later wrote in Sober for Thirty Years. "I started fighting nearly all the things Bill and the others stood for, especially religion, the 'God bit.' But I did want to stay sober, and I did love the understanding Fellowship."

At one point, his group held a prayer meeting to decide what to do with him. "The consensus seems to have been that they hoped I would either leave town or get drunk."

At around this time Bill finished Chapter Five of a book about the fellowship. This chapter included the all-important 12 Steps, AA's program of recovery.

It sparked a lengthy and heated debate about some of the wording of what was to become known as the Big Book, and especially of the 12 Steps.

There were two camps in the fellowship. One was a pro-religion camp that felt the book should incorporate the teachings of the church. In fact, much of the 12 Steps are based on the Oxford Group's Four Spiritual Practices. At the other end of the spectrum were a few atheistic and agnostic members, including Jim.

In Bill's original draft of the Steps, the word "God" appeared six times. In the final version, Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism (the name of the 1939 edition), the number of specific references to God was reduced to four, and in two of the Steps, courtesy of an insistent Jim B, "God" was qualified with "as we understood Him."

It was the best compromise that could be achieved by those men in that epoch.

Twenty years later, Bill would look back and acknowledge that his early Christian evangelicism had been a serious problem. In an article in the AA Grapevine in 1961, "The Dilemma of No Faith," he makes a startling admission:

In AA's first years I all but ruined the whole undertaking ... God as I understood Him had to be for everybody. Sometimes my aggression was subtle and sometimes it was crude. But either way it was damaging — perhaps fatally so — to numbers of non-believers.

Bill would also say that the atheists and agnostics of the day "had widened our gateway so that all who suffer might pass through, regardless of their belief" or lack of belief.

But was the gateway widened enough? Looking back 75 years after the humble beginnings of Alcoholics Anonymous, the question has to be asked. Many of the nonbelievers in this century are not at all comfortable with the language of the Big Book or of the 12 Steps, language which pre-dates World War II.

And so it is asked, today: What about the "God bit"?

Jim Burwell went on to start AA groups in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and San Diego. Among the first ten members of the fellowship on the East Coast, he is often considered the third founder of AA. Jim is the first agnostic AA member to die sober: His sobriety date was June 15, 1938, and he died on September 8, 1974.

New York City

The very first agnostic group in New York City was called 'We Atheists' and its first meeting was held on September 10, 1986. The group had three founders. They were Ada H, David L and John Y. How they came together to do this is a remarkable story, all on its own.

The three — all unknown to each other — answered an ad in the spring 1986 issue of Free Inquiry. The ad was from Harry, a Californian, and was addressed to atheists and agnostic members of AA who were having trouble with the religious nature of most meetings.

Over the next several weeks, Harry wrote to the three Easterners and provided encouragement and reassurance that they were not alone as agnostics trying to work the AA program to the best of their ability. He told them how it worked in Los Angeles and sent them a copy of the materials read at the agnostic group meeting he was involved with, We Agnostics of Pasadena.

Ada made the necessary arrangements with AA offices in New York and offered her apartment, on the upper east side of Manhattan, as a meeting site. Ada was a very passionate woman, a socialist and a very wealthy New Yorker (her foundation continues to give to charities across the U.S.). She put together a meeting script, which is still used by the group today. It contains an extensive excerpt from Dr. Bob's last talk, delivered at the First International AA Conference on July 30th, 1950, in Cleveland. In Ada's script, the meetings end with the group standing in a circle, holding hands, and chanting: "Live and let live."

Regular meetings of the We Agnostics of New York City AA group were soon in full swing with John Y and David L in attendance. Later the ever-growing group moved to its present location at the Jan Hus Church, where it still meets. The church found the word "Atheist" a bit harsh, and so the name of the group was changed to "We Humanists."

Much of the history in the preceding paragraphs is excerpted from Sampler, the group's 1989 newsletter. The article was called, "Now It Can Be Told: A Bi-Coastal Tale of Two Cities."

Ada H died in August, 2005, at the age of 83. She had more than 30 years of sobriety. Joan F, who is currently a member of We Humanists of New York City and will have 27 years of sobriety this November, visited Ada's grave site recently. She reports that, at Ada's request, her tombstone states that she started an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting for Atheists and Agnostics.

John Y died on March 10, 2003. He was a co-founder of the Secular Humanist Society of New York City, a life-long resident of the Bronx and a veteran of World War II. Born in 1921, he got sober in 1962. He was the kind of guy who makes a point of shaking hands with everyone in the room prior to an AA meeting. In November, 2002, John celebrated his 40th anniversary of sobriety and told those present that "I never said a prayer in my life."

David L, now in Pittsburgh, is still a regular in the rooms of AA. He is 74 and got sober in 1980. He remembers as a child trying to figure out what people meant when they talked about God. "It didn't make any sense to me and I just couldn't do it. That lasted the rest of my life, pretty much." He said that when he got to AA, he had to "hang on to everything else," except the God part, to make it work.


It all began, ironically enough, in a church, the Unitarian Universalist Church.

Don W was a member and had been for a number of years. He had first joined the Unitarian Church in his mid-teens, in his home town of Omaha, Nebraska. "I joined this church free of dogma or creed, and have ever since shared in the music-making and the Sunday services of one or another Unitarian-Universalist congregation." He was also an alcoholic and a member of AA.

It hadn't always been easy for Don. In the early sixties he had tried AA and had attended meetings for six months but left, put off by the all the religiosity. "I was unable to work it, because of the religious language in which the 12 steps are couched," he said.

He came back a decade later. His drinking had almost killed him. This time he decided he had to tough it out, no matter how hard.

After about four years of sobriety, in the autumn of 1974, he gave a talk at the Second Unitarian Church on Barry Street on the topic, "An Agnostic in AA: How it Works for Me."

The talk was well received by the congregation, and he ended up delivering it in several Unitarian churches. In fact, one of the ministers encouraged him to start an AA meeting especially for atheists and agnostics.

The first ever meeting in AA explicitly for nonbelievers was held on January 7, 1975. In Chicago. In a church.

And thus was born Quad A: Alcoholics Anonymous for Atheists and Agnostics (AAAA).

As Don explained in an article in the Chicago Tribune in 1995:

The first two As, for Alcoholics Anonymous, are far more important than the last two in AAAA, because a 12-step program will work for anybody who works it, regardless of religious belief, understanding or refusal to understand.

More than 30 years after Don W had founded the first ever AA meeting for nonbelievers, a Quad A Unity Conference was held on September 13, 2009, in Chicago. More than a hundred people attended. By their very presence, they were able "bear witness to the reality that there are hundreds of atheists and agnostics who are working the program and staying sober," Chuck K, principal organizer of the event, told those in attendance in his welcoming remarks.

The keynote address was delivered by Lisa D, and it was called, "How a Humanist Works the AA Program." Lisa described how she had come to understand that human values — "empathy, compassion, integrity, mindfulness, honesty, open-mindedness, diligence, excellence, serenity, courage, wisdom, and of course intimacy" — were the "greater power" to which she must strive to align herself.

Her talk was about how she worked the 12 Steps. Humanists, atheists, agnostics, secularists work the 12 Steps and, like everybody else following the suggested AA program of recovery, each does it according to their own belief or lack of belief.

Especially lately, a plethora of resources have become available to those in AA of a non-Christian persuasion. This includes, for example: Darren Littlejohn's The 12-Step Buddhist, Phillip Z's work A Skeptic's Guide to the Twelve Steps and Marya Hornbacher very recent book, Waiting: A Nonbeliever's Higher Power.

Early in her talk, Lisa expresses her gratitude that "the very first meetings I ever attended were Quad A." Otherwise, if she had heard the God bit in the early going might have "run out the door screaming" and picked up again.

Los Angeles, Austin and Beyond

"I am the daddy of all the 'We Agnostic' groups."

Charlie P now lives in Austin, Texas. He is 97 years old and on September 9th, 2011 he received a medallion for having 41 years of continuous sobriety.

And Charlie may indeed well own the We Agnostic brand in Alcoholics Anonymous.

In 1978 he started the very first We Agnostic group in Los Angeles. And as far as anyone knows it was the very first nonbeliever's group to use precisely that moniker. Of course the name "We Agnostics" is also a chapter in the Big Book.

He was 56 years old when he got sober. He waited eight years before starting the group when he decided he could wait no longer. "I was a nonbeliever and I felt that it was only fitting and proper to have a meeting which was friendly to nonbelievers."

Charlie moved to Austin in 2000 to be closer to his sons. On August 21, 2001 he achieved another first by launching the We Agnostic group of Austin, Texas.

Charlie started something in that city.

Today, there are four meetings for agnostics, atheists and freethinkers in Austin.

One of the advantages of being 97 is that the party comes to you. To celebrate his 41 years of sobriety, Charlie's family and friends brought the anniversary celebration to his assisted living home. Charlie attended a lot of meetings in Austin, and medallions were brought from different groups in the city to honour the father of the We Agnostic meetings in AA.

Charlie was not the only founder of an agnostic AA group, although he certainly deserves credit and thanks for being the first among the first.

As does Don W.

And Ada H, and John Y and David L.

Agnostic AAs Today

Today there are agnostic groups in AA in virtually every major city in North America with 48 active groups listed by the AA General Service Office.

But that's hardly an official count: There is no requirement for an AA group to register with any organization, including the GSO.

The Agnostics AA NYC website lists approximately 87 groups in North America. That's no doubt more accurate than the GSO list, but again nothing is guaranteed.

What is certain from a quick scan of AA groups over the years is that there is an explosion of these groups in recent years. Of the 48 agnostic groups listed as still active with the GSO, 30 of them — almost two thirds — held their first meetings after the millennium.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of "A History of Agnostic Groups in Alcoholics Anonymous" in the November 9 issue of Humanist Network News.

Roger C. is currently a government writer and a member of Beyond Belief, an agnostic group which was booted off of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings list in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Perhaps ironically, he has a Masters degree in Religious Studies. He was known as the "resident atheist" at university where, he says, he was treated with respect. "In AA, not so much," he reports. Nevertheless, he is convinced that the inclusivity that was a core value of AA's cofounder Bill W and is central to the meaning and mission of the fellowship will ultimately prevail in Alcoholics Anonymous. He can be reached at [email protected]

To learn more about the AA Toronto Agnostics, visit www.aatorontoagnostics.org.

Hello again, Richard,

Thanks for the article.

The problem that I have with this story is that it still perpetuates the myth that A.A. is a wonderful helpful organization that was founded by a wise, saintly spirit who wanted to be very ecumenical. The truth is that Bill Wilson just wanted everybody to join his cult and support him in luxury, regardless of their religious beliefs.

Bill Wilson learned that "inclusiveness" trick from Dr. Frank Buchman, who also wanted everybody in the world to be his slave, regardless of their race, creed, color, religion, sex, or country of national origin. Frank Buchman's organizations, the "Oxford Group" and "Moral Re-Armament", had plenty of token Negroes and token Indians and token foreigners. But the ruling council was still almost entirely white men who spoke English — there was just one white woman that I recall, Eleanor Forde.

I also have a problem with this line:

In fact, much of the 12 Steps are based on the Oxford Group's Four Spiritual Practices.

There were no "Four Spiritual Practices". There were the "Four Absolutes": Absolute Honesty, Absolute Love, Absolute Unselfishness, and Absolute Purity. But that grandiose slogan has nothing to do with the Twelve Steps. Then there were Frank Buchman's cult religion practices like the "Six Practices of the Sane", including conducting a séance and "listening to God", and admitting that you are "defeated by sin" and "insane", and confessing all of your sins, and "making amends", and "surrendering to God", and becoming a little puppet who is "Guided By God", and then going recruiting. The 12 Steps incorporate those practices. Of course, that has nothing to do with quitting drinking. Those practices are a working program for establishing a cult religion.

And again, we get some of Bill Wilson's grandiose self-importance:

Sometimes my aggression was subtle and sometimes it was crude. But either way it was damaging — perhaps fatally so — to numbers of non-believers.

Yes, those poor helpless atheistic alcoholics will just die if Bill Wilson doesn't save them properly. Nobody in the whole world knows how to quit drinking except Bill Wilson. Not!

Bill Wilson actually imagined that all of the alcoholics in the world would die if Bill didn't save them. That is Delusions of Grandeur, genuine mental illness. Bill Wilson was a legend in his own mind.

It does not matter how many atheists are allowed to have their own A.A. meetings — A.A. still does not work to sober up the alcoholics. A.A. is still a hoax. A.A. is just selling Frank Buchman's old pro-Nazi cult religion. That does not work as a cure for alcohol addiction or drug addiction.

Then, the religious bigotry of kicking the atheists out is just frosting on the cake.

Now this line is true:

At one point, his group held a prayer meeting to decide what to do with him. "The consensus seems to have been that they hoped I would either leave town or get drunk."

Bill Wilson and the other sanctimonious A.A. oldtimers were such vicious religious bigots that they actually wished for Jim Burwell to relapse because he didn't share their crazy religious beliefs. So much for A.A. being a "support group". Burwell wrote:

Much later I discovered the elders held many prayer meetings hoping to find a way to give me the heave-ho but at the same time stay tolerant and spiritual.
Jim Burwell's story "The Vicious Cycle", in the Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 247.

And when Burwell did finally relapse, they abandoned him to die drunk, alone, without help or friends. Their behavior was not "spiritual" at all.

In those days, we'd go anywhere on a Twelfth Step job, no matter how unpromising. But this time nobody stirred. "Leave him alone! Let him try it by himself for once; maybe he'll learn a lesson!"
William G. Wilson, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, pages 143 to 145.

This line is also misleading:

But there has always been tension between agnostics and the Christian members of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Alcoholics Anonymous is not a Christian religion. It isn't a matter of be an atheist or be a Christian. Most believers in A.A. worship something like "My Higher Power Who Grants Wishes For Me" — some vague ghost who has magical abilities and grants wishes for alcoholics, but not for starving children in Biafra. Anybody who talks too much about Jesus is usually told to "Take it to church. If I wanted to hear that garbage, I'd go to church." Or, as Robert so eloquently said in the Internet newsgroup "alt.recovery.addiction.alcoholism":

You are in the wrong group if you are looking for Jesus. I make no claim about healing the blind. Relative to these facts, you are one blind fuckwit.

This is also wrong:

In Bill's original draft of the Steps, the word "God" appeared six times. In the final version, Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism (the name of the 1939 edition), the number of specific references to God was reduced to four, and in two of the Steps, courtesy of an insistent Jim B, "God" was qualified with "as we understood Him."

No. Six of the Twelve Steps still refer to "God" or "Him", or a "Higher Power". Changing the wording a little bit does not change the meaning. Bill Wilson did not remove God from a single Step. Bill just renamed "God" to a vague "Higher Power" in one single step — Step 2 — and then added two of those "as we understood Him" qualifiers to disguise the fundamentalist religion a tiny bit.

Thanks again for the article, and have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Christian Fundamentalism: The doctrine that there is an absolutely
**     powerful, infinitely knowledgeable, universe-spanning entity that is
**     deeply and personally concerned about my sex life."
**        ==  Andrew Lias, author and atheist

May 23, 2009, Saturday, Downtown Portland, Waterfront Park:

Canada Goose gosling
A gosling of the Family of 5

Canada Goose goslings, sleeping
A Family of Canada Goose Goslings, Sleeping

Canada Goose gosling
Canada Goose gosling

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters274.html#Anonymous ]

Date: Fri, November 18, 2011 9:56 pm     (answered 20 November 2011)
From: "Anonymous"
Subject: horror stories


I wrote this story in response to your call to action for the magazine article. Please do not forward or post it in connection with my user name.

In 1984 I went through a hospital program called New Beginnings in Century City, Ca. I didn't have quite enough insurance so the admitting office said that they would waive the difference. I stayed sober for just under a year after treatment. During that year I was contacted by the hospitals collection office for the balance that the insurance would not pay, I had to hire a lawyer I met in AA to get them off my back. I was just barely getting by and needed every penny for food and shelter. The treatment that the hospital provided other than one evening of unnecessary tranquilizers was sandwiches, a room, afternoons sleeping in the park, and counseling. The counselor tried hard to get in my girlfriend's pants and recommended I leave her, his name was Chuck. The "treatment" they gave us was the issuance of a Big Book and meetings. I was pretty pissed that I was talked into the whole situation through an intervention. I was never offered another alternative or the opportunity to quit on my own with or without AA. I was told by my employer that I could leave the job or do the program. I knew that if I wanted to get sober and keep my job that I could do their program on my own but was never given the opportunity. It was obviously a waste; even an idiot could see it.

The program was loosely supervised. During my stay there I was threatened by a fellow patient with a knife and exposed to several others who had drugs smuggled in. I had sex daily in the hospital room with my girlfriend who came by every day to eat. I met quite a few celebrities there which was fun and even made friends with a couple of them. In 20/20 hindsight the entire debacle was purely comical.

As a child I had a chronic learning disability which got me sentenced to a short buss school where I would mingle with severely retarded kids. My father left and started another family because he couldn't handle it. My Mom was just trying to help but I couldn't cope with the reality of my situation so I didn't go to the school. I was high functioning in certain areas and non-functioning in others. The entire reason I would drink was to escape the pain of rejection and marginalization I received from society. The hospital and AA completely missed it, my diagnosis was always alcoholic and the cure always Alcoholics Anonymous. Today I manage on my own without AA. I like the HAMS program and and feel it is much more sustainable than AA for me. Today its the simple cost/benefit analysis that helps me stay in line.

Hello Anonymous,

Thank you for the story. I'm sorry to hear about the rotten state of affairs in the "treatment industry", but glad to hear that you have escaped from the madhouse and found your own path to happier living.

This line particularly resonates with me:

The hospital and AA completely missed it, my diagnosis was always alcoholic and the cure always Alcoholics Anonymous.

I've heard that so many times. So many simple-minded so-called "therapists" cannot see that over-use of drugs and alcohol can be a sign of a deeper problem, rather than the cause of all problems. And to try to cure such problems with the Alcoholics Anonymous cult religion is insanity.

And then that A.A. slogan occurs to me:

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

Continuing to promote the A.A. cure in spite of its massive failure is insanity.

I'll forward this story to the journalist.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Deceivers are the most dangerous members of society. —
**    They trifle with the best affections of our nature, and
**    violate the most sacred obligations.
**      ==  George Crabbe (1754—1832)

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters274.html#Connie_M ]

Date: Mon, November 21, 2011 8:26 am     (answered 28 November 2011)
From: "Connie McN."


Hi Connie,

Thanks for the note. I totally agree with the first statement, but not the second. I am not at all powerless over alcohol, until I get half a dozen drinks in me. Then all bets are off.

But Step One does not say that we shouldn't pick up. It says that we are powerless over alcohol, or "powerless over our addiction" in Narcotics Anonymous. And then it says that our lives are unmanageable. But it doesn't say that we should not pick up. In fact, none of the 12 Steps tell us to quit drinking or quit doping. And that is one of the big problems with them.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Being surrounded by a group of people who keep
**     telling you that you are powerless over alcohol,
**     and that your will power is useless, is not
**     getting "support". It is getting sabotaged.
**     With friends like them, you don't need any enemies.

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters274.html#Stacy_O ]

Date: Mon, November 21, 2011 5:54 am     (answered 28 November 2011)
From: "Stacy O."
Subject: UK Guardian thread

Hi Orange

I hope you're well and that the geese are thriving!

I thought you might be amused by some of these comments by someone called Milopotas on this thread in the UK Guardian comments:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/17/british-drug-policy? commentpage=last#end-of-comments

I sometimes post under the name of BluebellWood and in the course of an online conversation about AA recommended that people visit your website for more info. This person (who I suspect is actually Agent Green) immediately leaped in and accused me of being in your cult! S/he then went on to make several gratuitous ad hom attacks on you — I guess you're used to that. I do think this person's rantings about the "Orange cult" are very funny. This is obviously a reaction to your calling AA a cult, but it must have been completely bemusing to any passing readers. I hope it intrigued some of them enough for them to have visited your site (if they search for "orange papers cult" they'd get some interesting stuff about AA) but unfortunately the thread was buried by that time and comments are now closed.

What was even funnier was that I only mentioned this site for the third time in order to deliberately annoy him/her, and he/she absolutely didn't get it!

Anyway, keep up the good work.


Hi Stacy,

Yes, I am well, and so are the geese.

Thanks for the tip. I wanted to post my own comment, but alas, the comments were already closed.

Yes, I've heard that jabber about "the Orange cult" before. Way back, even when there was just me, one person, writing web pages, Steppers were still trying to accuse me of having a cult. Which is of course absurd. It's really hard to have a cult with only one member. Apparently, when someone points out that A.A. is a cult that strongly resembles other cults like Scientology or the Moonies or Jim Jones' People's Temple, the only answer that they have is, "Well, you have a cult too."

And this is of course contradictory:

19 November 2011 12:27PM
Oh dear. BluebellWood is one of those unfortunate members of the Orange Papers cult. It's one uneducated man-with-a-grudge's unqualified opinion on AA.

In the first sentence, the Orange Papers is a cult. In the second sentence, it's just one man's opinion.

Oh well, have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent
**     a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.
**         ==  Eric Hoffer

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters274.html#Bob O. ]

Date: Sun, November 20, 2011 5:09 am     (answered 28 November 2011)
From: Bob O.
Subject: The Inter-Orange Building

Mister T,

I have only one question. Where is the Inter-Orange building? Is it next to the AA Inter-Church building in Manhattan? I would love to take pictures of the building and offices. I will be pleased to see my donation going to such a fine building.

Thank you,
Long Island Bob O.

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the laugh. Yes, that would be amusing, to have an Orange building next to the A.A. building. But alas, I'd have to live in New York City, which is definitely not my style. I prefer the forest and the trees and wetlands and open spaces.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The finest structure can house the worst evil.

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters274.html#Peter_F ]

Date: Sun, November 20, 2011 5:45 am     (answered 28 November 2011)
From: "Peter F."
Subject: the world really needs changing

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-peter-ferentzy/occupying-wall-street-london- and-toronto_b_1101046.html

Peter Ferentzy, PhD
Author of Dealing With Addiction — why the 20th century was wrong

Yep. Thanks for the link. And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot
**     change their minds cannot change anything.
**       ==  Ralph Waldo Emerson

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters274.html#Mona_Lisa ]

Date: Sun, November 20, 2011 7:20 am     (answered 28 November 2011)
From: "Mona Lisa S."
Subject: More parallel universe stuff

Terry: I was just looking through the AA Michigan Assembly Meeting minutes you recently posted, and caught this little gem:

"There was an article posted in the Toronto Star earlier this month titled "Does religion belong at AA? Fight over 'God' splits Toronto AA groups." The article covers a conflict between some local A.A. groups and the intergroup office. There was a lot to get excited about in the article and it is easy to see how members on both sides of the controversy got worked up but the real damage being done has nothing to do with issue being discussed. The problem, as I see it, is that members are publicly taking sides on a controversial issue and doing so as members of A.A. This is the very thing that destroyed the Washingtonian movement. The issue is one that each side is passionate about and I understand their emotion. We have seen similar emotion on opposite sides of an issue in our own group conscience, this is common. But when we hold to our position, make it sacred and close our minds then we have lost sight of our principles, our singleness of purpose is gone. I believe that this kind of public controversy is a real risk to the survival of A.A."

Isn't this priceless???? The problem isn't that a program that claims to welcome atheists with open arms, is refusing to allow atheist meetings to appear on meeting lists so that they can be found. No, the problem is the damage that could result to AA's reputation due to the exposure of the truth, which is, of course, that atheists are NOT welcomed with open arms. It seems that AA's claims of being a program of rigorous honesty stand on very shaky ground indeed.

And I love it that whoever came up with this stunning bit of twisted logic bases his argument on the traditions when, a few lines later, we learn that:

"The [Public Information] Committee is beginning an outreach program to television, radio, press, cooperate America, films, schools, snail mail and telephone."

Doesn't the 11th tradition say that: "Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion...."

I guess they are going to tell us that it isn't promotion, it's an "outreach program".

The hypocrisy is absolutely stunning. How do they get away with it?

Hi again, Mona Lisa,

Thanks for the letter. I couldn't agree more.

I don't know how they get away with it. My guess is that if you yammer about God a lot, people will mistakenly think that you must be really good, so they will leave you alone. Then pile on a lot of claims that you have saved millions of lives, and hey presto! You are a living saint.

You quite correctly nailed the funny logic style of A.A. promoters: "Good" is whatever makes A.A. look good, and "bad" is whatever hurts the A.A. reputation. Coincidentally, or maybe not so coincidentally, Scientology does the same thing too. To Scientologists, "truth" is any statement that is beneficial to Scientology, and "a lie" is any information that hurts Scientology.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "... Ye outwardly appear righteous unto men, but
**     within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity..."
**       ==  Matthew 23:28

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Last updated 10 June 2014.
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