One of our readers, Dan, wrote the following in our comment section. We thought it was good summary of the religion of AA. With his permission, we decided to post it as blog entry:
AA dogma on the Second Step is primarily contained in the Twelve & Twelve where the theme is transcendence from atheism, agnosticism, AND the religion of the Bible to a supposedly higher-level spirituality based on AAs precepts and practice. Any sop toward organized religion in the texts or heard at meetings is strictly a rhetorical ploy which will be dismissed with in short order during every newcomer’s formal indoctrination at the feet of a watchful adept, his sponsor. A newcomer will rarely question the religious beliefs of his new sponsor, but this is irrelevant since no matter what belief a sponsor professes to have as a come-on, it is going to be unadulterated indoctrination in the AA religion. So, what is the AA religion?
Looking at its history gives some clues. Both its founders were Ouija board-using spiritualists claiming communication with the dead and spirits. Bill W’s wife was a Swedenborgian and Dr. Bob was a freemason, both of which deny the Divinity of Christ. Today’s AA, however, is more self-indulgent New Age mysticism than like its Jazz Age, New Thought spiritualist roots. In my experience from attending meetings for 15 years, I’d say it’s essence is an anti-religion religion–that’s its main appeal–and any spirituality is acceptable and may be freely expressed at meetings, just so long as it’s not the theological teachings of the Christian faith. That will immediately elicit disapproving body language, coughs, chairs moving around, and so on.
This anti-religion religion has a strong appeal to those looking for the benefits of organized religion without the moral consequences of its teachings. Spiritually, AA is itself the “easy way out” it claims to oppose. If there is one sentiment that characterizes AA “sharing” on spirituality, it’s the venomous resentment of organized religion from the predictably ignorant and contrived catalog of its failures. This is odd since AA claims resentments are the number one reason for relapses, while these resentments against religion are voiced with passion, and often rage.
The truth is, AA is a locus for every crackpot, pseudo-religious, self-indulgent phony spirituality that happens to be making the rounds at any given time, from its roots in the 30s down to the present day. The article implies that AAs go to one meeting or so a week. In fact, in my area, most go to at least five a week, with the truly lunatic fringe going sometimes twice a day, where they listen with rapt attention as one narcissist after another gushes “his truth” in a cacophony of mass insanity. No wonder it’s so popular; it sounds an awful lot like a microcosm of American society these days.