[quote author=“zAZen”][quote author=“hampsteadpete”]What makes a religion a religion? What is the minimum requirement? Does a religion have to have a supreme god-figure, or is a set of dogma enough?
tend to take Alan Watts’ characterization: a religion is defined by the presence of three things: [list]1. The creed (a definitive proclamation of what is believed to be true);
2. The code (a set of rules governing behavior, morals and ethics based on the creed set forth previously); and (of course)
3. The cult (the authoritarian hierarchy of worshipful who enforce the previous two components).[/list:u]
That’s a rather limited explanation.
Here are the elements of religion.
1.Worship of a God Or gods
In AA that would be the higher power
2.System of ritual.
AA meetinggs almost always open with a prayer and close with a prayer.
Select readings are done from the Big Book and members then give testimonials.
Christianity had Christ. AA has Bill Wilson
The AA bible is The Big Book
And of course loads and loads of dogma.
“On the face of it, this would seem to include TSGs like NA and AA. After all, TSGs do have a definitive proclamation of truth regarding a specific problem, such as addiction and alcoholism. However, this proclamation comes about as a result of collective experiences that have to no small extent been verified by medical science”
This statement is misleading. The disease concept of alcoholism was first proferred by Dr. Benjamin Rush at or about 1806. He declared alcoholism to be a disease without any proper scientific study or investigation. He also declared that criminal behavior was a disease as was being born black.
“(at least in terms of the symptoms and behaviors of the afflicted), NOT divine revelation.
With respect to “the code,” there are the 12 Traditions which govern how members of these groups are to interact with one another and how they interact with non-members. “
The traditions are meaningless in AA. Simply because there is no way to enforce them. And besides that most everyone I ever met in AA pretty much ignored them.
“This is somewhat problematic, as the Traditions are guidelines, not moral dictates. Interestingly, neither NA nor AA require that you stop using or drinking (respectively). Working the steps and living the program is entirely optional. You are not required to do either one if you do not find it necessary.”
I can see you are “a dyed in the wool” stepper from this statement. This is the palty excuse most AAcult members use to lure members into the program. They TELL them that belief is optional but they don’t mean it.
The only way to rise in the AA heirarchy is to adopt the dogma. Otherwise you are considered a second class citizen in the AA group.
And yes! Some are considered more equal than others once the meeting starts.
“Finally, we come to whether or not the members of a TSG constitute a cult. While I acknowledge the experiences described by others as to the cult-like behavior of one group or another’s members, the fact is that nothing in any of the literature I have read, nor in the experiences I’ve heard recounted by others in these groups, suggests that it is at all appropriate to indoctrinate newcomers or behave toward them in such an aggressive and proselytizing manner.”
You obviously know very little about this subject. Step 12 REQUIRES the individual cult member to proselitize. If they don’t they are told they may drink again. Fear is a motivational force that is used with impunity in AA.
“In other words, these individuals who feel it is their moral duty to preach the gospel of (insert program here) have grossly misunderstood the purpose and intent of TSGs, and it is they, not the fellowships, who are in error. “
That statement is an outright lie. Nuff said
“As you point out, meeting attendance is encouraged, not required. You are not forcibly removed from your family or forced to stop talking to others outside the fellowship.”
Scientologists don’t forcibly remove people from their families. Does this mean they aren’t a cult? Your arguments are very weak and uninformed may I add.
“Furthermore, I seem to recall TSGs being very specific about the problem they address and the problems they do not. Neither NA nor AA pretend to have all the answers to all of life’s problems, and state very specifically and clearly that they do not. I challenge you to find any religion that does as much.”
So now you admit they are a religion?
You need to read the steps again. They are written in a nebulous manner.
They are very unspecific if anything. But God is mentioned more times in the 12 steps than in the Ten Commandments.
AA first tells you that you have a terrible affliction that if left untreated will result in only three possible outcomes: Jail, insanity or death.
The old AA death threat. Heard it many times. It’s simply a cowardly fear inducing method to keep the cult members in line. it isn’t based on fact.
“TSGs relate common experience, they don’t “tell” you anything in the sense of a lecture or sermon. Sharing in meetings (when done appropriately) is of the “This is what happened to me” variety, not the “Let me tell you something, buster” variety. “
They testify just like those in the Baptist Church do. It’s a sneaky way of telling peole what to do. An typical with the dishonesty which which AA is riddled with.
But I thought AA wasn’t a religion? LOL
“I don’t see you denying that alcoholism or addiction are afflictions.”
They are behavioral problems not diseases.
“The AMA lists both as diseases, with particular symptoms and recommended regimens for treatment.”
Marty Mann politicized the disease issue and with the help of her organisation The Ncaad , whic is th political wing of AA,she twisted the arms of the AMA to admit it was a disease. It was voted on. As a matter of fact alcoholism was the only “disease” in the history of the AMA that required a vote. It won by consensus. That could be any figure over 50%.
In other words this argument is not valid.
” Religions, Christianity in particular, often describe these conditions in terms of being moral problems, TSGs do not.”
Steps 4 and 5 specifically deal with sin and AA founder Bill Wilson specifically states in the 12x12 that members should start their inventory process by looking at the 7 deadly sins.
You really need to do some homework here my friend.
“Neither NA nor AA, in my experience, have ever endorsed a viewpoint in which addicts or alcoholics were sinners in need of redemption. “
Wrong again. You have a very limited understanding of the steps.
The steps were primarily created for religious conversion. There is no requirement in any of the steps that one stop using alcohol. It’s the typical AA bait and switch.
“The phrase I’ve heard more often than I care to remember is, “We’re not bad people trying to be good; we’re sick people trying to get well.”“
More dogma and loaded language. Some of us refer to the use of sloagans as the language of non-thought. And they use this prpaganda and brainwashing technique with fervor in AA.
The idea that someone is “sick” forever is what keeps people coming back to meetings forever. They are told they can recover at first and then later told they will never recover. Another AA lie
You are then informed that in order to save yourself you must develop a relationship with a “power greater than yourself,” ‘cause you do not have the power yourself to overcome your affliction. You are then taught a method that will arrest your affliction, and release you from the “obsession to drink” as long as you follow the steps and “work the program.” You are encouraged to attend as many meetings as you possibly can, and estrange yourself from any former friends and family who are not supportive of your efforts.
“Actually, I believe the first step mentions only powerlessness and unmanageability, not “higher power.”
More dogma. One is not powerless over alcohol. But that’s simply common sense. Personally I never saw a bottle of booze that had arms and legs growing out of it and forced it’s contents down my throat.
The conclusion as to whether or not one is powerless over and unable to manage or control it is left entirely up to the individual, preferably after a rigorous, and dare I say scientific, investigation into the nature of one’s behavior in relation to this problem: when one used, where, how much, consequences of, efforts already made to stop, etc. You are an addict or an alcoholic if and only if you say you are; no one else can make that decision for you.
“The doctrine of original sin places Christians,”
if they buy into it, in the same position as the alcoholic entering AA for the first time. Without “salvation,” to save them from this imaginary “affliction,” they will spend eternity in a lake of fire. But wait, just accept jesus….. and you will be OK.
See previous. TSGs do not—ought not—to frame the problems of addiction and alcoholism as primarily moral problems.
Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob clearly believed that SIN was the main cause of alcoholism. Read the steps!
I guess the biggest difference is, AA addresses a real problem
This is a lie. AA has absolutely nothing to do with curing diseases especially imagined ones. If it does it’s just another pseudo science faith healing cure at best.
AA is all about religigious conversion. There is NO SCIENCE to support their claims.
where Christianity addresses an imaginary one with a solution involving an imaginary being.
Agreed. And I think we can agre that atheists can work the 12 steps and live by the traditions as well as the most die-hard book-thumpering fundie.
This is totally incorrect. You really need to read the steps.
They will not “work” without a belief in God.
But they don’t work anyways so who cares?
In AA’s favor, though, they don’t operate like any religion I know where money and power is concerned. I think everyone in AA, from top to bottom, is driven by an honest desire to help as many alcoholics as possible, and the normal donation when the hat is passed is still the same as it was when I came in.
GSO claims AA has 60 million dollars in the bank as we speak. They are a powerful cult religion.
Agreed. Just because TSGs have some superficial similarities with religions doesn’t mean that TGS are religions.
welcome to the forum.
Thank you for responding. I enjoy these conversations. Here’s my question to you: do you think it possible for an atheist to work the 12 steps, inasmuch as there are a number of those that DO mention the “G-word?”