How A.A. Steals Your Soul
Copyright © 2000, 2001, Robert Warner.
All Rights Reserved

The Twelve Step Indoctrination

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that A Power Greater than Ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him,
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove ourshortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

(All quotations from official A.A. literature)

Upon entering the program, you are presented with the Twelve Steps, and told that no one is going to try to change your religion. After all, A.A. is not religious. What you are not told is that once you begin working the program, each step evolves into a religious exercise matching or surpassing its religious wording.

The first step is a prime example:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable

A.A. presents to the novice only a seemingly simple statement — admit you are powerless over alcohol. Not a big red flag — any normal person assumes that this means to seek counselling... But Step One is changed, as the program progresses, to an explicitly religious exercise, A.A. slowly revealing its religious nature. What begins as a simple recognition "That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives"13 evolves, by Step Seven, into an effort to "to seek and do God's will". This is achieved through actually changing the instructions of Step one after several steps have been worked.

Throughout the steps, the words "humility" and "humble" are sprinkled. The common idea of what "humility" and "humble" mean, is that you don't feel that you are better than other people — that all are innately equal. This however, is not what A.A. defines as humble. In A.A., "That basic ingredient of all humility" is "a desire to seek and do God's will".47 This "desire to seek and do God's will" is specified by A.A. as "a necessity"48 to work Step One. This is made clear only when A.A. feels they have a foothold in the members mind. What was a program of "suggestions" becomes one of "necessities".

While claiming that the only requirement in A.A. is the desire to stop drinking, A.A. fails to mention that there are other necessities.
"Every newcomer in Alcoholics Anonymous is told, and soon realizes for himself, that his humble admission of powerlessness over alcohol is his first step toward liberation from its paralyzing grip. So it is that we first see humility as a necessity" 48

A.A. claims to be non-religious even while declaring that "the attainment of greater humility" — the "desire to seek and do God's will" — "is the foundation principal of each of A.A.'s Twelve Steps. For without some degree of humility, (again "the desire to seek and do gods will") "no alcoholic can stay sober at all."

This is the same "honesty" that A.A. applies to Step Two.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

A.A. declares to the atheist that this can be anything the individual wishes it to be.
"You can, if you wish, make A.A. itself your 'higher power."28
However, in the same breath, A.A. concludes that they mean God:
" was impossible for any of us to fully define or comprehend that Power, which is God."5
Of course, when confronted, A.A. points elsewhere in the Steps to the qualification"...God as we understood Him."

It isn't until Step Twelve that you are informed that A.A. is intended to help you become "increasingly better able to understand Him"54

A.A. makes clear the reasons for the use of the term " you understand Him..." when they give instructions on how to approach the prospective member,
"If the man be agnostic or atheist, make it emphatic that he does not have to agree with your conception of God ... The main thing is that he be willing to believe in a Power greater than himself... use everyday language to describe spiritual principals. There is no use arousing any prejudice he may have against certain theological terms and conceptions about which he may already be confused."18

Again, A.A. terms atheism as confusion and a failure in logic, and directs the recruiters to hide A.A.'s religiosity. Step Twelve makes clear the reasons why A.A. allows the use of anything we wish as our higher power:
"From great number of such experiences, we could predict ... the doubter ... who still considered his well-loved A.A. the higher power, would presently love God and call Him by name."54

Atheists are not members, they are projects.

While claiming the atheist can work Step Two, A.A. clarifies their attitude towards the atheist.
"Let's look first at the case of the one who says he won't believe — the belligerent one. He is in a state of mind which can be described only as savage."27

"We atheists ... believed... that our human intelligence is the last word ... Rather vain of us, wasn't it?"7

The only use for atheism is as a target of attack. The phrase "as we understand Him" is only meant to facilitate that attack and to destroy any such heresy.

"A.A.'s tread innumerable paths in their quest for faith... many..solve the problem by ... substitution ... make A.A. itself your higher power... You find many members who have crossed the threshold just this way ... once across, their faith broadened and deepened... they came to believe in a Higher Power, and most of them began to talk of God."29

"As we understand Him" is designed to convince the atheist to pray in hopes of getting him to talk of God.

But that is later. At this point in the program, A.A. has only convinced the new member to accept the AA group as his higher power. Now, A.A. constructs a bridge to bring the member to God as the higher power. Step Three is where A.A. begins to admit to its true nature. While A.A. declares that "God" and "Higher Power" are open to interpretation, the program requires these conceptions of God and Higher Power to be discarded after a certain point.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

In Step Three of the Step Book, A.A. characterizes the concept of using A.A. as the Higher Power as an unacceptable aloneness. "He made a beginning, we have seen, when he commenced to rely upon A.A. for the solution to his alcohol problem. By now, though... he has become convinced that he has more problems than alcohol... His lone courage and unaided will cannot do it. Surely he must now depend upon Somebody or Something else."31

This is A.A.'s bridge. A.A. has allowed the use of the A.A. group as a transition to relying on "Somebody or Something else". At this point, A.A. tortures the English language to show the member that the Steps he has already worked were actually religion, hence he has already acted religiously. Therefor, he should have no problem in turning his will and his life over to God. A.A. describes itself as "Providence."

A.A. declares that "Every man and woman who has joined A.A. and intends to stick has, without realizing it, made a beginning on Step Three... each of them has decided to turn his or her will over to ... Alcoholics Anonymous... a willingness has been achieved to cast out ones own will ... and ... ideas ... in favor of... A.A.... Any willing newcomer feels that A.A. is the only safe harbor... Now if this is not turning ones own will and life over to a newfound Providence, what is it?"30

A.A. does not intend the member to realize the effect the program is having on him — they admit this happens without the member realizing it.

Having brought the member as far as Step Three, an acceptance of God has been installed in the members psyche.

  • First, he admitted powerlessness over alcohol. A.A. then begins to inextricably weave their religious brand of "humility" into steps being worked, about to be worked, and already worked.
  • Second, the member is given a definition of "Higher Power" which, he is told, can be worked without religion — the A.A. group. Almost immediately after he has committed to allegiance to this "Higher Power", A.A. leads him away from a non-religious power towards "Somebody or Something else".
  • Third, this is defined as "God".
For now, this "God" is left undefined so A.A. can still use the qualification that this can be anything you choose — even the A.A. group. Step Four begins the process of creating a working, verbal relation with God.

Steps Four through Seven create for the member a subservient god-consciousness, functioning together to eliminate all but literal interpretations of God. It is here that we learn that the "... foundation principal of each of A.A.'s Twelve Steps..."46 is a "... desire to seek and do God's will..."47

  • It is here that we learn that our own conception of God is insufficient, that we must have someone else's approval before utilizing what God "as we understand Him" has told us.
  • It is here that we find out that atheists who strive for a self-determined objective are "boys" while Christians who strive for an objective "which is of God" are men.
  • Here we see that the point of A.A. is that "The notion that we would still live our own lives, God helping a little now and then, began to evaporate ... now the words 'Of myself I am nothing, the Father doeth the works' began to carry ... meaning."49
  • It is here we find that A.A. intends us to "change" to where we "move ... toward God."50 Until now, A.A. stressed that their program can be worked by an atheist, that "higher power' and "God" can be any thing we choose. Here, A.A. stops offering any way to marry its philosophy with atheism.

    " 'I simply couldn't stop drinking, and no human being could seem to do the job for me. But when I became willing to clean house and then asked a Higher Power, God as I understood Him, to give me release, my obsession to drink vanished. It was lifted right out of me...'

    In A.A. meetings all over the world, statements just like this are heard daily... It is plain... to see that each sober A.A. member has been granted a release from this ... potentially fatal obsession. So in a very complete and literal way, all A.A.'s have 'become entirely ready' to have God remove the mania for alcohol from their lives. And God has proceeded to do exactly that."42

This is the crucial difference between what A.A. claims to be and what A.A. really is. Publicly, A.A. declares God is not meant literally; once the prospect is locked into the program, they reveal that God is meant literally. They claim to believe the member gets cured with God's — any interpretation we wish — help. What they really believe is that once we get ourselves close to God, this super-natural being performs a miracle and removes the "illness".

In Step Four A.A. clarifies its perception of the cause and cure of alcoholism. To A.A., alcoholism is caused by distancing ourselves from God.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

A.A.'s "moral inventory" is put forth by A.A. as non-religious — in reality it is an exploration of how far "we depart from... God".

"Alcoholics ... should be able to see that instinct run wild in themselves is the underlying cause of their destructive drinking."33
"here... we have lost ... all genuine humility."34
A.A. defines these "instincts run wild" as "the point at which we depart from the degree of perfection that God wishes for us..."43 The true philosophy of this step is only revealed slowly — it is actually sinning that causes alcoholism.

Step Four's "moral inventory" is defined as an "effort to discover... liabilities",32 these "liabilities" defined as "misdirected instinct". As we continue through the program, A.A. slowly changes this to a problem of "..lost..humility (a desire to seek and do God's will)"34 and terms these "liabilities" as "character defects".35 These "character defects" are then termed "Sins".35 Finally, these "sins" are specified as "the Seven Deadly Sins".35 What is advertised by A.A. as a non-religious self-appraisal turns into an exploration of how we have lost our "desire to seek and do God's will"47 and committed the Seven Deadly Sins.

As we proceed through the next three steps, we see this religiosity increase to the point of the exclusion of atheism.

Can "God" in A.A. be anything we choose? In Step Five that becomes impossible — the protestations of non-religiosity stop. Here, God is a non-human entity that speaks to us. We are specifically instructed that the words that come from inside ourselves are not good enough; only God's words can be trusted. This step makes it impossible for God to be anything except a supernatural being. The prospect now has a choice; pray to a supernatural power or abandon the program. If he is under threat of imprisonment the choice is this; face the punishment or bow down before a God he doesn't believe in.

"Many an A.A., once agnostic or atheistic, tells us that it was during... Step Five that he first actually felt the presence of God."40
Of course it is; there is no way to continue in the program otherwise.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

In this step, we must seek God's counsel. After all, "scarcely any Step is more necessary to long time sobriety ... than this one."37 In answer to the question "Why don't we make our admissions to Him directly? Why do we need to bring anyone else into this?",38 A.A. instructs confessing to another person specifically as a way of making sure we don't misinterpret God's words for us and as a way of confirming that we were honest with God. There is no other reason suggested. In actuality, this is straight from the Oxford Group theology of "checking guidance"20 — one of the group's "Five Procedures" central to their religion. A.A. asks "How many times have we heard well-intentioned people claim the guidance of God when it was all too plain that they were sorely mistaken?"39 A.A. declares that "what comes to us alone may be garbled by our own rationalizations..."39

Yet, if A.A. is not religious, and an atheist's religious philosophy is not in conflict with A.A.'s religious doctrine, where does A.A. believe an atheist's guidance comes from if they pray to God?

A.A. stresses that agnostics and atheists can work the program by adopting their own concept of God. Inherent in this position is that the answers actually come from within the person, since the atheist has no God. Step Five expressly advises against this; confessing to another person is expressly defined as preventing us from acting on advice which comes from our own minds. If an atheist asks another person to interpret his conversation with God, then the atheist is obeying that other person's religious philosophy, rather than his own. A.A. welcomes atheists into the program as long as they obtain approval of their meditations from a person more experienced in communicating with God. Once he has done this, maybe A.A. will consider him a "man", as long as he works Step Six properly.

Having recognized our loss of humility as the source of our alcoholism, having confessed our sins to God (as we understood Him, but approved by someone with more experience in dealing with Him), we arrived at Step Six. Up to this point, we have been presented with a series of steps which have been termed non-religious. At each step, we have been given ways, sensical or not, to meld them to atheism.

  • In Step One, a simple admission of powerlessness was mandated. Later we find that this means that no human power could relieve alcoholism.
  • In Step Two, we were told to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, but that the A.A. group would suffice.
  • But in Step Three, we find that what we actually did, in Step Two, was "without realizing it... decided to turn his or her will over to a newfound Providence..."30 and to proceed any further, we "...must now depend on Somebody or Something else."37 We proceeded to make what is billed as a non-religious "moral inventory" which evolves from a personal examination to a search for how we have committed the "Seven Deadly Sins"36 which caused us to lose the "...desire to seek and do God's will".
  • Now, in Step Five, we are told to non-religiously confess these "Seven Deadly Sins" to "God". This is where we find out that although our own conception of "God" is sufficient to work the program, we need the approval of another person to be sure that we're not wrong about our conception of God, because our conception of God may be "garbled by our own rationalization."39
  • It is in Steps Six and Seven that we find out why. A.A. makes clear that its objective is of God, and not a self-determined objective. "This is the Step that separates the men from the boys."41

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Step Four had introduced A.A. theories on "instincts". "Creation gave us instincts for a purpose... these desires ... are perfectly necessary and right, and surely, God-given."32 A.A. uses words interchangeably; desires and instincts are used in each other's stead. In Step Six, this method is used to further explore "instincts" as they relate to A.A. theory. To cure our alcoholism, we must return to God's ideal for us, for we have drifted. "... most of us are born with an abundance of natural desires... when they drive us blindly, or we willfully demand that they supply us with more... than ... due us, that is the point at which we depart from the degree of perfection that God wishes for us here on earth. That is the measure of our character defects, or, if you wish, of our sins."43 Step Six "is the exact point at which we abandon limited objectives, and move towards God's will for us."45 "So, the difference between 'the boys and the men' is the difference between striving for a self determined objective and for the perfect objective which is of God."44 Step Seven effectively shuts the door in the atheists face. It is in Step Seven, "Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings", that A.A. reveals that its very foundation is a "...desire to seek and do God's will..." 47

Step Seven "specifically concerns itself with humility"46 "Indeed, attainment of greater humility is the foundation principle of each of A.A.'s Twelve Steps... without... humility, no alcoholic can stay sober at all."46 To maintain humility in A.A. requires one "basic ingredient... a desire to seek and do God's will..."47

This is how things change in A.A. as the program progresses — things start out defined as nonreligious — humility — but are changed to require religious actions — a desire to seek and do God's will.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

In Step Eleven, all further debate about the existence of God is to cease. "To... those one-time agnostics who still cling to the A.A. group as their higher power, claims for the power of prayer may, despite all the logic and experience in proof of it, still be quite objectionable..."51
"we recoiled from meditation and prayer as obstinately as the scientist who refused to perform a certain experiment lest it prove his pet theory wrong. Of course we finally did experiment, and when unexpected results followed, we felt different; in fact we knew different; and so we were sold on meditation and prayer..."52

Except for dealing with the occasional relapse of the convert back into atheism, this is the end of atheism as far as A.A. is concerned. After this, in Step Twelve, A.A. freely admits that the program is aimed at converting the non-believer to believer, and the believer to A.A. religion.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

A.A. summarizes the indoctrination process in Step Twelve. " Step Three... we who were atheist... discovered... AA.... would suffice as a higher power."53
"In Step Eleven... The persistent use of meditation and prayer... did open the channel so that where there had been a trickle, there was now a river which led to sure power and safe guidance from God as we were increasingly better able to understand Him."54 A.A. allows us to use our own conception of God, as we understand Him, until it is able to teach us to better understand Him. But what is the point of the whole program?

"So, practicing these Steps, we had a spiritual awakening about which finally there was no question, ... we could predict that the doubter who still claimed that he hadn't got the 'spiritual angle', and who still considered his well-loved A.A. group the higher power would presently love God and call Him by name."54

And A.A. will still claim they are not religious. And A.A. itself proves — explicitly — its own lie.

Is A.A. religious? As of this writing, I have been in court for over half of a decade, and it is still being claimed by A.A. and my government that A.A. is not religious, that the program is not a religious program.

This is not a mistake; it is a lie. The Big Book states on page XX (in its Forward) that A.A. is not a religious organization. It contradicts this premise — makes it a lie — in its appendix (II) [page 569 of the third edition]:

"The terms 'spiritual experience' and 'spiritual awakening' are used many times in this book which; upon careful reading, shows that the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism has manifested itself among us in many different forms. Yet it is true that our first printing gave many readers the impression that these personality changes, or religious experiences, must be in the nature of sudden or spectacular upheavals. Happily for everyone, this conclusion is erroneous."

A.A. writes explicitly that what they aim for are "religious experiences" and they deny it. Their aim is to make us love God and call him by name. Period.

When they report, to the government, attendance at these meetings, designed to create religious experiences, they take this deceit to a dangerous level.

They help government establish a state religion.


"BigBook" is the paper-back version of "Alcoholics Anonymous"commonly called the "Big Book"

"DrBob" is the paper-back version of "Dr. Bob and the Good Old-Timers, A.A.'s self-documented early history of A.A.

"12X12p" is the paper-back version of "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions", A.A.'s description of how the program is worked.
"12X12h" is the hard-cover version of "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions", 1984. The page numbers of the quotes in the hard-cover edition are often one or two lower than in the paperback.

  • 1. BigBook 25
  • 2. BigBook 28
  • 3. BigBook 43
  • 4. BigBook 45
  • 5. BigBook 46
  • 6. BigBook 46-47
  • 6. BigBook 49
  • 8. BigBook 52
  • 9. BigBook 53
  • 10. BigBook 55
  • 11. BigBook 57
  • 12. BigBook 58
  • 13. BigBook 60
  • 14. BigBook 62
  • 15. BigBook 63
  • 16. BigBook 77
  • 17. BigBook 83
  • 18. BigBook 93
  • 19. DrBob 53
  • 20. DrBob 54
  • 21. DrBob 130-131
  • 22. DrBob 136
  • 23. DrBob 155
  • 24. DrBob 239
  • 25. 12X12p 15
  • 26. 12X12p 24
  • 27. 12X12p 25
  • 28. 12X12p 27
  • 29. 12X12p 27-29
  • 30. 12X12p 35
  • 31. 12X12p 39
  • 32. 12X12p 42
  • 33. 12X12p 44
  • 34. 12X12p 45
  • 35. 12X12p 48
  • 36. 12X12p 55
  • 37. 12X12p 59
  • 38. 12X12p 60
  • 39. 12X12p 62 — 12X12h 60
  • 40. 12X12p 63
  • 41. 12X12p 63-64
  • 42. 12X12p 65
  • 43. 12X12p 68
  • 44. 12X12p 69
  • 45. 12X12p 70
  • 46. 12X12p 72
  • 47. 12X12p 72-73
  • 48. 12X12p 75 — 12X12h 73
  • 49. 12X12p 76 — 12X12h 75
  • 50. 12X12p 96
  • 51. 12X12p 97
  • 52. 12X12p 107
  • 53. 12X12p 109
  • 54. 12X12p 143-145

Copyright © 2000, 2001, 2003 — Robert Howard Warner
All Rights Reserved

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Last updated 19 April 2006.