The Religious Roots of Alcoholics Anonymous
and the Twelve Steps

Chapter 14: Dodging the Draft

Most of the British Moral Re-Armament and Oxford Group members who were in the USA with Frank Buchman decided that they would rather not serve in the British Army and fight Hitler and the Nazis, and they did not return to Great Britain to help to defend their country, in spite of appeals for them to come home:

Newspaper reprint from page 144 of Preview of a New World by Arthur Strong.
(click on image for larger version)

The illustration in the upper right-hand corner depicts "One of Dr. Buchman's publicity stunts", the "conversion" of Mae West, who was photographed holding an MRA book. The tennis player was of course "Bunny Austin".

One British newspaper reporter found the Moral Re-Armament draft-dodgers hiding in the backwoods of Maine:

London's Daily Mirror, Oct. 13, 1941



An arduous 400-mile expedition from New York into the wilds of Maine has ended in my discovery of an idyllic haven where a big group of healthy British men, young and middle-aged, have been living happily, far from wars and cares, under the munificent protection of Dr. Frank Buchman, of Moral Rearmament fame.
      Driving with my guide through Maine woodlands, twelve miles from Augusta, I suddenly came across this retreat, which is known as Tallwood and nestles bashfully on the beautiful shores of Lake Maranacook.
      It consists of a mansion, several small houses, many acres of farmlands, bathing and boating beach, and accommodation for Moral Rearmament's private fleets of canoes and motor-cars.
      A former Tallwood employee described it to me as a "Paradise where women do nearly all the work while men laze around and pass out tracts." He told me, "Britons, some in their twenties, would sit in little groups receiving messages from God, sing, swim in the lake and go boating."

Bunny Austin Secret

      First to greet me as I entered this Buchman Tibet disguised as a bookseller were two healthy and cheery Britons. One of them gave me a tract and informed me that Moral Rearmament had saved British people.

      But when I asked "Where's Bunny Austin?" he froze up. Moral rearmers are strictly forbidden to disclose Bunny's whereabouts.
      Neither would they tell me how many Britons are at Tallwood.
      Upset by unwelcome publicity in the British Press, Buchmanites leased Tallwood early this summer and ordered their New York headquarters to tell British correspondents in New York nothing about it.

Hosts of Britons

      As Maine is somewhat inaccessible to these correspondents the scheme worked well and soon a host of healthy Britons were in and out there with a Canadian or two and many Americans.
      Residents in Augusta and other Maine towns were bewildered when Buchman suddenly announced Tallwood to be "America's first school for building civilian morale."
      It was also described as a defence school, and from it British and American Buchmanites would dart out morally to rearm Maine's good citizens, claiming this would add strength to American's defence.
      Tomorrow I'll make more revelations regarding the life of Britons in their peace-haven.
Article photocopied in Preview Of A New World; How Frank Buchman Helped his country Move from isolation To world responsibility; USA 1939-1946, Arthur Strong, page 71.

The MRA members in the USA got Senators Harry S Truman (D-MO) and Arthur Capper (KS) to send telegrams to the British Foreign office, declaring that the British MRA members were involved in important defense work in the USA (which was actually just putting on jingoistic shows), and should not be called back to Great Britain to serve in the military services. Arthur Strong documented this exchange of letters:

While at Lake Tahoe, Ray Foote Purdy received a letter from Senator Harry S Truman, written from the United States Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce, Washington D.C., which said:

I am pleased to hear from you and to receive the program for the Moral Re-Armament week in San Francisco. I am most happy to have it.

You have hit the nail on the head when you say that it is going to be necessary to make tremendous sacrifices for the defense of democracy.   ...

It will require a complete moral reawakening to stem that tide. I always talk to the taxi drivers when I ride with them, and I find a large number of them, and a large number of other people I talk with, are favorable to a dictatorship. That's not Americanism, but the result, I think, of Fifth Column activities, and I am not an alarmist in that regard.

[There was just something so terribly ironic about Senator Harry Truman writing to the Buchmanites, complaining about those un-American people who favored a dictatorship, and hoping that Frank Buchman's jingoistic flag-waving shows would solve that problem, and then helping the British Buchmanites to dodge the draft. Sen. Truman was apparently totally ignorant of Frank Buchman's real philosophy and history — praising Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler, hanging out at Nuremberg Nazi Party rallies, advocating Christian Fascist dictatorships running the whole world, and wanting to bring America under the "true dictatorship of the living God", where "inspired democracy" meant that you followed the leader's orders without question, and never voted on anything...]

November 1940: Truman cabled the British Foreign Office for continuing the assistance of William Jaeger and his companions in our defense program.

November 18, 1940: Buchman to Truman, from Ambassador Hotel, Atlantic City:

Your telegram to London was an instant hit. There was an affirmative reply within 48 hours. My! What a relief it is that Jaeger is staying. Some of these British have a knack with our American labor that I covet for many an American, and they are such splendid examples. You have been the spearhead literally for millions in giving them a whole new grasp of where America's true defense lies. We are your grateful debtors...

November 18, 1940: John McCook Roots to Truman, from the Ambassador, Atlantic City:

...Thanks for your help with ... William Jaeger. Senator Capper also cabled, along with the Governors of California and Washington, and a number of labor and business leaders throughout the country...

Some of us are here informally... at the CIO convention. With best wishes to Mr. Messall and to the others in the office.

November 20, 1940: Truman to Buchman, from Washington:

Appreciate most highly your letter of the eighteenth, and I am happy that the telegram to London had the desired effect.

December 11, 1940: William Jaeger to Truman, from Los Angeles:

I want to tell you how grateful I am for your cabling London on my behalf. My passport has been renewed by the British Government for five years.

I have just come from attending the AFL National Convention. I enclose a copy of a message cabled to Mr. Green and the Executive Council of the AFL by twenty-six leaders of British Labor, expressing their wholehearted support of the work of Moral Re-Armament in the defense of the nation.

...Both AFL and CIO leaders are constantly asking us to help them in their work. This morning we are going to meet with sixteen AFL leaders of the Waterfront Unions in Long Beach.

With deep appreciation for the lead you are taking in giving the world the philosophy it so badly needs at this critical time.

July 25, 1941: Buchman to Truman on "You Can Defend America" notepaper, from Camp Tallwood, Winthrop, Maine:

It is always a pleasure to hear your voice. It carried all the way to Maine yesterday, where we are starting a school for Home Defense. We are planning to reach every American through 'the Maine door'.

I find a great many people talking about morale and home defense have not yet the foggiest idea of what it is all about.
All of the above is documented in Preview Of A New World; How Frank Buchman Helped his country Move from isolation To world responsibility; USA 1939-1946, Arthur Strong, page 282.

[Oh? And where did Frank Buchman get his expert knowledge of morale and home defense?]

Narcissists pretend to be economists, engineers, or medical doctors when they are not. But they are not con-artists in the classic, premeditated sense. They firmly believe that, though self-taught at best, they are more qualified than even the properly accredited sort.
from: HealthyPlace.Com/Communities/Personality_Disorders/narcissism/faq3.html

Frank Buchman also appears to have had delusions of grandeur, or at least a very bad case of denial and Pollyanna's optimism. When he and his group were reduced to living in poverty in a remote campground in the backwoods of Maine, Buchman used grandiose spin-doctoring to put the best face on the situation, and bombastically declared that they were "planning to reach every American through the Maine door".

Then the British MRA members who were safe in the USA innocently declared that it was okay with the British government if they sat out the war in the USA; that the British government didn't really want them to come home and serve in the military...

The London newspapers did not agree that nobody wanted the British Oxford Group and Moral Re-Armament members to come home and help defend Great Britain...

Newspaper reprint from page 144 of Preview of a New World by Arthur Strong.

The British draft law had a special exemption for men who were "lay evangelists of established religions". Many of the British members of the Oxford Groups and Moral Re-Armament tried to claim that exemption. In September and October of 1941, Members of Parliament debated in the House of Commons whether the Oxford Group members qualified as "regular ministers of a religious denomination". They voted no.15

Buchmanites Denounced as Fascists in Britain

      On Oct 8 1941 Columbia Broadcasting Co's correspondent Larry Lesueur reported as follows:
      "Some of the most interesting news in London this week emerged from Labor Minister Bevin's decision not to exempt wholetime workers of the Oxford Group (MRA) from the draft.
      "Before the House of Commons voted on this yesterday (Tuesday) 170 members had signed an appeal favoring the exemption of the Oxford Group. But a spirited speech by the writer A P Herbert (who is Oxford University's member in Parliament) swung them the other way.
      "Herbert said the Buchmanites' methods were fascist-like and their evangelists Nazi-like."
George Seldes, "In fact, An Antidote for Falsehood in the Daily Press", No. 204, Vol. IX, No. 22, September 4, 1944.
See: Arthur Strong, Preview of a New World, page 210, for a photcopy of the Seldes article.

For a while, Frank Buchman's British followers who were in the U.S.A. were beyond the reach of the British draft, and were relatively safe from the British draft because of the aid of Senators Truman and Capper. But as the war progressed, the U.S.A. adopted a policy of also drafting foreign nationals from allied countries like Great Britain. In 1943, when 28 'life-changers' — "twenty-five British citizens, one Canadian, one Norwegian, and a Dane — all of whom had registered with the Selective Service Board in New York City, were classified 1-A for draft induction into American military service", the MRA people objected and dropped big names and pulled strings with the rich and powerful, trying to get exemptions for their members. Among those who exerted pressure on the draft board to exempt the Oxford Group members were Congressman James W. Wadsworth (R,NY), Senator Harry S Truman (D,MO), Maj. Gen. Lewis Hershey, who was the National Director of Selective Service, and Admiral Richard E. Byrd, who declared that, "These men are working long hours without pay in an effort to show all people that everyone has got to do his part to win the war."36

But notice Richard Byrd's assumption that the Oxford Group and MRA members were entitled to choose for themselves which safe and cushy job they would do during the war — actor, singer, dancer, set designer, or stage electrician.

And to argue that the MRA men were somehow especially virtuous because they were working without pay was absurd — the guys who were ducking bullets in combat weren't getting paid much, either.

(Besides, were they really literally working without pay, or were they getting stipidends and donations from unseen sponsors and supporters? You know, "Where God Guides, He Provides"...)

On January 4, 1943, Brigadier General Ames T. Brown, the New York State Conscription Director, reluctantly, under much pressure, ordered the cases of the twenty-eight MRA members reopened. He called the behind-the-scenes manipulations "most despicable".

Collage from page 171 of Preview of a New World by Arthur Strong.

The six men pictured were: Brig. Gen. Ames T. Brown, Maj. Gen. Lewis Hershey, Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Congressman James W. Wadsworth of New York, Senator Arthur Capper of Kansas, and Senator Harry S Truman of Missouri.

John Walters, Correspondent in New York for the London newspaper "The Sunday Pictorial", wrote:


NAMES of leading Congressmen and several high U.S. conscription officials have been used in manoeuvres to keep twenty-five young British Buchmanites out of the American Army, states the New York World Telegram tonight.
    These Britons, with three other men, who are not American citizens, have been classified 1A by their local conscription boards. This means that they are due to enter the Army soon.
    But, says the "World Telegram," pressure has been improperly brought upon the New York State conscription director, Brigadier-General Ames Brown, to have their cases reviewed, apparently with a view to further exemption.
    Brown, although consenting to have these cases re-examined, called them "most despicable."
    Among the names on the list is "H. W. Austin." That is apparently [the famous Davis Cup tennis player] Bunny Austin, who a few months ago was in the Southern States under the name of Anthony Smith.

    According to the World Telegram an Oxford Group official told the local Draft Board officials that the move leading to the latest re-opening of a case had been "suggested" to him by Congressman James Wadsworth, co-author of the Conscription Act, whom he said, gave him a "letter of introduction" to General Brown.
    One Conscription Board refused an appeal to reopen a case and said the records showed "extraordinary circumstances."
    Referring to the Group, the chairman of the Board said: "Whatever its profession, it is employing influence, political and otherwise, outside the Selective Service system and behind the back of the local board, to bring about interferences with the course of immigration law and Selective Service law."
    The first case reopened concerned a 23-year-old Englishman, Terence Blair, for whom deferment was sought on the grounds that he was indispensable for handling the lighting, stage design, and scene painting for a show called "You Can Defend America."
John Walters, The Sunday Pictorial, January 5, 1943.
See: Arthur Strong, Preview of a New World, page 171, for a photcopy of part of the article.

John Walters also wrote:

Bring 'em Back Alive!

All British Buchmanites of military age now disgracing their country in the United States should be ordered home immediately — or else forfeit their passports.   ...


Here are the names of the British Buchmanites seeking exemption from military service in the U.S.:
    JOHN T. CAULFIELD, M.A. of Trinity College, Oxford, son of General C. T. Caulfield. Founder member of the Oxford Group Company.
    MYLES PHILLIMORE, 22-year-old son of Lord Phillimore.
    TERENCE BLAIR, 23, sought deferment on grounds that he was indispensable for handling the lighting and staging of "You Can Defend America." Appeal rejected.
    R. M. S. BARRETT, MA of Trinity College, Oxford. Founder member of the Oxford Group Company.
    BASIL ENTWHISTLE, B.A. of St. John's, Oxford. Another founder member.
    GEORGE FRASER, Young Scottish composer. Writes songs for the group.
    HENRY M. F. MACNICOL, described as an Edinburgh journalist.
    REGINALD A. E. HOLME, describes himself as a journalist, and gives the Hoert Hotel, London, as his address.
    JAMES A. F. MONTGOMERY, introduced as a Dublin University oarsman.
    BLYTH RAMSAY, introduced as a Greenock shipyard worker.
    DUNCAN CORCORAN, also introduced as a Clydeside shipyard worker.
    H. W. BUNNY AUSTIN, the tennis player, otherwise Antony Smith.
    GEORGE STUART SMITH, introduced as a former president of a Glasgow University student body.
    WILLIAM G. JAEGER, described as a London Trade-Unionist.
    The others are: Willfrid Holmes Walker, Reginald R. Hale, George S. Wood, Morris H. Martin, James A. Cooper, Adam McLean, Arthur P. Strong, Tom Gillespie, Paul Petrocokino, John F. Vickers, Eric G. Parfit.
John Walters, The Sunday Pictorial, January 10, 1943.
See: Arthur Strong, Preview of a New World, page 171, for a photcopy of part of the article.

Frank Buchman's followers claimed that they were essential to the war effort and the national defense; that America really needed their morality plays and shows, so they shouldn't get drafted into the Army. The draft board wasn't at all impressed with the chicken-hawk arguments of the Moral Re-Armament men, and the Appeal Board in New York upheld the decisions of the local draft boards, and the men in question were ordered to report for induction.16 Most all of the draft-dodging MRA men soon found themselves drafted, shorn, and marching in uniform right alongside their less-religious neighbors. All except for Frank Buchman, that is; he was far too old to draft; he was 63 in 1941.

— And except for the young, strong, British photographer Arthur Strong, who took most of the wartime photographs of Moral Re-Armament. We don't get a clue about how he managed to stay out of the service.

— And except for Peter Howard, who somehow managed to sit out the war in rural England. In 1930 and 1931 Peter Howard, a former captain of the English national rugby team, had been young, strong and athletic enough to be one of the leaders of Sir Oswald Mosley's fascist goon squad, fighting in pitched battles with the leftists in the streets of English cities, but in 1940 Howard was somehow able to beg off and avoid service in the British Army. He claimed to be crippled by a congenitally deformed foot.

The back flap of the dust cover of his book, "Frank Buchman's Secret" declares:

Peter Howard was for many years one of the most influential political columnists in Fleet Street. He captained England at Rugby football and represented Britain in the Olympics on the bobsled.

Peter Howard was actually athletic enough to go to the Olympics? But when it came time to defend Britain and fight against Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, Peter Howard was suddenly a cripple, unable to serve?

Peter Howard played gentleman farmer on a tiny plot of rural land in England all through World War II. He even got two German prisoners of war to do the work for him.

Then, the Buchmanites had the gall to manufacture a stream of publicity photographs that featured MRA men posing prominently in uniform, declaring that they were very patriotic, and they had always been eager to serve their country — that it had all just been a minor misunderstanding that was exploited by their "enemies" to make them look bad.

Photograph from page 211 of Preview of a New World by Arthur Strong.

Some MRA men pose in a publicity photograph

Finally, after all of that, MRA brazenly lied and rewrote history and claimed that their "enemies" had been conspiring to keep MRA men out of the service, and that MRA men had to fight to get into the service. See The Fight to Serve: Moral Re-Armament and the war, Washington and San Francisco : Moral Re-Armament, 1943.

(click on image for larger version)
George Seldes, "In fact, An Antidote for Falsehood in the Daily Press", No. 204, Vol. IX, No. 22, September 4, 1944.
See: Arthur Strong, Preview of a New World, page 210, for a photcopy of the Seldes article.

Later, in September of 1944, with victory in Europe in sight, the Sunday Pictorial (of London) said of Frank Buchman's British followers,

We Don't Want Them BACK!

In a few months' time we'll be putting up an outsize in banners bearing the words "WELCOME HOME."
    Under that sign we'll extend a big hand to all the husbands, sons, and gentlemen from Britain who have been doing a great job everywhere to help win the war.

So before the excitement begins, and while we can still think clearly, I would like to jog your memory about a few of the fellows who can count themselves out from the salutation "welcome home".   ...

[Then the newspaper printed pictures of Bunny Austin and Mackintosh, and finished the article with:]

When Britain was in deadly peril they left their country to her fate. Now, when it's safe, no doubt they're getting ready to return. But they would do well to heed this warning.

...   We don't want YOU back either.
The Sunday Pictorial, September 10, 1944.
See: Arthur Strong, Preview of a New World, page 210, for a photcopy of part of the article.

At the end of the war, true to form, the Buchmanites pulled strings with generals who were sympathetic to the MRA cause, and got early discharges from the armed forces.

Frank Buchman greets the tennis player Bunny Austin and his wife Phyllis when Austin returns from WWII.

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Last updated 15 October 2013.
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