Both the program as well as the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous seem to be favorite punching bags since pundits started making use of modern technology and the freedom to express themselves without having to account for their statements. The principles of A.A. prevent public debate on these matters and truth be told most of these remarks don’t justify the time of day of a response.
Many people judge the program and even the book ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ and base their contempt on some shortcomings of one or more of the authors. Some feel that because one author had moral weaknesses and may have cheated on his wife or a business partner this means that the program is flawed or even evil. This would be as valid as an Apple Macintosh be deemed obsolete if we discover Steve Jobs had cheated on his taxes or that Microsoft Word is considered one of the worst word-processors because Bill Gates wore horrible plaid jackets.
Rick Warren, founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church, an evangelical megachurch located in Lake Forest, California discredits the whole program of A.A. simply because of our habit of introducing ourselves with “Hi, my name is Bill, I am an alcoholic.” He reasons that we identify ourselves in this manner as being inferior to other ‘normal’ people and therefor we will not move beyond our affliction. Subsequently Saddleback Church has designed their own recovery program named ‘Celebrate Recovery’.
The identification of the members is not a requirement nor even a suggestion of the program. It is the result of tradition only. Should Saddleback or Mr. Warren had done some investigation prior to drawing their conclusion, or maybe talk to some alcoholics, they would have discovered that when I identify myself as an alcoholic it in no way presumes me to be any more superior nor less worthy than my fellow man. It is as significant as a diabetic asking for ‘Splenda’ because they cannot handle sugar. I’m sure some diabetics are in ‘Celebrate Recovery’ and I wish them well. A.A. has no need to put down Saddleback nor does A.A. deserve being prematurely judged by them.
Francis Chan. the former teaching pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California, in a sermon once put down the A.A. program because we said God is a Higher Power. This in his opinion was enough to consider A.A. as some kind of cult. A.A. uses the term Higher Power only because our members each have their own faiths and beliefs. A.A. is a program for recovery from alcoholism in which each member is encouraged to seek a closer relationship with their individual Higher Power/God. We respect each other’s belief and do not wish to impose our private beliefs on others. To make more than that out of the simple use of these words just elucidates that Mr. Chan was so busy making his point and figured that the end justified the means. The means in this instance being to belittle a program that has helped so many.
Alcoholics Anonymous is one program of recovery. It does not claim to have a one size fits all solution for all those suffering from alcoholism. A.A. respects all and does so by not wishing to engage in any controversies nor by opposing any parties. A.A. is a great example of a respectful fellowship that many can learn from.
“The infidelity of the Gentile world, and that more especially of men of rank and learning in it, is resolved into a principle which, in my judgment, will account for the inefficacy of any argument, or any evidence whatever, viz. contempt prior to examination.”
William Paley, A View of the Evidences of Christianity