Alcoholics Anonymous
Sounds 'New Age'

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <>
Subject: Re: AA & cute kittens - question
Date: Monday, March 13, 2000 3:02 AM

The Christians use a different meaning for "cult" than the industry's critics of the Program do (I try to avoid the word whenever possible, attempting, instead, to find a way to describe what I am saying, rather than label it). The Christians and the industry's critics of the Program both see similar dangers, though we see things they don't and they see things we don't. To a Christian of this variety, anything that is not Christianity (or anything that poses as Christianity but is not orthodox) is a cult. Naturally, AA fits this definition. We see AA as being a religious philosophical system that employs high-pressure sales tactics, foisted upon a captive audience. It is the element of the captive audience that most qualifies it as a cult in our eyes.

As for the "religious" versus "spiritual" argument, I see no difference between the two words: both mean precisely the same thing, to me. I made the case that if you are going to quibble about shades of meaning at all, then the word religious leans slightly toward the more personal and the less formal, whereas the word spiritual tends to describe religion that is formal, organized, structured, and, in short, ecclesiastical or "churchy." I get this dinction by comparing Mirriam-Webster's definitions for the two words.

Nevertheless, since M-W is one of several major dictionaries owned by a religious denomination (Mary Baker Eddy's Church of Christ, Scientist), we distrust, for the most part, any words describing religion, theism, theology, and even atheism. We are skeptical of any reference volume published by a church, they having the overwhelming tendency to stack the deck in favor of the church's point of view. However, our experience with M-W has borne out, in a very flamboyant way, this prejudice of ours regarding such dictionaries. We submit the words God and atheism as Exhibits A and B respectively, and then rest our case!

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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This response was revised on February 20, 2002,
adding the M-W discussion as well as clarifying the
descripion of our reluctance to use the word cult..
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