Alcoholics Anonymous and the occult

by Chad Prigmore
Return to Alcoholics Anonymous
There is a very common misconception that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was Christian in origin. However, when those origins and the practices of its founders are examined, it becomes clear that AA has never been a Christian program.  In fact, it originated from occultic practices.

The misunderstanding that AA was originally Christian usually arises from its being influenced by the quasi-Christian Oxford Group. A well-known sermon regarding the Oxford Group was preached by Pastor H.A. Ironside during the 1920’s, and a few excerpts from his sermon bring to light what this group actually believed and practiced:

  • “First Century Christianity emphasized with tremendous force the precious atoning blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and as we come to examine the few books that have already been put before the public by the advocates of this latter day movement, we are struck at once by the fact that these great truths are practically absent. I have gone through book after book, supposedly setting forth the teaching of the Oxford Group Movement, and have not found one reference to the precious blood of Christ in any of them, nor any reference to the fact that the worst sin that anyone can possibly commit is the sin of rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ.”1
  • “Some of my friends who have had more intimate connection with it have said that again and again they have put the question to the advocates of the movement, "What place do you give to the atoning blood of Christ?" They have been answered evasively or, if not evasively, sometimes like this, "Oh, we are not a doctrinal movement, we are not advocating any view of the atonement, we are simply out to change the lives of people. It does not make any difference to us what they believe theologically as long as their lives are changed. If their lives are not changed, theological differences are of very small moment."”2
  • “There are some things about this movement that seem very commendable. One is what they call, "Waiting for guidance." They place a great deal of emphasis on that. Each one is urged in the morning to sit down quietly with the mind emptied of every thought, generally with a pencil in hand, waiting for God to say something to them. They wait and wait and wait. Sometimes they tell me nothing happens, at other times the most amazing things come. Tested by the Word of God many of these things are unscriptural. They lay themselves open for demons to communicate their blasphemous thoughts to them. That is not the Christian way of getting guidance. What is the Christian way? It is to get alone with God over your Bible. Not to say, "Lord, speak to me in some strange, mysterious way," but to say, "Lord, speak to me as I read Thy Holy Word."”3

For anyone who has spent time in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, it is very interesting, when reading Pastor Ironside’s sermon, to notice the similarities between how he explains the teachings of the Oxford Group and the program of AA. In AA there is no mention of Jesus Christ or the atonement. The Oxford Group took a very human-centric approach in which the only thing that really mattered was helping people. The Alcoholics Anonymous program is also aimed at “helping people,” which sounds nice but without the gospel of Jesus Christ people are being helped to get sober but are led away from the truth. The Oxford Group, through emptying the mind and the practice of spirit writing, also resembles the AA's “all inclusive-anything goes” spiritual atmosphere, which pervades the AA community. Spend any amount of time around the AA program and you will encounter everyone from atheists to Luciferians worshipping at the altar of a god of one’s own conception, as the Alcoholics Anonymous program so affectionately labels idolatry.4

In an effort by its proponents to paint AA as a program of Christian origin the claim is often made that Bill Wilson, the man who wrote the book Alcoholics Anonymous was a Christian. However, when Wilson’s writings and life are examined, this seems doubtful.

Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith. The official AA biography of Bill Wilson, entitled Pass it On, speaks of the co-founders practicing séances and communing with demonic spirits while writing the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps. Bill Wilson explains one of their experiences with a Ouija board:

“The ouija board began moving in earnest. What followed was the fairly usual experience-it was a strange mélange of Aristotle, St. Francis, diverse archangels with odd names, deceased friends–some in purgatory and others doing nicely, thank you! There were malign and mischievous ones of all descriptions telling of vices quite beyond my ken, even as former alcoholics. Then, the seemingly virtuous entities would elbow them out with messages of comfort, information, advice—and sometimes just sheer nonsense.”5

Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith were originally introduced to each other in 1935 by a woman named Henrietta Seiberling. In a letter she wrote on July 31, 1952 she tells of Bill Wilson's communion with demonic spirits during the time he was writing the Alcoholics Anonymous program,

"He imagines himself all kinds of things. His hand 'writes' dictation from a Catholic priest, whose name I forget, from the 1600 period who was in Barcelona, Spain-again, he told Horace Crystal he was completing the works that Christ didn't finish, and according to Horace he said he was a reincarnation of Christ. Perhaps he got mixed in whose reincarnation he was. It looks more like the works of the devil but I could be wrong. I don't know what is going on in that poor deluded fellow's mind."6

Even the symbol adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous, the triangle within a circle, is occultic in origin. Regarding the symbol, Bill Wilson stated,

“That we have chosen this symbol [for A.A.] is perhaps no mere accident. The priests and seers of antiquity regarded the circle enclosing the triangle as a means of warding off spirits of evil, and AA’s circle of Recovery, Unity, and Service has certainly meant all that to us and much more.”7

The above examples are just a few quotes from the literature used in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous of which the books Alcoholics Anonymous, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions are the most commonly used. For any Christian involved in the AA program, it’s occultic origins should be of very grave concern.  Christians should avoid the program.




  • 1.
  • 2. ibid.
  • 3. ibid.
  • 4. Ref. Alcoholics Anonymous, page 47
  • 5. Pass It On, Bill Wilson's official biography, pg. 278
  • 6. Henrietta Seiberling, 7/31/52 letter,
  • 7. Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, pg.139