Bill W’s church connections – Quakers
Correspondence in the Alcoholics Anonymous archives at General Service Office, New York, an extract of which is included in As Bill Sees It (March 1950, letter from Robert C. to Bill W.):
“Dear Bill, I’ve been a member of AA for three years and doing a fairly decent job. In the meantime I’ve become interested in the Society of Friends (Quakers) and seem to see a great kinship between the two movements. The Way of Life of both movements seem to fit so well into each other that I have become greatly interested in knowing how much Quakerism effected not only the foundation of AA, but also what part, if any, it has played to date.”
Wilson replied: “Dear Robert C., the really amazing fact about Alcoholics Anonymous, and something I’ve never been quite able to comprehend is that all religions see in our program a resemblance to themselves. For example, Catholic theologians declare our 12 Points to be in exact accord with their Ignatian Exercises for Retreat and though our book reeks of sin, sickness and death, the Christian Science Monitor has praised us editorially. Now, looking through Quaker eyes, you too see us favorably. What happy circumstances these!
Though the structure of our AA Society was designed only by experience and what grace God may have given us, I must confess that in this aspect we do bear a strong resemblance to the Quakers. We have no paid preachers and once the early members erected the basic principles, the authority seems to flow up through the mass instead of down through the top. When I wrote the Traditions, I can assure you that I did not create this state of affairs, I merely reflected what had already appeared out of the groups.”