The Religious Roots of Alcoholics Anonymous
and the Twelve Steps

by A. Orange

Chapter 17:
The War Years: On the Road Again



The remaining Buchmanites spent the duration of the war touring the country with their morality plays You Can Defend America, The Good Road, and The Forgotten Factor. They went through a sequence of events that resembled the end of the movie This Is Spinal Tap. Moral Re-Armament went from playing giant venues like New York's Madison Square Garden and Los Angeles' Hollywood Bowl, in front of crowds of 12,000 to 30,000 people, down to smaller and smaller halls, and then to obscure Army bases, and finally to places like Smith Valley, Nevada, where they played to an "overflow crowd" of hundreds of people in the local high school auditorium.

Their lifestyle was also a giant step down from glittering palaces like the Waldorf Astoria and the Mayfair Hotel. For a while, they were homeless, and wandered from state to state in a caravan of cars, staying at local campgrounds or in the houses of whoever would put them up, getting money by putting on their plays and collecting donations and selling books.

First, one sympathetic individual gave Frank Buchman and MRA the use of a campground in rural Maine, called "Tallwood". From there, Buchman launched his "Maine School for Home Defense", as if Buchman actually knew anything about home defense.

A few years later, another sympathizer gave them the use of part of a campground at Lake Tahoe in California, and they wintered there for a while. During the summer months, they were on the road, working as a traveling show.


The "Morale-building scene" of You Can Defend America, presented in Atlanta, Georgia, April 12, 1942.

Cece Broadhurst and Vic Kitchen appeared as cowboys in the "Change on the Range" skit.


Sheet music for MRA songs


Sheet music for MRA songs

The Buchmanites actually grandiosely bragged that You Can Defend America was "Called Best Morale Epic Since 1776", as in,

VICTORY REVUE TO BE GIVEN THIS AFTERNOON
"You Can Defend America" Called Best Morale Epic Since 1776
      "You Can Defend America," the victory revue with a cast of more than 80 persons, will be presented at 3 o'clock this afternoon at the Erlanger Theater under the auspices of the Citizens Defense Committee of Georgia, the Fulton county Defense Council and the Atlanta Defense Council.
      Presented more than 120 times in 20 states under the sponsorship of governors and defense councils, the fast moving dramatic and musical revue is presented by a cast which is donating its time and services without charge, merely asking a community for living expenses. Atlanta hotels and restaurants are furnishing the cast with rooms and meals so there are no other expenses attached to the Atlanta showing.
      The production this afternoon will be free, and no collection with be taken up.
      The fast moving musical and dramatic revue shows in 11 colorful scenes how every citizen can help win the war, secure the peace and build a new world.
      Since it was first produced more than a year ago on the west coast, "You Can Defend America", has been described in newspapers as "the greatest morale builder since the Declaration of Independence."
Preview Of A New World; How Frank Buchman Helped his country Move from isolation To world responsibility; USA 1939-1946, Arthur Strong, page 112.

Notice the use of the passive voice. They didn't bother to tell us exactly who made such bombastic, over-blown claims: it "has been described in newspapers ...as the greatest..." — Has been described by whom? When? Where? How? Why? If a newspaper article quotes someone else's bragging about the MRA show, then that qualifies as "has been described in newspapers".


Moral Re-Armament members travelling in a caravan. Anne Jaeger is in the back seat.

Photo from within the caravan, Lynchburg, Virginia, February 1942.
Arthur Strong reported, "Thirty or so cars made up the Revue cavalcade. Gas rationing made it possible as there were few cars on the road."115

The caravan stops for gas

Arthur Strong, who made these photographs, wrote:

You may wonder why we chose the southern states for these four months with our full cast of eighty rather than scatter to hot points across the nation, with smaller numbers taking in a wider circumference. Von Clausewitz has something to say on that: "All forces which can possibly be brought to bear should be at the point where decisive blows are to be struck, even at the risk of weakness at other points."
[Or maybe it was just that the southern states were a lot warmer in February...]
Then you may say, why didn't you spend all the time in Washington so the leaders could get your philosophy of Sound Homes — Teamwork in Industry — A United Nation. This time I'll quote Napoleon: "Never attack in front a position that can be taken by turning." All that has happened in the states has been sent to the Senators and other national leaders in Washington at once, so they can have not only had the philosophy but also through the convictions of their own voters.
      Constantly I get the thought to build up photos of the Revue bit by bit. What it would have meant to us today if we had drawings made at the time, on the spot, of St. Francis and his troubadours as they worked. Now there are the photos to be made of the man who has trained more fighters for this task than any other in the world. Pictures are constantly needed for Washington too, showing better than letters can, how the masses love this God-given philosophy. The cast is yet another market for photographs of the Revue and of the various people who are thrilled by it.
— Arthur Strong, writing to friends in Britain, May 26, 1942.
Preview Of A New World; How Frank Buchman Helped his country Move from isolation To world responsibility; USA 1939-1946, Arthur Strong, page 86.

That was quite a rationalization for the young, healthy, able-bodied British citizen Arthur Strong spending the war years of 1939 to 1946 in the USA, safe from the war and the British draft.

And Frank Buchman was equal to St. Francis? Really now.

Again, we see how egotism influences cult membership. Arthur Strong could tell himself that his life was meaningful and really special because he had associated with a modern-day St. Francis (rather than that he was just a draft-dodger who abandoned his country in her most desperate hour).

Also notice how Arthur Strong claimed that they had a "philosophy" of "Sound Homes — Teamwork in Industry — A United Nation" that they had to promote.
As if such desires were not already commonplace.
As if the Senators and Congressmen in Washington were too stupid to be able to think of such ideas themselves, and had to be told about such things by the Buchmanites.

And "Sound Homes — Teamwork in Industry — A United Nation" is not a "philosophy". It is, as Tom Driberg said, an incantation.


Richard Hadden, catching a cat-nap on the road. He wrote much of the music for the shows.

Arthur Strong wrote: "Our bottega in Philadelphia for the 6 winter months of 1943 to 1944".
Preview Of A New World, Arthur Strong, pages 194-195.

Frank Buchman reduced his personal physician and true believer, Dr. Paul Campbell (center, in white coat), to selling copies of the booklet "You Can Defend America" at shows.
(Photo taken in Atlanta, Georgia, sometime between April 12 and 20, 1942, probably by Arthur Strong).
Also selling books were Edith Shillington (Ramsay) and Edward Bell, formerly headmaster of England's St. Bees Public School.
Preview Of A New World; How Frank Buchman Helped his country Move from isolation To world responsibility; USA 1939-1946, Arthur Strong, page 115.

So Dr. Paul Campbell was reduced to selling books at shows, just like any other Moonie or Hari Krishna cult member?

  • Why wasn't Dr. Paul Campbell serving in the Army, practicing medicine and saving the lives of wounded soldiers?
  • Why was he wasting his time and talents selling books for a religious cult?
  • How did he avoid the draft? Did Senators Truman and Capper and Congressman Wadsworth pull strings for him too?
  • Why didn't Frank Buchman patriotically tell Dr. Campbell to go join the Army and give some of that Absolute Love and Absolute Unselfishness to the wounded soldiers?

It seems that after Frank Buchman got his claws into Dr. Paul Campbell, Campbell never practiced medicine again. Campbell wasted the rest of his life promoting Frank's cult, doing things like collaborating with Peter Howard on a crazy book of hateful Buchmanite diatribes.


The inner circle of Moral Re-Armament staying at a supporter's mansion in Sarasota, Florida, winter of 1943. (This might be the DuPont family mansion, where Buchman's inner circle is known to have stayed in the winter of 1943.)

1. Kenaston and M. Twitchell   2. Garrett and A. Stearly   3. Frank Buchman   4. Bremer Hofmeyr   5. Dr. Paul Campbell   6. Morris Martin   7. L. Wood   8. G. Hay   9. E. Mansfield   10. Ray and E. Purdy   11. J. and C. Ely   12. L. Vrooman   13. Arthur Strong   14. G. Fraser   15. C. and M. Haines   16. E. and A. Bentley   17. John McCook Roots   18. R. and Marion Anderson   19. Paul Petrocokino   20. Alan Thornhill   21. A. Leakey   22. Eric Parfit   23. E. de Mestral   24. B. Van Dyke   25. W. Stubbs  
It appears that the inner circle of MRA, the 32 most important old-timers, got to spend the winter of 1943 in a mansion in Sarasota, Florida, while the rest of the 88 members of the cast and crew got to spend the winter in a tenement in Philadelphia.

I guess Everybody is equal, but some are more equal than others...

The traveling revue got this letter from a faithful MRA member who remained behind at the Tallwood MRA camp in Maine:

George Wood, writing from Maine where, with five others, he is following up the interest created by the Revue, January 1942:
We aim to translate the interest into a fighting practical program for Total Victory. We want to raise leaders all through the State who will be a Morale Building Council, — who can build morale, each in their own community, which is panic proof, smear proof and fear proof with a conquering unbeatable spirit. It is particularly necessary in this State with agriculture, shipbuilding and with the civilian defense work. They are a swell race of rugged men.
      There are still millions of innocent hopefuls here who believe fervently that you can have "morale" without worrying about moral standards. We must build some thing utterly new and strong and clean that can out-match and out-march the isms in every sphere. We must be superior in willingness to sacrifice, in planning, strategy, in productive power and in unity of action. Self-interest and self-indulgent living are out for good. America will win and be a great world benefactor.
Preview Of A New World; How Frank Buchman Helped his country Move from isolation To world responsibility; USA 1939-1946, Arthur Strong, page 86.




Next: Henry Ford and Anti-Semitism

Previous: What is Fascism? How fascist was Frank Buchman?



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