The Religious Roots of Alcoholics Anonymous
and the Twelve Steps

by A. Orange

Chapter 23: Death of a Salesman;
Peter Howard Takes Over




Frank Buchman in 1960

The MRA followers continued to drop out and desert. In 1935, 10,000 followers had gathered at "Hamlet Castle" (Kronborg Castle) in Denmark,44 and in 1939 the Buchmanites had bragged that 15,000 people attended their New York City house party at Madison Square Garden (the New York Times reported 12,000), and that 30,000 people attended their Hollywood Bowl rally, but by 1961 Moral Re-Armament was reduced to bragging that 1000 people had attended their World Assembly at Caux, Switzerland.41 "The Movement" was dying out. More and more, the MRA press releases were obituaries of the leaders and long-time faithful, rather than cheery news of the explosive growth of MRA.42

FRANK BUCHMAN
OF M.R.A. IS DEAD

Founder of International
Spiritual Drive Was 83

Special to The New York Times.

      BONN, Germany, Aug. 8 — Dr. Frank Buchman, founder of the Moral Re-Armament movement, died last night of a heart attack at Freudenstadt in southern Germany. He was 83 years old.
      Dr. Buchman died in the same Black Forest hotel in which, according to his writings, he conceived the idea of founding a world-wide movement for the spiritual improvement of mankind.   ...

The New York Times, August 9, 1961, page 1.

When Frank Buchman died in 1961, in Freudenstadt, Germany, one of his disciples, Peter Howard, took over the leadership of Moral Re-Armament, but he only lived for a few more years himself. Still, Peter Howard managed to promote the same hateful insane ultra-Right-wing philosophy of MRA during what little time he had remaining. He wrote and published a book, Britain and the Beast, which, among other things, continued the attacks on homosexuals. Howard devoted two whole chapters, out of the 14 chapters in his book, to attacking homosexuals. In the chapter titled "Queens and Queers", Howard complained bitterly about a Sunday sermon that he had heard on the radio which preached tolerance and charity towards homosexuals:

        Homosexuals use such broadcasts to justify their ways. They protest that they are not propagandists. But it is a lie. (Homosexuals tell many lies. It is part of their retreat and cover from life.) They try to make others homosexual to ease the sting of their uncertainty.
        It is this propagandizing of the homosexuals as well as their mutual protection that creates the close-knit confraternity of the 'boys' around the world.
        At one point 264 homosexuals were reported to have been purged from the American State Department. Many of them moved from Washington to New York and took jobs with the United Nations, drifting back to Washington after a year or two. But men of this sort have links with men of the same sort in Britain and in other lands. There are no barriers of class, colour, country in the land of Sodom.
Britain and the Beast, Peter Howard, 1963, page 47.
Also see:
A History of Addiction & Recovery in the United States, Michael Lemanski, page 47.

Two hundred and sixty-four homosexuals in the State Department? That sounds just like Senator Joseph McCarthy the Red-baiter, waving a piece of paper in the air and claiming that he had the names of 205 Communists who worked in the State Department (whom he never did identify, in spite of many repeated requests from the Senate subcommittees that were investigating McCarthy's charges).65

And Peter Howard seems to have found homosexuals everywhere:

        A boy who last year [1962] left a well-known public school said to me, 'At the school I left recently, about eighty per cent of the boys went through some homosexual experience.'
Britain and the Beast, Peter Howard, 1963, page 43.

        From America, where a recent estimate made says that one man in six is homosexual, a man wrote from Seattle, on 24 January 1963, 'In my lifetime I have known personally at least 5,000 of those some people call security risks. I am a homosexual myself.'
Britain and the Beast, Peter Howard, 1963, page 48.

        With fascination I watched the little Sodoms functioning within Embassies and foreign offices. Somehow homosexuals always seemed to come by the dozen, not because they were cheaper that way but rather because a homosexual ambassador or chargé d'affaires or Under-Secretary of State liked to staff his 'team' with his own people.
Britain and the Beast, Peter Howard, 1963, page 49.

Considering Peter Howard's history of involvement with fascism, it was probably not just a coincidence that Peter Howard's denunciations of homosexuals were very similar — almost identical — to those voiced by Heinrich Himmler and Adolf Hitler:

...he [Heinrich Himmler] explained how homosexuals in positions of influence, instead of choosing subordinates for their professional competence, chose them because they were homosexual. This was an argument Hitler had used a year before to Diels; he had lectured him on the role of the homosexual in history. Now Himmler used precisely the same analogy as Hitler had to explain the point. Diels, who could not have heard or read Himmler's talk, described Hitler as saying: 'Look, if I have the choice between a lovely but incompetent girl as a secretary and one who is capable but hideous, I decide all too easily in favour of the lovely incompetent.' So it was with homosexuals appointing men to posts, he went on; if they were to acquire influence the National Socialist state would soon be in the hands of these creatures and their lovers'.50
...
      Himmler was seldom content with making a point once. He continued at length to explain how the man appointed for his sexual bent would act in the same way when he came to make an appointment. Thus in a masculine state if you found one man of such an inclination in a position 'you could with certainty find three, four, eight, ten and still more people of the same bent.'
      He added that the homosexual was a pathological liar. He, Himmler, had not known this in the beginning, since to a normal person it was so alien. He and Heydrich and a couple of other colleagues really had to learn in this area from vile experience. Now he no longer asked a homosexual if he could give his word, for the homosexual in the instant he said something was convinced it was true. Interestingly, this is exactly what Professor Gebhardt had said of Himmler himself.

50. Diels, R., Lucifer ante Portas, pp. 381-2, Deutsche Verlags Anstalt, Stuttgart, 1950.

Heinrich Himmler, Peter Padfield, pages 186-7.



Peter Howard and his wife Doe at Caux

About sex between married couples, Peter Howard wrote:

Indulgence by the married, while having the cloak of legitimacy, may nevertheless be the source of irritable tempers and of inability to answer to the real needs of the children. Parents indulgent inside marriage need not be surprised if their children are indulgent outside marriage. A union which could otherwise be powerful for remaking the nation thus remains a soft and uninspiring association.
Remaking Men, Paul Campbell and Peter Howard, 1954, quoted in
The Mystery of Moral Re-Armament; A Study of Frank Buchman and His Movement, Tom Driberg, 1965, page 258.

Notice the completely groundless declarations: Sexual indulgence by married couples produces irritable tempers. Since when? What study or poll or survey ever found that? It seems like not getting laid is far more likely to produce irritable tempers.

Likewise, how does sexual indulgence by married couples make parents unable to "answer to the real needs of the children"? Who ever established anything like that? That is completely baseless.

Nevertheless, undisturbed by the lack of any supporting facts for their crazy ideas, Peter Howard and Paul Campbell dogmatically declared that sex between married couples is bad.

Thus, it was standard MRA practice at their centers like Mackinac Island and Caux to demand that even married couples sleep in sexually-segregated quarters. It seems that because Frank Buchman could not openly indulge his sexual appetites, nobody else could either.

Unlikely as it may seem, Peter Howard still somehow managed to come up with two sons, Philip and Anthony, and a daughter, Anne, who married a British member of Parliament in 1962.145


We have to ask, "Was Peter Howard actually another closeted homosexual? Or was he bi?" Frank Buchman put on a big show of homophobia to hide his own homosexuality, and one has to ask whether Peter Howard was doing the same thing. Howard was married, but he was also one of the MRA leaders who condemned sex between a man and his wife...

Peter Howard had close homosexual friends when he was a student at Oxford:

      Of the recruits Mosley was able to secure, the most prestigious was the Hon. Harold Nicolson,   ...   [a] fastidious, well-connected habitué of London's intellectual, literary world, with his dreams of youth and glory   ...
      Nicolson was a homosexual who was attracted to virile and manly youths of the better classes. His young Oxford friends comprised not just intellectuals like Christopher Hobhouse, but also undergraduates of a quite different type, like Peter Howard, 'charming and forceful but terribly immature', captain of the Oxford, and soon to be captain of the England, Rugby team.
Oswald Mosley, Robert Skidelsky, 1975, pages 249-250.

So just how friendly were Harold Nicolson and the "charming and forceful" Peter Howard, anyway?

Then funny phrases keep turning up in Peter Howard's writings — Freudian slips? — like "licked by impurity" and "not intimate":

The heterosexual, promiscuous person ordinarily has an aggressive spirit, and not infrequently is possessed by a short volatile temper.   ...   A most reliable sign of sexual defeat is piosity. Men who are unctuous and unreal are licked by impurity.
Remaking Men, Paul Campbell, M.D., and Peter Howard, 1954, page 61,
also quoted in
The Mystery of Moral Re-Armament; A Study of Frank Buchman and His Movement, Tom Driberg, 1965, page 259.

"Licked by impurity"? Now that sounds sexy. And who was more pious than Frank Buchman and his "moral" and "absolutely pure" followers?

(Oh, and I have to ask: If "The heterosexual, promiscuous person ordinarily has an aggressive spirit, and not infrequently is possessed by a short volatile temper", does that mean that the homosexual promiscuous person has a passive spirit and a mellow temper?)

Frank Buchman attracted a lot of attention and criticism back in the nineteen-thirties for associating with high-ranking Nazis like Heinrich Himmler. Peter Howard wrote that Buchman never met Hitler (which was probably untrue), and then added:

Nor was Buchman an intimate of Himmler or of any other member of the Nazi hierarchy.
Peter Howard, quoted in The Mystery of Moral Re-Armament; A Study of Frank Buchman and His Movement, Tom Driberg, 1965, page 66.

Not an intimate of Himmler? That is avoiding the question. Nobody was asking whether Frank Buchman and Heinrich Himmler got in bed together; they were asking how sympathetic Frank Buchman was to the Nazi philosophy and goals.





An old Peter Howard, talking to Brazilian fishermen near the end of his life.

Peter Howard denied that Moral Re-Armament was basically dead on its feet, an idea whose time had gone. He alternated between declaring it victorious and wallowing in self-pity, complaining about the criticism that MRA received:

        Moral Re-Armament is an army on the march throughout the world united by an idea whose time in history has come. Such warriors cannot be lured by favours, nor halted by lies, threats or ruthless bullying. It is a winning march.
Britain and the Beast, Peter Howard, 1963, page 120.

        In Britain today, the easy course would be to drift with the stream and to yield the effort to turn the tide. Anybody who tries to restore God to leadership in Britain today, to bring purity to homes, unselfishness to business and industry, honesty to politics, and love to answer the snobbery of the new elite and the frustrated superiority of the old, has a rough time. Often they are misrepresented, misunderstood, gagged, smeared, and ostracized.
Britain and the Beast, Peter Howard, 1963, page 121.

        There was once a man who, after inspecting the Louvre pictures, told a gallery guard, 'I don't think much of the pictures.' The guard answered, 'It's not the pictures that are on trial here. It's the folk who look at them.' Those darkened souls who want to force the earth into acceptance of their own compromise needs must hate Moral Re-Armament. It is the reaction of Materialism against the reality of the Holy Spirit at work in human hearts.
Britain and the Beast, Peter Howard, 1963, pages 118-119.

We are said to be more idealistic and less real than the man who tries to change the world without changing human nature.   ...
Communist and non-Communist worlds share a common need and a common failure. It is a refusal to pay the price and learn the art of changing men.   ...
        Is this politics? Some accuse Moral Re-Armament of playing in politics. We have no aim in politics except that all politicians and all political parties shall be governed by God and so govern nations.
Britain and the Beast, Peter Howard, 1963, page 119.

("We have no political ambitions. We just want to control everybody who controls the world.")

Peter Howard died suddenly in March, 1965, less than four years after Frank Buchman, while on an evangelical tour of South America. He was only 56.




Next: The Last Hurrah: Up With People

Previous: Partying in a Fairy-Tale Castle



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