The Religious Roots of Alcoholics Anonymous
and the Twelve Steps

by A. Orange

Chapter 24: The Last Hurrah: Up With People



Most people have never heard of Frank Buchman or The Oxford Group or Moral Re-Armament, that they know of. But they might remember one thing: a squeaky-clean song-and-dance show called "Sing Out!" or "Up With People!". That show was the product of several surviving members of MRA, particularly five members of the Board of Directors of Moral Re-Armament, Inc.:

  • J. Blanton Belk, the Executive National Director of Moral Re-Armament
  • William Van Dusen Wishard, who was the Director of Up With People,
  • William F. Wilkes, the financier and fund raiser,
  • James E. MacLennon, who traveled with the casts.
  • Dr. Morris Martin (Frank Buchman's former personal secretary), who created the academic program in 1969, and traveled with the show as a full-time teacher until 1973.

They offered the Sing Out! and Up With People! shows as a "moral" alternative to the anti-war Hippies of the 'sixties and 'seventies, and as a jingoistic denunciation of the opposition to the War in Viet Nam:

      Something young, something fresh, something defiant has erupted onto the modern scene. A new heartbeat has quickened the pulse of the age. A new generation has risen to shoulder the tasks of world rebuilding.
      It is not a fresh innovation of the tousle-topped sex-mongers and groaners, not a new wiggle, a new twist, not a new thrill, not the rainbow world of LSD or a fast, fast, fast, form of escape.
      It is the newly discovered thrill of the very opposite of these.
      ...
      It is a rebirth, a reversal of a trend, a dramatic turn across the traffic patterns of an age.
      Thus, while thousands were crying, "Down with war! Down with patiotism!" a new voice of a generation was heard crying "Up With People."
Born To Upturn The World: The people who are making the Sing-Out explosion, "Up With People", David Allen, pub. 1967, Pace Publications, page 5.

[Notice how in the MRA jargon, "war" and "patriotism" became synonyms — if you said "Down with war", that was supposedly just the same thing as saying "Down with patriotism".]

[And "Up With People" meant "Blow Them Up".]


That show, like the previous MRA theatrical productions, featured lots of mindless fluff and singing and dancing and jingoistic flag-waving, done by beautiful young people who were so well-shorn and properly dressed that they were ready for employment at Disneyland or on the Lawrence Welk show. The show even featured a satirical skit where the "patriotic youth" chased some scuzzy guitar-playing hippie Vietnam War protestors off of the stage. The militarists loved it.


Combined touring casts of "Up With People" setting off from Estes Park, Colorado, July, 1966.

The "Sing Out!" show was produced under the auspices of Moral Re-Armament, but that became a problem when corporate sponsors like General Electric did not wish to be publicly associated with such a weird fascist cult religion, so the producers renamed the show to "Up With People!", and hid any links to Moral Re-Armament. (But they didn't hide them very well. The authors of the MRA propaganda book Moral Re-Armament: What Is It? bragged about producing both shows, and they often used the two names interchangeably. So did the book Born To Upturn The World: The people who are making the Sing-Out explosion, "Up With People", by David Allen.)

The show's producers still managed to put their moral stamp on it: On the bus, young men and women were not allowed to sit together, for reasons of "purity." The young men were given lectures, advising against hot showers, lest the warm water arouse them to abuse themselves.


On the bus, young men and women were not allowed to sit together.


The Colwell Brothers are the 3 guys with guitars

The song lyrics were like this:

It happened just this mornin' while I was walking down the street
A milkman, and a postman, and a policeman I did meet
There in every window, at every single door
Why, I recognized people I'd never noticed before.

Up, up with people! You meet wherever you go!
Up, up with people! They're the best kind of folks we know
If more people were for people
All people everywhere
There'd be a lot less people to worry about
And a lot more people who'd care.

UP WITH PEOPLE, Words & Music by Paul Colwell & Ralph Colwell

Can't you hear America calling?
Every boy and every girl...
We are going to fire a new shot.
Heard around the world!
East and West are rising...
There's a stirring in the land
Can't you hear?
Can't you hear America calling?
Calling --
Calling every man.

Born To Upturn The World: The people who are making the Sing-Out explosion, "Up With People", David Allen, pub. 1967, Pace Publications, page 63.

That was such meaningless jingoistic hoopla that if you just edited out the word "America", and replaced it with the word "Germany" or "Hitler", you would have a good Hitlerjugend song for a Nuremberg Nazi Party Rally:

"Can't you hear Hitler calling?
Every boy and every girl...
We are going to fire a new shot...
Heard around the world!
Sieg Heil!"

Hear that guitar!
Hear that beat!
Swing it! Swing it!
Makes you want to move your feet,
Sing it! Sing it!
If you're a square or way out,
Tall or short or slim or stout,
Don't stand still! Don't stand still!
Life's too short for that!

...
They're pounding a rhythm,
And they seem to say --
'We're rollin onward
To a better day.'

...
This country needs you, needs you,
needs you, needs you, needs you --
If you will dare.
And men will heed you, heed you,
heed you, heed you, heed you --
If only you care.

...
... We're rollin' onward
To a better day!
We're rollin' onward --
On the Sing-Out Express!

[Born To Upturn The World: The people who are making the Sing-Out explosion, "Up With People", David Allen, pub. 1967, Pace Publications, page 7.]

"Men will heed you"? And do what you say?

That sounds familiar — sort of like A. J. Russell's arrogant demands that strangers should obey the Oxford Group recruiters.


Up With People, 1989 Cast E

Hay-yay, ev'rybody come!
We're gonna play-yay,
We've got a swinging drum,
We're gonna sing about a new idea,
We're gonna need-yeed ev'rybody here,
In a Design for Dedication...

...
And we'll go harder — faster --
Higher in space — deeper in the sea --
The greatest generation in history
And banish forever
Hatred and fear — famine and greed
Every last problem of humanity...

Born To Upturn The World: The people who are making the Sing-Out explosion, "Up With People", David Allen, pub. 1967, Pace Publications, pages 10 and 12.

Such delusions of grandeur:

  • a new idea
  • harder... faster... higher... deeper
  • The greatest generation in history
  • And banish forever Hatred and fear — famine and greed — Every last problem of humanity...

Even the titles of the MRA propaganda books about "Up With People" were grandiose:
"Born To Upturn The World ... the Sing-Out explosion" ... and
"Born To Live In The Future"....

Frank Buchman's fingerprints are all over it.

Notice how such a bombastic slogan, "The greatest generation in history", was designed to appeal to the vanity and egotism of the young audiences who were the intended targets of MRA's ongoing recruiting work. — Just what heroic achievements had made the Baby Boomers "the greatest generation"? What great accomplishments had they made, so far? They were still just some insecure kids in 1966...

And the "new idea" being sold to "the greatest generation" was actually just a very old cult religion dressed up in new clothes. Those old MRA guys were definitely clever propagandists.

        Dr. Buchman carefully trains his followers to carry out his technique of revivalism. Several of the rules seem to have been made for the express purpose of side-tracking intelligent inquiry, the displacing of intellectual honesty by subversive emotional appeal and, above all the muffling-down of criticism. Two of his precepts are: "Avoid argument" and "Aim to conduct the interview yourself".
Saints Run Mad; A Criticism of the "Oxford" Group Movement, Marjorie Harrison (1934), pages 33-34.

And any hippie who suggested that perhaps a good way to celebrate the wonderfulness of people would be to not drop bombs on them was escorted from the premises for being a trouble-maker.




The Sing Out! and Up With People! shows were pure Moral Re-Armament propaganda, and their publications said as much. The following account of a cast meeting, as told by Moral Re-Armament, sounds very much like just another Buchmanite "house party", with all of the talk about "this fellowship", and "this way of life", and giving your entire life to the cult, and how "mere existence" is meaningless and purposeless outside of a cult religion:

      ... Up With People is built on bedrock. Its foundations are driven into the granite of an unshakeable faith. Its cornerstone is the burning, almost competitive spirit to live straighter lives than any men have dared to live. The girders of its structure are four standards, Honesty. Purity. Unselfishness. Love. The architectural requirements are absolute. The plan accepted by everyone in the cast is that of a Master Mind, a Divine Spirit which, for all of them, will be their lives' guiding standard.
      A spark of frankness leaps from one to another in their conversations. Purposeful and young in heart, the people in Up With People are a new breed, bolder, more outspoken than any around them.
      Before the show starts, the secret may be found. For half an hour, or sometimes three-quarters of an hour, the cast meets. Traditionally known as a "green-room" through the history of the theater, this cast meeting is like none other in America.
      Before tonight's show, for instance, the cast met outside. Some were sitting on boxes, others on benches, some on the ground, a few standing. They talked over the recent days and discussed earnestly their plans for the future now that they were back in America.
      John Parker was leading it. After a while he asked them all to say what was most on their minds.
      A young college student from Orlando, Florida was first on his feet. "You know, the first time I ran into Sing-Out it was like a new breeze. I had no purpose in life. Merely existing is no way to live a full life. It takes a certain purpose to live by — and sticking to that purpose. I frankly have made up my mind to go with you people for life."
      A boy from Wyoming was next.
      "I guess most of you know that I am a pilot. I have flown since I was quite young and I love to fly.
      "I had a choice this summer; either to go back to Wyoming and take over my grandfather's airport — or to stick with you in the cast. You don't know how set I was on going home. Flying is what I like to do most.
      "Last night I was watching the show from out front. The song 'We are With You Mr. Washington' — I don't know — it hit me like a bombshell. I was sitting there with tears in my eyes. I suddenly felt I have something an awful lot more important to do than fly. I have got to do something for my country. I can't sit back and let things go wrong in the world.
      "I guess I don't say things too well — but I want you all to know I'm one of the happiest guys in the world to tell everybody that I'm going to stay for as long as it takes."
      A Negro girl from Harlem stood up. "Yesterday I was home for a day. I got the shock of my life.
      "I used to think there was nothing wrong with New York, in spite of all you read in the papers about our city. But I got in a cab. The driver was very abusive. I got on the subway. People on the subways are afraid to smile. I went home. I found my friends had joined the Black Muslims and were honestly convinced that the Negroes were going to rise and overthrow the whites.
      "Suddenly I began to value the way of life we have found together in Sing-Out. I asked God to give me the courage to live that one day so dynamically that anyone, just by seeing me, would feel something of the spirit of Moral Re-Armament."
      "I decided to get straight with my parents. It was the first time my family had been under the same roof for — oh, I don't know how long. I brought my brother into the room, too. I told them everything about my life. My brother's mouth was hanging open. I told them what I had found in Moral Re-Armament.
      "Well, the result of it — I can't tell you quite how it happened — but my mother and father decided to try to live together again.
      "I want to thank Moral Re-Armament and every one of you for what you have done for me and my family."
      Another girl, an actress-model from a very different side of New York, spoke up. "I was sort of a mod on the fringe of the beat," she said. My family split up when I was twelve and I got all closed up and bitter. I was booted out of boarding school. I didn't believe in anything. Life was pretty simple: fight for yourself and if you have to step on other people to get to the top, it's just too bad.
      "With you all I've gotten a faith and something to live for bigger than myself. I even began to care about other people."
      ...
      A blond high school senior from Alabama got to his feet.   ...
      "I just want you to know that I am ready to play my part. I don't want to give just one year to Moral Re-Armament. I want to go beyond that and build a whole new world and give the rest of my life."
      A girl from Cincinnati put up her hand to speak.
      "When I first saw Up With People in March I was just one sheep in a 'nation of sheep' — you know, trying to be 'in' like everyone else. I had wool in my eyes that I didn't want to remove.
      " Ever since I have joined Up With People I have been — I don't know — I have been able to see. I love life so much more. Really, I have learned so much about the world situation that I never even cared about before. I have learned why problems exist. If you don't know the problems, you sure can't find the cure for them.
      "This has brought me so much closer to my family than I have ever been before.
      "All I can say is 'down with sheep and up with people!'"
      ...
      The next girl to speak was daughter of an Air Force General and had just recently joined the cast. "I know now that Moral Re-Armament is for life — not a show you travel with for six months or a movement you admire. It is principles you incorporate into your own life and it's got to be brought to everyone."
      She went on, "We military dependents are known as a wild and way-out crowd right around the world. Instead, I think we ought to be a force to carry the spirit of Moral Re-Armament to every place our fathers are transferred."
      ...
      A boy from Texas took the floor.
      "When this group came to the Army base near my home, it rocked the whole central Texas area. You just don't know how many changes were made through the show you all gave. The fighting men of the Army base saw the show — and suddenly they realized why they are going to Vietnam. You don't know how it boosted their morale. You don't know how much you have done — more than money can do."
Born To Upturn The World: The people who are making the Sing-Out explosion, "Up With People", David Allen, pub. 1967, Pace Publications, pages 32-36.

MRA didn't seem to know much about the military way of life. According to MRA, a General's daughter said, "We military dependents are known as a wild and way-out crowd right around the world..." That is not entirely true. (I know, I grew up in the military.) There were a few bad-boy high-ranking officers' sons, but by and large, the military dependents were very regimented. A military man is held strictly accountable for what his children do, and if his children get busted, then he gets busted too, which can be the end of his military career. The least he is likely to get, if his children get into trouble, is reduced in rank and pay. But that can also mean that he never gets another promotion. His career is over. The military attitude is, "If you can't control your own children, then how can we trust you to control troops in combat?" So military dependents are often some of the most oppressed, regimented, and disciplined children on earth.

Again, we see the standard Oxford Group show routine of converts telling exaggerated stories of their "extremely sinful and wild ways" before Frank Buchman's wonderful recruiters led them to the straight and narrow path.


And of course they just had to include a token Indian (just like Frank Buchman did, and just like Alcoholics Anonymous did later), and she just had to always be dressed in her native costume (just like Frank Buchman's token Indian always was). She couldn't dress in regular clothes just like everybody else, or else the white people might not know that she was "a real Indian". And of course she was nursing a "resentment", just like a stereotypical member of Alcoholics Anonymous:
      An Indian girl, dressed in a beautiful costume of her pueblo in New Mexico, spoke quietly, "I used to hate anyone who wasn't an American Indian because of the injustices done to my people in the past. But I realized that the hate and bitterness which ran my life are the same petty problems that are dividing races and nations today. I have decided not only to forget the bitter experiences of the past and leave it at that, but to learn from them.
      "Because of Moral Re-Armament, Indians all over the country are waking up to the fact that we have remained silent too long. Our aim now is to give to the rest of the world the spirit and faith which made our forefathers great."
Born To Upturn The World: The people who are making the Sing-Out explosion, "Up With People", David Allen, pub. 1967, Pace Publications, pages 35.

"Chief Walking Buffalo", Frank Buchman's token Indian
That is just some more grandiose propaganda, quite untrue. Moral Re-Armament did not convert very many Indians at all, and the "spirit and faith which made our forefathers great" didn't have anything to do with Frank Buchman's Moral Re-Armament, did it?


As is typical of cults, Moral Re-Armament demanded that the kids dedicate their entire lives to the cult. They couldn't just give a year of their lives to the show; they had to give away their entire lives:

  • "I frankly have made up my mind to go with you people for life."
  • "I'm going to stay for as long as it takes."
  • ""Suddenly I began to value the way of life we have found together in Sing-Out."
  • "I've gotten a faith and something to live for bigger than myself."
  • "I don't want to give just one year to Moral Re-Armament. I want to go beyond that and build a whole new world and give the rest of my life."
  • "I know now that Moral Re-Armament is for life..."

And I really love the utter denial and complete reversal of reality in this nonsensical thought-stopping slogan:
"All I can say is 'down with sheep and up with people!'"


Also see these cult characteristics, which Up With People displayed:


An Up With People cast member speaks to the audience after a show.
Born To Upturn The World: The people who are making the Sing-Out explosion, "Up With People", David Allen, pub. 1967, Pace Publications, page 70.

Notice the messianic gleam in the member's eyes. "I have the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven..."

Like Mark Twain said, "...the calm confidence of a Christian holding four aces."


Peter Howard
Born To Upturn The World: The people who are making the Sing-Out explosion, "Up With People",
David Allen, pub. 1967, Pace Publications, page 22.

Speaking of the war in Vietnam, the "Up With People" propaganda book Born To Upturn The World tells us about Peter Howard teaching young people:

      As he [Bob Quesnel] came up to Howard he found him surrounded by people, plying him with questions.
      "Would you say that your idea of North and South Vietnam being given a common idea is related to co-existence?"

      Howard smiled, "I don't think that a field of cabbages can co-exist very long with 300 rabbits. I think it does take an idea to beat an idea.   ...   Why in the world should not the North Vietnamese be captured by our concept for the world? Because we don't give it to them. The reason we don't give it to them is because we don't have it.
      "What kind of world are you trying to produce?"
      Howard's eye darted to the young man who had asked the question, a college student. "A world living in full liberty and fulfillment because it is governed by men governed by God, ruling people who look to God."
Born To Upturn The World: The people who are making the Sing-Out explosion, "Up With People", David Allen, pub. 1967, Pace Publications, pages 23-24.



Troops at a military base cheering for Up With People
On the other hand, not everybody liked Up With People that much:
I saw Up With People in Air Force boot camp. There I was, head freshly shaved, ego thoroughly dismantled, fresh from a 120dB chewing out by a 12-foot tall drill instructor for some trivial infraction, and we get herded in to see Up With People. Fortunately, we had not yet been issued weapons. The only thing I can think of that would have been worse would have been Pat Boone as a warmup act.
O.D. Palmer, Sep 8 1993, in alt.angst newsgroup.

Way back in 1966 I was in the Army when these folks were doing one of their tours. We were all forced (on our off-time) to go and see their cornball brand of "entertainment." Nobody could believe how bad they were... but a few days later we read in the post newspaper (Ft. Hood, Texas) how the "Up With People" troupe got 5 standing ovations!!!
I guess heading for the exits as fast as possible counts as an ovation.
If we subjected POW's to this kind of stuff they probably would have held a war crimes tribunal.
No... I didn't like them.
JR13157, Mar 18 1998, in rec.music.rock-pop-r+b.1960s newsgroup.

Sometimes it's a fine line between "Up With People" and "Up With Lunch."
— Betty

Up, up with people, they're the nicest people to eat.
Up, up with people, they're the tastiest people you meet.
If more people ate more people, there'd be fewer people to beat.
Up, up with people, they're the nicest people to eat.
Torsten Heycke, Wed, Nov 25 1992, rec.backcountry

Down, down with people
Eat 'em where ever you go
Down, down with people
They're the best-tasting folks we know!

If more people ate more people
And ate more ev'rywhere
There'd be a lot more cannibals to worry about
And a lot fewer people to care!
Mark Gooley, May 25 1993, talk.bizarre

It happened just this morning
I was hunting on the street
A postman and a mailman
A policeman I did eat [belch]
Through ev'ry boarded window
And ev'ry bolt-locked door
I smelled some more people
That I'd never tasted before.
--dawn, kill me before i post again, May 26 1993, talk.bizarre

Boom, boom, boom, boom.
Okay everyone, let's try it again.
We are "BLOWING UP WITH PEOPLE!"
— Unknown person's wise-crack


President Dwight D. Eisenhower (right) at a Sing Out! show.
J. Blanton Belk (left) was the Executive Director of Moral Re-Armament, Inc. of the USA after Peter Howard's death.

An MRA propaganda book captioned this undated photograph:

General Eisenhower receives the cast and tells them "I am proud and thankful for you. If we could wake up people to what you are singing about we would have a nation that could stand as an example for all."
Moral Re-Armament: What Is It?, Basil Entwistle and John McCook Roots, pub. 1967, page 24.

President Eisenhower might have been a little less effusive in his praise if one of his advisors had bothered to tell him that the organization behind the show was a bunch of chicken-hawk draft dodgers who had done everything in their power to avoid serving in General Eisenhower's army during World War II, and whose leader praised Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler while partying with the Nazis in Nuremberg and Berlin...
Oh well...


One last interesting note:

Those young people in "Up With People!" worked hard at singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments. You would think that they deserved to get paid for their work — they put on a large number of shows all across the country each year, and sold a lot of tickets, and even appeared on national television — NBC TV — in 1968, as well as on hundreds of local stations in 32 cities.

Did they get paid for their work?

No.

Well, so they volunteered, and just got room and board while they toured the country, right?

No, not even close.

They were actually expected to pay $9800 per year for the privilege of working on stage for free. (Although it is reported that, in 1990, about one-third of the cast did get some kind of financial aid.)121 And by the last year of the show, 2000, the "tuition" had increased to $20,000 per year.

It just seems to be another cult rule: rob your own people first. They are easier to hit up than strangers on the street.

(The Screen Actors' Guild must have popped a cork. That's really the ultimate in union-busting, isn't it? — make the actors, singers, dancers and musicians pay to work onstage.)

...the real secret of how Sing-Out travels so far and how Up With People reaches out across the world month in and month out is simple: not one in the cast, not one of the stage crew, not one of the teachers, not one of the directors, no one receives a penny of salary. For pay, or the lack of pay, is never a consideration or a motive for anyone taking part.
Born To Upturn The World: The people who are making the Sing-Out explosion, "Up With People", David Allen, pub. 1967, Pace Publications, page 71.

But things didn't stay that way. The older full-time staff members started drawing regular salaries. It was just the young people who always worked for free, and had to pay to perform on stage.122

Students pay a program fee towards their year of travel. They often spend the months before joining the program raising the funds themselves. In addition, 38% of all students last year received scholarship assistance from Up With People for which an endowment fund is being built.
Born To Live In The Future: Up With People at 25, Dr. Morris Martin, pub. 1990, page 88.

...some applicants have serious financial problems, even with all their efforts in raising their student fee. Over the last twelve years this fee has doubled as the opportunities offered by the program and the resulting costs plus inflation have increased, and is now $9,800.   ...   The growing scholarship fund, as a sufficient amount becomes available, should go some way to help the most motivated students...
Born To Live In The Future: Up With People at 25, Dr. Morris Martin, pub. 1990, page 17.

And how was that endowment fund for scholarships financed?

You can give financially to Up With People and Moral Re-Armament. Dollars, dimes nickels, pennies — believe it or not, without contributions like these Up With People would stop. Consider carefully whether you shouldn't give a hundred dollars — or a thousand dollars. Or more if you've got it. Consider how much it means to you to have this spirit spreading throughout the world today. How much does it matter? Maybe you should give everything you've got. People did two hundred years ago when this country had to finance the Revolution. And Up With People is financed in exactly the same way.
Born To Upturn The World: The people who are making the Sing-Out explosion, "Up With People", David Allen, pub. 1967, Pace Publications, page 71.

"Maybe you should give everything you've got." That's the propaganda trick of Sly Suggestions.
"Maybe it will be wonderful if you do what I wish...."
(And then again, maybe it won't.)

And the False Analysis Of History is another propaganda trick that MRA used there. The early American colonists most assuredly did not give everything they had to General George Washington and his army. In fact, only one third of the colonists even supported the revolution. Another third were loyal to the King and Crown, and the remainder sat on the fence, undecided. George Washington was constantly begging the Continental Congress for more supplies because he never got enough. If it weren't for the French, the revolutionaries would have starved and lost the war. But MRA did not intend to educate people with accurate facts.... MRA just waved the flag and suggested that people should give them all of their money to MRA if they were really patriotic and really moral.




Next: Obscurity

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