3. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.
These days, this is a tall order. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have watch groups kick out the sickest members because they are thinking of the group’s comfort and calling that “our common welfare”.
Our membership ought to include ALL who suffer from alcoholism. That includes pedophiles, rapists, cops, judges, presidents, kindergarten teachers, homeless bums, prostitutes – ALL. Prayer and meditation should be taken before any action on membership. All our traditions should be utilized so that God has time to inspire us to new ideas to solve our problem.
One time, we had this guy show up at our group who said he was an ex-priest. He would hug the newcomer men and run his fingers down their back. The guys started to report to my friend and I, what was going on. My friend Tim and I were the group’s elders. We had a talk and decided to go visit this guy, Matt, at his home. We prayed before we went over there, and we knew we were going to tell Matt that he was welcome at our meeting, but his behaviors were not welcome. He needed to leave those behaviors home. But we were totally willing to let him show up if he was willing to behave himself. Matt got very angry at us and kicked us off his property, and never came back to our group. We doubt he really is alcoholic after all.
Hence, we can refuse NONE who wish to recover: If they show up, they wish to recover. It is not for us to judge what constitutes the actions of that wish. Showing up at our meetings means they want to recover. PERIOD.
Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend upon money or conformity: Groups that have become clubs and require membership fees to hang out violate this tradition. Members who want everyone to share their name at the beginning of the meeting, hold hands at the end of the meeting, share once, share for 5 minutes, say whatever prayer- are all violating this tradition.
If a member or a person shows up and they are belligerent, then it is the responsibility of the older members to ask the person nicely to quiet down and if they don’t, to escort them outside and talk to them – to let them know they are welcome to attend whenever they are ready and willing to be courteous to other members. But showing up drunk is not an automatic reason to kick someone out. Nor is there ever really a need to call the cops – as we have ONE ultimate authority – God.
Individuals must never be banned from groups. This is a violation of AA principle – and the group loses it’s status as an AA Group if it bans someone.
Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation: A group that is also in business as a club, is not AA. AA group who’s members are doing a non-AA activity in the room that holds the meeting right before the meeting, to which newcomers or AA members are not welcome, is violating this tradition. Sponsors going into business with sponsees, violates this Tradition. I can help a new person with a job. I can hire them to help me with something, but as their sponsor, I really will be violating this tradition if I continue to be in business with them once they get on their feet, and continue to be there sponsor- because it is a conflict of interest. I am less apt to be honest with them, or encourage them to change and grow if I am making money off the person. A group that has a name that is affiliated with the church or the business they hold their meetings in- is affiliated with the church or business. We do not want this. We need to be able to freely discard our meeting place should something go sideways and our traditions be violated.
Recently in my town, one of the founding members of a very old group got into an argument with the Pastor of the church where they had been meeting for over 20 years. The Pastor banned the AA member from the property. Then the group was unwilling to consider moving and now the founding member had to find another home group. The group cited their common welfare as coming first over the founding-member’s welfare – again “OUR” refers to all of AA. Therefore they missed the boat because the group is subsidized by the church, the group has the Pastor as their ultimate authority, not GOD and therefore they are affecting AA as a whole by staying at that place because certain members might piss off the Pastor and get banned – it’s time to move and pay your own way.