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Can a group exclude you from joining?

Some one else had asked if they could join more then on group. The response was "You can join as many groups as you like as long as the group is willing to accept you as a member." When can a group NOT accept you as a member?
Yes, an AA group can decide to exclude people.

By AA Tradition the individual group is the highest authority in AA. This is not a slogan or fuzzy concept but the very basis of how the fellowship is structured.

Tradition Four begins: With respect to its own affairs, each A.A. group should be responsible to no other authority than its own conscience. The exceptions to this are when a group action might affect neighboring groups or AA as a whole.

So, if a group felt the only way to protect the common welfare of the group was to exclude someone it can. This because excluding a person from a single group would not impact neighboring groups (or AA as a whole) and the First Tradition puts the group's welfare before that of the individual.

As an example, consider a group which decides to hold a weekly closed meeting. Then a person begins to attend the meeting and shares that they do not want to quit drinking and are there only to appease a court or spouse. The group is left to decide if they need to exclude this person from their meetings. Someone lacking the desire to quit can not be a member of AA and a group can have meetings for "members only."

We are not saying that excluding people is a good thing or a wise thing, only that a group can do it if they want - there is no authority to prevent them from doing it. In AA people typically don't get removed unless they are actively disruptive or dangerously psychotic.

Apart from a fear of violence there might be other rare occasions for a group to exclude someone. For an extreme example; imagine a rehab that calls itself "Alcoholics Anonymous Rehabilitation & Detox Inc." and sends its "members" to AA groups to give sales pitches and actively recruit new patients. This wouldn't really be about the individual's affiliations with the rehab but the person continually bringing non-AA stuff into meetings and making it impossible to help newcomers.

Again, we are not saying that excluding people is a good thing - only that a group does have that right and might have to use it in some extreme circumstance. Groups should always remember the start of the Third Tradition: 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.

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