Can a group ask a person to leave a meeting and not come back?

Dana asks

With principles before personalitys and our tradition nine can a group ask a person to leave a meeting and not come back?

As with all of this blog, these are my opinions only.  I do not represent or speak for AA.

It’s my understanding that a group can do whatever a group wants to do.

In my experience, this is happily an extremely rare occurrence.  Most disruptive people in AA settle down or leave, or move around to other groups.  I’ve written before that AA is not a safe place.  Though I’ve always felt safe there, crimes can and do happen around meetings and between the people of AA.  Again, I’d say, they are rare.

Our literature warns us that if we ask a person to leave AA, we may be sentencing that person to death.  No one deserves that, no matter what.  We’re not asking people to leave AA, though, just usually our particular group.  If a person his being continually disruptive, frightening, or dangerous, I do think that’s OK for the group to ask that person to leave and not come back.

Dana brings Tradition Nine into it, but the leaders of the group would have no special authority here, and the groups I’ve known would use a “group conscience” or vote about things like this.  I’m sure something so serious would only happen after many other things have been tried and have failed.  I also think a person should be asked not to come back until he or she has changed the troubling behavior, not never.

I’m sorry for any group that is going through this kind of terrible situation.  I’m sorry for any person who might be asked to leave AA.  The only thing I’m sure about here is that we should all keep trying.  Behavior that makes groups consider asking someone to leave is probably not sober behavior, or behavior that is compatible with sobriety.  Someone who can’t get along with people in AA will probably have a very difficult time elsewhere and probably needs serious treatment for mental illness.


3 thoughts on “Can a group ask a person to leave a meeting and not come back?

  1. Cite me the exact spot in AA literature that states we could be sentencing someone to death if they are disruptive and asked to leave.

    • OK then, that’s a little hostile, but I’ll oblige. Page 141 of Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions: “Why did we dare to say . . . that we would neither punish nor deprive any A.A. of membership . . ?
      The answer, now seen in Tradition Three, was simplicity itself. At last experience taught us that to take away any alcoholic’s full chance was sometimes to pronounce his death sentence, and often to condemn him to endless misery. Who dared to be judge, jury,and executioner of his
      own sick brother?”
      Now that is not the same thing as asking someone disruptive to leave. As I said above, in my opinion (my opinion only), someone can be asked to leave a particular meeting and even to not come back until that person has changed whatever behavior caused the problem in the first place.
      But this should be an absolute last resort, done because something serious and dangerous is going on. I’m heeding the book, that this will sometimes actually deprive a person of his or her last chance to live.

      • We have a non group member with seventeen years who comes into our meeting, which consistently has over 50% attendees with less than six months, because near court house and treatment centers. He is always disparaging the group, is old timer attendees, the district, the area, and aa as a whole including GSO. We recommend 5 minute shares and he will rant for 15 minutes. We believe it is scaring newcomers from coming back to our group. We are thinking we should ban him and all agree he is mentally ill. He thinks his doctrine is the only doctrine that should be followed and as a group we believe pistol should be able to say what they need to but this guy believes he is Mr AA.

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