Bill White just created an Ernie Kurtz archive section in his website. It’s well worth your time.
From Ernie and Bill’s foreward to Don’t Tell: Essays from Alcoholics Agnostica
. . . carrying its message to other alcoholics regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, religion or lack thereof, or any other accidental quality, A.A. has in living its Third Tradition — “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking” — consistently chosen to risk erring on the side of inclusion.
The story of that Third Tradition holds a profound lesson about Alcoholics Anonymous and change — the revelation that change, even about “basics,” is not only possible but that it can be a mighty service to A.A.’s true essence. For that Third Tradition originally read: “The only requirement for membership is an honest desire to stop drinking.” Set forth in the 1939 “Foreword” to the book Alcoholics Anonymous, the wording was changed and the term “honest” dropped in 1949, at the time of the first publication of the “short form” of the A.A. Traditions. The official explanation given for that change just might also apply in its own way to present concerns about a change that would welcome unconventionally believing members:
As A.A. has matured, it has been increasingly recognized that it is nearly impossible to determine what constitutes an “honest” desire to stop drinking, as opposed to other forms in which the desire might be expressed. It was also noted that some who may be interested in the program might be confused by the phrase “honest desire.” Thus . . . the descriptive adjective has been dropped.