Q : Oh my God!
Do we need a “Charter”
to start a SOS group?
NO ! You don’t need a “Charter” to get sober. And you don’t need a
“Charter” to start a group or be part of the SOS family. If anyone
tells you otherwise, they have another agenda. Our advice is never
sign a charter !
In SOS there are
No red tape,
No legalistic hassles or worries
Q: What is a
Originally, a charter was a statement of supposed
privileges and rights granted by the Pope or feudal kings upon their
vassals. For example, King John of England issued a Charter to the
Catholic Church, became a vassal of the Pope and surrendered England
to him. Later English monarchs issued charters to English settlers
to rule the United States.
A “Charter” is often a means of control wielded by the higher power
or authority. Today, some organizations have charters or issue
charters for protective and legal reasons. A Charter can be used to
sue people or groups and to threaten and control them.
Q: Why are
people tricked to sign a "Charter"?
Many people sign a Charter because they are promised great benefits,
and because they are afraid they will loose out by not signing.
Some people worry that they will be unable to continue using the
facilities, service marks, logos or materials of the Charter
organization, if they don't sign. This is of course already giving
in to coercion and the first step to renouncing one's independence.
This sort of subtle coercion has nothing to do with the traditions
of SOS or the self-help movement generally. Recovering people have
enough pressures without having to deal with big brothers and
potential legal threats.
Lets be clear - Your group doesn't have to sign anything in order to
be a bona fide secular self-help, group in SOS and you don't need a
charter to use the SOS name, materials or be part of our
organization. Its like sobriety - stand on your own two feet!
What could be
the repercussions of signing a Charter?
Maybe nothing immediately. However, your group will always have to
make sure that it is following the organization's rules by the book
and you may be subject to spot checks by inspectors. At the very
least, your group may live with the knowledge, that if follows a
different approach to the organization's governing body, then you
could have privileges or rights withdrawn, your membership revoked,
or you could be taken to court. A Charter is basically designed to
keep you in line. You may want to ask yourselves if such a regime is
really a free thought forum and a healthy atmosphere for recovery .
Take legal advice before you sign anything! Ask to see the
constitution of the organization, show it to a lawyer and ask what
the implications could be.
Q: What if
the treatment center or organization wants to have an accredited
member of our organization to speak? How else will they know that I
am recognized to present our views?
case of SOS if you need some type of accreditation we can come up
with some thing. A phone call - a letter - a certificate -
The case being, we
will find a way to give you the accreditation that you need. This
should be a rare occurrence. We are prepared to deal with rare
occurrences. In a free though organization we can deal with what
ever comes up.
Q: Surely, a
“Charter” would never be used for legal reasons in the self-help
A: Then why have one?
Q : Can our
group have a “Charter” from another
still be part of the SOS Family?
A : No. SOS would need to consider that,
once you have signed a charter, you and your group could be legally
bound to that other organization. Your group might now be in
potentially difficult legal areas, which SOS would not wish to be
involved in. You are now that organization’s “vassals”, so to speak,
and no longer part of the free community of independent self-help
groups, which make up the SOS Family.
Q: What does SOS
A : We don't offer a Charter. Setting up a group is an
"Act of Independence". It is about taking control of your own lives,
running things the way you want. Its a statement of independence
from addiction and from the control of higher powers.
Furthermore, we want groups to get started as quickly as possible,
with freedom from red tape, bureaucracy, constitutional quagmires
and legalistic straightjackets.
Our Priority is Sobriety!
Q : So how do I
start a SOS group?
A: Well, clearly, you don’t have to wait until we confer a “Charter”
on you, design a Coat of Arms or grant you Papal dispensation. So
long as your group is based on sobriety, self-help and secularity,
you can go straight ahead and join the SOS family of recovery
groups, use the SOS name and publications, or use another name,
publish other stuff and still be recognized by us. Why? Because
trust and honesty are key to healthy recovery. We trust you and your
group and believe you are honest in your sobriety. SOS treats its
members and groups like adults, who have the common purpose of
creating sober, self-empowered individuals and groups. SOS groups
are all self-reliant, independent and “self-chartered”.
WARNING : By
signing a Charter you could be loosing your freedom of expression
and democratic and organizational independence. You could even be
putting your group at risk from future legal action.
has no charter, we're all self-chartered!
Charters don’t keep you sober !
SOS keeps the sobriety path simple,
and its organization also!
"As with the sobriety
priority, healthy skepticism and rational thinking never go on
automatic pilot........steer clear of quick-fix artists...An aware
skeptic is less apt to be duped or enslaved"
Jim Christopher (SOS Founder)
from "Recovery without Religion"
How to start you own
independent SOS group