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
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
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
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body, then you could have privileges or rights withdrawn, your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: 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
and 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 offer instead?
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
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
SOS 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