: 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 !
SOS there are
No red tape,
No legalistic hassles or worries
What is a “Charter” anyhow?
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.
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
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!
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could have privileges or rights withdrawn, your membership revoked, or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.
Surely, a “Charter” would never be used for legal reasons in the
A: Then why have one?
: 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.
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 powers.
Furthermore, we want groups to get started as quickly as possible,
with freedom from red tape, bureaucracy, constitutional quagmires and
Our Priority is Sobriety!
: 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”.
: 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!
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"
to start you own totally
independent SOS group