ARTICLE 1: Purpose & Powers
- The Purpose of these by-laws is to outline the structure and function of the Spiritual Naturalist Society, Inc. (“SNS”, or “the organization”).
- These by-laws replace any and all previous by-laws established for SNS or any of its departments or other bodies.
- These by-laws will be enacted, and may be changed or amended, by a majority vote of the SNS Council, subject to the rights of the Board of Directors, as described in Article 3.
ARTICLE 2: Mission, Principles, and Vision of SNS
- The mission of the Spiritual Naturalist Society is to spread awareness of Spiritual Naturalism as a philosophy, encourage the further development of Spiritual Naturalist thought and practice, and educate others on the traditional wisdom and contemplative practices that inspire Spiritual Naturalism. In addition, the Society exists to help bring Spiritual Naturalists together for mutual learning, growth, encouragement, and fellowship.
- Other than our mission as an organization, we are also deeply committed to several principles and operate in accord with them. Among these are:
- We believe all human beings are equal in their worth and should be given equal opportunity and rights, regardless of their race, sex, ethnicity, nationality, religion, disability, or their sexual orientation or gender identity. Each individual is deserving of treatment as an individual, based on his or her character and choices, rather than any of these group identities or characteristics.
- We believe in treating others as we would be treated. We believe in practicing loving-kindness toward even those who do not return it. We believe universal compassion for all beings and unconditional love is the best answer to our conflicts.
- We try not to criticize the beliefs of others, be it in a respectful academic sense or in a bashing or flippant manner. We instead try hard to focus on what we believe and hope that it will help others find happiness, whatever their tradition. We believe being a living example of our values is a better way to spread them than criticism and conflict.
- We believe in acting ethically in both our personal lives and organizationally. This includes great care with the private information we handle on behalf of our members and subscribers, ethically handling all money and funds of the organization for the purposes they were given, and being honest in all things to our volunteers, members, and the public.
- We believe in the compassionate use of reason for solving our problems. This includes a humble approach to knowledge and the claims we make. It also includes respect for the scientific method, used responsibly and ethically for the betterment of all.
- While we are not a political or activist organization, we support a more peaceful, charitable, tolerant, just, and democratic world. We also support greater access to education, the necessities of life, and environmental responsibility. We encourage our members and subscribers to take up worthy causes with activist organizations as a part of their personal practice. Ultimately, we believe that change in the world begins with change in our heart, which is where the mission of our Society is focused.
- SNS works toward a vision, which are the most important elements of its purpose. This vision includes among other things:
- Healing the schism between the natural and the sacred.
- A place for Naturalists seeking better lives.
- A think tank for Spiritual Naturalist thought and practice.
- More than a mere website or publisher, we seek community development, support of local groups, courses, public events, speaking engagements, and compassionate projects.
- We seek an atmosphere of sincerity, equanimity, patience, tolerance, compassion, and love in everything we put into the world.
- Less talking and more doing: we do not debate whether naturalists can live meaningful, good lives – we do it.
- What we are not is as important as what we are. Our crucial niche lies between the ‘nones’ and the ‘spiritual supernaturalists’. While we are naturalists, we do not practice religious criticism, politics, or debate. While we have sacred spiritual practices and rituals, we refrain from unproved faith-based claims.
ARTICLE 3: The Board of Directors & Structure
- Board of Directors, composition: The highest ruling body of SNS will be the Board of Directors (“the Board”). The Board will be composed of the minimum number of individuals required by the IRS and any other applicable laws for non-profit organizations, composed in accord with any such laws. These members will remain in position as long as they choose to serve, to be replaced as needed to maintain the number of individuals required by law. Replacement, removal, or addition of Board members will be approved by a majority vote among the Board members.
- Board of Directors, role: While the Board is the highest ruling body, in practice it is meant to step in only when there is a significant and severe threat to the direction of the organization and its founding mission or purposes. What conditions constitute this state of emergency is for the Board to determine, with a majority vote.
- Powers and Delegation: All powers of the Board of Directors may be delegated to other individuals or bodies as needed and directed by the Board. Any delegated power may be taken back at any time by the individual or body that delegated it, or may be overridden on a case-by-case basis. This is the general philosophy on which all powers exist between the bodies outlined in these by-laws. The Board will generally delegate most routine directing authority to the Council, which may delegate powers and roles to the staff or other individuals, and so on.
- Multiple positions: It is possible for an individual to serve in multiple bodies and roles within SNS simultaneously. For example, one could be on both the staff and the Council, or on both the Board and the Council, etc. In these cases, care should be taken to ensure the roles can be filled effectively, that it is clear when one is acting in one role or another, and that there are no conflicts of interest or other organizational or ethical issues.
ARTICLE 4: The SNS Council
- SNS Council, role and powers: The SNS Council (“the Council”) is the directing authority of SNS under normal and routine circumstances, unless or in cases where the Board of Directors has declared an emergency and overrides the Council. Direction of SNS will include: (a) invitation and nomination of individuals for confirmation to the Council by the organization’s membership; (b) selection and appointment of the Executive Director; (c) removal of any Council member, staff member, or member of the organization for violation of SNS by-laws, policies, principles, or behavior unbecoming of the organization or its mission; (d) setting the long-term strategy and agenda for the organization and giving or approving plans, operations, or activities to those ends; (e) approving financial decisions; and (f) any other powers necessary to conduct the business of the organization.
- SNS Council, composition: The Council will be composed of any number of individuals. To be on the Council, one must be (a) a member of SNS; (b) willing and able to participate in a leadership role within SNS; (c) well acquainted with Spiritual Naturalism and in agreement with the philosophy; (d) well acquainted with these by-laws, the mission of SNS, and in agreement with its purposes; (e) nominated by the Council for confirmation by the organization’s membership; and (f) confirmed by a vote of the membership.
- SNS Council, procedures: The Council will meet on a regular basis, with a frequency and schedule as determined by itself, provided the frequency and schedule is sufficient to actively and effectively perform its role of leading the organization. “Meeting” will be defined as either in-person, video conference, live chat, phone conference, or any other form of live, synchronous communication that includes the Council members. All powers of the Council are exercised by a majority vote of all its members. Any action lacking a number of votes greater than 50% of its total current members cannot be enacted.
ARTICLE 5: The Executive Director and Staff
- SNS Staff: The SNS staff (“staff”) are those individuals which serve SNS by performing any number of various tasks needed to its operations. The staff may be composed of volunteers, contract, paid, or any combination thereof, as determined or approved by the Council according to needs of the organization, its budget, and any other logical, pertinent, and ethical considerations. Staff members may have specific titles and roles, or may be of a generalized nature, serving where needed.
- Executive Director: The head of the staff is the SNS Executive Director, who is also considered a part of the staff. The Executive Director reports to the Council, and is responsible for translating its directives into concrete staff actions that achieve the goals of the organization. As head of staff, the Executive Director will oversee the activities of all other staff members. He or she will design roles, positions, and duties within the staff. The Executive Director will also seek out new staff members as needed, remove staff members if needed, and so on. As per Article 3.3, the Executive Director may delegate authority over various matters as needed to assigned staff. All actions and decisions of the Executive Director may be overridden by the Council if they see such a need.
- Staff appointments: The Council will select and appoint the Executive Director, and may remove the Executive Director at any time. An Executive Director may serve for any number of 1-year terms, although the Council will vote annually to confirm and approve the Executive Director for each new term. This Council vote should take place soon after the results of the annual member vote are known, including all new members of the Council. While the Council has the power to appoint or remove any other staff members, in practice that power is delegated to the Executive Director, who is normally expected to select and design the staff structure, members, and operations as needed.
ARTICLE 6: Membership
- A member of SNS shall be anyone who submits an interest in becoming a member. This can be through any means of communication, be it form submission on a website, a social media post, an email, phone call, video conference, in-person request, etc. Memberships can also be given by any Council member.
- Members are expected to follow the organization’s terms of service, and may be removed by the Executive Director, the Council, or the Board for actions that violate those terms, or for other forms of disruption or poor behaviors or interference with the organization’s operation.
- Supporting Members are those members who have elected to make a regular scheduled donation to the Society, and have been approved as such via the mechanism that SNS has provided to them to become Supporting Members.
- Any individual may make irregular or unscheduled donations at any time to SNS, but this has no bearing on whether they are members or Supporting Members.
ARTICLE 7: Annual Member Vote
- Each year, the members will be given the opportunity to vote on several matters, called the “Annual Member Vote”. The technical means of this input will be determined by the Council, depending on available technologies, efficient and practical methods, and an ethical consideration to make the effort as easy and available to all members as possible.
- The annual member vote will have at least two sections – one for Supporting Members, and one for members of all types.
- In the section for all members, there will be any number of survey questions where members can give input on many various aspects of the organization, how it is being run, its programs, performance, future goals, and more. The Council will design this survey to allow for honest and fair assessment of itself and all other aspects of the organization from the membership. Though not binding, this member input will be considered an advisory document to help guide the Council in its service to the members.
- In the section for Supporting Members, the annual member vote will allow them to confirm or object to all current Council members wishing to continue on the Council, as well as any other candidates nominated by the Council for consideration. For each person on the list, a description and bio will be presented, and Supporting Members will be able to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’. In order to join the Council, or continue on the Council, each Council member or nominee must have received more ‘yes’ votes than ‘no’ in the annual member vote. The votes of the Supporting Members are binding.
We the SNS Council, as authorized by the SNS Board of Directors, do hereby ratify and enact these by-laws, on November 9, 2021.
Signed, SNS Council members: