Is a group allowed to use non–conference-approved literature?
My group sometimes reads from The Original Manuscript of The Big Book because many of us favor the more forceful language it uses. Some have objected to doing this because they say only AA approved books can be used in meetings. Is it OK to read from non-AA books in meetings?
We won't offer an opinion on the question of whether or not it is a good idea
to use "non-AA" literature in meetings. We will only endeavor to:
- explain the concept of "conference approved" literature and whether this limits what is permissible for a group to use
- share the advice given to groups by the AA General Service Conference
When talking about whether a book is "AA approved" the question can be stated more precisely as: "Is the book General Service Conference approved literature?" Conference approval is only considered for books published by AA World Service (which organizes the conference). It serves as a way of saying that AA World Service (AAWS) has put together a book and the General Service Conference (GSC) has approved it.
Some groups independently decide to restrict themselves to "Conference Aproved" literature but this is done voluntarily.
In 1978 the AA General Service Office described what "Conference Approved" means in their Box 4-5-9
newsletter (Volume 23, No 4). Here the General Service Office said:
It (Conference Approved) does not mean the Conference disapproves of any other publications. Many local A.A. central offices publish their own meeting lists. A.A. as a whole does not oppose these, any more than A.A. disapproves of the Bible or any other publications from any source that A.A.'s find useful.
What any A.A. member reads is no business of G.S.O., or of the Conference, naturally.
The General Service Conference has also dealt with the meaning of the term "Conference Approved" in a "Conference Approved" pamphlet (SM F-29) called: Conference-Approved Literature
. Here it is explained this way:
"Conference-approved?" What It Means to You
The term has no relation to material not published by G.S.O. It does not imply Conference disapproval of other material about A.A. A great deal of literature helpful to alcoholics is published by others, and A.A. does not try to tell any individual member what he or she may or may not read. See: http://www.aa.org/en_pdfs/smf-29_en.pdf
Books like the Original Manuscript and the First Edition of the Big Book are not
Conference Approved Literature since there was no conference at the time they were published.
Regional newsletters and literature also lack conference approval but are widely used in meetings. Since 1954 the Hazelden published "Twenty Four Hours a Day" (ISBN 9780894860126) has been very widely used in AA meetings and has never been considered for conference approval.
While ultimately literature choices are left to the individual groups the fellowship as a whole has offered advice on the subject through "advisory actions" of the GSC. Some relevant advisory actions by year:
|1968:||Conference-approved literature and G.S.O. Guidelines be displayed and distributed at assembly meetings.|
|1972:||It be suggested that when a local A.A. facility (central office, intergroup, group, etc.) sells non-Conference-approved literature, it be clearly designated as such.|
|1977:||It was suggested that A.A. groups be discouraged from selling literature not distributed by the General Service Office and the Grapevine.|
|1986:||The spirit of the 1977 Conference action regarding group literature displays be reaffirmed, and recommended the suggestion that A.A. groups be encouraged to display or sell only literature published and distributed by the General Service Office, the A.A. Grapevine and other A.A. entities.|
The full literature guidelines are available here
The first AA group in Akron, Ohio (still going today) continues to display the Bible that AA's founders read from in the earliest meetings. What Bill or Bob would have considered fine literature to read in a meeting would surely spark outrage in some groups today.keywords: 24 hour hr hr. outside book twentyfour AA aproved liturature litereture