Term “Conference Approved”

A note about the term “Conference Approved” Literature in AA

 Source GSO Box 4-5-9 1978 (USA) ( Volume 23, No 4 )

 “Any literature that pertains to the principles of AA or is approved by a Group Conscience is perfectly acceptable to be read by any AA member or in an AA meeting.”

Around AA meetings and at Group Conscience level you often hear the following type of claims such as:

“…we have AA Approved Literature only available …”

“…we should only allow readings from AA Approved Literature…”

If a member mentions, discusses or quotes/reads something from Hazelden literature like 24 Hour a Day book, Each Day a New Beginning, Touchstones and the like.

Factually, unlike Al-Anon, there is no such thing as AA Approved Literature.  The early AA’s read from the Bible, the Upper Room, Oswald Chambers, Cecil Rose, Leslie Weatherhead, Sam Shoemaker, Emmet Fox, Richmond Walker, Ralph Pfau and many others.

In the 1950’s AA World Services (AAWS) took over WORKS Publishing’s rights to publish the Big Book and began publishing other books as well.  In the course of the next 40 years AAWS began to publish more books but eventually lost the copyright on the first two editions of the Big Book. Until 1993 books which were owned and printed by AAWS were identified by the use of a Circle/Triangle Symbol bearing the three AA legacies – unity, recovery, service.

On May 21, 1993, an AA World Service Ad Hoc committee released an unsigned document titled: “Follow-up Statement Regarding Use of the Circle/ Triangle Symbol.”   In it, AAWS stated that “Alcoholics Anonymous will phase out the ‘official’ use of the circle and triangle symbol in and on its literature, letterheads and other material.”  That document was issued without a conference action or a “group conscience”.

The term “Conference Approved” literature now replaces the Circle/Triangle Logo to merely “identify” ( AA Grapevine Vol. 50-7 1993) the books solely owned and published by AAWS and not as a predetermined list.  The most definitive illustration of this is that the public domain first edition of the Big Book is NOT “Conference Approved”. “Conference Approved” in no way constitutes a list of any written documents of which an AA body approves or disapproves.  Further detail is provided in the ad hoc committee Final Report of the 1993 General Service Conference in the USA.

A formal statement concerning the Conference, the G.S.O, and what AA members read was issued by the General Services Office, USA, in 1978, as follows:

“What Conference-Approved means”

Source GSO Box 4-5-9 1978 (Volume 23, No.4)

“It 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.”