History of the ACA
Constitution and Bylaws
Adopted April 6, 1997
The Atheist Community of Austin is organized as a nonprofit educational corporation
to develop and support atheist community; to provide opportunities for socializing
and friendship, to promote atheist viewpoints, to encourage positive atheist
culture, to defend the first amendment principle of state-church separation,
to oppose discrimination against atheists, and to work with other organizations
in pursuit of common goals.
This organization shall operate in an open, democratic manner, without discrimination
as to gender, race, age, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, nationality or disability.
The Bylaws to this Constitution are intended to further define and explain the operating
procedure of this organization. Changes may be made to the Bylaws when necessary
to improve the operation of this organization. Changes to the Bylaws shall not
alter the purpose of this organization as set forth in this Constitution.
NAME, MEMBERSHIP, ELIGIBILITY FOR OFFICE, CONTROL OF ASSETS
SECTION 1. NAME. The name of this organization is Atheist Community of Austin, Inc.
This organization is incorporated according to the laws
of the State of Texas. Incorporation is dated February 10, 1997.
SECTION 2. MEMBERSHIP. Membership in this organization is open to all persons who are
free of theistic beliefs and who support the purposes for which this organization
is founded. Any member may vote on any motion, resolution, nomination or election
at any meeting or convention called by Atheist Community of Austin, Inc. A member
is anyone who is accepted through the application process.
SECTION 3. ELIGIBILITY FOR OFFICE. Persons who meet the membership requirements of SECTION
2 of this Article, and who have been members for at least 6 months prior to
the date of election are eligible for election to any office within the organization.
SECTION 4. MEETINGS. The board of directors shall hold regularly scheduled membership
meetings throughout the year. Members may also call a membership meeting upon
petition signed by at least ten (10) members. All meetings of this organization
shall follow rules of order to be established by the board of directors.
SECTION 5. CONTROL OF ASSETS. The financial and material assets of this organization
shall be owned by the membership. Such assets shall be controlled and used by
the board of directors only for purposes consistent with this Constitution and
Bylaws and subject to review by the membership. A member is not, as such, personally
liable for the debts, liabilities or obligations of this organization.
LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE, DUTIES OF OFFICERS
SECTION 1. LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE. The leadership of this organization shall consist of
a board of directors encompassing the following positions: two co-chairs, secretary,
treasurer and up to nine additional directors. The co-chairs, secretary and
treasurer shall serve as the executive committee.
The members of the executive committee shall be authorized to sign checks against
the organizationís account for expenses approved by the board of directors.
of the board of directors may hold more than one position when necessary to
carry out the activities of the organization, as determined by the board of
directors and approved by the membership.
SECTION 2. DUTIES OF OFFICERS. The following subsections describe the duties of
the Co-chairs, Secretary, Treasurer, Archivist and Directors. The Executive
Committee shall determine the additional duties and responsibilities for these
officers as it deems appropriate, subject to the approval of the Board as required
by the Constitution.
Subsection A. Co-Chairs: The co-chairs shall share the responsibilities of the position.
They shall conduct membership meetings, report on the organizationís activities,
appoint persons as needed for specific duties, coordinate and monitor the organizationís
activities, serve as the organizationís spokespersons or appoint others as spokespersons,
and represent the organization to other groups.
Subsection B. Secretary: The secretary shall keep the minutes of meetings, and maintain
the organizationís records, correspondence and membership list. The secretary
shall make all records available to members upon reasonable request. The secretary
shall continuously update the membership list and provide a current printout
to the co-chairs. The secretary shall ensure that all essential records are
kept in a secure place, with copies provided to the co-chairs. The secretary
may appoint an assistant, upon approval of the board of directors.
Subsection B-1. Archivist. The archivist shall
store in a prudently safe, secure, redundant and easily retrievable manner and
in accordance with the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act (Article 1396), all
the organization's files, records, documents, correspondence, publications,
video and audiotapes, artwork, pictures, and other materials of historical significance.
This officer will be the official database archivist for the organization, keeping
the master paper and digital records of the all memberships, applications, subscriptions,
and requests for inclusion in or exclusion from the organization's active mailing
lists. For privacy and protection purposes, the membership list can never be
sold, loaned, shared or printed out; and it can only be partially viewed if
specific published member-request procedures are created by the Archivist, in
compliance with Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act, approved by the Board and
strictly adhered to. Also, the Archivist shall serve as the organization's librarian,
keeping and maintaining all books, articles and writings that are to be made
available to the general membership, including the criteria and procedures for
such access. The Archivist will make monthly reports to the Executive Committee
and the Board of Directors on the status and condition of all segments of the
organization's archives. If, and when necessary, the archivist may recruit assistance
in properly discharging these duties, subject to approval by a simple majority
of the Board.
C. Treasurer: The treasurer shall monitor the financial status of the organization,
pay bills as authorized by the board of directors, and be responsible for all
financial reports required by government bodies. The treasurer shall provide
a financial report to the members at each membership meeting. A current financial
report shall be made available to members upon reasonable request.
Subsection D. The Directors, The Board and its Committees: The directors shall operate
as a legislative board, responsible for carrying out ongoing activities and
business functions of the organization, as needs require. In addition, the board
is empowered to establish any committee structure it deems necessary for conducting
the administrative work of the organization, and shall define the purpose and
objective of all committees. The board shall appoint a chairperson and one board
member to serve on any standing or ad hoc committee it thus establishes. All
other committee members and functions will be the responsibility of the appointed
chairperson, who shall make regular progress reports to the board. The board
shall retain final authority over all committees, including the power to disband
any committee that: 1) fails to reasonably accomplish its objectives, 2) outlives
its purpose, or 3) engages in activities that are inconsistent with the purposes
of the Atheist Community of Austin.
A simple majority (51%)
of the total number of elected and current directors is required to approve
all matters over which the Board has authority. If a co-chair or the majority
of the executive committee approve, the board may meet or take votes, either
in a special session or as an extension of its regular meeting, by means of
telecommunication and/or the Internet. These methods may be used either instead
of meeting in person or in conjunction with meetings in one physical location.
In all such cases, a full record of the circumstances involved must be documented
by a member of the executive committee and filed with other board meeting and
SECTION 3. COMPENSATION. Officers and directors shall serve without compensation except
for reimbursement for approved out-of-pocket expenses.
ELECTIONS, TERMS OF OFFICE, VACANCIES
SECTION 1. ELECTIONS. Elections to the board of directors shall be held annually, on
the first Sunday in May, at a general membership meeting called for that purpose.
Members shall be notified by mail of the election date, time and location at
least fifteen (15) days before the election.
Candidates must be nominated by at least one other member. Each office shall be nominated
and voted on separately. The order of election shall be: co-chairs, secretary,
treasurer, directors. Election shall be by majority vote. Those candidates not
elected to one office may run for any other office for which a vote has not
yet been called. Members may vote for only one candidate in the elections for
secretary and treasurer. For the election of co-chairs, they may vote for up
to two candidates. For the election of directors, they may vote for up to nine
For the office of co-chair, the two candidates receiving the most votes shall be
elected. For the office of co-chair, the combined votes of the leading candidates
must constitute a majority. If not, the candidate with the fewest votes will
be dropped from the list and another vote will be taken. Balloting will continue
in this fashion until the combined vote total of the leading candidates reaches
a majority. For the office of director, the nine candidates receiving the most
votes shall be elected. In the election for directors, if a tie occurs resulting
in more than nine directors, a run-off will be held.
The election procedures shall be established by the board of directors. If a majority
of the membership votes to invalidate the results of an election, the board
of directors will investigate, change election procedure if necessary, and schedule
a new election.
SECTION 2. TERMS OF OFFICE. Terms of office shall be one year, beginning June 1 following
the election. There shall be no limit on the number of successive terms to which
a member may be elected.
SECTION 3. LEAVING OFFICE. Upon relinquishing an office, the outgoing officeholder shall
turn over all records to his or her successor and shall provide the incoming
officeholder with any and all information necessary to enable the newly elected
officer to carry out the functions of that position.
SECTION 4. FILLING VACANCIES. If a vacancy occurs on the board of directors due to circumstances
(such as, illness, injury, death, resignation or removal from office) that prevent
the officer from carrying out his or her duties, the remaining members of the
board may appoint a replacement to fill the unexpired term, subject to approval
by the membership. The appointment shall be listed on the agenda in the notice
for the next membership meeting.
REMOVAL FROM OFFICE and PROVISIONS FOR ABUSE
SECTION 1. PROVISIONS FOR ABUSE.
Subsection A. Unacceptable Conduct. The Board of Directors may at their discretion
vote by a simple majority to charge any officer, board member, committee member,
volunteer, general member or visitor associated with this organization of unacceptable
conduct. The charge(s) must be accompanied by a proposal for an appropriate
punishment. Unacceptable actions may include, but are not limited to: failure
to perform the duties of their office, abusive or disruptive behavior during
ACA activities, statements or actions which oppose the principles and purpose
of the ACA, unauthorized use of ACA property or records, making false or misleading
statements deemed likely to be misinterpreted as official ACA announcements
or outside activities deemed likely to expose the ACA to financial or legal
liability or public embarrassment.
Subsection B. Ratification. Upon voting in favor of an appropriate wording for an incident
of Unacceptable Conduct by a person or group, the Board of Directors must, after
giving proper advanced notice, then bring the matter before a meeting of this
organization's general membership. The Board shall then and there make an explanation
of the Unacceptable Conduct charge to that gathering, along with a recommendation
for an appropriate penalty to be imposed. After a period of discussion not to
exceed a total of one hour of equal access time by all parties wishing to speak
on the matter, a vote for Ratification shall be called. Ratification will require
sixty percent (60%) of the verified members present voting in favor of such
Subsection C. Penalties and Enforcement. Upon Ratification, the Board of Directors may
proceed with invoking whatever actions and/or penalties were approved by the
ratification process. All officers, directors, volunteers, and the entire general
membership will be expected to abide by those actions and penalties and help
enforce them. Any member of this organization who does not abide by those penalties
and/or attempts to help defeat its full enforcement, will be immediately suspended
from the organization and barred from further participation of any kind. They
will also themselves be subject to charges of Unacceptable Conduct by the board
of directors. Proposed punishments may include, but are not limited to: reprimand,
fine, expulsion from an elected post or committee membership or ACA events,
termination of membership, and/or the initiation of legal proceedings against
the individual thus charged.
MERGER, DISSOLUTION, DISTRIBUTION OF ASSETS
SECTION 1. AUTHORITY. The membership of this organization has sole authority to merge
with another organization, or dissolve and distribute the organizationís assets,
subject to the limitations in SECTION 3 of this Article.
SECTION 2. PROCEDURE. Any proposal for merger or dissolution and distribution of assets
must be initiated by a motion duly seconded and passed at a regularly scheduled
membership meeting. The proposal must then be presented at a special meeting
called for that purpose. Notice of the meeting must be mailed to the full mailing
list, excluding the media, at least 30 days before the date of the meeting.
Following discussion, the vote will be taken using a mailed ballot. The ballot
shall be sent to all members and shall include the main pro and con arguments.
Ballots must be returned within 20 calendar days. Approval shall require no
less than seventy percent (70%) affirmative vote of the ballots returned within
20 calendar days.
SECTION 3. LIMITATIONS. Only non-theist, non-religious organizations clearly identified
as such and having a purpose consistent with that of this organization shall
be considered for merger or distribution of assets. All outstanding debts, obligations
and claims must be satisfied before assets are distributed. No assets shall
be distributed to individuals.
CHANGES TO CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS
The following procedure shall be used to change the Constitution and Bylaws:
Amendments, additions or deletions may be proposed at a regularly scheduled membership meeting,
either by the board of directors or a member. Changes to the Bylaws should improve
the operation of this organization. Under no circumstances shall they alter
the purpose of this organization as set forth in the Constitution.
proposed changes shall be included in the meeting notice for the next regularly
scheduled membership meeting and noted as an agenda item. The proposed changes
may be debated and revised before being voted upon.
TO CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS (cont.)
Changes to the Constitution must be approved by at least sixty percent (60%) of the
members present and voting. Changes to the Bylaws must be approved by at least
a simple majority of the members present and voting.
Changes to the Constitution and Bylaws shall become effective immediately upon adoption,
unless specified otherwise in the motion to adopt.
A quorum of ACAís Board of Directors may do any appropriate business.
A quorum shall be defined as at least 51%.
ACA's funds shall be in accounts structured as follows:
checking account. The purpose of
the checking account is to support the normal, day to day activities of ACA.
Normal inflows will include, but not be limited to membership dues and anonymous
donations made at meetings. The Treasurer is authorized to pay routine expenditures
out of this account.
building fund. The purpose of the building fund is to accumulate money to be
eventually used toward the purchase of a building for ACA use. Normal inflows are to include Randall's Remarkable Card contributions,
Amazon.com's percentage of book sales from ACA's website, and any other moneys
that ACA's board of directors choose to deposit there.
Withdrawals from the building fund may only occur with the approval of
2/3 of the board.
fund. The purpose of the permanent fund is to establish an eventual, long-term
source of income and emergency cash to ensure ACA's survival.
Normal inflows are to include any donation earmarked for the permanent
fund, and any other moneys that ACA's board of directors choose to deposit there.
Withdrawals from the building fund may only occur with the approval of 3/4 of
Board Meetings Agendas and Time Limits: Items to be discussed at a monthly Board
meeting must be received by the Co-Chair(s) by a specific date and time. Deadlines
will be established by the Co-Chairs and must be adequately publicized to the
membership. Any member in good standing may request an agenda item. If an additional
agenda item is proposed during a Board meeting, a majority vote of the Board
members present is necessary to add it to that month's discussion. Otherwise,
the agenda item will be considered at the next regularly scheduled Board meeting.
The Co-Chairs or presiding officer may also impose a 2- minute per issue time
limit on each speaker when necessary to accomplish all Board business in a timely
From the officers:
The ACA Lecture Series continues Sunday, October 11th at 12:15pm in the Austin History Center, 9th and Guadalupe. The building opens at noon. Texas Freedom Network's Dan Quinn will give us an update on their activities. The lecture is free and open to the public.