Draft Bylaws


DRAFT 10/6/12 The Bylaws of the APA


Caucus on Spirituality, Religion and Psychiatry


Preamble:  The American Psychiatric Association (APA) Caucus on Spirituality, Religion and Psychiatry (hereafter, called the “Caucus”) is dedicated to the exploration of ways that spirituality and religion are relevant to psychiatric practice, education, advocacy and research.

Executive Committee:  All fiduciary functions (financial, organizational, and ethical) and all position statements are the prerogatives of the Caucus Executive Committee.  Each officer of the Executive Committee has one vote.  The voting members of the Caucus Executive Committee shall consist of the Caucus officers and four Representatives-at-Large, with the exception that the President shall only vote in case of a tie. 

Officers:  The officers of the Caucus are:

  • President
  • Vice-President
  • Secretary/Treasurer
  • Past President
  • Newsletter/Website Editor.

President:  The President is the official spokesperson for the Caucus and chairs both the Membership and Executive Committee meetings.  The President spearheads efforts of the Caucus to encourage consideration of the relevance of spirituality and religion to psychiatry, sets the time and place of the Executive Committee meetings and may call for special membership meetings.  The President, with the advice and consent of the Executive Committee, or on the initiative of motions from the general membership, creates and assigns chairs to committees and taskforces to accomplish the goals of the Caucus.  The President is elected for a two -year term and is ineligible for that office for 4 years after two consecutive terms in office.

Vice-President:  The Vice-President serves in the place of the President at the President’s direction or in the case of an absent or incapacitated President.  The Vice- President maintains the Caucus database of statutes and policies related to certification and maintenance of certification, licensure, and professional regulation; and educates the Caucus about new, pending, or suggested regulations.  The Vice-President is elected for a two-year term and has no term limits.

Secretary/Treasurer:  The Secretary/Treasurer keeps a written record of all official meetings of the Executive Committee and Membership Meetings.  The Secretary/Treasurer keeps the roster of all active members, collects dues and other moneys where appropriate, and tabulates membership records to maintain caucus status in the APA.  The Secretary/Treasurer sets up and oversees elections.  The Secretary/Treasurer is elected for a two-year term and has no term limits.

Past President:  The immediate Past President serves as a voting advisor to the Executive Committee utilizing his or her past experience to guide the Executive Committee.  The Past President serves until the current President steps down and assumes the position of Past President.  In the event that the immediate past president is not available to occupy this voting position, the Executive Committee may appoint any of the prior past presidents to fill the position until a new immediate Past President can assume the post.

Newsletter/Website Editor:  The Editor issues newsletters in electronic format (or paper format where indicated) outlining Caucus activities, schedules, programs, and initiatives.  The Editor also manages the Caucus website.  The Editor makes a concerted effort to insure that complex Caucus issues receive full discourse including the pros and cons of any issue or suggested action.  The Editor is elected for a two-year term and has no term limits.  In case of a dispute concerning the newsletter or website content or procedures, a majority vote by the Executive Committee can override the Editor’s decision or decisions with regard to that dispute.

Representatives-at-Large:  The Executive Committee Representatives-at-Large (four in number) are elected from the Caucus members who are in good standing, as verified by the Secretary/Treasurer.  The Representatives-at-Large are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the actions of the Executive Committee reflect the will of the membership.  Representatives-at-Large are elected for a two-year term and have no term limits. 

Membership Business Meeting:  A Membership Business Meeting of the Caucus will be held at the time and place of the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association.  The Executive Committee may choose other venues and times for additional meetings.  

Quorum:  A minimum of four members of the Executive Committee, one of whom must be a Representative-at-Large, must be present (either in person or by real-time electronic facsimile) to constitute a quorum for any action by the Executive Committee. 

A minimum of 15 Caucus members in good standing must be present to constitute a quorum for Membership Meetings. 


Voting:  The Executive Committee shall appoint a nominating committee for all positions on the Executive Committee, with the exception of the Past President, during the fall of the year preceding the Membership Business Meeting.  The Nominating Committee will solicit suggestions from the membership and formally announce selections at the Annual Business Meeting.   All candidates must be members of the Caucus in good standing as verified by the Secretary/Treasurer.  Voting will be conducted at the time of the Annual Business Meeting.  Elected candidates will assume office at the end of that Meeting. 

The Secretary/Treasurer shall ensure the integrity of the voting process and shall not disclose whom members voted for.  Only Caucus members in good standing can vote.  In the case that any single caucus member in good standing challenges the integrity of the vote, the Past President shall select two General Members in good standing who agree not to disclose whom members voted for.  Those two members and the Past President shall re-tabulate the votes and report the outcome to the membership.  Ballots are to be deleted or destroyed one week after being cast.

All positions shall be elected by a majority of those voting, utilizing preferential balloting when there are more than two candidates for a position. 


Special Elections:  The Executive Committee can call a special election at any point in time to replace a vacant position.  The voting in a special election shall be done by electronic means, such as via the Internet, or other method selected by the Secretary/Treasurer, consistent with the voting requirements for the vacant office.

Recall:  The Executive Committee by a three fourths vote can remove any member of the Executive Committee who, in the opinion of the Committee, is unfit to serve for such reasons such as failure to attend to duties, failure to respect the integrity of other members, or undermining the goals of the Caucus or the function of the Executive Committee.  The Executive Committee member who is subject to recall must be provided adequate notice of the vote to allow that person to be present at the time of the voting.

The membership may recall any officer of the Executive Committee, or reverse a recall of an officer by the Executive Committee, by the same procedure as calling for a referendum.

Referendum:  The membership may call a referendum on any stance taken by the Executive Committee by petition of 10% of the members in good standing.  Once a petition has been certified by the Secretary/Treasurer, the question posed by the petition will be sent within six weeks to all members, preferably by electronic means, or alternatively by paper ballots when appropriate.  The Secretary/Treasurer shall take what steps are needed to insure that only members in good standing vote and that the identities of the votes are protected.  A simple majority shall be sufficient to overrule the Executive Committee providing a minimum of 30% of the Caucus membership votes.  If less than 30% of the Caucus membership votes, then a 65% or more majority of the votes is required to pass the referendum.  In no case will a referendum be passed with less than 15 Caucus members voting.

Standing:  A Caucus member is in good standing if she or he is in good standing as a member of the American Psychiatric Association, voluntarily lists him or herself as a member of the Caucus, and has paid all dues and fees of membership.  The Executive Committee can remove a disruptive member from membership by three-fourths vote of the Executive Committee.  The removed member has the option to initiate a referendum to reverse the Executive Committee’s decision to remove that member. 

Rules of Order:  Executive Committee Meetings and Membership Meetings are anticipated to function in an informal process using simple motions, seconds, discussions, and majority votes.  In the case that a member feels that the informal process unfairly affects his or her interest, that member shall call a point of order and the President shall revert to the formal processes of the Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure by Alice Sturgis.

Changing the Bylaws:  The bylaws can be changed by the referendum process, with the exception that voting on proposed bylaw changes cannot be done until one year after the proposed change petition is certified by the Secretary/Treasurer.  The Executive Committee may also initiate a petition to change the bylaws by majority vote of the Committee.  The one year delay rule for voting on changes to the bylaws will be held in abeyance during the first two years of the caucus in order to provide for more rapid adjustments of the Caucus structure in its formative phase.

Conflict with APA Bylaws:  If there is any conflict between these bylaws and those of the APA, the bylaws of the APA will prevail.

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