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Dangerous TSA Bylaw Changes Part 01

Nov 09, 1995 06:08 AM
by Sy Ginsburg

The following Part 01 is a letter mailed by The Theosophical Society in Miami
to other Branches and Centers of The Theosophical Society in America. Part 02 is
the text of a Comment on the proposed bylaw changes submitted to The American

The purpose of this postingParts 01 &2 is to reach as many members of The
Theosophical Society in America as possible to inform them of the danger in
certain proposed national bylaw changes. Please feel free to contact me if you
would like to discuss this. Sy Ginsburg President Miami Florida Branch TSA
Tel: 305-463-8900; Fax 305-463-8989; E-mail:

Proposed bylaw changes #15 #16 #17 and #9 pose a real threat to the T.S.A.
Please vote against them when you receive your referendum ballot!

Dear Fellow Members of The Theosophical Society in America TSA:

I am writing as a long time member of the TSA and also as President of and on
behalf of the members of the Miami Florida Branch. I want to call to your
attention proposed bylaw changes #15 #16 & #17 which give control of Branch
assets to national headquarters and #9 which gives control of Branch membership
to national headquarters because their ratification in the referendum will
change the fundamental nature of The Theosophical Society in America.

When I first became aware of these proposed changes during the national
convention in Jul I was immediately opposed to them. My reaction I thought
was natural as a Branch President not wanting to cede control of our Branch
assets away from our local Board of Directors. Although I have been trained in
the law I did not realize the far more serious ramifications to the TSA if
these proposed changes are adopted until I began to examine court cases on the
issue. Courts generally look at spiritual organizations either as episcopal or
as congregational. From a legal perspective an episcopal organization is seen
as one in which control of both assets and teaching emanates from the highest
level and is in turn disseminated through a hierarchy. The Roman Catholic
Church with its hierarchy of pope cardinals archbishops bishops and priests
is an example of an episcopal organization. In congregational organizations on
the other hand control over assets and teaching rests in the assembly of each
local congregation. Many protestant denominations are congregational.

>From this perspective I have always regarded the Theosophical Society as
congregational and we believe that the vast majority of members hold this same
view. The proposed bylaw changes if adopted will fundamentally alter the TSA
from a congregational to an episcopal organization controlled from the top.
With control of assets and membership goes control of the teachings. The door
will then be open to the danger of the dogmatism about which HPB specifically
warned. When this issue was examined at several meetings of our Miami Branch
and when the members fully understood the ramifications they voted unanimously
to oppose these changes and unanimously not to change the Miami Branch corporate
charter nor its bylaws should the national bylaw changes be adopted. In my
opinion this very serious issue will not be understood by most members unless
adequately explained. I question whether the national board members have fully
understood the fundamental change they have approved because even as a lawyer I
did not understand this until I began to examine the court cases.

Please make copies of this letter and Coment for discussion among your local
members. The enclosed Comment see Part 02 more fully explaining the issue
was submitted to The American Theosophist and I have been told it will run in
an abridged form. We have tried to send at least one copy to each Branch or
Theosophical Center but our resources are limited. If you are able to contact
any members-at-large this will also be helpful. Consult with your own legal
counsel on the matter. These changes have been approved too uncritically by the
national Board of Directors in their understandable concern over loss of the
Boston Branch but in so doing they are unwittingly causing far more damage to
the TSA than was caused by the loss of a Branch. The national Board has not
adequately consulted with Branches. The Miami Branch for example third largest
in TSA was never consulted. Thank you for your attention to this important

Sy Ginsburg J.D. Miami Branch President
If you would like to discuss this with me please call. My home telephone is
305-463-8900. Fax is 305-463-8989. E-mail is

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