Q: I’m confused about the preamble. The 2013 World Service Business Conference delegates set the preamble so the first sentence says we are “recovering from compulsive overeating.” This has been the original wording for quite some time. However, the WSBC approved the last sentence to read “Our primary purpose is to abstain from compulsive eating,” changing the original word “overeating” to “eating.” This is a conflict. The first sentence indicates that the Fellowship is recovering from compulsive overeating, and this excludes those who suffer from disorders such as anorexia and compulsive exercising. We have many members who personally change the wording of the first sentence to say “compulsive eating” because they don’t want to exclude others. I’m writing to get clarification about whether members can change the wording of the preamble and to alert the World Service Office about this problem.
A: Thank you for contacting the World Service Office with your question. When the preamble was first written, “compulsive overeating” was used throughout, and this was the wording used in all of OA’s literature. In 2013, WSBC adopted a motion that “The terms ‘compulsive overeater, compulsive eater,’ and ‘compulsive eating, compulsive overeating’ be used interchangeably in OA literature, as determined to be appropriate by the Literature Committee during the regular literature writing, editing and approval process.” [Business Conference Policy Manual, 1991c]. This change reflects the evolving nature of the Fellowship and a transition from focusing exclusively on overeating to in- cluding all compulsive food behaviors. As literature is updated, texts are revised to use the terms compulsive overeating and compulsive eating more equally. The preamble now includes both terms in keeping with the current policy.
In addition, delegates at the 2013 WSBC approved the specific wording of the revised preamble [Business Conference Policy Manual, 1984a (Amended 1990 and 2013)], so it reflects the Fellowship’s current group conscience. Thus, I would recommend that members not change the wording of the preamble.
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Click on the link below to see an archive of previous Ask-It Basket questions and answers. Remember that these answers are the opinions of individual members of the Board of Trustees and others may have different opinions. It’s a good idea to read other OA materials that address an issue and ask around in meetings for more opinions. Also keep in mind that circumstances change and opinions are refined over time. Ask-It Basket Archive