I. Purpose of the Earth Religions Legal Assistance Network (ERLAN)

ERLAN is a service organization that helps Earth Religion Rights activists communicate so they can help people with problems; but ERLAN, as such, is not the direct provider of the help to individuals with legal problems (the members of ERAL and those who work with them do that, along with allot of independent individuals and organizations).

ERLAN does the administrative work creating and managing communications mechanisms to help Earth Religionists with legal problems associated with their religion, and those individuals and organizations that help them. These mechanisms include ERAL, at least one Earth Religions Assistance Website, at least one Earth Religions Assistance FTP site, and such additional communications mechanisms as deemed necessary and appropriate to fulfill its purposes.

II. Purpose of the Earth Religions Assistance LIST (ERAL):

ERAL is dedicated to investigating and providing assistance to Earth Religionists facing legal problems associated with their religion. ERAL is a national network of Earth Religion Rights activists in Cyberspace helping facilitate action by individuals and organizations in the real world.

ERAL is kind of a "911" assistance hotline/list for Earth Religion rights activists and organizations that provides research, and information to individuals and organizations assisting Earth Religionists and their Attorneys. Sometimes the individual interacting directly with the individual with the problem or the associated attorney is a member of ERAL, and sometimes not.

By Earth Religions, we include Pagan religions (Wicca, Druidism, Shamanism, etc.), traditional religions of indigenous peoples, and those variations on widespread religions (Christian, Moslem, Buddhist, Hindu, Shinto, etc.) that honor nature and the Earth and our place in it, along with mystic beliefs and practices.

By Pagan we refer to an eclectic, mostly modern, religious movement encompassing a broad array of religions which revere the Divine in nature and/or draw upon the myths and symbols of ancient faiths.

By mystic, we refer to one who believes or works with the principle that any being can have direct personal knowledge of the Divine without intervention of an outside authority.

(the definitions of Pagan and Mystic were developed by the Coalition for Pagan Religious Rights).

Our primary focus is on helping practitioners of ethical, non- racist, and non-sexist religions that promote understanding and tolerance of other religions and their practitioners, although we reserve the right to help others with different religions, if we deem it appropriate, on a case by case basis.

Occasional posts to ERAL about the activities of organizations, Internet areas, etc. related to the broad topic of Earth Religion Rights, and where to find out more, may occasionally be allowed by the moderator of ERAL, in accordance with its rules, along with posts concerning ERAL members needing healing -- but this is not the primary purpose of ERAL. Other Internet areas may be used or created by ERLAN or others for broader purposes.

In addition, ERLAN maintains at least one FTP site containing a library of legal memos and evidence on freedom of religion law, distributes and makes available appropriate information from the FTP Site. ERAL attorneys may, at their discretion, provide legal consultation on freedom of religion law, tactics, etc. with primary attorneys dealing with cases.

III. Relationship between ERLAN and Other Organizations and Entities

The relationship between ERLAN and other websites, FTP sites and e-mail lists is informal (although we may have liaisons), but may be formalized by mutual consent to between the list moderator or Webmaster, any associated organizations that these people need permission to establish such a relationship from, and ERLAN. Formal coalitions and other relationships between other lists and organizations may also be established, along with making such activities part of ERLAN, by the rules contained herein and mutual consent.

ERLAN works in cooperation with other individuals, organizations and communications mechanisms with broader purposes than ERAL, such as FIRE, the PAL and Church of Dancing Flame List, the ERCL list, WARD, WADL, WLPA, AMER, CoPRR, OCRT, ERAA, PAL, LLL, WV etc., but does not and will not attempt to interfere in their internal or external affairs.

However, ERAL and ERACL are available to help them facilitate communications concerning legal cases, finding help, etc.; and any other communications mechanisms may be used to facilitate other communications, by consent of involved parties. New communications mechanisms may be created by ERLAN members in the future that may or may not have a formal relationship to ERLAN.. ERLAN has among its missions networking for Earth Religion Rights, and will endeavor to refer people to organizations, e- mail lists, webpages, etc. appropriate to the task at hand and to encourage cooperation and appropriate communications to further the cause of Earth Religion Rights.

ERAL is also part of a broader Earth Religions Assistance Internet Initiative (ERAII), that includes Websites, lists, FTP sites etc. that are not under the jurisdiction of ERAL, and which often have scopes of activities beyond the range of those provided by ERAL (public education, influencing legislation, etc.), but which include helping Earth Religionists facing legal problems associated with their religion. Most of these mechanisms are independent of ERAL.

Local Earth Religion Assistance Networks (communications mechanisms) may be formed with purposes in accordance with those of ERAL, or broader purposes, as long as they, as an organization, do not contradict ERAL's purposes. The relationship between these organizations to ERAL and any associated corporations may be formalized by mutual consent.

Our members include real national leaders in AMER, WPLA, LLL etc., leaders of regional groups like CoPRR, ERAA, etc., and people who are working with the leaders of WADL, WARD, and other groups. In addition, we have clergy and lay leaders in the UU and other churches on line. Some of these organizations dwarf ERAL. We just happen to be the first group manifesting as a list on the Internet with the objective of helping Earth Religionists with legal problems (as far as I know). It will be largely through getting their active support and involvement that ERAL will either succeed or fail. If we can create mechanisms that are useful to these organizations and through which they can mobilize their resources in common cause, and get their activists and leaders cooperating and communicating with each other-to avoid duplication of effort -- perhaps we can get the support needed and manifest what is needed to fulfill our purposes.)

IV. Long Range and Ultimate Objectives

The long range objective of ERAL and associated Internet initiatives, networking and associated ERLAN organization is to become as effective at protecting Earth Religionists against legal problems associated with their religion as the BB Anti Defamation League (ADL) is at protecting Jews, This will require alliances and working relationships with other human rights organizations, Churches, etc. The ultimate objective is to eliminate such discrimination all together, and render ERAL and ERLAN no longer necessary.

V. Purposes of the Rules of ERAL

ERAL is a communications service (run by ERLAN) designed to facilitate communications between those who help Earth Religionists facing legal problems associated with their religion, while:

1. Providing real help to Earth Religionists with legal problems and to the activists who contact us for such help

2. Helping maintain a friendly and effective professional atmosphere for working together

3. Keeping the e-mail volume to most our busy members tolerable (a maximum weekly average of ten posts per day) and on-topic

4. Providing some structure to prevent mob action or actions that would be likely to get us in legal trouble (thus the need for case coordinators and attorney supervision and review), while not preventing effective action

VI. Limits to the Authority of ERLAN Boards, Corporations, Officers, etc.

In so far as practical, all official ERLAN administrative structures are forbidden from dictating to work groups what cases they will take on, how they are organized, or who is among their members. Exceptions may be made to veto assistance to groups and individuals that do not practice ethical, non-racist, and non- sexist religions that promote understanding and tolerance of other religions and their practitioners, or that are otherwise inconsistent with the purposes of ERAL.

External communications from work groups or by individuals in ERAL must be approved by at least one attorney who is a member of ERAL, or an individual designated by the attorney (other than gathering information or providing general information and referrals). The purpose of attorney review is to help assure adequate caveats and disclaimers to reduce the risk of suits and valid charges of practicing law without a license to a reasonable degree (the only total protection is to do nothing, an unacceptable option).

ERLAN is subject to checks and balances. {central bodies in organizations can get too domineering and self centered, and try to throttle the effective work that their activists have done for the stated purpose of the, for fear of threats to their power and authority. This is to be avoided in ERLAN).

VII. Four-fold Structure

ERAL and its Website and FTP site are administered by the Earth Religions Legal Assistance Network (ERLAN).

The authorities of ERLAN are divided in a four fold manner:

Attorneys: Only attorneys may commit to providing those services limited under the law to attorneys. Furthermore, at least one attorney must approve all official communications from ERAL concerning a legal case (other than providing referrals to organizations and information sources that might be helpful).

The Board of Directors: The ERLAN Board of directors shall consist of the officers providing key functions related to the administration of ERAL [a Secretary-General, a Membership Coordinator, a Treasurer, a Legal Coordinator, a Moderator (President), a Vice Moderator (Vice President)].

The voting ERLAN membership. To qualify, one must occupy one of the voting positions among the volunteers who actually administer ERAL as specified in this proposal or agreed to amendments to create new voting positions.

The ERLAN Trustees, consisting of those signing the incorporation papers of ERLAN and/or others elected to the position. The powers of the trustees are limited to assuring that corporate procedures and bylaws are followed and that ERAL meets its legal obligations. There shall be at least four trustees.

VIII. How Decisions Are Made

The ERLAN Board of Directors and/or the voting membership may change the rules of ERAL and make funding and other decisions by a 2/3rds majority, and either body may veto the action of the other by a 2/3rd majority.

Attorneys may make decisions individually, and have the individual authority to approve or disapprove of communications from ERAL concerning legal matters.

When possible, decisions will be made by consensus. Voting is a mechanism of last resort.

If a proposal is posted to ERLAN members and nobody objects within one week, the proposal will be considered to be implemented as a final decision, by consensus. Such motions must be identified by the word PROPOSAL, in capital letters as the first word of the subject of the message.

The Moderator may make temporary changes to rules that go into effect immediately, if there are no objections, subject to approval or disapproval of the Board or the members within 7 days. Lack of any objections to a temporary rule within 7 days will be considered to be approval by consensus.

The Board may make decisions that go into effect immediately, when 2/3rds of all Board Members have stated their position on the matter, or if there are no objections from other active Members in three days.

The Board may delegate the authority to make decisions on exactly how to carry out the policies and programs of ERLAN to specific ERAL members, (to avoid micromanagement of administrative decision-making).

All projects or funding supported, approved, recommended, or carried out by ERLAN or ERAL legal teams would have to be consistent with the general purposes of ERLAN and ERAL respectively. The ERLAN Board has the power to enforce this, as does the moderator, the vice moderator and the Membership Coordinator.

Most discussions among all Board Members might take place on ERACL or in private e-mail, until we can find or set up a special listserv that can handle ERLAN administrative matters in which interested ERAL and ERLAN members may subscribe. Some matters (mainly sensitive discussions of the conduct of an ERAL member and disciplinary action) are to be carried out in private e-mail among Board members and the person under discussion and directly involved parties when appropriate. However, when an appropriate list or other electronic communications mechanism is available for administrative communications, all Board Members must subscribe to both lists. Board members, and ERLAN members in general are strongly urged to join ERACL and to discuss ERLAN related matters there (proposed bylaws, etc.), to facilitate communications with other ERAL members.

The idea is for the Board, ERLAN and interested members to mostly function as one unit, with the Board being people who have taken responsibility for seeing to it that essential ERAL business is carried out.

All Board Members and Trustees, the Journalist and Webweaver are official spokespersons for ERAL. along with anyone authorized by the Board or by the members (in a formal vote or by consensus). Others may speak and write about ERAL, but not as official spokespersons, and should make that clear in their communications. All ERAL members must keep what is confidential according to ERAL rules confidential, but may make general reference to the types of cases ERAL is dealing with, how it works or does not work, etc.

Trustees (at least 4) make decisions based on consensus, or a 3/4 majority when necessary

IX. Powers and Duties of Officers

All officers and ERLAN board members are administrators, whose job is implementing policies agreed to by the members (except those that need to be quickly and temporarily changed because they have proven to be unworkable). The duties of the officers are as follows:

1. Secretary-General: maintains and provides records of our official rules, records of decisions, and reports to any organizations that ERAL might decide to affiliate with. In addition, the secretary works with existing people maintaining the following positions if the Secretary-General does not fill them as Secretary-General:

* Somebody maintaining and updating the ERA FTP site, and providing access to others to do so, and training them in this work

* Somebody maintaining and updating our Website (our Webweaver)

* Chronicler, to maintain digest of posts on ERAL and provides digests to new members

* An analyst or journalist to create quarterly reports noting which cases we are dealing with, our successes, failures and lessons learned from our activities (for internal purposes and a less specific report for public release).

(*See Amendments for other positions coordinated by the Secretary General)

2. Membership Coordinator: maintains records of members (a digest of membership forms and a summary for the general ERAL membership), welcomes in new members (posting non confidential portions of their registration form) and introduces them to work groups based on their interests, etc. The membership coordinator also maintains records of who occupies what positions within ERLAN, the job descriptions that they posted for the position, and the official job description in the Bylaws.

That does not mean that the Membership Coordinator would have to do all of this -- if this person can find volunteers to help. The membership coordinator mostly needs to see to it that someone:

1. Keeps track of who is doing what so she or he can:

* Provides Reports to new members (like the boilerplate text

that I recently posted) on who is doing what

* Remind members of who is doing what by posting the

boilerplate from time to time

2. Keeps track of who is an active member and the tasks they are supposed to do.

The membership coordinator is also an assistant vice moderator. She or he has access to the controls and administrative messages of ERAL (and secret codes), and is in a better position to identify new members subscribing. The membership coordinator, as a moderator, would have access to both confidential and non- confidential membership information, and would sort the two categories of information in her/his work. The membership coordinator can do the work of the moderator or vice moderator when either is absent.

3. Moderator (President): puts members on line, take them off, and functions as both a:

* Vibeswatcher to check out apparent violations of rules, provide friendly suggestions when minor problems occur, etc.

* Bouncer to investigate major problems (which might be simple software screw-ups), warns people of serious violations, and unsubscribes people if the problem warrants it and there are not adequate extenuating circumstances (in the opinion of the moderator).

<the moderator has been functioning as the coordinator of the Contacts Compiler, unofficially.>

4. Vice Moderator (Vice President): Covers for the Moderator when the moderator is unavailable to moderate

5. Treasurer: Responsible for keeping financial records adequate to meet 501C3 requirements, who would also deal with fundraising groups and activities and financial reporting interfacing with any organization we might decide to affiliate with. Also establishes a bank account (when we have enough money to warrant it), write checks, and signs checks.

6. Legal Coordinator: An attorney who coordinates at least one active ERAL legal team, coordinates QA on legal work by ERAL members, provides training and advises the board and the members on legal matters. The legal coordinator also oversees the work of the:

* Legal Archivist

* Legal Scribe

* Incorporation

Other attorneys leading legal teams would be team coordinators, and not supervised by the Legal Coordinator or the Board, unless QA shows that they are acting in an unprofessional manner or neglecting their duties and thus putting ERAL in unreasonable legal risk, or they refuse to cooperate in QA (peer review), in which case the Board could take action restricting their individual authority.

Checks would have to be signed by the Treasurer and authorized by the Moderator (or vice-moderator if the moderator is unavailable) No checks can be issued unless funding is:

(1) supported by 2/3 of the Board, and

(2) previously declared to the general membership meeting and no veto proposal is pending or has been approved.

Such funding may be allocated in lump sum amounts for specific purposes (we don't need to vote on every check, but we would need to have a budget and adequate funds to draw from).

The duties of the Board also include overseeing related activities, and picking up a task or finding someone to pick it up, if an essential ERAL function is not being carried out.

ERLAN may recognize and/or sponsor such activities. Internet mechanisms, etc. as are necessary consistent with its purposes.

X. Selection of Officers of the Board.

Positions are filled by volunteers. If there is more than one volunteer for a position, and the two volunteers are unable to work out who takes the lead for the work among themselves in a week, a vote for the position could take place two weeks later. A general election for positions might take place in the Fall (perhaps near Samhain or Fall Equinox).

We need to discuss our overall purposes in more detail and find out about the philosophy and approach of our officers and potential officers before filling positions by election. In addition, we need to have enough potential candidates to have some real choice in the matter. for elections to be meaningful, other than as a vote of confidence.

Officers of the Board of Directors would hold one year renewable terms, starting at the first general election.

Board members and Trustees would be subject to recall for cause (nonfeasance or misfeasance) by a 2/3 vote of the members. Recall proposals and the reason for the recall, along with nominations and candidacies for the successor would be declared at least a week in advance of a vote.

XI. Descriptions of Other Selected ERLAN Voting Member Positions

Legal Archivist

The Legal Archivist would work with the FTP site coordinator and our legal coordinator (and whatever volunteers are interested in helping) to help design the structure of our FTP site and organize and index the legal files posted in the FTP site in a manner that is useful to our legal team and Earth Religions Rights activists.

Basically, the job will involve obtaining pertinent legal files (and key ERAL administrative files), categorizing them, writing very brief (1 sentence) descriptions, listing them, sending a list of the categories to the FTP site coordinator (so he can organize the FTP site accordingly), and sending them to the FTP coordinator or directly to the FTP site. The Legal Archivist may also end up dealing with hard copy files, and sending out files that can not be sent from the FTP site..

<according to amendments, the Legal Archivist coordinates the work of the Copyright Coordinator and two scanners>

Legal Scribe

Maintains a digest of all posts on cases to ERAL or among the members of its legal team or teams.

Case Tracker

The Case Tracker maintains records of which cases have reached ERAL, who is coordinating the response, in cooperation with which attorney and the status of the case. If nobody is taking responsibility for coordinating a case, or nothing is happening to help it, and it is not because of inadequate information to begin, the case tracker also writes post to ERAL calls for volunteers to take charge and make things happen (perhaps as frequently as weekly, but bi-monthly at least).

<Other ERLAN positions, adopted by consensus include the Contacts Compiler (unclear who coordinates it but the Moderator has been doing this), two Scanners and a Copyright Coordinator (coordinated by the Legal Archivist, and an Incorporator (coordinated by the Legal Coordinator).>

Amendments to the Bylaws

Back to ERAL Page