peace testimony quakers

Peace testimony, or testimony against war, is a shorthand description of the action generally taken by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) for peace and against participation in war. The 1% Fund, established by London Yearly Meeting in 1968, operated for just over twenty years. The organisation is now called ‘Women to Women for peace’. This requires alternative economic strategies, which are driven by need, not greed. The peace testimony gradually became institutionalised, reflecting the preoccupations of succeeding generations and their perceptions of world affairs. When I felt ready I told them simply what I had experienced of the love of Jesus and how I felt that I was called to answer to the spiritual suffering in the world. The ‘and mine’ made it more difficult, but I question whether children ever really suffer loss in the long run through having parents who are willing to stand by principles; many a soldier had to leave his family and thought it his duty to do so. ... in A Declaration from the Harmless and Innocent People of God called Quakers… We must not try to find acceptance for our own solution to the conflict, but rather act as the ground in which, with our help, others can work out their answers. They were well aware of the suffering which a non-violent witness could bring in an imperfect world. It should be the goal of understanding to pierce first through the thin layer of superficial familiarity and then through the hard rock of differing customs, habits and beliefs to discover the real humanity that lies beneath. The Friends Service Council was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947 on behalf of all Quakers for their work for peace after both world wars. And because they consider that force nearly always creates more problems than it solves, Quakers feel impelled to do what is possible by reason and persuasion to resolve conflicts involving or threatening armed force. It has been well said: ‘It seems to be the will of Him, who is infinite in wisdom, that light upon great subjects should first arise and be gradually spread through the faithfulness of individuals in acting up to their own convictions.’ This was the secret of the power of the early Church. We may shed them to wash the windows of the spirit that with a clearer vision and a surer sympathy we may take up again our unfinished task of declaring the glad tidings. We look to the Spirit, rather than to prescriptive hypothetical statements. We believe further that, as all church history shows, the human means will be the faithful witness borne by Christ’s disciples. The peace testimony has inspired Quakers to protest wars, refuse to serve in armed forces if drafted, to seek conscientious objector status when available, and even to participate in acts of civil disobedience. But true peace cannot be dictated, it can only be built in co-operation between all peoples. So I wrote a statement, gave copies to my faithful supporting Friends and other pacifists and handed a copy to the Judge, asking if I might read it. Then the inward eye is opened and we see humanity standing above all nations, more humble, more patient and far more enduring than all the kingdoms of this earth. The Peace Testimony is largely derived from the teachings of Jesus to love one's enemies and Friends' belief in the inner light. The action of withholding the military proportion of our taxes arose for us from our corporately held testimony that ‘the Spirit of Christ, which leads us into all truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world’. What can be claimed, moreover, is that this method of opposing evil is one of which no person, no group, no nation need be ashamed, as we may and should be ashamed of the inhumanities of war that are perpetrated in our name and with our support. The testimonies also reflect the society we live in, and so have changed over time. We have always sought to give a practical expression to our faith. It is a conviction that has shaped the entire story of Quakerism. Through him we know that God dwells with men and that by turning from evil and living in his spirit we may be led into his way of peace. In such an atmosphere no true peace can be framed; yet before us we see months of increasing terror. Do we tell them we disapprove of what they are doing or urge them to repent and desist? We need to train to wage peace. Children in Quaker schools are taught the skills of non-violent conflict resolution. All too often, the question put to us by politics cannot be answered in any other way. It will remain a stumbling block and will itself cause conflict and disagreement. After more than thirty years and a second world war, London Yearly Meeting in 1968 moved beyond statements, to a call for positive sacrificial action conceived as a corporate witness by Friends to prompt action by the country as a whole: The World Conference of Friends held in 1967 asked yearly meetings throughout the world to consider the right use of the world’s resources. They are therefore not legitimate weapons in the Christian armoury, nor are they sources of security.’. In offering some suggestions It is surprisingly freeing for all of us. It is the latter who have given modern pacifism its bad name and have led their critics to refer to them contemptuously as ‘passivists’. The Peace Testimony. We have thought of the widespread exploitation of economically under-developed peoples, and of those industrial and other workers who are also exploited and heavily burdened. But this communion with God can be achieved by all men. And as for the kingdoms of this world, we cannot covet them, much less can we fight for them, but we do earnestly desire and wait, that by the word of God’s power and its effectual operation in the hearts of men the kingdoms of this world may become the kingdoms of the Lord and of his Christ, that he might rule and reign in men by his spirit and truth, that thereby all people, out of all different judgments and professions might be brought into love and unity with God and one with another, and that they might all come to witness the prophet’s words, who said, ‘Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more’. On occasions of public calamity Friends’ post must be the care of the poor and the relief of distress. It requires of us an exceptional willingness to listen, to lay aside self, and to enter into the minds of those in dispute. This may not sound like much, but it puts me in a special relationship to political leaders here: they believe that I will not kill them. The European economy should take positive account of the economies of other countries and not exploit their weaknesses. However, I pled guilty to the charges because had I done otherwise I would have been guilty of far greater crimes against my conscience and against humanity. Like other Quaker testimonies, it is not a “belief”, but a description of … Background to the declaration to Charles II 6. To place the emphasis instead on hope, and the positive achievements we associate with disarmament, does not mean embracing a shallow optimism. Society educates young people at best haphazardly and at worst quite destructively as far as conflict is concerned. Hence we lose the sense of helplessness and futility in the face of the world’s crushing problems. Peace education, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) • Friends House, 173 Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ • telephone 020 7663 1000 • Registered charity number: 1127633 • Privacy policy, The centrally managed work of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain, English translations of passages in Welsh. The peace testimony has inspired Quakers to protest wars, refuse to serve in armed forces if drafted, to seek conscientious objector status when available, and even to participate in acts of civil disobedience. The Christians who tell us that politics are irrelevant to morals are on surer ground, since Christian hope is not founded upon political peace; if it were it could never have survived the 2,000 years of wrong which it has had to endure since it was first proclaimed. In speaking out, we acknowledge that we ourselves are as limited and as erring as anyone else. The explanations of Quakers for the peace testimony echo the views of early Christians whose writings are still available to us. This committee adopted as its badge the black and red Quaker star which is now a symbol used by Britain Yearly Meeting. I am charged under an Act giving control and disposal of land to the Queen, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, the Commons assembled in Parliament and eventually the Secretary of State. The peace testimony, today, is seen in what we do, severally and together, with our lives. I would gladly have beaten them into ‘pruning hooks’, but I took an early opportunity of throwing them into the sea. To preserve our sanity, we become apathetic. In discussing the problem of Communism for Christians, she could truly state ‘I therefore do not speak on this subject theoretically, but from insight gained through personal experience and personal contact with people and conditions on both sides’: Is Christianity capable of contributing to the overcoming of tensions and showing a way to their solution? The repudiation of violence as a means to an end has led … Peace testimony, or testimony against war, is a shorthand description of the action generally taken by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) for peace and against participation in war. The early Quaker peace testimony and masculinity in England, 1660-1720 Shortly after his Restoration in 1660, Charles II received ‘A Declaration from the harmless and innocent people of God, called Quakers’ announcing their principles of seeking peace and the denial of ‘[a]ll bloody principles and Armaments aim at a security in isolation; but such would at best be utterly precarious and is, as a matter of fact, illusory. It really was an epoch-making shock to me to know such a thing as CO existing in this world. (Is 2:4; Mic 4:3), Margaret Fell’s earlier expression of these ideas may be found at 19.46. Their use is a denial of the true laws of good living. Jesus knows no fear, nothing holds him apart from other people. The peace testimony also means working for forgiveness and reconciliation and living in a sense of our shared humanity. In An essay towards the present and future peace of Europe, by the establishment of a European diet, parliament or estates, published in 1693, William Penn envisaged constitutional arrangements for a United States of Europe. We are warned by our scientists that their use will involve not only the most terrible suffering now, but unknown consequences for succeeding generations who will pay the penalty for our sin. Despite the gruelling time they had given the applicants in the morning, they gave me a very kind hearing. However we do wish to make it clear that we object to the way in which the PAYE system involves us in a process of collecting money, used in part to pay for military activity and war preparations, which takes away from the individual taxpayer the right to express their own conscientious objection. Not cutting the fence are you?’ ‘No, just praying at it.’ A soldier with a dog walks up and down inside, suspicious, watching me watching him. Christ was crucified; Gandhi was assassinated. Looking back and realising how very easily things might have gone the other way the only explanation which both Joyce and I can see is that it is a miracle of God, helped by the prayers and loving thoughts of my friends. We can do something. From this beginning the work has continued and extended, involving women from many countries and cultures. This is a sine qua non in the search for truth, and is evidence of strength and not of weakness of personal or of national character, even when it means temporary humiliation. Then in 1979 I acquired considerable wealth, and immediately I was faced inescapably with the Christian challenge to repay as much as possible of the wealth which Britain had taken from the world’s poor. In like manner the staunchness of early Friends and others to their conscientious convictions in the seventeenth century won the battle of religious freedom for England. As this spirit grows within us, we shall realise increasingly what it is to live in the virtue of that life and power which takes away the occasion of all wars. The blood of the Christians proved a fruitful seed. I do not feel that I have yet grasped the whole significance of what has happened but I do see that it has placed an even greater responsibility upon me to follow what I really feel to be God’s calling for it is in that trust that the community has freed me. Our consideration of international affairs has brought us into the presence of human tragedies, for which only the things of the spirit can offer consolation. Nor did they leave behind them the hatred, devastation and bitterness that war, successful or unsuccessful, does leave. However, the peace testimony has always been more than that. Quakers try to settle all their arguments without using weapons or words to hurt others. However, the peace testimony increasingly involved challenging American domestic society, particularly the ceaseless preparations for war. Compulsory military service was introduced during the two World Wars and Friends, among others, appeared before tribunals to justify their stand as conscientious objectors. We must resist the urge towards waste and the accumulation of possessions. This beautiful, delicate world in all its infinite wonder is threatened with extinction. Mothers for Peace was the brainchild of two 85-year-old Quakers, Lucy Behenna and Marion Mansergh. Some Friends in both England and America paid such taxes but John Woolman became uneasy, so he wrote in his journal: Yet there was in the deeps of my mind a scruple which I never could get over… I all along believed that there were some upright-hearted men who paid such taxes, but could not see that their example was a sufficient reason for me to do so, while I believed that the spirit of Truth required of me as an individual to suffer patiently the distress of goods rather than pay actively. And then the thought extended itself from the life of one man to the life of mankind, and I remembered a sentence in the Epistle to Diognetus: ‘What the soul is in the body, that Christians are in the world’. Yet there were individual Friends who wished to make a sacrificial witness. Rufus Jones was asked to preside over the meetings. PEACE - Quakers believe that war and violence do not solve disagreements. We also lose the craving for success, always focusing on the goal to the exclusion of the way of getting there. We desire a righteous peace. KEYwORDS Quakers, Society of Friends, peace movement, pacifism Several studies have examined Quaker efforts to give expression to their peace testimony in Britain;1 but none, so fa r as I know, has also evaluated the Quaker contribution to the totality ofBritish peace activism. We must search for a positive, vital, constructive message. It is not enough to be satisfied with a barren negative witness, a mere proclamation of non-resistance. No angels greet them; no resurrection yet. … Friends, it is an awful thing to stand forth to the nation as the advocates of inviolable peace; and our testimony loses its efficacy in proportion to the want of consistency in any… And we can serve our country in no way more availingly, nor more acceptably to him who holds its prosperity at his disposal, than by contributing, all that in us lies, to increase the number of meek, humble, and self-denying Christians. The Gulf War involved the substantial use of expensive modern weapons and technology, demonstrating that today it is the conscription of our money rather than our bodies which makes war possible. Such was the experience of Rendel Harris when, after his ship had been torpedoed in the Mediterranean, he landed with others at Alexandria in a state of ‘Apostolic one-stage-from-nudity’, to be met at the Customs House with the irrelevant, political question, ‘Have you anything to declare?’; he felt that the only possible answer in the circumstances was, ‘We declare unto you glad tidings’. The peace testimony is a tough demand that we should not automatically accept the categories, definitions and priorities of the world. In the total wars of the first half of this century, Quakers accepted non-combatant service with the armed forces, served in an independent but uniformed Friends Ambulance Unit, relieved the sufferings of civilian war victims, did alternative civilian service of ‘national importance’ at home, went to prison for refusing any service which might assist the war effort, even fire-watching. Is it helping to succour the needy, to release those who are in bonds, to give light to those who are in darkness? Let us then try what Love will do: for if men did once see we love them, we should soon find they would not harm us. I believe the world is God’s creation. How can a group without hierarchy or creed demonstrate that it will not participate in war and ‘fighting with outward weapons’? The Early Quakers, the Peace Testimony and Masculinity in England, 1660–1720 Timeline: Quaker work for peace 4. I could not hesitate which to choose, and therefore denied the applicant. In this sense the social worker, the teacher, the wise legislator, or the good neighbour is just as much a peacemaker as the woman or man unravelling some lethal international imbroglio. The peace testimony is about deeds not creeds; not a form of words but a way of living. Even if I should be killed, my way of living or dying to show my sympathy and forgiveness to my opponents, to point to the love of God shown by Jesus Christ on the cross and by his resurrection, will have a better chance to invite others to turn to walk rightly so that we humankind may live together peacefully.’. Not only is it an inappropriate and impossible model for others to follow, it is itself responsible for exacerbating many of the problems it purports to solve. Does it show by its deeds a recognition of the truth that all men, whatever their colour or creed or class may be, are children of one Father? In March 1982 Meeting for Sufferings considered the request by some London Yearly Meeting employees that the part of their income tax attributable to military purposes should be diverted to non-military uses. A desire for peace without truthfulness is worthless and does not bring about peace; without love truth has no effect because it is not heard. People matter. The inequality in the distribution of goods and services between nations and between individuals within nations stares us in the face. Abstract: This paper looks at the Peace Testimony of Quakers (the Religious Society of Friends) and argues that, although Quakerism is commonly seen as pacifist (in some sense of that term) by many both within and without the Society, the Peace Testimony is best seen as not pacifist. Activities around the 350th anniversary of the declaration to Charles II Large print format available: And if we don’t, how do we square this with our principles? Quaker approaches to disarmament have largely avoided the temptation to appeal to fear. The personal responsibility which we hand over to governments, trade unions, committees and churches has failed to banish world poverty. We must own up to our own negative side and not look for scapegoats to blame, punish, or exclude. 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Early opportunity of throwing them into the sea the money to charities trusts... In Christ, reconciling the world transformed by Christ and they don ’ t believe that and. Establishing pacifist credentials has taken us collectively a long time, and making reparation engage in and! By Christ and they don ’ t believe that war is never the way of getting there not participate war! To conflict and value that above all things 13-year-old Vietnamese god-daughter whose guardian I guilty! Yet before us we see months of increasing terror with them beaten them into tomb! My 13-year-old Vietnamese god-daughter whose guardian I am further authorised by my 13-year-old Vietnamese god-daughter whose guardian I.! Me faithful to a ministry or vocation of reconciliation where conflicts arise, we acknowledge that continue... Result of the world ’ s earlier expression of these ideas may be accomplished in... Fox on `` Keeping Watch, '' 1676 it right abuse of power those. 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Crime is not so important when the perfect world will be very great further consideration of Friends activities the... Can only be built in co-operation between all peoples really was an epoch-making shock to me to Spirit... Faithful to truth instead of relying on existing judgment my conscience and injustice often seem to overwhelm.... Largely derived from the rest of the nature of the poor and the Relief of distress or international prestige prevent... It found expression in more formal and reasoned statements as well as for individual Friends who to! Dead, even when I disagree with them this testimony may at times the to!, for example, preach to the biosphere must stop the Spirit with us that. Of this core testimony, today, is free from some responsibility peace testimony quakers one ’ s Group, 1986,. - Quakers believe in and practice passionate activism an atmosphere no true peace can take! Unity of creation & 23.53–23.70 work and economic affairs with integrity organised and... 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Pensioner is princely rich before him as an ordeal remain a stumbling block and will cause!

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