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Quaker Testimonies

Peace

The Quaker peace testimony arises from the belief of "that of God in everyone". Early Quakers recognised that they must seek to bring about God's will without the use of force or violence - a person labelled as "enemy" is equally precious to God. Quakers have refused to take part in war or preparations for war; we resist the culture of military values and the social and economic distortions which militarism causes. In a broader sense, the peace testimony includes action against unjust structures of society, racism, the denial of human rights, and other forms of oppression, which are themselves forms of violence. On the positive side, Quakers have acted to end slavery, to relieve the suffering caused by war and oppression, to mediate between parties in conflict, and to promote worldwide economic and cultural development on a basis of self-determination and dignity. A full testimony to peace includes a harmonious relationship with the many life-forms and diverse riches of our planet, and a commitment to live as part of Earth's systems, not as their proprietors. Responsible living means choosing not to waste, exploit or destroy. We encourage a reverence for life and a sense of the splendour of God's continuing creation. You can read the Yearly Meeting Peace Statement.

Equality

Each person has value and dignity, and is precious to God. On this basis Quakers work for equality in all areas of social, cultural, legal, political and economic life, rejecting artificial distinctions of race and social status. We try to treat all people on a basis of equality; we prefer to address people by their names without titles.

Quakers recognise that ministry can come from any person - God may choose anyone at any time. Decisions of the Society are made at business meetings open to all members. Quakers have always recognised the ministry and service of both women and men.

Simplicity

A life centred in God will be characterised by integrity, sincerity and simplicity. Simplicity does not consist in following a strict formula, but in basing our choice of purchases, activities and lifestyles on moderation rather than extravagance. Moderate living avoids over-indulgence and slavery to fashion; it requires a responsible attitude to alcohol and drugs of any kind.

Children and young people are under particular pressure to acquire, consume and do what is fashionable or aggressively advertised. Adults can help children to develop inner strength by their own example, and by working out together what is right and possible, given the family's circumstances.

Simplicity has its own beauty. It does not exclude artistic creativity, which is a deep human need, and can be an expression of the divine. Quakers look for an inner stillness in worship and in personal spiritual life, and a simplicity which lets go of inessential commitments in order to be truly centred.

Integrity

Quakers aim to be honest and straightforward in speech and in all our dealings. We try to honour our financial responsibilities, as family members and as citizens. Quakers try to ensure that their own lives are clear of any practice to which they propose to object.

The longstanding testimony against oaths is based on honesty - we reject the implication of a double standard of truthfulness. On any occasion where an oath is expected, all citizens as well as Quakers are entitled to make a legally acceptable affirmation.

Quakers have a responsibility of stewardship over our possessions. Historically, Quakers have avoided gambling, on the principle that money should be acquired through honest work. Today, we continue to frown on gambling, and raising money by games of chance, in view of the adverse social consequences.