The Religious Society of Friends, whose members are known as Friends or Quakers, does not define itself by formal creedal statements. Instead, Quakers prefer to set down our religious experience in the form of testimonies, general statements about practices and beliefs on which most Friends can unite. These testimonies represent ideals by which we judge our lives.
Equal treatment of women and men is accepted practice because Quakers believe all people have the potential to receive spiritual leadings and are equal in the eyes of God.
Because Quakers believe in the common humanity of all races, race relations are an active concern of Friends in America.
Quakers encourage participation of young people in all aspects of the life of our faith community as a form of nurture.
Quakers aid the non-violent efforts of the exploited to attain self-determination and social, political and economic justice. This mission often requires persuading exploiters, some of whom may be Quakers, to change their ways, not only for the sake of the exploited, but also to strengthen their own goodness.
We seek both to bring to light and to counteract or expunge structures, institutions, language and thought processes that subtly support discrimination and exploitation.
We examine our own attitudes and practices to test whether we contribute as much as we ought to social, political and economic justice.
We encourage others to adopt consensus decision-making that is Spirit-led.
Quakers are sensitive to the spiritual as well as the material needs of those in prison.
We recognize that the penal system often reflects the injustices in our society.
We offer support services to the victims of crime as well as conflict resolution training for both offenders and prison employees.
We act out of the conviction that redemption and restorative justice, not retribution, are the right tasks of the criminal justice system.
We strongly oppose capital punishment.
In a world torn by strife and violence, our peace testimony expresses Friends’ commitment to love and respect all persons and to overcome evil with good. We avoid not only physical violence, but also more subtle forms—psychologica1, economic, or institutional.
In our own lives, Friends see conflict as an opportunity for loving engagement with those with whom we disagree. Love can be manifested by acknowledging the sincerity of the other, while forthrightly expressing our own convictions.
We can reflect the peace testimony in our manner of living: our employment, our investments, our purchases, our payment of taxes.
We should take care to avoid benefiting from the manufacture of arms and from business practices that do violence to employees, consumers, or the natural world.
We support those who resist cooperation with the military draft or those who oppose war by performing peaceful service as conscientious objectors.
We work as we are able to alleviate the suffering caused by war, and are troubled that nations use military forces rather than non-military units to engage in this work.
Friends work to promote nonviolent resolution of conflict, from the kindergarten to the United Nations, and the conversion to peaceful uses of facilities built for war.
Friends examine decisions about obtaining, holding and using money and other assets, to see whether we find in them the seeds of self-indulgence, injustice, conflict, or ecological disaster.
We need to consider our roles as stewards of the earth, recognizing that we citizens of technologically advanced nations now contribute more to the problem than to the solution. We must not only change our lifestyles, but also give serious thought to the size of our families.
Integrity and Simplicity
Friends seek wholeness and harmony in the various aspects of our lives. We strive to limit the material circumstances of our lives in order to open the way to divine leadings.
Friends call for honesty in whatever we say and do. Friends do not swear judicial oaths, but rather affirm that our witnessing is truthful.
Friends seek to follow these testimonies but acknowledge that our practices are sometimes flawed. However, these testimonies remind us to be true to that of God within ourselves and to be mindful of carrying out these ideals in our lives.
This compilation is based on the 1997 document, Faith & Practice, of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.