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Encyclopedia > Peace Testimony

The Peace Testimony, also known as the Testimony Against War, is a shorthand description of the stand generally taken by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) against participation in war, and against military service as combatants. Like the other Quaker testimonies, it is less a "belief" than a commitment to act in a certain way, in this case to refrain from participation in war and to actively oppose it and those who participate in war. The Quakers' original refusal to bear arms has been broadened to embrace protests and demonstrations in opposition to government policies of war and confrontations with others who bear arms, whatever the reason, in the support of peace. Because of this core testimony, the Religious Society of Friends is considered one of the traditional peace churches. The Religious Society of Friends (commonly known as Quakers) began in England in the 17th century by people who were dissatisfied with the existing denominations and sects of Christianity. ... The Religious Society of Friends (commonly known as Quakers) began in England in the 17th century by people who were dissatisfied with the existing denominations and sects of Christianity. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Peace churches are Christian churches, groups or communities advocating pacifism. ...


General explanation

The Peace Testimony is largely derived from the teachings of Jesus to love one's enemies and Friends' belief in the inner light. The Peace Testimony does not mean that Quakers believe in passive resignation; in fact, they believe in and practice passionate activism. It does mean that Quakers believe that nonviolent confrontation of evil and peaceful reconciliation are always superior to violent measures. Jesus (8–2 BC/BCE to 29–36 AD/CE),[1] also known as Jesus of Nazareth, is the central figure of Christianity. ... The concept of the Inner Light is central to many versions of Quaker (or Religious Society of Friends) theology. ...

Development of the Peace Testimony

George Fox, perhaps the most influential early Quaker, made a declaration in 1651 that many see as the first declaration of the peace testimony: 19th-century engraving of George Fox, based on a painting of unknown date. ... // Events January 1 - Charles II crowned King of Scotland in Scone. ...

I told [the Commonwealth Commissioners] I lived in the virtue of that life and power that took away the occasion of all wars and I knew from whence all wars did rise, from the lust, according to James's doctrine... I told them I was come into the covenant of peace which was before wars and strifes were. Fox 1651

The best-known version of this testimony [1] was stated in a declaration to King Charles II of England in 1661, following an armed revolt by religious radicals in London in January; its issuance at this particular time was as much to remove any suspicion that Friends might have been involved as a desire to make their position clear. This excerpt is commonly cited: In law and in religion, testimony is a solemn attestation as to the truth of a matter. ... Charles II (29 May 1630 – 6 February 1685) was the King of England, King of Scots, and King of Ireland from 30 January 1649 (de jure) or 29 May 1660 (de facto) until his death. ... Events January 6 - The fifth monarchy men unsuccessfully attempt to seize control of London. ...

We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world. The spirit of Christ, by which we are guided, is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil and again to move unto it; and we do certainly know, and so testify to the world, that the spirit of Christ, which leads us into all Truth, will never move us to fight any war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world. A Declaration from the harmless and innocent people of God, called Quakers

Some Quakers, most notably Isaac Penington, initially opposed the Peace Testimony, he because it did not deny use of the sword to the magistrate or ruler of the state. It also contained no prohibition against paying taxes for purposes of war, something that would trouble Friends to the present. The Spirit of Christ is, to members of the Religious Society of Friends, synonymous with God. ... There are two historic figures called Isaac Penington: Isaac Penington (Mayor of London) - one time Mayor of London Isaac Penington (Quaker) - an early Quaker, son of Isaac Penington above. ...

Application of the Peace Testimony

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. Not all Quakers embrace this testimony as an absolute; for example, there were Friends that fought in World War I and World War II. During extreme circumstances this has been a difficult testimony for some Quakers to endorse and to uphold, yet Friends have almost universally been committed to the ideal of peace, even those who have felt the need to compromise on the application of it. A conscientious objector is a person whose beliefs are incompatible with military service - perhaps with any role in the armed forces (in which case he or she is either pacifist or antimilitarist) - or who objects to a particular war. ... It has been suggested that Civil and social disobedience be merged into this article or section. ... Combatants Allied Powers: France Italy Russia Serbia United Kingdom United States Central Powers: Austria-Hungary Bulgaria Germany Ottoman Empire Commanders Ferdinand Foch Georges Clemenceau Victor Emmanuel III Luigi Cadorna Nicholas II Aleksei Brusilov Herbert Henry Asquith Douglas Haig John Jellicoe Woodrow Wilson John Pershing Wilhelm II Paul von Hindenburg Reinhard... Combatants Major Allied powers: United Kingdom Soviet Union United States Republic of China and others Major Axis powers: Nazi Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Harry Truman Chiang Kai-Shek Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tojo Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead...

The American Friends Service Committee, along with the UK's 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. American Friends Service Committee logo The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) affiliated organization which works for social justice, peace and reconciliation, abolition of the death penalty, and human rights, and provides humanitarian relief. ... Quaker Peace and Social Witness are an organisation of Quakers in Britan that work to promote and put into practice the Quaker testimonies of equality, integrety, simplicity and peace. ... Lester B. Pearson after accepting the Nobel Peace Prize The Nobel Peace Prize is the name of one of five Nobel Prizes bequested by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel. ... 1947 (MCMXLVII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (the link is to a full 1947 calendar). ...

External links

  • Some Early Statements Concerning the Quaker Peace Testimony
  • Pamphlet from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, RSF, on the Peace Testimony
  • 'Think Peace' - a series of six articles from Quaker Peace & Social Witness of Britain Yearly Meeting

Other Quaker Testimonies

  Results from FactBites:
Friends (Quakers) and Peace, by Bill Samuel - QuakerInfo.com (1278 words)
Although the peace testimony was not a clear testimony of the movement as a whole at first, it does seem to have been clear early on to George Fox, generally called the founder of Quakerism.
The impetus for articulating a corporate peace testimony may have come from a political need to assure King Charles II that he need not fear that Quakers would raise arms against him.
The Renewal Movement: The Peace Testimony and Modern Quakerism, by Allen Smith
  More results at FactBites »



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