We feel bound explicitly to avow our unshaken persuasion that all war is utterly incompatible with plain precepts of our divine Lord and Law-giver, and the whole spirit of His Gospel, and that no plea of necessity or policy, however urgent or peculiar, can avail to release either individuals or nations from the paramount allegiance which they owe to him who hath said, “Love your enemies.”
(Statement from Declaration of Faith issued by the Richmond Conference of Friends in 1887).
Friends are urged:
1.To support Young Friends and others who express their opposition to conscription either by nonregistration, or by registration as conscientious objectors. We warmly approve civil disobedience under Divine compulsion as an honorable testimony fully in keeping with the history and practices of Friends.
2.To recognize that the military is not consistent with Christ’s example of redemptive love, and that participation, even in a noncombatant capacity, weakens the testimony of our whole Society. Nevertheless, we hold in respect and sympathetic understanding all those men who in good conscience choose to enter the armed forces.
3.To extend our religious concern and assistance to all conscientious objectors who may fall outside the narrow definition of the Selective Service Act of 1948.
4.To avoid engaging in any trade, business, or profession directly contributing to the military system; and the purchase of government war bonds or stock certificates in war industries.
5.To consider carefully the implication of paying those taxes, a major portion of which goes for military purposes.
6.To ask our Quaker schools and colleges to refuse to accept military training units or contracts, or military subsidies for scientific research, and to advise Young Friends not to accept military training in other institutions.
7.To create a home and family atmosphere in which the ways of love and reconciliation are so central that the resort to violence in any relationship is impossible.
8.To help develop the institutions, methods, and attitudes necessary to a harmonious and peaceful world; to replace political anarchy, national sovereignity and war by law
and government; to press for world disarmament beginning unilaterally with the United States, if necessary, instead of the present armament race; to work for the immediate repeal of the draft legislation; and to share willingly and sacrificially our resources for the rebuilding of the world.
We realize that the basic task in peacemaking is to full the spiritual void in our civilization by replacing the fear that now cripples all our efforts with faith in the Eternal Power by which God unites and sustains those who pursue His Will; and we extend our fellowship to all those of other persuasions who share this faith.
In humility and repentance for past failures, we call upon all Friends to renew the springs and sources of our spiritual power in our meetings for worship; to examine our possessions, to see if there be any seed of war in them; and to live heroically in that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars and strife.
(Statement of a Conference of All American Friends in Richmond, Indiana, 1948, Reaffirmed by the Friends Coordinating Committee on Peace, and by a number of Yearly Meetings, 1968.)
We, as members of Friends United Meeting, hereby reconfirm our historical stand in opposition to all forms of war and our belief in the peaceful solution to all occasions of conflict. We believe this position is in keeping with the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in the Holy Scriptures (Matt. 5:44; Luke 5:27; Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:1-4).
Cognizant of the fact that the young men of the United States must now legally register with the Selective Service, we encourage Monthly Meetings to give counsel, information, and support to those involved. This should be done in keeping with the guidelines established by local Meetings or by their respective Yearly Meetings. We suggest that Meetings record in their Minutes the names of those who wish to declare that they are conscientious objectors to participation in war.
Regardless of the choice made by the individual, he should be given all respect and encouragement to follow the inner leadings of his conscience. This choice may include one of the following forms:
First, to register according to the law, and to be recorded as a conscientious objector with his own Monthly Meeting.
Second, to refuse to register (in this case, the legal consequences must be carefully considered).
Third, to register with the intent of serving if drafted into the armed forces even though this diverges from the historic testimony of Friends.
We are saddened by the burden of these difficult decisions that face our young men. Whatever personal decision they may make, we in Friends United Meeting will hold them in our prayers and extend our love and concern to them and to their families.
We embrace in our concern that possibility that as a result of the workings of Christ in one’s heart or through a change in other inward or outward circumstances, an individual’s point of view may change after the initial occasion for registration or even after entry into the armed services.
(Statement accepted at Friends United Meeting Trienniel gathering, July 1981.)
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Write to Peace Board, Friends United Meeting, 101 Quaker Hill Drive, Richmond, IN 47374.
American Friends Service Committee
Minute on Military Conscription
In the midst of the horror of the Vietnam war, we ask for increased vigor within the AFSC in our opposition to conscription.
In this connection, we note that the AFSC staff are presently involved in counseling and other relationships with a broad segment of young people and others who are identified as "draft resisters" and who may or may not be pacifists in the traditional Quaker sense. Recognizing that we do not share all the views held by these draft resisters, we nevertheless feel a strong sympathy for their resistance to participation in what we have recognized as evil.
We are clear in our role in relation to young men who choose 1-0 or 1-A-0 status under conscription or who accept the legal penalties for refusal to cooperate. Our growing perception of the evil of conscription itself, and the growing numbers of men who, in conscience, cannot cooperate with it, should now lead us to confirm our support of those who refuse cooperation. We should expand our services to them, and review our educational and counseling materials to insure that their moral position is also given due weight. Our counseling should be available to all. We should give our services to any person whose confrontation with military service is direct and open and in the tradition of nonviolence. The Board approves this extension of our efforts in behalf of war resisters.
(Recommended from Representative Council, approved by Board of Directors, March 13, 1968)
National Religious Leaders Call on Bush, Congress to Enact Amnesty for Gulf War Refusers, for Armed Forces to Stop Punishing Objectors
Philadelphia—Sixteen national religious leaders called on President Bush and Congress today to enact a legal amnesty for all who refused to bear arms in the Persian Gulf war. Their message called on armed forces heads to end punishment, trials and imprisonment of objectors.
"We believe our nation and its leadership are capable of such healing acts," the leaders said in a message to Bush, Members of Congress and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "We are convinced that we can all grow as a people in our respect and understanding for those whose conscience says no to killing and to war, but yes to life and to nonviolence . . . . "
"We speak to you as members of religious traditions that teach respect for those who take a stand of conscientious objection to participation in war," today's message said. "We believe that the right and responsibility of each person to follow the dictates of conscience extend to members of the armed forces."
The armed forces heads were called on to allow those, who wish, to complete their terms of service, while processing fairly and expeditiously the conscientious objector claims of those who believe they can no longer wear the uniform or participate in preparations for war.
"We note with sorrow and great concern," the religious leaders added, "that many in the armed forces who claimed conscientious objector status or otherwise conscientiously refused to participate in the war in the Persian Gulf, now suffer imprisonment and/or face trial for acting on their deepest convictions.
"We recognize that the reality of war causes people most seriously to examine their willingness or capacity to take the lives of other human beings. Yet unnecessary difficulties have been created for those in the military who examined their consciences and then attempted to legally apply for conscientious objector status and discharge from the service.
"We know freedom of conscience is both a precious religious heritage and a keystone to a free society. It is our strong conviction that those who exercise that freedom should not be punished for it."
(American Friends Service Committee News Release, May 10, 1991)
To All Friends Who Have Applied For Exemption Because of Conscientious Objection to War
In filing your claim for discharge and your supporting affidavit on the ground that your “religious convictions” forbid you to “participate in war in any form,” you entered with high purpose upon a certain path of conduct. You are a member of a religious body which, throughout its entire history, by sacrifice and heroic suffering, has borne a testimony against war and has stood for a type of Christianity dedicated to loving service and human brotherhood. Its members have always endeavored to be loyal citizens to their nation, ready to serve their country in every way consistent with conscience. Acts involving participation in any form of war, or service under military direction, however, have seemed and stil seem to those who share our faith a sharp violation of our religious principles.
(American Friends Service Committee Conference, May 24th , 1917) Dear Mr. President,
We welcome this opportunity to associate with representatives of the other historic peace churches in extending to you, Mr. President, our earnest sympathy and encouragement in your efforts for peace. But with the drift toward war in the world, we feel constrained to express again our fundamental convictions upon these great issues.
…Friends as religious people have always tried to keep to the ways of peace and have endeavored to be peace makes both in peace time and in war time. Their message is a personal conviction, based on the Christian way of life, revealed in the New Testament, the voice of conscience revealed in the soul and on the conviction that love is the greatest power in the world.
Insofar as they are true to these principles, Friends will make heavy sacrifices to transmit their spirit of love and faith, but they cannot, as followers of Christ, endorse war methods or support them, or be themselves a voluntary part of a system engaged in making war.
We feel an obligation to make this conviction a matter of record with our Government now, in peace time, not only in behalf of members of the Society of Friends, but for any others who, for religious or conscientious reasons would take a similar position.
(Letter to the President signed on behalf of the Society of Friends, February 12th, 1937)
Pruposed Appeal to The President on Conscription
On behalf of the members of our churches, sometimes known as the historic peace churches, we appeal to you, Mr. President, that our government should not adopt a policy of peacetime military conscription.
As you are aware, our understanding of the spririt and teachings of Jesus and the Christian Gospel convinces that it is God’s will that righteousness, love and peace should rule in hearts of all men, and that and that strife and war, should be wholly done away.
…We need not resind you that many of our forebearers came to this country in order to be free from military conscription and the restriction of religious and political freedom by the power of the state, and that we, as well as they, fear greatly the militarization which so often accompanies conscription, for it is our conviction that compulsory military service is in essence preparation for war and not for peace.
We urge therefore, Mr. President, that you use the full powers of your high office for leadership in the ways of peace, not to bring conscription upon our country but to work for its abolition throughout the world.
We submit herewith supplemental statements in the names of our several groups which will further make clear our concerns and our convictions.
(Letter to the President signed on behalf of the Church of the Brethren, the Mennonite Churches, and American Friends Service Committee, August 9th, 1944).
American Friends Service Committee, 1501 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102; <email@example.com>;
Baltimore Yearly Meeting
Peace and Nonviolence
One important aspect of our peace witness is refusal to serve in the military or in activities contributing to military preparedness. Friends who face the draft or registration for it should consider prayerfully their alternatives. Their Meetings should stand ready to counsel and support them. Friends of all ages may witness by acts ranging from refusal to pay war taxes to non-participation in war-related work to demonstrations and other public witness. All should be aware of the tragic consequences of indifference, timidity and procrastination.
(From Faith and Practice of Baltimore Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, August 1988)
For further information, contact: Baltimore Yearly Meeting, 17100 Quaker Lane, Sandy Spring, MD 20860-1296; <firstname.lastname@example.org>; www.bym-rsf.org
North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative)
Queries for Monthly Meetings
Do we endeavor to live in the life and power that takes away the occasion of all war, seeking to do our part in the work of reconciliation between individuals, groups, and nations? Do we faithfully maintain our testimony against nuclear and all other military preparations, the bearing of arms, and all participation in war?
(From Faith and Practice, Book of Discipline of the North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative) of the Religious Society of Friends, 1983)
For further information, contact: North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative), email@example.com
Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends Church
Faith Expressed though Witness
Christian Witness to Peace
We believe the precepts of Christ our Lord and the whole spirit of His Gospel call us to live at peace with all people. Therefore we consider war and violence incompatible with the holiness we profess. We ask our leaders to choose nonviolent alternatives for sustaining economic and civil order. We respect government as an instrument of God to restrain evil and promote justice, and we submit to it in matters that do not interfere with obedience to Christ our Lord. When conflicts arise among persons, we will resolve them in a spirit of humility, with love for those who oppose us, and in accordance with biblical methods of peacemaking. (See Matthew 18 and George Fox's "Gospel Order.")
Christian Witness to Justice
We witness to the dignity and worth of all persons before God. We repudiate and seek to remove discrimination based on gender, race, nationality, or class. We deplore the use of selfish ends to gain unfair advantage, and we urge political, economic, and social justice for all peoples. We consider civil order most just when conscience is free and religious faith uncoerced.
Concerns for Society
Do you observe and teach the Friends testimony against military training and service, making clear that war is incompatible with the spirit and teachings of the Gospel? Do you find appropriate ways to work for peace?
(From Faith and Practice, A Book of Christian Discipline, Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends Church, July 1999)
For further information, contact: Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends Church, 200 N. Meridian, Newberg, OR 97132; firstname.lastname@example.org>; www.nwfriends.org