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What do Quakers believe?

What do Quakers believe? Well it depends on the Quaker!  How you live your life is more important than a written set of rules, Quakers have (about) 4 testimonies that they try and act on in every day life.

Quaker Testimonies

Peace – the one most people have heard of e.g. many Quakers were conscientious objectors to WWII or the Vietnam war.

Equality -treating people equally, e.g. not discriminating on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation etc.  All very trendy now, but Quakers have been bearing witness to this for hundreds of years.

Simplicity – not using more than you need, this can be expanded to include the environment, i.e. not wasting the earths resources to support a materialistic lifestyle, again this viewpoint is becoming more trendy and mainstream.

Truth/Integrity – In 18th Century Britain Quakers were barred from entering University, so many become went into business. Several famous UK firms were started by Quakers including Cadburys, Rowantree’s and Clark’s. As employers these companies sought to treat their employees fairly, for example the creation of “Bournville” to house the factory workers at Cadbury’s in Birmingham.

That’s it, it’s not very complicated in theory, in practice it’s much harder. Some people focus their life’s on one particular aspect of the testimonies, e.g. campaigning for peace in Northern Ireland. Others find that at different points in their life’s the focus of their beliefs and actions changes. This is to be expected, there is no set rule for how you act out the testimonies in your own life. There is more information on the Quaker testimonies in wikipedia.

Do Quakers believe in the bible? Some (probably the majority) do, some don’t. Quakers are also encouraged to seek out the truth in other religious writings  (as well as the bible) which is something I like. It’s nice to learn about other peoples views, I’ve never really believed “I’m right, you’re all wrong and are going to burn in hell” view of religion. It’s not a very good basis for developing peaceful relationships, is it?