Quakers have been speaking out on war, on slavery, on humane treatment in prisons and mental hospitals, on capital punishment, etc. for more than 350 years. Although Quakers are known for living in peace and simplicity, and for worshiping in silence, we sometimes feel “called” to speak out to fellow Quakers and to the world about what seems important to us. This is an example.
We Quakers don’t have much formal theology. Our core belief is that “There is ‘that of God’ in everyone.” This means that everyone can look and listen inwardly, to be informed and instructed on every subject by “that of God” (which some Quakers refer to as Jesus, others call it Spirit or The Holy Spirit, others think of it as “the Inner Light,” “the still, small voice” or conscience. We don’t claim that everyone is equal in their spiritual gifts, but just that each person has their “measure of the Light” to illuminate their way.
Not every one of the Quakers gets the same message about the same subject. And Quakers may get different messages at different times in their life. In fact, another of our core beliefs is that God gives us the gift of Continuing Revelation; in other words, the will of God may change over time. The only way we can know what is right for us at this time is to consult the Inner Light. So we are hesitant to make rules for each other, or give advice to others.
When full of doubt, Quakers are encouraged to ask the Meeting to form a “Clearness Committee,” made up of a few respected members of the local meeting, who will get together with the questioner, to hear the issues discussed in full and to ask questions about the process of decision, and how to carry it out. But the Clearness Committee has no authority to tell another what to do, or to take on the responsibility for the decision.