Minute on Social and Political Activism Concerns Within the Meeting

The following Minute was approved by the Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business on Sept. 9, 2001:

Quakers have a long tradition of social and political activism.  For over 300 years we have spoken out, confronted injustice, even subverted the powers in society.  Friends have spoken and acted when our beliefs about the fundamental equality, goodness and Godness of all people have not been honored by the prevailing social, political and economic institutions of the day.

Friends spoke out forcefully to eliminate slavery and covertly operated “underground railroads” to help slaves find freedom.  We actively rebelled against the laws prohibiting women’s rights to participate in the political process; this has continued to the present day in our efforts to guarantee equal social and economic rights for all women.  For centuries, Quakers have resisted the culture of war both passively and actively.  We have been called to serve in the ways of peace, to seek ways to build the institutions of peace rather than of conflict and war, and to strive to build societies that are founded on economic and social justice.  The Boulder Meeting has, in this same long tradition, frequently spoken out and acted publicly on matters such as peace and disarmament, social justice, economic justice, death penalty, and environmental stewardship.

In light of this history and its foundation in spiritual beliefs and faith, it is important that we are able to discuss, educate and act on social and political issues of concern — as individuals, committees or other groups — in the context of our community.  Indeed, the existence of committees such as Peace & Social Justice, Right Sharing, and Service confirms our collective commitment to this work.  It is equally important that we are able to use the meetinghouse in support of these activities, whether as a meeting place or as a venue for disseminating information.  Thus, we have bulletin boards and announcements of events in the Meeting and Miscellany for the purpose of providing educational information but never coercion to support any particular position.

However, Quakers frequently have found the truth on matters of peace and justice difficult to discern, particularly in a collective sense; often it has taken decades to find a clear path.  So it is important that these discussions and actions take place in a loving atmosphere of respect for our differences and of continual seeking for the truth together.  Our activism should never interfere with our primary purpose in joining together, which is our worship.

We expect Friends to carry out various forms of social and political discussion and activism within, or under the auspices of, the Meeting community.  We believe that we can and should conduct these activities with sensitivity to the diversity of feelings and leadings that different members of the community may hold, taking care especially to recognize areas where the community as a whole is not able to unite with a particular concern or action.  We hope that Friends will strive to maintain openness and an ability to listen respectfully to others who may not share their feelings or leadings, recognizing that only rarely will the entire community be able to unite with a particular concern.  Such apparent disunity should not be seen to invalidate a leading, nor to suggest that those who follow it (or who do not) are lacking in light; rather, it should be welcomed.

Worship together and respectful discussion of our differences will serve only to further clarify a leading and to strengthen our community.