The Peace Testimony

From the Book of Discipline of Ohio Yearly Meeting (Conservative) 2001 Printing:

Peace and War

It has been the belief of the Society of Friends from its rise that all war is contrary to the teachings of our blessed Redeemer, Jesus Christ.  In His Sermon on the Mount, He admonished us to love our enemies, to bless those who curse us, and to do good to those who hate us.  Likewise, when Peter smote the servant of the high priest with his sword, our Lord said to him, "Put up thy sword again into its place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword" (Matthew 26:52).

In a statement presented to the King of England in 1660, Friends declared: "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 certainly do know and testify to the world that the Spirit of Christ, which leads us into all truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the Kingdom of Christ nor for the kingdoms of this world."

As we believe that all war is wrong, so we believe that all preparation or training for war is wrong.  Military conscription is inconsistent with the teaching and practices of Christianity.

We not only feel abhorrence for the evils of war and the suffering and misery connected with it, but we desire to work actively for peace, endeavoring to remove the economic and political causes of war.  We wish to emphasize the brotherhood of all men, and that unity and peace can only be achieved by the Spirit of Christ working in the hearts of men.

It is our profound belief that the peoples of the world desire peace, but we do not believe that it can be achieved through a policy of military strength.  Peace can only be built when men seek to solve their common problems in a spirit of reconciliation and national humility.  We must act with love, forbearance and forgiveness; trusting in God and in His Spirit working in all men.

Today when talk about defending ourselves against an enemy is very prevalent, we would encourage our members to keep in mind that the only true shelter is peace.

As members of a Society which has always been opposed to war, we must work unfailingly for peace as a Yearly Meeting as well as in our local communities, ever keeping in mind that peace must begin with ourselves in each individual heart.  Jesus Christ called His disciples, and still calls us to a deep personal commitment to the way of love.  It is only by the working of this Spirit through us that the problems of war, hate and strife can be solved and peace brought to a troubled world.

The 1660 Statement of the Peace Testimony

Conscientious Objection to War

John Jeremiah Edminster
"Jesus Christ Forbids War"

Arthur Berk
"Christian Peacemaking"

Terry H.S. Wallace
"Stand and Live in That Which
Takes Away
the Occasion for Wars"

Terry H.S. Wallace
"The Basics of Our Testimony"

Kimberly Anne Makela
"Thoughts on Forgiveness and the Nickel Mines Tragedy"

Daniel Berrigan and Arthur Berk

Arthur Berk
"Blessed are the Peacemakers"

Carl Davidson
"Enough War: Give Peace a Chance"

Arthur Berk
"Sinning and Violence"

The Costs of the War in Iraq, by the Numbers
[U.S. Senate Majority Office]

Robert L. Hopper
"The Meaning and Practice of Peace in Our Daily Lives"

Kimberly Anne Makela and Francis Clare Fischer
"Is There Ever an Exception to the Peace Testimony?"

Arthur Berk
"Encounter on a Train"

Philip W. Helms
"Scripture, 'Just War' Theory and the Peace Testimony"
An Overview

As Crossroads Friends considered and responded to the Sixth Query, we were troubled by the fact that, while we do not actively support the war system, we do so passively when we pay our federal taxes (notably income tax, about half of which goes to current and past military expenses).  Those of us present concluded that the National Peace Tax Fund Bill offers an important step toward conscientious objection to payment of war taxes.  The bill was re-introduced in the current session on Congress by Representative John Lewis (GA), and is co-sponsored by Representatives John Conyers and Carolyn Kilpatrick (both Michigan), among others.  The full text of the bill, with the complete list of sponsors, endorsements, and other information may be found online at:

This is one of the most moving things I've ever read about the horrors of the "just war" theory and the absolute need for Christian nonviolence.  It's an interview with the priest who counseled the men who dropped the atomic bombs on Japan.  He repents and then some.

Francis Clare Fischer