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Peace Testimony


Peace testimony, or testimony against war, is a shorthand description of the action generally taken by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) for peace and against participation in war. Like other Quaker testimonies, it is not a "belief", but a description of committed actions, in this case to promote peace, and refrain from and actively oppose participation in war. Quakers' original refusal to bear arms has been broadened to embrace protests and demonstrations in opposition to government policies of war and confrontations with others who bear arms, whatever the reason, in the support of peace and active nonviolence. Because of this core testimony, the Religious Society of Friends is considered one of the traditional peace churches.

Friends' peace testimony is largely derived from beliefs arising from the teachings of Jesus to love one's enemies and Friends' belief in the inner light. Quakers believe that nonviolent confrontation of evil and peaceful reconciliation are always superior to violent measures. Peace testimony does not mean that Quakers engage only in passive resignation; in fact, they often practice passionate activism.

The Peace Testimony is probably the best known testimony of Friends. The belief that violence is wrong has persisted to this day, and many conscientious objectors, advocates of non-violence and anti-war activists are Friends. Because of their peace testimony, Friends are considered as one of the historic peace churches. In 1947 Friends as a worldwide religious group were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which was accepted by the American Friends Service Committee and the then London Yearly Meeting's Friends Service Committee, now called Britain Yearly Meeting Peace & Social Witness on behalf of all Friends. The Peace Testimony has not always been well received in the world; on many occasions Friends have been imprisoned for refusing to serve in military activities.


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