Quaker Peace Garden, Bristol. Used by Permission of Bristol Friends.


The Peace Testimony is probably the best-known of the Quaker Testimonies, and is the only one to which specific wording is often associated.

In the aftermath of an armed rebellion in 1660 by religious radicals that resulted in the imprisonment of George Fox, Margaret Fell wrote a declaration to clarify the position of Friends with respect to any violence: making clear that despite all of the ways in which they dissented from the laws of the land, they would not take up arms. This exerpt is commonly quoted as the Peace Testimony:
"All bloody principles and practices we do utterly deny, with all outward wars, and strife, and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence whatsoever, and this is our testimony to the whole world. That 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 do certainly know, and so testify to the world, that the spirit of Christ, which leads us into all Truth, will never move us to fight any war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world."

There is a broad spectrum amongst Friends as to how they follow this testimony in their daily lives. Some have served in wars, but many Friends are conscientious objectors in times of war. Some refuse to pay the portion of taxes that goes into military spending, donating that amount to peaceful charities or setting it aside in special funds, to show that they are not trying to avoid paying their proper taxes.

In 1947, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Friends worldwide for their work to alleviate suffering in the aftermath of both world wars. I was told a story as a child that I have never seen documented, so it may be apocryphal, but it stated that Friends were amongst the last groups officially allowed into Germany to help Jews before the start of WWII, because of German recognition of their humanitarian efforts in the wake of WWI.