The Religious Society of Friends was founded around 1650 by George Fox, who was a devout Christian. Quakerism is non-credal, and our members hold a range of beliefs about Jesus and the Bible. While most Quakers consider themselves Christians, some have found resonance with humanism or other religious foundations such as Unitarianism, Buddhism, or Judaism. We respect and honor Christian and non-Christian religions alike.
The Spark of the Divine in Every Person
A core principle of Quakerism is the concept of “that of God in every person” – the belief that every human being has something of the divine in them.
Since the early days of Quakerism, Friends have shared their testimonies of practices and attitudes that have helped them to develop a fuller spiritual life. At the core of every testimony is the belief that there is that of God in everyone and each person can receive guidance directly from the Spirit. The testimonies are not a strict set of rules, but ways of relating to God and the world that are shared by many Quakers. Each Quaker may have a different understanding of what the testimonies are, but the principles remain quite similar. It is a constant challenge to find ways to express the testimonies of Friends that are relevant to present times.
George Watson, a Friend for over 70 years, discusses the Quaker
peace testimony, equality testimony, and diverse theological beliefs.
The testimonies most commonly referred to today are peace, equality, integrity, simplicity, and community.
- The peace testimony guides us to eliminate all occasions for war and to respect that of the Divine in every person.
- The equality testimony attests to the equality among all human beings, men and women, rich and poor.
- The integrity testimony calls forth truthfulness in our everyday interactions, which generates trust.
- The simplicity testimony encourages spiritual detachment from the things of this world and challenges us to shun superficialities which tend to obscure our vision of reality.
- The community testimony expresses our commitment to support one another in our faith journeys and in times of joy and sorrow, sharing with and caring for each other.