Why Do Quakers Care About Politics?

Why do Quakers care about politics? We asked Marge Abbott and Noah Baker Merrill.

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Jon Watts

Jon Watts

Jon Watts launched and directed the QuakerSpeak project for its first 6 seasons. Keep up to date with Jon’s work at his website.

8 thoughts on “Why Do Quakers Care About Politics?

  1. I recently attended a Silent Worship gathering after decades of reading about Quakers and then finding Quaker roots in my family. I’m 72 and believe the Quakers have added much to humanity of justice, goodness and brotherly love. I’ve supported FCNL and the Service Co. To the best of my ability. Planning to be present at the next SW.

  2. He certainly does go on and on and on. . . but never really answers the question. Reaching across the divide? She basically talks about social activism, not politics. Politics is people, and a process to get people involved in their government. Not just social change. Sorry – was not impressed by this. Would not recommend it. But, maybe that’s just me. I used to teach communications. This was just talking heads (in my opinion). Nice people, committed Friends, but probably have never volunteered to work for a candidates.

  3. This election season we hear committed Christians say they are trying to change laws to be more in accord with their deeply held beliefs yet come out on the opposite side of FCNL and most Quakers politically. How do we explain that? Does God speak differently to Godly people? And, how do we claim to be an inclusive community if everyone has to be a Democrat?

  4. Hi Signe,

    I work in communications for FCNL and wanted to respond to your questions. In my experience, Quakers can be found in every corner of the political spectrum, not just in the Democratic party.
    FCNL is a nonpartisan organization and has good relationships with members and individuals who identify with all (or no) parties. Our positions come out of the input of Friends across the country – and we are actively reaching out to as many Friends meetings and churches as possible to participate in setting our priorities for the upcoming Congress (see http://fcnl.org/priorities2016 for more information).

    It is challenging to be inclusive, and I know that as an organization we are not always as inclusive as we would like, but an important part of our ministry is to be open to new points of view. We try not to fall into the assumption that one side is “right” and the other “wrong” – and through conversation we try and find the values that we share that can help us move forward. If you haven’t seen it, the QuakerSpeak video on “A Quaker Lobbyist on Capitol Hill” gives more depth on how FCNL approaches lobbying : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcqpE628Z1E

    You raise some important points about the motivation people have to change laws, and how it’s not just Quakers that feel called to act on their deepest convictions. In some cases I think the underlying beliefs that motivate other Christians to act politically are not that far removed from many Quakers’, but people propose to carry out those beliefs in different and divergent ways. That’s why conversations that get beyond the specific policy proposals are important, and why focusing on “that of God” in the person who has different political points of view matters. I also think that fear is a huge motivator right now in the policies people propose, which can make acting on those beliefs difficult. So much of the political debate is about how it’s a dangerous world and we need to be protecting ourselves and building higher walls, which goes against the kind of listening that’s necessary for compromise.

    Thank you for your comments.

  5. The story of standing in the Prison, brought tears to my eyes, and joy to my heart to see Noah and Marge telling it. I’m a wannabe Quaker of 40 years, and a convinced Quaker of four years, and member at Multnomah Friends Meeting. I also worship often with convergent Friends, evangelical and liberal together. I’m quite sure there are various party/no party affiliations among us. When first hearing the words, convergent Friends, I said, “Of course. If we can’t keep peace among ourselves, how can we keep peace in the world?” I have worked on political campaigns since I was 13 years old and now I am 72. When I volunteer during this presidential campaign for whomever gets the Democratic nod, my work will be grounded in the Spirit, so undoubtedly, my actions will be different. And this will be a first.

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