“Respect the wide diversity among us in our lives and relationships. Refrain from making prejudiced judgments about the life journeys of others. Do you foster the spirit of mutual understanding and forgiveness which our discipleship asks of us? Remember that each one of us is unique, precious, a child of God." Advices and Queries 22
Early Quakers recognised the equal spiritual authority of women. Many refused to use words, titles and manners that recognised rank and reinforced inequalities. In the 18 th century British Quakers were the first religious movement to condemn slavery and would not allow members to 'own' enslaved people. In the 19th century Quakers were pioneers in prison reform.
Quakers still often refuse honourary titles. We don't refer to each other using common titles like Mr or Mrs, calling each other by name. We also sometimes refer to each other as 'Friend'.
Remember that each one of us is unique, precious, a child of God.- Advices and Queries 22
Our concern for equality encourages us to think about how we live. We try to behave in ways that express the equal worth of everyone. There is no hierarchy in our worshipping groups and all have an equal part to play. Taking on a role for your local meeting or working for Quakers at a national level is seen as service rather than an office denoting rank.
On a group and individual level Quakers makes choices that are informed by a recognition of equal human worth. Many Quakers choose to make ethical investments and trade fairly so that we don't exploit others. As a national organisation our environmental work recognises that inequality exists in the use of the world's resources and we seek to address this.
Our concern for equality guides many of our activities. We work with the homeless, asylum seekers, refugees and prisoners.
Examples of recent and current projects include:
- In 2009 Quakers decided to campaign for the right to marry same-sex couples in Quaker meetings. Quakers campaigned with other faith groups until the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act was passed in 2013 and the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act in 2014.
- In 2022 Quakers committed to making practical reparations for the transatlantic slave trade, colonialism and economic exploitation. Some Quaker meetings are examining their records and history for evidence of exploitation and exploring ways to make up for the past. We are working towards being an anti-racist church.