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It seems that I once heard that Quakers are pacifists, but I'm not sure if that's just a rumor or not.

What is the Quaker doctrine regarding war and killing people as a soldier in the military? If they think it is wrong, what is the biblical basis for this belief?

Also, do their beliefs extend to being a soldier in the military under any capacity (such as a chaplain, for example)?

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Have you been watching Friendly Persuasion? –  JustinY Dec 2 '11 at 16:08
Not yet, but I will now! –  Richard 6 hours ago

4 Answers 4

Quakers are considered one of the "peace churches" who oppose war of any kind, and typically refuse to participate in it. However they are also not a denomination which expects everyone in it to do exactly what the church says. See this article for more information. The biblical basis for pacifism is discussed here.

I believe that some Quakers have indeed served in the military as medics. I've never heard of one serving as a chaplain.

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In the Bible one of the 10 Commandments says "Thou Shalt Not Kill". However the belief is based on many other references too. Quakers also refuse to swear oaths, on the basis that they always tell the truth and will not swear in God's name or any other.

The Quakers formed unarmed pacifist units to supply relief to refugees and ambulances to drive in battle zones picking up the wounded in WW2. 3 of my family served in these units. The Quakers were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947 for this work. Some more background information can be found at this link: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1947/press.html

Here is a memorial recently erected to their pacifism and relief work during WW2: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/apr/16/rare-memorial-inspires-quakers-work

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Pacifism was huge in traditional Quakerism, to the point that their home countries (particularly England, where they started) would often get a bit angry with the Quakers for failing to participate in their wars.

However, over time, Quakerism as a whole has gotten much more liberal (relative to their starting-point, mind you), and it has become increasingly common for Quakers to join the military. Initially, their involvement was medical, but later expanded into combat. In doctrine, I think most Quaker churches still prefer pacifism, but it is not stressed nearly as much as it used to be.

The Biblical basis for their belief is a mixture of Matthew 5:9 ("Blessed are the peace-makers"), Matt 5:38-39 ("Turn the other cheek", although this is less military-related), and perhaps Matt 24:6-8 ("Wars and rumours of wars").

But their support comes mostly from the broad and very common theme throughout Scripture that all life is valuable, and we should love our neighbors and enemies. With these principles in mind, and a few steps of logic, they also have support from a few more ideas: that to take someone's life is to take away their chance to turn to God, that humans bear the image of God, that we should be more concerned with evangelizing and doing good works than the petty conflicts our governments get into, etc.

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Good answer. Could you maybe provide some sources for the claims on Quaker beliefs? (You're right, of course, but it's always nice to have to reference material. :) –  Thomas Shields Jun 5 '13 at 4:36
Sadly, I didn't have any sources at the time, but I was going mostly from memory. However, I did find some after a little looking. Mention of Quakers is spread throughout this article. This page has a few articles about the Quaker pacifism –  stspurg Jun 11 '13 at 18:46
nice. <!-- meta comment for length --> –  Thomas Shields Jun 11 '13 at 19:34

I understand that Quakers believe that God exists in each one of us. Therefore to kill another person would be also to kill the God within him. Just what I learned from a Quaker long ag

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Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

This doesn't mean much if you don't provide a source. –  fredsbend yesterday

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