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ILYM Letters and Minutes Relating to Peace

ILYM LETTER TO SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES

Illinois Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends has in our manner approved a statement of support for the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Act (HR 1186). Illinois Yearly Meeting consists of Friends Meetings in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Missouri. Our manner of approval is to seek unity among those gathered to consider an issue. Since we are a religious society these deliberations humbly and consciously take place in the presence of God.

Many of our number are led to resist paying taxes for military purposes. This comes from a testimony as old as our Society that holds that God would not lead us at once to love our neighbor as ourselves and attempt to do him great harm for some purpose. This is how we have been led to find consistency in the Ministry of Jesus. In our nation's current assertion of overpowering authority in the world, we are moved more than ever to resist militaristic engagement with others.

Our democracy has allowed much progress in the expression of individual conscience in the form of conscientious objection to war. Putting a legal and moral base under this has allowed many people to choose alternative service to taking up arms against our brothers and sisters. We believe that it is reasonable and equivalently respectful of conscience to allow individuals to withdraw their tax contributions to the military and place them in a fund that is only used for non-violent and peaceful pursuits. The military budget is such a large part of our national budget that the demand of conscience to withhold taxes for war forces individuals into serious economic deprivation and major confrontation with the taxing authority. This is simply for acting on a deeply held belief that has captured the hearts and minds of many since Jesus came to us with his message of love. It is capturing more hearts and minds now, as we come to realize that we are not likely to survive as a species unless we curb this appetite for domination. Any nation with this much power will most assuredly become corrupted by it unless an ineluctable force of conscience restrains it.

We humbly and sincerely ask that you give the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Act very serious consideration.

BLUE RIVER QUARTERLY MINUTE, Fourth Month 2003

Blue River Quarter of Illinois Yearly Meeting, Religious Society of Friends, believes that every person is a child of God. Therefore, we affirm the worth and dignity of every human being. For 350 years the Religious Society of Friends has rejected war as a means of promoting security and advancing the cause of the good. We devote our energies to working for peace and justice among persons and nations.

CLEAR CREEK MINUTE, Eleventh Month 2002

During these times of uncertainty and fear, we Americans appear to be on the brink of engaging in war with Iraq. We members and attenders of Clear Creek Friends Meeting of Illinois Yearly Meeting are opposed to the United States of America engaging in acts of war against Iraq.

COLUMBIA MINUTE, Twelfth Month 2002

We, the members of Columbia Friends Meeting (Quakers), declare our profound disagreement with our government's resolution for war against Iraq.
  • We support commitment to a nonviolent solution.
  • We reaffirm the 350-year testimony of the Religious Society of Friends that war is not God's way.
  • Friends seek to live in ways that remove the causes and occasions of violence and war. We ask that you join in this difficult search.

DOWNERS GROVE MINUTE, Third Month 2003

For almost 350 years, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) has opposed all forms of violence and war making. With our founder, George Fox, we believe that we are to live "in the virtue of that life and power which takes away the occasion of all wars." Further, we believe that God calls all humanity to live in this same condition.

It is in this light that we state our opposition to the Administration's efforts to make war in Iraq. War is not the answer. In a time when our focus might otherwise be on the vital task of seeking peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the President seems determined to take actions that will only serve to destabilize the region further, and put true peace beyond our grasp. Military action in Iraq will certainly intensify the unconscionable suffering that has been visited upon the people of that nation for many years. Further, it is unclear that there would be sufficient basis for a new regime capable of upholding peace and the rule of law in the long term were Saddam Hussein removed from power.

We urge the President to turn aside from his present course. We call upon the Administration and Congress to support multilateral action on Iraq through the United Nations, beginning with the return of weapons inspectors, and continuing by other nonviolent means.

LAKE FOREST MINUTE, First Month 2003

It is the tradition of Quakers to see that of God in everyone, especially those with whom we disagree, and we believe in the power of prayer to transform and heal our hearts. We hope that through prayer a transformation of the heart occurs resulting in nonviolent solutions to conflicts. We encourage everyone in Lake Forest Friends Meeting to pray at noon each day for our world leaders to seek a nonviolent solution to the crisis in Iraq.

ST. LOUIS MINUTE, First Month 2003

In view of our government's active consideration of military force as an option for addressing international problems, the St. Louis Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends warns that war with Iraq will not increase American security. Rather, it will deepen division and enmity between the U.S. and others around the globe, particularly in the Arab world. It will cause a tragic loss of life, both Iraqi and American. Disarmament, respect for human rights and democracy cannot be imposed through violence, but must be nurtured through patient support of international treaties and institutions.

We reaffirm our long-held belief that war is never acceptable. We see all human lives as precious, as a part of God's creation, and as carrying the Spirit of God within them. It is not the prerogative of any of us to decide when a human life shall end. The Spirit of God within us has shown us that war and the threat of war will only produce hatred and fear. This Spirit has shown that justice, mercy and humility are not only what the Lord requires of us (Micah 6:8), but are also the way to peace and safety for all humankind.

We call on the government and people of the United States, and of the members of the United Nations, to pursue the resolution of international problems through positive, peaceful means. Justice and mercy require that we respect the needs of others, equally with our own. All peoples want safety, health, education, a reasonable means of earning a living, freedom of thought, and self-determination. We believe that sincere attempts to meet these needs will reduce the danger that we now feel in the world.

(See also the St. Louis Monthly Meeting Declaration of Peace)

COLUMBIA FRIENDS, Ninth Month 2001

Minute of Response and Intention, Columbia Friends Meeting.

Approved 9/30/01


We grieve for the suffering and loss stemming from the tragic events of September 11, 2001. We grieve for the alienation and despair which led individuals to perform such acts. We acknowledge the oneness of all creation and pray to God that the present calamity may open our hearts to the travails of our human family and guide us in finding ways we may be called to witness to justice for all. We acknowledge that only through our relationship with the one God will we be changed and enabled to bring peace to our world.

Let us prayerfully consider how we are being asked by our Creator to respond to the events of September 11. We are drawn to the foundations of our faith; to our continual experience of the one God who is revealed to all people. We are given a commandment by God to love one another as we are loved by God. Out of this love, we are led to lay down our fears and consider the welfare of all in the same way we do our own. We are called to be compassionate — to not only be deeply aware of suffering, but also to address suffering in all its guises. We continually ask for guidance, confident that our Divine Source will hear and be with us in this endeavor.

We would counsel our larger society and governments that contributing to the cycle of violence and retaliation has never achieved true peace; rather we need to seek new ways to address conflict and injustice. Our righteous anger can blind us to the root causes of strife which must be addressed. The peace we are searching for is not simply the absence of war but an inner experience of oneness that is reflected outwardly in loving justice. As we act on the measure of truth that is given us by God, we open ourselves to further revelation.

Let us strive for understanding, patience, acts of mercy, and love. May each of us be an instrument of peace, embracing all in our human family, and embodying God's love and wisdom as we seek a justice that leads to reconciliation, not revenge.