Prepared address to a civic multi-faith meeting to demonstrate solidarity and compassion over the recent bombings in London. Held on College Green (outside the Cathedral and the Council House) on Thursady 28th July starting at 08.51. Attnded by over 100 people, mainly religious leaders, also the Lord Mayor. Organised by the Race Equality team from the Council and the Interfaith Forum. Chaired by David Maggs, of the IFF).
I, Stephen Petter, on behalf of Bristol & Frenchay Monthly Meeting, was called to speak last. I was accompanied and supported by our M.M. Clerk to Elders.
I read (quite slowly, with pauses between paragraphs):
We are all terribly sad, and outraged, by bombings.
We hold in the Light those who are killed, maimed, and bereaved; and we pray that the perpetrators of violence and those who lead them may come to realise the iniquity of their deeds.
Quakers accept that there is that of God in everyone.
William Penn, whose family had many connections with Bristol, said: The humble, meek, merciful, just, pious, and devout souls are everywhere of one religion; and when death has taken off the mask they will know one another...
Jesus said: you will worship me in Spirit and in Truth.
Quakers have a reputation for speaking truth to power.
We oppose all violence and all preparations for violence.
Even violence and war which is said to be in our countryís interest, we oppose.
Let us all ask ourselves. What doctrines, what moral codes, lie at the heart of all our Faiths?
Do we not preach that all should seek to grow closer to the Divine Source, the Creative Power, the Lord and Parent of Mankind, God? To heed the ethical mores that God indicates?
When our most pious, devoted, enlightened seers and prophets come close to God in prayer, meditation, and mystical experience, what do they report?
Whatever their religious tradition they tell us that closeness to the Divine Source leads them to call for love, forgiveness, justice, mercy, compassion, co-operation, kindness, and respect for all Creation.
True, religious leaders cannot lead unless they empathise with their followers. They have to accept that many of us are selfish, greedy, racist and, even if not violent, tolerant of violence.
But insofar that religious leaders are also moral leaders, it is incumbant on them to heed the promptings of love and truth that come from God, and to make clear to their flock that we can no longer delay acceptance of Godís moral and ethical code.
As the world grows smaller, technology becomes more powerful, competition for resources becomes more pressing, our politicical and religious leaders must modify their traditional values, incorporating those that emanate from our Creator God.
That which is morally wrong cannot be politically right.
We must ask whether the seeds of war have nourishment in our possessions.
We must be patterns, be examples, meeting that of God in everyone.
Another early Quaker said: Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand.
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