Fact 1: The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain (BYM) is a religious society.

Fact 2: The word 'religion' and hence 'religious' means what the dictionaries say it means.
(The definition includes the word 'god'.)

Fact 3: The words 'god' and 'God' mean what the dictionaries say they mean.
(The definition includes the words 'supernatural' and the word 'Being'.)

Fact 4: BYM is an active, leading member of the Christian faith and the Bristish ecumenical movement.

Fact 5: British Quakerism is inclusive and non-credal; there is no requirement for individual members to accept any set of beliefs.

Fact 6: The word 'non-theistic' means lacking a belief in the existence of any 'God' (noting Fact 3). It is not the same as 'agnostic'.

Fact 7: Within British Quakerism there is an increasing proportion of non-theistic Friends, some of whom are assertive, demanding that our Society accepts their position.

Fact 8: It is not unusual, and usually harmless, for the aims of some members of an organisation to differ from the aims of the organisation. Thus BYM can remain a Christian religious organisation despite including many non-religious (as defined in 2 above) Friends.


That when we come to revise “Quaker Faith and Practice” in a few years from now the demands of assertive non-theistic Friends might be extremely divisive. For the sake of the Society, and indeed wider society, this should be avoided. One way to achieve this would be to inform all Friends of the facts and to persuade non-theistic Friends not to try to change them.

1. That all Friends and Attenders be made aware that Quaker Faith and Practice is up-to-date and relevant. (This could be in association with the publication of a new edition.)

2. That all Friends and Attenders be made aware of Facts 1 to 5 above, and of Quaker Faith and Practice 1.01, and Advice 1. (Perhaps by means of a letter to all Friends and Attenders.)

3. That Quaker Life should:
a. cease to encourage the growth of non-theism;
b. nurture our religious faith, as expressed in Quaker Faith and Practice;
c. take positive, effective action to implement Suggestions 1 and 2.

4. That it be accepted that our trustees have an obligation to ensure that our charitable organisation acts only within its agreed religious object.

Stephen Petter, 25/5/09

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