Quaker Do’s and Don’ts

A lot of the time, it seems as if every description of Friends starts out with the phrase, “Quakers don’t…”

Quakers are different from many other churches, and we don’t do many things that other Christians do. At the same time, every negative Quaker “don’t” really grows out of a soul-searching, positive “do.” For example:

Most Quakers DO:Most Quakers DON’T:
Believe that every person has a spark of God’s own spirit and loveBelieve that some people are “created” good and that other people are “naturally” bad
Encourage every person to be a minister; any member can lead worship, provide pastoral care or serve as an officer or elderOrdain ministers the way other churches do; at most, we provide a letter or certificate saying that God seems to have given a person special gifts
Feel that every moment and every occasion can be a time of special closeness with GodServe communion or practice other special sacraments such as baptism, confession, etc.
Feel that the teachings of Jesus are meant to be taken with the utmost seriousness as a guide for daily livingRequire people to sign or agree to a creed or statement of belief as a condition for membership
Work actively for peace in every area of life, from the family to international relationsServe in the military (some Quakers even object to paying that part of their taxes which goes to support the military)
Believe in telling the truth at all times, no matter what the costTake oaths in court, or take any kind of loyalty oath
Believe in obeying the laws of the state whenever possible, and whenever those laws do not go against the plain teaching of the Bible and the leadings of the SpiritBelieve the laws of the state are superior to the laws of God; Quakers have often gone to prison, or suffered for their beliefs and actions
Believe that God knows what is best for the church, and that God can lead ordinary people and provide concrete guidanceDecide church business by voting; there is no “majority” or “minority” in a Quaker meeting. If the meeting is not united on a decision, Friends wait and pray until they are united
Try to live more simply and use fewer luxuries than most other people, out of respect for the needs of others and the environment, and because too many possessions take our hearts away from GodTry to “keep up with the Joneses” or live at the same standard as most Americans

Quakers do not have any central authority which can “lay down the law” to all Friends on matters of belief and practice. Local congregations from across a state or region get together for annual gatherings, called Yearly Meetings. Each yearly meeting has its own book of Faith and Practice which provides guidance on a wide variety of subjects.