Quakers do not share a fixed set of beliefs. Our unity is based on shared understanding and a shared practice of worship, not on our beliefs all being the same. There is no need to be in unity with Quakers on every issue in order to be part of our meetings.
There is a great diversity within the Quakers on conceptions of God, and we use different kinds of language to describe religious experience. Some Quakers have a conception of God which is similar to that of orthodox Christians, and would use similar language. Others are happy to use God-centred language, but would conceive of God in very different terms to the traditional Christian trinity. Some describe themselves as agnostics, or humanists, or non-theists and describe their experiences in ways that avoid the use of the word God entirely. Quaker faith is built on experience and Quakers would generally hold that it is the spiritual experience which is central to Quaker worship, and not the use of a particular form of words (whether that be “God” or anything else).
Quaker faith springs from a deeply held belief in living our lives according to our spiritual experience. Some of our spiritual insights, which we call our testimonies, spring from deep experience and have been a part of Quaker faith for many years. These Quaker testimonies arise out of an inner conviction and challenge our normal ways of living. These testimonies are:
Truth and integrity
Quakers try to live according to the deepest truth we know, which we believe comes from God. This means speaking the truth to all, including people in positions of power. Integrity is the guiding principle we set for ourselves and expect in public life.
Justice, equality and community
Quakers recognise the equal worth and unique nature of every person. This means working to change the systems that cause injustice and hinder true community. It also means working with people who are suffering from injustice, such as prisoners and asylum seekers.
Quakers are concerned about the excesses and unfairness of our consumer society, and the unsustainable use of natural resources. We try to live simply and to give space for the things that really matter: the people around us, the natural world, our experience of God.
Perhaps Quakers are best known for our peace testimony. This arises from our conviction that love is at the heart of existence and all human beings are equal in the eyes of God, and that we must live in a way that reflects this. The peace testimony has led Quakers to refuse military service, and to become involved in a wide range of peace activities, from practical work in areas affected by violent conflict to the development of alternatives to violence at all levels from personal to international.