chapter  11
10 Pages

Quakers and Coercion in a World of Good and Evil

ByPhil Smith

This chapter consists of comments on violence, coercion, and Christian morality as interpreted by the Quaker movement. Quaker historian Peter Brock calls the typical Quaker position integrational pacifism, because Friends often try to integrate participation in social reform movements with nonparticipation in war. For such Quakers, the vision of a Peaceable Kingdom fuses with the vision of a liberal society of autonomous individuals. Some Quakers, and many people on the political left, have fallen into a peculiar distortion of language. Violence consists not just of physical acts of beating or shooting, they say, but also of unjust social structures that deprive people of their lives, property or other goods just as effectively as robbery or murder. At least some contemporary Quakers seem to be committed to nonviolence as a fundamental principle, the key to the Peaceable Kingdom.