Quaker Religious Thought


tom kunesh


To start talking about “decolonizing the quaker peace testimony,” we must first presume a previously colonized or colonial something, and then to presume quakerism acknowledges it participates in colonization and that that participation is problematic. But quakerism in general—apart from one article, one ad hoc working group, and several yearly meetings’ “repudiation” of roman catholic doctrines of discovery—has not directly addressed its robust participation in the anglo-american colonial past in the United States and elsewhere (genocide, land theft, racial cleansing, broken treaties, concentration of indigenous people into reservations, and re-education through “indian” boarding schools, a.k.a. assimilation camps), the present reality of continuing to settle stolen lands in the USA, or the nearly four centuries of the denomination’s continuous and profitable collaboration with eurokristian empire.

I have been looking for a sign that quakers in the USA recognized and opposed the oppression that comes with colonialism.6 All indications prior to 2010 are to the contrary: as settlers originating from Europe, quakers enjoyed the military peace and occupation of Turtle Island7 by England and other european nations. “Friends” profited from colonial expropriation of indigenous people’s land and resources. Have quakers now recognized colonialism is wrong? If so, and if friends are considering decolonizing, it is useful to first define a few terms.



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