There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

– Galatians 3.28 (KJV)

The history of Friends as a persecuted movement ought to make us sensitive to the feelings of those who suffer from prejudice. Anti-Semitism, racism, the denial of rights to those who espouse unpopular causes and to groups who have alternative manners of living, and any other insult to human dignity demand that we speak out and work for a society that is just.

Much misunderstanding, fear, and hatred throughout the world stem from a common tendency to stereotype people and speak of groups as solid blocs and to lose sight of the varied and precious individuals who compose them. Friends are committed to accept individuals as God’s creatures and to look for the working of the divine Spirit in their lives.

The Holy Spirit, which we all share, makes us equal. We differ in our class backgrounds, intelligence, manners, experiences, talents, skin color, language, gender, sexuality, and customs; these differences can serve to remind us of the infinite number of ways the Spirit presents itself. But our differences can also create barriers because of our inability to interpret accurately the actions, motives, and goals of others. This failure to understand lies at the heart of racial and ethnic prejudice, for when we fear the unfamiliar or unknown, we tend to reject and thrust it from us.

Our Society has many opportunities to welcome different kinds of people; indeed, we are many different kinds of people. We can reach out to make sure that our meetings cultivate the presence and participation of people of different backgrounds and interests. Our practice today may not be what we hope for; yet we seek to accept, welcome, enjoy, and nurture each other’s differences.

To take on this vision may require changes in us. We would do well to search our own hearts in order to recognize and face the prejudice, criticism, and defamation that may come from each of us. When we put aside our fears, we can accept human differences. We aim at an international community that embraces us all and whose public and private enterprises make opportunities available equally for schooling, justice, medical care, employment, income, and housing.

Those that speak against the power of the Lord, and the Spirit of the Lord speaking in a woman, simply by reason of her sex or because she is a woman, not regarding the Seed, the Spirit, and power that speaks in her: such speak against Christ and his Church.

– Margaret Fell,
Womens Speaking Justified, 1666

Friends invite everyone to participate in corporate fellowship and to share in the vocal ministry in full equality. We encourage a relationship of mutuality between men and women. We continue Friends’ witness to work for the rights of all women and men to dignity, safety, and political and economic equality.

God gives us tenderness, gentleness, strength, and courage without regard to sex. We try to sustain and bless spiritual leadings and calls to minister, regardless of gender, in all aspects of our lives. We should not allow traditional roles at work and home to interfere with such leadings.

Thus we see that Jesus owned the Love and Grace that appeared in Women and did not despise it; and by what is recorded in the Scriptures, he received as much love, kindness, compassion and tender dealing toward him from Women, as he did from many others .... Mark this, you that despise and oppose the message of the Lord God that he sends by Women: what had become of the redemption of the whole body of mankind, if they had not believed the message that the Lord Jesus sent by these Women, of and concerning his resurrection.

– Margaret Fell,
Womens Speaking Justified, 1666