Compulsory war service address
Address to members of Parliament from the Society of Friends in September 1915 regarding compulsory war service.
© 2015 The Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain
The full text reads:
Central Offices of the Society of Friends, 3rd September 1915
COMPULSORY WAR SERVICE
(Address to members of both Houses of Parliament)
The Society of Friends, which for over 250 years has stood for freedom of conscience, and in particular has always maintained a protest against war, desires to record in the strongest manner its objection to the threatened adoption by this country of compulsory war service.
Into the military and political arguments we do not enter. Nor do we base our opposition on any abstract doctrine of the right of the individual to be free from State control. We believe it to be the duty of every citizen to serve his country in peaceful ways, that his country may perform her true service for humanity. What we deny is the right of any Government to compel its subjects to do things that their conscience disapproves.
Our conviction that war is morally wrong is based on the revelation by Jesus Christ of the character of God and the worth of manhood; and we feel that we are bound by loyalty to Him to refuse to take part in the slaughter of our fellow-men. We know that we are not alone in this, nor in willingness to face whatever consequences such refusal may involve. We, therefore, earnestly beg of you to reject any proposal for compulsory war service.
Signed on behalf of the Representative Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in Great Britian,