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There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male
nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
galatians 3:28, the new jerusalem bible
testimony on equality is rooted in the holy expectation that
there is that of God in everyone, including adversaries and people
from widely different stations, life experiences, and religious
persuasions. All must therefore be treated with integrity and
respect. The conviction that each person is equally a child of God
opened the way for women to be leaders in the Religious Society of
Friends: both women and men ministered in Friends Meetings
from earliest days.
testimony of equality does not imply that all individuals in a
particular role are the same; it recognizes that the same measure
God’s grace is available to everyone. John Woolman exemplified
belief in his travel among Native Americans:
was the first motion, and thence a concern arose to spend some time with the Indians, that I might feel and understand their life and the spirit they live in, if haply I might receive some instruction from them, or they be in any degree helped forward by my following the leadings of Truth amongst them.
john woolman, journal, 1763
ed. j. g. whittier, 1871, p.192
Friends became pacifists, they were dismissed from the
army for refusing to treat officers as superior. George Fox and other
early Friends demonstrated their conviction that all persons were
equal worth by refusing to take off their hats to those who claimed
higher rank, and by addressing everyone with the singular “thou” (or “thee” in America) rather than the honorific plural “you.” Friends
recognize that unjust inequities persist throughout society, and
that difficult work remains to rid ourselves and the
Religious Society of Friends from prejudice and inequitable
treatment based upon gender, class, race, age, sexual orientation,
physical attributes, or other categorizations. Both in the public
realm — where Friends may “speak truth to power” — and
intimate familial contexts, Friends’ principles require witness
against injustice and inequality wherever it exists.