By tradition, the doors to meeting for worship are open to all seekers, wherever they are in their spiritual journey. People in Quaker communities exist across the entirety of the belief spectrum, including nontheists and atheists.

There are many nontheists among the Religious Society of Friends, but this does not necessarily imply atheism. Nontheism often means that one does not give human attributes to that Mystery which Friends often call “God,” and that this mystery is too great to be defined in words or boxed & labeled by the usual definitions used for God.

Something More

Being a person who values goodness, peace, and integrity is very important to being a Friend. However, there is something more that bonds Friends. Quakers have and continue to have a belief that there is a Something which is greater than us, available to all and is a living connection between us. It has been known by many names in all religions:

  • God
  • The Living Christ
  • The Divine
  • Love
  • Truth
  • Mystery
  • The Seed
  • The Spirit
  • The Living Water
  • The Breath of Life
  • The Inward Light
  • The Holy.

The experience of Friends is that:

  • Any of us can be in connection with this Something
  • We can listen for its guidance within our hearts and minds
  • This Something is always present whether we are able to perceive it or not, loving us and calling us toward Love.

Faith and Practice

Our faith as Quakers is grounded in this sense of Divine connection to God.

In worship, Friends gather as one body on this corporate sense of connection to one another and to the Spirit, listening inwardly and outwardly for its guidance. We believe that messages which arise out of worship come from a place of being guided or nudged by the Spirit to speak the words It has laid on our hearts for those gathered.

Meeting for business, too, comes out of this sense of connection and listening as one body to a loving, guiding Spirit for the places it might lead us to as a spiritual community.

Testimonies, such as those of peace, justice, and equality, also arise out of this living experience of connection to God, the desire to embody Love, and to help it to be more manifest in our world.

Queries for Non-Believers

As someone who self-defines as a non-believer/non-theist/atheist/agnostic, it will be helpful to think about how you might engage with a faith with these core beliefs and experiences in a way that doesn’t require members of the congregation to give up beliefs, practices and experiences in order to make you comfortable:

  • In what ways would you find meeting for worship not only personally beneficial to you, but also participate in worship not simply as a time of personal meditation but as a part of a larger corporate experience?
  • Are you able to be open to those who have different spiritual experiences and understandings from your own, including Christians and those who identify with a personal experience of God?
  • Are you willing to be part of a faith, the Religious Society of Friends, which is grounded in the teachings of Jesus?

Original text by Eric Evans. Revisions by Rashid Darden.

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