Part 2: We Seek a Society with Equity and Justice for All
"What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"1 Friends' testimony calls for right relationships among people and between individuals and God. Governments are instituted, in part, to promote and protect basic human rights. These are rights, not mere privileges subject to easy denial. Friends acknowledge the indispensable role of government in safeguarding the integrity of our society and the essential dignity of all human beings. Citizens have the responsibility to participate vigorously in making government more responsive, open, and accountable.
Section 1. Governmental Institutions
Active and informed citizen participation in the political and electoral process is essential to the proper functioning of government.
We urge support for government and media policies that shift the emphasis in political campaigns from image-making to an in-depth understanding of a wide range of perspectives on the issues and the candidates' qualifications. We support campaign and election reform to achieve more open access to public office, to reduce the influence of money, to ensure the integrity of the balloting process, and to provide full participation for those now disfranchised.
District of Columbia
We support full voting representation in Congress for the District of Columbia.
Government Accountability and Transparency
We hold our government institutions and officials to rigorous ethical standards of fairness, honesty, openness, and avoidance of even the appearance of conflicts of interest. We expect our government to abide by the U.S. Constitution, national and international law, and international treaties. The system of checks and balances among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches is central to our form of government and must be maintained.
Secrecy in governmental decision-making, funding, and operations erodes representative government. We believe that the gathering and compiling of information related to public policy and government practices must be an open process, allowing the public opportunities to evaluate and use data. Timely and free access to accurate information enables the constitutional process of checks and balances to function well, and allows informed participation by individuals in government activities.
A strong, vibrant, and independent media is a pillar of democracy. Government policy should promote diversity of media ownership.
We call for a transformation of our current system of criminal justice. We acknowledge that a well trained police force and incarceration of violent and destructive individuals are necessary to protect society. We urge our government to work toward a criminal justice system that is restorative, seeking to return rehabilitated offenders to society with the restoration of their full rights and obligations. Crime prevention should include programs that address the complex and pervasive causes of crime, which often are rooted in social and economic injustice.
The criminal justice system today is used principally as an instrument of retribution, a policy contrary to our Quaker beliefs. We call for laws that provide equitable and prompt adjudication; education, training, or treatment for those convicted; and restitution to the victims of crime. We insist upon a system that treats juveniles as children, not adults; is not biased by race or economic status; and provides full access to competent counsel. We oppose the privatization of prisons and the exploitation of prison labor. We support measures that ensure constitutional protections for offenders.
We seek the abolition of the death penalty because it denies the sacredness of human life.
Violent acts that stem from using, selling, or transferring drugs, or obtaining money to use them, should be prosecuted through the criminal justice system. However, substance abuse itself is fundamentally a health issue requiring prevention, education, treatment, and rehabilitation.
Section 2: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
Believing in the presence of the Light in each person, Friends are compelled to uphold the sanctity of the individual. Hence, we believe in the paramount need to protect and promote human rights, civil liberties, and civil rights. Friends seek a society free from discrimination, including on the basis of race, creed, gender, ethnic or national heritage, age, sexual orientation, disability, medical condition, genetic background, and gender identification.
We support the separation of church and state. We support guarantees for the free exercise of religion and oppose any action or attempt to favor particular religious beliefs or groups.
Freedom from arbitrary or undue governmental intrusion and the equal treatment of all people by the state are inherent to each individual's realization of her or his potential. We advocate the restoration and protection of civil liberties that are a foundation of our nation and society, including commitment to the rule of law in national and international affairs; representative government; First Amendment freedoms (speech, assembly, petition, press, religion); due process and equal protection guarantees; rights of privacy and of conscience. We expect our government to uphold the rights and liberty of each person, as identified in the Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We expect law enforcers to adhere to the highest standards of civil liberties and due process.
Communities Free of Violence
Friends seek peaceful and nonviolent solutions to personal and societal problems at all levels. The seeds of war are sown in communities that tolerate verbal and physical violence in its many forms or that tolerate the disrespect of ethnic, gender, racial, religious, and other differences. We advocate policies that encourage community mediation, conflict resolution, and other programs to resolve conflict peacefully and to promote mutual respect. We also advocate stricter gun control and the reduction of gun ownership, possession, and use.
Section 3. A Society Free of Racism
We continue to pursue a vision of society which recognizes that all people are created equal and respected as children of God. The people of the United States continue to live with the legacy of slavery and the perpetuation of discrimination and institutional racism, and so must continue to seek reconciliation and remediation. While each person must examine unintended, unrecognized personal racism, the federal government has a special responsibility to establish policies that acknowledge our history and seek to create genuine equality of opportunity. This would include measures to assure voting rights and political voice; transform our criminal justice system; protect civil rights; promote educational, economic and employment opportunities; and create communities free of violence.
Section 4. Relationships with Native Americans
Friends have long sought to honor William Penn's commitment to live "a kind, just and peaceable life"2 with Native Peoples.3 In this spirit, while acknowledging and addressing our unjust treatment of this land's original inhabitants, we encourage respectful relations with Native peoples. Federal policies must recognize that Native peoples retain certain aboriginal rights, including access to land, water, hunting, and fishing, and the free exercise of their religions and languages. Treaties and trust agreements reflect solemn promises and must be honored. The tribal governments established by Native Americans are entitled to set policies that govern life on reservations and that affect tribal members who live off reservations. The federal government should relate directly to tribal governments, respecting their sovereignty.
We believe that the world should move toward becoming a global community that safeguards the human rights and guarantees the economic opportunity of all people in their country of choice. Free and open borders need not result in large scale migration in a world with a more equitable distribution of global wealth and economic opportunity than exists at present; with more widespread respect for and protection of human rights; and with greater tolerance and valuing of differences. U.S. involvement and investment in advancing these concerns, alongside international efforts, is essential to dealing with international migration.
The United States was built from many and varied cultures and histories, and the contributions of many peoples continue to enrich this society. We support openness to refugees, those seeking asylum, and family members of citizens. Selection criteria for other immigrants set forth in present laws should be made equitable, eliminating bias based on race, national origin, and economic status.
The federal government should support programs to mitigate the social, economic, and environmental impact on regions where immigrants concentrate.
All those seeking to enter the United States or residing here should, without regard to immigration status, be treated with justice and equity. They should be accorded equal protection under the law and full human rights, as well as access to governmental social services. Fair labor laws and health and safety standards in the workplace should be firmly enforced, regardless of the immigration status of the workers.
3. The words Native Peoples and Native Americans are used in reference to indigenous peoples within the United States, who often use names for themselves that translate as "the people." These people include American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.Next Section: We Seek a Community Where Every Person's Potential May Be Fulfilled Download the FCNL Policy Statement.