Updated on 22 February 2021
The Does My bomb Look Big in This Hat was worn by a Friend for No Faith in War Day.
No Faith in War Day took place during 2019’s protest at the bi-annual London Arms Fair (called DSEi). Around 600 Quakers joined several other faith groups in a peace vigil calling for the arms fair to be banned.
For Friends, peace vigils are a way to publicly express the Quaker Peace Testimony to the world. Peace vigils, by themselves, do not end wars. Rather they offer a space in time that rejects violence. Peace vigils are a demonstration of courage and commitment to spread the message that the world wants more peace, not warfare.
Friends have been campaigning for peace ever since their origins during the English Civil War Period (1642 – 1651). Both the rejection of armed conflict and the promotion of active peace-making have strongly characterised the Society of Friends since these early days.
In 1693, the Quaker William Penn urged Friends to remember that:
“A good end cannot sanctify evil means; not must we ever do evil, that good may come of it.”William Penn
In 1805, during the Napoleonic Wars, London Yearly Meeting advised Quakers to “guard against placing your dependence on fleets and armies; be peaceable yourselves, in word and actions”.
In 1870, Quakers responded to the Franco-Prussian War by founding a medical and social relief service which ministered peace to both sides in the conflict.
When the First World War broke out in 1914, the Quaker message was one of sorrow but also of determination to “search for a positive, vital, constructive message…a message of supreme love”.
And in 1938, as war once again loomed, London Yearly Meeting reaffirmed the historic peace testimony, reminding Quakers that “peace is not a state of tranquillity, but a constant struggle”.
On 5 May, 1969, hundreds of American Friends staged a silent, day-long vigil outside the White House, providing President Nixon with further evidence of public impatience with the course of the war in Vietnam and the lack of pace in peace negotiations.
Images from Smudge and www.afsc.org/