Some Minutes relating to our Human Rights concern and witness
- January 2003: The Atlanta Friends Meeting supports
imposing a moratorium on executions. We recognize that God can redeem
any person thus it is wrong to execute anyone. We encourage all of our
legislators to pass this legislation and Governor Perdue to sign and
We also ask that if this minute is approved that it be sent to the Georgia Moratorium Campaign, Governor Perdue and our state legislators.
- October 2000: The Atlanta Friends Meeting affirms its opposition to the death penalty. As a step toward the abolition of the death penalty, Atlanta Friends call on Governor Barnes, our state representatives, President Clinton and our representatives in Congress to enact and adopt legislation imposing a moratorium on executions.
- April 1989: There are over two million people in our
country who cannot find affordable housing. Over 10,000 Atlantans are
homeless and the number is growing every day. There is a critical need
for our country to redirect national resources towards helping the less
This year the U.S. government will spend 400 billion dollars on military related programs. Some of these activities include foreign intervention, building first-strike weapons and the production of environmentally hazardous materials.
The Atlanta Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends urges a massive transfer of funds away from these activities towards meeting the needs of our nationÍs poor, one of the most urgent needs being affordable housing.
On Tax Day, April 17, 1989, area homeless advocates and peace and justice groups will be holding a "Build Homes Not Bombs" Rally at the City of Decatur main post office. The Atlanta Friends Meeting endorses this action as one step toward educating the public concerning the federal budget priorities issue as it relates to federal income taxes and responsible government policies.
- June 1985: The Atlanta Friends Meeting joins with Bishop Desmond Tutu and Rev. Allen Boesak in calling for a day of prayer for the downfall of the South African government on this Firstday, the 16th day of the 6th month, 1985, known as Soweto Day. We join with them by expressing our desire for non-violent social change to end apartheid and-or the voluntary relinquishment of power by the present regime.
- February 1985: The Atlanta Friends Meeting of the
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) has agreed to join with 25 other
Friends Meetings in offering Public Sanctuary to refugees from Central
America. This means we will care for them in any way we can. In the
past we have quietly assisted in sheltering individuals in need. We
have decided to make our position public. We take this step with
serious and prayerful deliberation, understanding that in doing so we
may be charged with breaking the laws of the United States government
as it seeks to deport Central American refugees.
As Quakers we take our position because of the many first hand accounts of suffering we have heard about the war and repression now going on in Central America. Not to respond to individual needs would be contrary to our whole religious philosophy and practice and our efforts to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.
From our own beginnings when we were imprisoned for meeting for worship in 17th century England, to helping black people escape to freedom on the Underground Railroad, to attempting to secure safety for Jews fleeing Nazism, we have been led to take an unpopular position even in the face of imprisonment or other government sanction.
No government should tell us that we may not help our brothers and sisters. In this case, the U.S. government is telling us whose life to save and whose life to sacrifice. We understand that deporting refugees back to Central America often means their torture and death. And to us this is a great evil.
Our help will serve as a witness as we carry on our Testimony to the deepest part of our Faith.
We invite and are hoping for direct or indirect support from other individuals and congregations in our community in this effort.
- August 1965: We of the Religious Society of Friends seek
to help Georgia free herself of the burden of the statute of capital
We oppose capital punishment because it denies our basic belief that there is that of God in every man. We are deeply concerned that the penal system of our state be based on the possibility of rehabilitation of the offender and the attempt to heal the sick mind.
Furthermore, we feel that capital punishment is used more as revenge against those who cannot afford adequate legal counsel than across the board against all who commit certain crimes. It therefore cannot be said to instill respect for the laws of society since respect is held only for that which is fair.
We do not live in a police state and so the law is enforceable only to the extent to which it is held in general respect. Capital punishment appears to be of no value then as a deterrent to crime, especially since a murderer or a rapist (1) never believes that he will be caught, or (2) is in such a state of mind at the time of the crime that he thinks not of consequences, or (3) he commits the crime because of a wish to be apprehended (in which cases capital punishment actually breeds crime.)
So why continue to shame ourselves with this holdover from an age when little was known about criminology? Why continue to outrage our sense of justice and further our acceptance of brutality in our society?
Let us seek to better our knowledge of psychiatry and improve our methods of quarantining offenders. Who of us can say what useful lives many of the worst criminals might find in proper confinement? One of the worst at San Quentin was also the most effective teacher of illiterates the prison had ever had.
We do hereby petition our legislature to make the commandment "Thou Shalt not Kill" a law to be respected by everyone, including the State of Georgia.
(Submitted to Senate Investigating Committee charged with bringing recommendations on the subject of capital punishment to the next session of the legislature)
In our Meetings for Worship with Attention to Business, we often make public statements, called Minutes. Because we do all business by consensus, these Minutes represent the unanimous will of our entire community.