THE Quaker 'Testimony to Truthfulness' is central to the practice of its faith by members of the Religious Society of Friends.

Friends have always believed that they could have direct and immediate communication with God - which would enable them to discern right ethical choices and to live out the importance of truth in every aspect of life.

We can only be true to our innermost sense of spiritual harmony if we are faithful to the truth, and honest in our dealings, especially in today's complex social, political and economic systems - where these values can so easily be lost to sight.

Quakers regard Truth and Integrity as fundamental guiding principles, not just in their own lives, but also in public affairs.

Friends have always made a stand against the taking of oaths.

They maintain that their word should be dependable and sufficient.

Jesus said "Let your yes be yes and your no be no."

Quakers believe that swearing an oath does not make them more truthful.

Early friends were sent to prison for refusing to take the oath, but were later allowed to "affirm" instead.

Adherence to actual truth can give rise to profound dilemmas for Quakers.

For example, if they are working in areas of conflict and are in possession of information which could be used to endanger people's lives or cause the abuse of fundamental human rights, Quakers accept it is up to an individual's own conscience, discerned with God's help, to decide how to respond.

Barbara Mansell

Religious Society of Friends

Swarthmoor Hall