In ‘Quaker Faith and Practice’ (Qf&p), the ‘book of discipline’ of Quakers in Britain, there is no chapter dedicated to sin or evil. Quakers are not known for their sin-talk. Early Quakers would accuse the Calvinists of ‘preaching up sin’. In Qf&p, there are Edgar B Castle’s words that ‘to contemplate evil is a poor way of becoming good’ (26.69). However, Qf&p does have quite a bit to say about sin and evil, and I’ve put this summary together as part of my work on Quakers and racism.
If we are going to foster a Quaker culture that can name racism and discrimination, and move quickly to the defence of the victim, we have to rethink our understanding of sin. White Quakers like me have to acknowledge that, however good our intentions, we will ‘naturally’ perpetuate institutional racism. We will do this unconsciously, but we are still responsible for the damage we do. Our ability to act in a non-racist way has been perverted. Without our choosing, we are sinners.