New England Yearly Meeting

A community of Quakers and Quaker meetings across New England.

Minute 2001: Quakers' Responsibility to Protect Ecology & Public Health

Minute brought by the New England Friends in Unity with Nature Committee, August, 2001

We are part of a society that has desecrated God's garden by allowing the contamination of our bodies and the biosphere by manufactured toxic substances.  While this affects all of us, some people are especially vulnerable.  Children, people of color, those with low incomes, and those living in poor countries bear a greater burden of compromised health and environmental quality.  Tolerating these conditions goes against many of our traditional Quaker beliefs in stewardship of the earth, equality, and peace.

Past and continued contamination of the biosphere by humans is a violent assault on ecological integrity, and the suffering that ensues is unjust.  Our governmental policies have increased inequities in access to and enjoyment of an unpolluted, healthy environment for all people---now and in the future---and for other species.  Although considerable efforts to regulate toxic chemicals have been made, environmental contamination continues to occur for many reasons. Among these are insufficient influence by the people who are exposed to these chemicals, ignorance or uncertainty about long-term and cumulative effects of exposure, the exclusion of spiritual values from decisions that affect the environment and public health, and the failure to express love for future generations and the biosphere.

Consistent with our testimonies and search for Truth, New England Yearly Meeting supports the development and implementation of more inclusive public policy-making processes for decisions affecting the environment and public health.  We support the search for innovative, non-polluting ways to meet the basic needs of all people in our society without sacrificing human lives, other species, or future ecological integrity.

New England Yearly Meeting encourages all Friends to seek Light on these concerns in the coming year; to make daily choices affirming the sacredness of life; and to follow their leadings as individuals, within their Monthly Meetings, and as participants in local organizations.  NEYM furthermore designates Molly Anderson, Clerk of New England Friends in Unity with Nature, as the NEYM representative to the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow.  The Alliance is a coalition of faith-based groups, public health and environmental professionals, and public-interest organizations.  It is being formed to open governmental decision-making more effectively to those affected by the decisions;  to make the environmental and public health consequences of alternative choices more transparent to the public;  and to seek out safer, healthier options for proposed technologies or actions that plausibly will cause harm to ecological integrity or health.  Participation by the NEYM representative will allow a Quaker voice in the development of the coalition, but is not an endorsement by NEYM of all activities of the Alliance.  The NEYM representative is charged with bringing back information about the Alliance's work to Yearly Meeting 2002.

Article originally appeared on NEYM Peace-Justice-Earth Witness (

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New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

901 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA 01602

(508) 754-6760 - [email protected]