New England Yearly Meeting

A community of Quakers and Quaker meetings across New England.

Public Morals (liquor, tobacco, drugs, sex)

Jun 21, 1944

Lengthy report of Committee on Public Morals (not copied in total)
“The rapidly increasing consumption of alcoholic beverages; the enormous expenditures for liquor-caused crime, accidents and disease; the growing use of marihuana and other narcotic drugs; the almost universal slavery of Americans, old and young, male and female to the cigarette; the growing political power of liquor and tobacco financial interests; and the rapid lowering of moral standards of sex behavior are matched by the negative attitude of citizens, the appalling indifference of professed Christians who seem to be without religious conviction, and the weakness of those who lack courage to carry their convictions into effect. But—Conviction, Courage and Constancy will Conquer these evils in the name of Christ. . . .
[noting poster contest, setting up of QM committees. Monthly news bulletin by Five Years Meeting Board of Public Morals, widely distributed, and cooperation with Massachusetts Anti-Saloon League.]
“Support of pending legislation to restrict the manufacture and sale of alcohol is urged. Protests against increased advertising of liquor in public buildings, in railroad trains and buses, and in popular periodicals and newspapers; and against the increasing laxity with regard to drunken men and women on the street and in public conveyances are being made. A campaign to stem the flood of salacious and harmful literature now for sale on news stands is under way. We have urged Friends to attend public hearings, visit courts, to interest themselves in the processes of law and to run for public office in the interest of civic righteousness.
“Increased interest in the welfare of children and youth, a more wholesome home life, higher moral standards of sex behavior and a clearer position on moral questions in schools and Parent Teacher Associations will do much to prevent juvenile delinquency.
“In much of this work the church is being led and is NOT the leader. We deplore this situation. The challenge is before us; Christ is for us; and Friends will continue, against all human odds, to be coworkers with God in this work. We are “calling all Friends” to our aid.”
Minuted: “. . . Encouraging words of commendation for the committee’s work have been expressed. . . The Meeting approved of the preparation of a statement of its position in relation to public morals. This matter was left in the hands of James A. Coney [General Superintendent of the YM] and Arthur Santmier [Chairman of the committee].”
Minute 58, p. 44 – statement prepared by Coney and Santmier read and approved:
“Assembled at Ocean Park, Maine, in the two hundred and eighty-fourth session of the Yearly Meeting of Friends for New England, we view with deep concern the inroads being made on society— especially youth—by the organized liquor, tobacco and associated interests.
“Beverage alcohol, and tobacco in its many popular forms, habit-forming drugs and gambling in a variety of garbs, are sapping the physical, intellectual and moral vitality of our youth and are prime factors in the rapid growth of juvenile crime and vandalism which is now sweeping the country.
“We go on record as opposing these and kindred saboteurs of human life and spiritual strength and happiness.
“We appeal to Friends and to other persons of good will! ‘The time demands strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and willing hands’; therefore, let us lift up standards of sobriety, self-control and sacrificial service; let us live the ‘more abundant life’ and cultivate ‘that of God’ which we find in every man.”

Minute 1944 - 50

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

901 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA 01602

(508) 754-6760 - [email protected]