In writing a recent blog post, “Don’t need God?”, I didn’t intend any criticism of Britain Yearly Meeting. I knew the Guardian article I quoted was written by an opinion editor, Simon Jenkins. As I wrote, “I was shocked when I first read the title, and after reading it, still not sure how seriously some these remarks are meant to be taken. I assume he is speaking more literally about the ideas and practices that many religions have developed in their forms of worship that often get in the way of people’s relationship with God.”
But it is clear from numerous comments that many Friends felt I was helping spread a false narrative about what was actually going to happen at your yearly meeting sessions, and I apologize for that. Martin Kelly writes about what did happen in his blog post, British Quakers take long hard look at faith.
The Guardian article cites statistics found on the Non-theist Friends Network website: “British Quaker Surveys by Ben Pink Dandelion and his team. They show that the 3.4% of British Friends designated as ‘atheists’ in 1990 had more than doubled to 7% in 2003, then more than doubled again to 14.5% in 2013. Moreover, many more who would not choose the word ‘atheist’ to describe themselves could hardly be described as conventional theists. 43% of Friends and attenders in the 2013 survey felt ‘unable to profess belief in God’, and a wopping 80% chose to describe the Quaker business method as ‘seeking the sense of the meeting’ rather than ‘seeking the will of God’.”
The British Quaker Survey mentioned above can be found here. http://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2323&context=qrt
The reason I wrote the blog post was to explore different ideas about God. It was really my discussion of these things in my own yearly meeting, Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). [please don’t blame Iowa Friends for my mistakes.]
Our Yearly Meeting has an UNOFFICIAL Facebook group where we share what we believe and feel about numerous topics. This particular blog post generated a lot of comments among Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) Friends, too. That Facebook group is open to the public, so feel free to view the discussion yourself if you are interested (again this is an UNOFFICAL Facebook page):
I do appreciate Friends in Britain and the United States who posted comments about this.