Letters - 12 May 2023

From Oath of allegiance to Peace and prayer

Oath of allegiance

I was pleased when Charles spoke of seeing himself as defender of faiths, rather than as defender of the (Anglican) faith, as it seemed to show a broader vision than nationalism. So I was rather taken aback when I heard that we are being asked to take an oath of allegiance to Charles. This concerns me as a Quaker for a number of reasons.

1) Our loyalty is to something greater than our nation.
Jesus is said (Luke 4:8) to have given a rough quote of Deuteronomy 6:13, saying ‘It is written “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve”’. To interpret this for our times, I think the essence is, you are to care for all humanity or all nature, and not have a narrower loyalty to individuals, groups or nations. Swearing loyalty to a British king would seem to go against this.

2) Do not swear oaths.
The early Quakers got into a lot of trouble because they would not swear. They based this on what Jesus said – ‘Do not swear at all… Let what you say be simply “yes” or “no”’ (Matthew 5: 34-37). This is picked up in Advice & queries 37: ‘Taking oaths implies a double standard of truth: in choosing to affirm instead, be aware of the claim to integrity you are making’.

3) Equality.
Jesus said you should not be called master, as you have only one master, who is Christ. (Matthew 23:10). The early Quakers would not show subservience to their social superiors by taking off their hats (‘hat honour’). The oath of allegiance is asking us to do rather more than take off our hats to Charles.

I think and hope that few Quakers will be taking the oath of allegiance.

Elizabeth Coleman

Did anyone ask the Quakers whether they would like to swear an oath of allegiance to Charles?

Andrew Hewitt

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