Quaker Forum is a dissident journal set up in protest at the pandemic censorship operated at all levels in the Society of Friends, in whose H.Q. our conference is held. It is on sale in Friends House bookshop. Last year, all top officials declined to come to speak to our conference. The Society of Friends had for decades censored out the subject of that conference; The Age of Violent Young Men, Causes and Remedies.

This year, all four top officials in the Society of Friends have been invited to speak to our Conference on Censorship. They have also been asked to cite places in contemporary Quaker literature where the crisis in the family and the plight for young men is discussed.

Quaker Forum, 23 Ben Corrum Brae, Dunoon PA23 9HU

Quaker Forum

A Journal of exploration and debate for all friends in truth

Part 3 2001 p156


The Quaker Way of Censorship

Quakers make an important contribution to the analysis of contemporary censorship. Whereas other institutions or groups have one or more overt objectives, like making money or artistic achievement, the Quakers have virtually no overt objectives. Bereft of creed, they are perhaps the most pristine group of all. Thus, the fact that they have evolved effective modes of censorship is significant for a student of the Politics of Knowledge.

Many years ago I tried to deliver one page of information to the Children's Committee in Friends House. I was prevented by their chairman Anne Hosking, who insisted that I was promoting a personal problem, which I was not. She told me to take the information through the procedure for airing a Concern, which it was not. I tried to get Helen Drewery, Chairman of Friends House HIV Committee, to circulate one page of information on AIDS to her committee. She refused to do so. Again, she wanted me to send the information off on what I began to call The Quaker Steeplechase, which is the prescribed way of promoting a Concern.

Recently I advised the Chief Executive in Friends' House that a Rowntree Report was in fact polemic masquerading as scholarship, and it had also been reported in the main Quaker journal The Friend. I suggested a meeting where those responsible for the report and also members of the Lords and Commons Family and Child Protection Group, should speak. (The Parliamentary Committee has come to opposite conclusions based on valid research.) After much skirmishing, Beth Smith, the chairman of the allegedly relevant committee, told me to treat the information as a Concern and take it through the Quaker Steeplechase. She referred me to the 1995 Quaker "Bible", Quaker Faith and Practice, sections 13.12 and 13.13. In all cases, I was trying to deliver information, not to develop a Concern, as is obvious when one reads Section 13, where a Concern is discussed.

These clues allow us to understand why information relevant to a subject of Quaker interest has to be rejected, or ignored, leaving Friends woefully ignorant on subjects in which they involve themselves. A clue is gained from the fact that two of the chairpersons have said something to the effect that it is no good doing good "if the spirit is not right". And who is to determine that?

Those worthies, who have sat on committees and lobbied enough to rise to high places, amateur or salaried, in the Quaker hierarchy, know that to do so is noble. Thus, it is easy to see why Quaker-kosher information can only come from one of their own. An incestuous, ignorant result is inevitable.

Ivor Catt, St. Albans [Quaker] Meeting.