FCWPP POLICY STATEMENT
- Electoral Processes
- Government Accountability
- Information Policy and Access
- Criminal Justice
- Death Penalty
- State Budget
- Health Care
- Families with Children
- Transportation Policy
- Communities Free of Violence
“We seek a society with equity and justice for all,
We seek a community where every person’s potential may be fulfilled,
We seek an earth restored . . . .”
The Friends Committee on Washington State Public Policy is composed of members of the Religious Society of Friends who bring spiritual values to bear on public policy decisions. Our public policies grow out of our basic belief that there is that of God in every human being and that God’s love endows all creation with worth and dignity. Through individual and corporate worship, we try to be open to the will of God and to express God’s spirit in all relationships and levels of interaction, whether personal, community, state, or global.
We work together to secure justice and freedom for all people, that we may live at peace with one another. As seekers after truth, Friends strive to make the social, economic, political, and environmental aspects of our lives consistent with our spiritual values and Quaker heritage. We endeavor to live in right relationship with the earth.
The Friends Committee on Washington State Public Policy seeks to engage in the positive, continuing process of interpreting to people in government our convictions on the moral and spiritual values that should undergird government and law. We will work to encourage spirit-led decision making on legislative matters. We will listen to others, convey our beliefs about policy issues, urge members of the legislature and others in government to support specific policies and actions, and try to shape and support practical legislation consistent with our convictions. We will work to encourage and facilitate Friends’ participation in the political process, whether as voters, activists or elected officials.
This statement declares, on behalf of a representative group of Friends, our objectives for public policy. We will attempt to focus on root causes and their long-term consequences, knowing that many issues are inextricably linked with one another. The goals we outline here require profound changes in attitudes and behaviors, both in and out of government. We are convinced that such changes are essential for life on earth to survive and flourish. Many of these changes entail personal and material costs; we expect to share in those costs as well as in the benefits. We will focus on the goals toward which we strive and the values that they embody, knowing that our steps on specific issues may be both large and small, both tentative and sure.
We remember that under girding all the legislative recommendations in this statement are spiritual convictions that ultimately cannot be legislated. They live in each individual conscience, forged and nurtured through ties to family and community, growing out of a continual search for truth. Above all, we remain open to where God’s spirit will lead us.
Requirements for a healthy society include just institutions, as well as right relationships among people and between each individual and God. We acknowledge the indispensable role of government in safeguarding the integrity of our society and the essential dignity of all human beings as children of God. As citizens, we have the responsibility to participate vigorously in making government more responsive, open and accountable.
Cultural, social, political, civil, and economic rights, responsibly exercised by all, enhance the quality of our life together. Institutions must promote and protect basic human rights and recognize that these are not mere privileges subject to easy denial.
We urge support for government policies that shift the emphasis in political campaigns from image-making to an in-depth understanding of the issues and the candidates’ qualifications. We support campaign finance reform in order to achieve more open access to public office, to reduce the disproportionate influence of large campaign contributions, and to promote public ownership of the electoral process. We urge:
- independent monitoring and control of campaign spending
- public financing or matching funds, up to a set limit, for the election campaigns of candidates for both houses of the legislature
- voluntary ceilings on campaign spending that are tied to partial public funding, and a limit on political action committee (PAC) contributions
- limitations on the amount of money that can be contributed to campaigns by businesses holding or seeking government contracts
- full disclosure of all contributions by individuals and organizations to parties and candidates
- passage of legislation to promote coverage of controversial subjects, and access to publicly regulated communication media for various points of view
- increased public funding of public radio and television as a source of quality information on issues and campaigns
- expanded voting opportunities
We hold our government institutions and officials to rigorous ethical standards of fairness, honesty, and openness. Deliberative bodies should include representatives of those groups that will be directly affected by the resulting decisions.
We expect our government to abide by the law, including interstate treaties. The system of checks and balances prescribed by the U.S. Constitution and Washington State Constitution is central to our form of government and must be maintained. We urge:
- free and timely access to government information and to meetings of legislative and regulatory bodies
- fair application of legislation, and compliance by administrative agencies with related constitutional and statutory requirements
- openness and integrity in the use of statistics and other information
- provisions to reduce the potential for conflict of interest in the administration of state laws
- protection for public employees who speak out against corruption, waste, or mismanagement of government operations
- prompt prosecution of public officials who use their positions to violate the public trust
- support for the right of citizens and private groups to lobby, as guaranteed by the constitutional right to petition the government for redress of grievances
- elimination of, or severe limitations on: tax deductions for lobbying expenses; money spent by government contractors for lobbying and advertising; and allocation of tax money to state agencies for the purpose of lobbying the legislature.
Information Policy and Access
We believe that the gathering and compiling of information for public policy should be an open process, providing the public with good opportunities to evaluate and use data. Access to accurate information enables the constitutional process of checks and balances to function well, and allows informed participation by individuals in government activities. We support:
- strict observance by governmental agencies of the constitutional rights and civil liberties of all individuals
- sufficient funding and support for agencies that gather information open to public scrutiny
- creating effective ways to correct inaccurate information that has been presented publicly
- enforcement of the Freedom of Information Act and public records laws as a way of discouraging secrecy in government
- providing access to electronic information sources by developing access points in public places such as libraries and schools
The objective of criminal laws and the criminal justice system should be to promote fair and equitable dealings among individuals in the society, to prevent violence and destruction, and to be restorative. To this end, policy should deal fairly with the offender, victim, and community by providing equitable and prompt adjudication, effective education, training or treatment for those convicted, and restitution for the victims of crime. The goal should be to return offenders to society and to protect society from violent crime. Crime prevention programs must address the complex and pervasive causes of crime, which often are rooted in social and economic injustice. We recommend:
- effective policies and programs for prevention of and responses to juvenile delinquency and crime
- full legal services provided by government for those who need but cannot afford them
- reconciliation between criminal and victim whenever appropriate
- investment in basic and higher education, training, drug treatment, employment development, and economic opportunities, for both crime prevention and rehabilitation of offenders
- enforcement of laws against white-collar crimes, such as perjury, embezzlement, and bribery, with the same degree of vigor as the enforcement of other criminal laws
- review and correction of law-enforcement and sentencing practices that result in disproportionate sentences for members of different racial, ethnic, and economic groups
- using the strengths of the health and educational systems, rather than the punitive criminal justice process, for responses to and treatment of drug use
Prisons are used today principally as instruments of retribution, a policy contrary to our beliefs and likely to increase criminal activity. We seek a system that protects society while it also affirms the prisoner as a potentially redeemable human being. We recommend:
- reducing prison and jail populations by implementing bail reforms, decreasing pre-trial detention, reducing the length of sentences where appropriate, and expanding the use of alternatives to prison confinement, such as community corrections centers and halfway houses
- eliminating mandatory sentences, which fill the prisons with offenders who could safely be released earlier
- setting a moratorium on the expansion of prison capacity
- ensuring prisoners’ constitutional rights and well-being during incarceration, including a mechanism for redress of grievances that is independent of the prison system
- upgrading the hiring and performance standards for all corrections officials, and providing them with educational programs to foster humane treatment and rehabilitation of offenders
- instituting programs to enable prisoners to participate successfully in society when they are released
We seek the abolition of the death penalty because it denies the sacredness of human life and violates our belief in the human capacity for change. This irreversible penalty cannot be applied equitably and without error. Use of the death penalty by the state powerfully reinforces the idea that killing can be a proper way of responding to those who have wronged us. We do not believe that reinforcement of that idea can lead to healthier and safer communities.
Today’s civil rights issues challenge us to see what love can do. Ours should be a society where human beings are accepted on their merits. The demands of justice call for drawing upon every spiritual resource: faith that we are all one family under God and should live together in respect; love to overcome the hatred and bitterness engendered by centuries of oppression and discrimination; earnestness to move with more than deliberate speed; penitence on the part of those holding special privilege, with readiness to ask forgiveness and extend the hand of friendship; courage to supplement the law with heroic determination to right the wrongs in our own communities; dedication to the principles of nonviolence as the moral and truly effective method of social change. Law can and must increasingly provide the framework of justice, but law is harsh and sterile without the spirit of love and reconciliation.
We acknowledge that some progress has been achieved in reducing unjust discrimination on the basis of creed, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, and race or ethnic heritage. Continued progress is needed. As demographic revolutions change the makeup of our population, new challenges emerge. Racism adversely influences family structures, the educational system, job opportunities, and prison populations. Much remains to be done to ensure the passage and effective enforcement of legislation that furthers human rights and that seeks to correct present injustices growing out of past discrimination. We recognize that economic support and institutional changes are required to make basic civil rights a reality.
We seek the abolition of the death penalty because it denies the sacredness of human life and violates our belief in the human capacity for change. This irreversible penalty cannot be applied equitably and without error. Use of the death penalty by the state powerfully reinforces the idea that killing can be a proper way of responding to those who have wronged us. We do not believe that reinforcement of that idea can lead to healthier and safer communities.
We support the vigorous and diligent protection of all the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. and state constitutions, especially speech, press, assembly, religion, and petition; the rights to due process, equal protection, counsel, and jury trial; the freedom from self-incrimination, double jeopardy, cruel and unusual punishment, and unreasonable searches and seizures. We recommend:
- maintaining the constitutional separation of church and state to ensure that government funds are not used to propagate religious doctrines. This separation does not prohibit truly voluntary prayers in the schools, or teaching about the religious aspects of our pluralistic cultural heritage, or discussion of ethical principles
- eliminating the mandatory use of oaths
- enforcing all prohibitions against the use of entrapment by law enforcement agencies and against the use of coercion in eliciting testimony
- opposing legislation that discriminates against or denies the civil rights of any population groups that are targets of hate and separation
- protecting citizens’ rights to travel and to privacy, as well as their right to freedom from surveillance, from the accumulation of secret dossiers on personal opinions or legitimate activities, and from requirements to carry identity papers
- restricting inappropriate uses of Social Security and other identification numbers or cards, in order to prevent abuses of power, invasion of privacy, and denial of services
- ensuring full civil rights and protection from discrimination for people with genetic predisposition to disease, HIV disease, or other medical conditions that engender widespread and unjustified fears
- protecting citizens from mandatory drug testing, except for those with immediate and direct responsibility for the safety of the public
- recognizing that self-determination includes the right of terminally-ill patients and their loved ones to decide whether or not to accept further medical intervention
Since the first Quakers came to this continent, Friends have sought to live a “kind, just and peaceful life” with Native peoples.1 In this spirit, we encourage the legislature to maintain respectful relations with American Indians. State policies should recognize that Native Americans reserved certain aboriginal rights to themselves, even as their lands were being taken over by people from other countries and cultures. These aboriginal rights encompass the basic means of survival for Native peoples, including access to land, water, hunting and fishing. Some of these rights have been acknowledged in treaties, others in statutes and court cases. Treaties reflect solemn promises made by our respective ancestors, and should be honored. The tribal governments established by Native Americans are entitled to set policies that govern life on reservations and that impact tribal members who live off reservations. The state government should relate directly to tribal governments, respecting their sovereignty with respect to state and local governments. State legislation and policies that affect Native Americans should enable them to direct their own lives, control their own lands and resources, and govern their own communities. Specifically, the state government should:
- honor treaty rights, both those specifically reserved by Indian nations and all others not specifically relinquished to the United States
- ensure that Native Americans are able to exercise their religious beliefs and practices and fully express their cultural traditions
- promote the establishment and consolidation of tribal land bases, in order to provide both for the needs of Indian communities and for the protection of these lands and resources by the state government
- negotiate the restoration of Native lands taken in violation of treaty agreements. Restitution should be provided when it is agreed, by both the Native Americans affected and the government entity involved, that restoration is clearly impossible
- protect tribal sovereignty from erosion by state and local governments, and promote good conflict resolution, consultative processes, and diplomatic negotiations between tribal governments and others
- support economic development in Native communities, particularly that which assures respect for the earth and encourages community participation
- support the political processes of tribal governments that enable them to solve problems facing their communities in their own way, even when their choices differ from the visions of other communities around them
CHALLENGE: How do we reconcile our historic opposition to gambling with our historic support for the rights of Indian nations to determine their own forms of economic development?
- support Native Americans in their continuing efforts to reverse the trend toward fragmentation of families and communities
- support and develop respect for tribal processes of knowledge, such as oral histories, in educational programs and legal proceedings
- assist tribes in their administration of state programs
- assure the civil rights and particular needs of Native citizens, whether or not they are members of recognized tribes
We believe that the world should move toward a global community whose people can choose freely where they wish to live and work. Our vision includes a world of open borders. In the short term, we believe in the importance of both asylum for refugees escaping oppression and freedom to migrate for those who hope to improve their living conditions. We acknowledge and affirm that a world with open borders implies a more equitable distribution of the world’s wealth, more respect for human rights, and greater tolerance of differences than exist at present. Interstate cooperation is an essential factor in dealing with interstate migration.
This nation was founded on many and varied cultures and histories, and the contributions of many nations continue to enrich our lives. Particular consideration must be given to refugees fleeing violence and oppression. Careful consideration of the social, economic, and environmental impact on regions where immigrants tend to concentrate must be given.
All those seeking to enter or residing here should, without regard to their immigrant status, be treated with justice and equity, and be accorded full rights as human beings, at the same time being asked to accept the common responsibility to pay taxes. We believe that:
- full civil rights under due process of law should be guaranteed to all applicants for entry, and to those who assist them, including the right to a full hearing with constitutional protections, the right to an appeal, and the right to bring habeas corpus petitions
- immigration laws should be enforced by government law enforcement agencies, not by private citizens or service agencies. Requiring employers, schools, and service agencies to enforce these laws places an unfair burden on society and carries a potential for discrimination in employment
- fair labor laws and health and safety standards in the workplace should be firmly enforced
- neither citizens nor non-citizen residents should be required to carry identification cards to prove their residency status. We believe this would infringe on individual freedom and privacy
- support must be provided for educational and community activities that recognize how diversity strengthens and enriches our society
The quality of our state’s future depends greatly on its ability to form and maintain safe, supportive and economically-viable communities. We believe that all persons are equally deserving of a life with dignity and the basic necessities for human growth and development. We are responsible for each other; all persons should contribute time, skills, taxes and other resources to the society, according to their ability.
Access to quality education, housing and health care; communities free from violence, drug abuse and poverty; and communities where all persons receive sufficient income to maintain home, family and health are essential. The provision of these services and the revitalization of depressed urban and rural communities should be major goals of state policy. We urge the state government, working together with local agencies and the private sector, to help strengthen communities. This can be achieved by expanding economic opportunities, providing essential services and income supports, enhancing public safety, and promoting tolerance and appreciation of diversity.
Hunger and poverty can and should be eliminated through economies that enlarge the opportunities for participation by all people in society. We will support policies that enable various economic models promoting economic justice to flourish. Economic institutions and policies should make rational economic decisions possible and should provide for the dispersal of political and economic power. We deplore the excessive and increasing concentration of wealth and the disproportionate racial and gender expressions of these inequalities. All persons should receive income adequate to maintain health and dignity. We believe that our economy will be not only more equitable but also more productive as income inequality is reduced and economic opportunities are increased.
State government policy directly affects communities and establishes the framework in which private economic decisions are made. It is a public responsibility to ensure that each person is provided with the skills and opportunity to earn income adequate for family needs through work under non-exploitative conditions. We recognize the responsibility of government to provide for those who cannot provide for themselves, to promote job creation and training, and to structure welfare and public assistance to enhance human dignity and development. Meaningful work contributes to the development of human potential, self-esteem, and community well-being. We recognize that “work” includes a multitude of socially valuable activities, paid as well as unpaid. We emphasize the responsibility of everyone to contribute to society through work, within the limits of health and other capacities.
- economic policies that generate employment opportunities and jobs at a living wage for everyone who is able to work
- regionally directed job training and placement programs to help workers find employment at a living wage
- reversing policies that tolerate high rates of unemployment and practices that perpetuate misleading reporting of unemployment data
- adequately funded programs to assist and retrain workers dislocated by the restructuring
- helping businesses adjust to rapid changes in the domestic and interstate economy •economic policies that extend opportunities to small ventures, recognizing their role in providing employment and economic growth
- vigorous enforcement and strengthening of laws on civil rights, fair employment, fair labor, and affirmative action, and of the Americans with Disabilities Act
- acknowledgement in government statistics and by entitlement programs of the value of unremunerated labor
- provision of publicly generated jobs when the private sector does not provide enough jobs to meet demand
- providing income support to families and individuals who are unable to meet their basic needs through employment, in an amount sufficient to maintain health and dignity, and in a manner that affirms the worth of every person and the importance of family
The State Budget
The state budget is both an expression of and a tool for implementing state policies and priorities. The state budget should allow for adequate spending to meet the actual needs of the state, as identified throughout this policy statement. This includes the state government’s role in assisting individuals and communities. It should not squander resources on wasteful activities. We support progressive2 taxation as a means of financing state government spending.
In general, ongoing state programs and activities should be paid for with current revenues. Government borrowing is appropriate for countering economic recessions and making long- term investments in research, education, health, environmental protection, and infrastructure.
We recognize the growing interdependence of all the world’s economies and the increased need for mutually beneficial coordination of interstate economic and trade policies.
To achieve a just and stable economic environment and to encourage the development of human and material resources, we advocate:
- a more progressive tax system overall, and closing the loopholes that have the effect of concentrating wealth
- adopting policies that promote sustainable production and increased employment opportunities
- sufficient funding for state governments to ensure adequate resources to implement needed programs, particularly those related to basic human needs and environmental protection
- enforcement of anti-trust legislation, especially in recently deregulated industries •opposition to government-sponsored gambling and gambling as a way to raise revenues
The development of safe, diverse, and thriving urban communities must be a major objective of government policy. Many urban communities are characterized by high unemployment, deteriorating infrastructure and environment, growing violence, and persistent poverty and isolation. The economic, social, and racial disparities between urban and non-urban communities are growing, with fewer public and private resources available for many urban communities. We call for a state commitment to revitalize urban communities. This will require state support, including increased economic opportunities, public investment, and incentives for private investment and non-exploitive development. We urge:
- vigorous government support for equal education opportunities, job training, child care, nutrition assistance, counseling, service opportunities, vocational training, and development in low-income communities
- allocating funds toward rebuilding infrastructure of urban communities
- the development and maintenance of decent, affordable, racially desegregated housing in revitalized urban communities
- policies to promote ethnically and economically diverse neighborhoods, addressing tensions that may result, with special support for minority-owned and neighborhood businesses
- funding for environmental restoration of open areas, including tree-planting and urban vegetable gardens
- policies to address the growing environmental problems of toxic waste and pollution in urban areas
- urban design focusing on building self-reliant communities that encourage the use of public transportation, biking, and walking
Strong rural communities depend upon a broad and resilient economic base, emphasizing local control. It is essential that Washington state maintain a sound agricultural base, to insure safe and adequate supplies of food, fiber, and other essential agricultural products. The destruction of farmlands by uncontrolled suburban development must be addressed by law if we are to be able to maintain our food supplies at prices that can be afforded by all of our citizens. We recognize the role of state policy decisions in helping to maintain the strength of rural communities, but we affirm the need to involve local residents and businesses in the design and implementation of economic development programs. We recommend:
- adapting programs that provide public amenities, such as health care, supplemental feeding programs, education, and transportation, to meet the special needs of rural areas
- agricultural, credit, business, and tax policies that encourage locally owned small businesses, cooperatives, and small and moderate family owned and operated farms
- agricultural, tax, research, and rural economic development policies that will help to sustain and restore natural resources, ensure equitable access to water and land, and otherwise respond to special needs of particular groups, including farm workers, minorities, women, and part-time farmers
- more research on, and close monitoring of, the impacts of accelerating integration of farm and food production, from genetic research through retail promotion. Such integration should be regulated or prohibited as necessary to protect farm producers, communities, the environment, and consumer product safety
- careful monitoring of new production technologies, including biogenetic techniques, and wide dissemination of accurate information regarding known or possible health or social effects
- upholding collective bargaining rights of farm workers, and ensuring that conditions of farm labor are not exempted from usual labor and workplace standards
- policies that support state or community programs to protect farmland from urban encroachment
State and local governments should enable and ensure the delivery of the services, both public and private, upon which both human development and quality of life depend. Society benefits when families and small communities make commitments to care for their members. We urge our governments, both state and local, to support such groups through legislation which removes barriers to their creation and continuance.
We support a health care system with the primary goal of maintaining and improving the health of the population. We support health care that recognizes the variety of needs and expectations of the population, including differences in age, gender, culture, ethnicity, language, income, and region. We favor a health care system that gives attention to the just distribution of health care resources, including facilities, technology, professionals, transportation and support systems. Reforms in state health care policy should include:
- access for everyone to health care, regardless of employment or health status, age, income, or citizenship status
- flexibility that allows communities and local health boards to be involved in defining, planning, and distribution of health services
- local or regional accountability, to enhance responsibility for local health outcomes, provide authority to assure quality of services, and set funding priorities consistent with local health goals
- a comprehensive package of benefits including preventive care, primary care, prenatal and post-natal care, immunizations, hearing, dental, eye care, mental health services, and health education
- prevention, rehabilitation, and treatment of alcohol, drug, tobacco and other substance abuse
- community-based, long-term care services for impaired elderly and disabled persons who are unable to live independently but do not require skilled nursing home care
- skilled nursing home and hospice care for terminally ill patients
- intensive research and public education to develop effective solutions to HIV disease
- primary reliance on progressive taxation to provide state funds for health care reform
CHALLENGE: Members of the Society of Friends are not in unity on abortion issues. Therefore, FCWPP takes no position and does not act either for or against abortion legislation. On occasion, FCWPP may appeal to lawmakers not to use the abortion debate to paralyze action on other legislation.3
We believe that quality education provides a foundation for both individual growth and a livable society. It helps to build peace at home and in the community, the nation, and the world. We support educational programs that promote conflict resolution, diversity awareness, global interdependence, peaceful living, and opportunities for the self- fulfillment of all members of society. We support a strong public education system with adequate funding, equitably distributed and locally controlled. Educational programs should provide:
- expansion of preschool and early childhood education
- tools and opportunities for lifelong learning
- increased financial aid for students at the post-secondary level
- appropriate access for the mentally, physically, and emotionally disabled
- incentives and support for those on public assistance to continue their education
- incentives and funding for conflict resolution and training in alternatives to violence
- additional education and counseling to address the needs of juvenile offenders
- educational curricula that teach the shared civic culture, and emphasize tolerance, respect, and awareness of the differences and similarities in society
- programs that teach parenting skills
Families with Children
All children have the right to living conditions that include adequate food, housing, and health care. They need a loving environment free from violence and poverty, with positive adult role models. Programs for children should stress:
- needs of the whole child, including shelter, physical and mental health, education, security, and protection
- support for a loving, stable home environment for children by providing adequate services to maintain family unity, and improving foster care and adoption procedures and services
- expansion of safe and affordable day care
- tax policies, welfare policies, and flexible employment policies that enable parents to care for their children at home
- increased funding for programs to prevent child abuse, to offer successful intervention, and to prevent substance abuse
- rehabilitation and construction of affordable low- and middle-income housing, and equal access to it, so that all families may obtain decent housing and still have sufficient income to meet basic needs and ensure human dignity
- programs to encourage use of innovative, low-cost materials and designs for housing
- vigorous enforcement of the Fair Housing laws
- services and shelters for the homeless that include aid in relocation and job training
- access to housing subsidies and supportive services for specialized populations throughout each community
To give people better access to employment, housing, health care, and education, to conserve natural resources, to preserve the integrity of local neighborhoods, and to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion, we support:
- incentives and increased funding for effective public transportation, and making it accessible to residents of low-income communities
- encouraging creative personal transportation, such as walking, bicycling, and carpooling, by creating bikeways, high occupancy vehicle express lanes, and other incentives
- reducing present subsidies that encourage the use of single-occupant vehicles
- innovations that would enable society to move toward more ecologically sustainable forms of transportation
Communities Free of Violence
Friends’ testimonies promote peace, simplicity, equality, and nonviolent solutions to personal and societal problems. Government policies must address the many causes of violence, as well as the symptoms. Communities must be supported in their efforts to be free of violence and the threat of violence. We advocate:
- community mediation, education in conflict resolution, and other programs to resolve conflict peacefully and promote tolerance and appreciation of differences
- strict gun control and campaigns to reduce gun use
- programs that involve local people in improving and protecting their communities
- development of community programs, public sports facilities, and other services in poor neighborhoods to provide alternatives for disadvantaged youth
- significantly reducing the dehumanizing material and violence in television, movies, and print media
- an educational campaign against violent games and toys, toward reducing their production, distribution and use
- policies and programs that specifically address violence against women and children
- government funding for programs that address the causes of domestic violence and help foster a healthy home environment
We recognize the intrinsic value of the natural world as God’s creation, beyond its use by humankind. We belong to the intricate web connecting all that is natural. Therefore, we are bound at times to respect purposes not our own. We are also bound to be faithful stewards of the means of human survival and well-being. We are grateful for the blessings of this earth and make a solemn commitment to protect and restore a sustainable natural environment. To peoples of other nations, we owe a renewed commitment to curb our own excessive consumption and pollution. We are mindful of Friends’ historic testimonies regarding simple living and of our obligations for right sharing of nature’s gifts. These are urgent responsibilities, in both local and global settings.
We face the pollution of the earth’s land, water and atmosphere; a decline in biodiversity and nonrenewable resources; and an increase in deforestation and desertification. The health of the earth’s ecosystems and their ability to support life have been seriously impaired. We are urgently called to promote the creation and improvement of policies, laws, and institutions that respond to these problems.
State legislation should promote ecologically sound technological, industrial, and commercial enterprises. Our efforts to care for the earth should acknowledge that a healthy natural environment reinforces, and is reinforced by, sustainable economic development. These efforts should also promote economic, gender, and cultural equity among diverse peoples within our own state and around the earth.
Recognizing our responsibilities to the earth and its inhabitants, we are concerned that increasing consumption and rapid population growth are sources of environmental pressure. Globally, over-consumption spreads and deepens human suffering and puts the earth under great stress. High rates of consumption and pollution in our country magnify this problem and result in huge inequities in the distribution of the world’s resources. We must take a multifaceted approach to the problem of providing every human being with enough resources to support a secure, healthy, fulfilling life. We support access to responsible family planning, and access to education and services. We oppose mandated population control.
Specifically, we recommend:
- regional and interstate cooperation for the solution of environmental problems.
- full funding for and enforcement of existing environmental statutes
- making environmental laws more consistent with each other
- discouraging, wherever legislative opportunities permit, the excessively high levels of consumption by our citizens and the associated pollution of the environment
- increased financial and institutional support for responsible, effective, universally available, medically safe, and non-coercive family planning, recognizing the urgent need for a stable global population3
- safeguarding genetic and biological diversity of plant and animal species
- reserving adequate parks and wilderness areas, for the protection of wild animal and plant life, and for recreation, taking into consideration the effects of such action on local human populations
- resource conservation, especially of soils, forests, watersheds and rivers, estuaries, fisheries, and non-renewable fossil fuels
- carefully regulating introduction into the environment of organisms modified by genetic engineering
- expanding research, development, and implementation of strategies to minimize waste and prevent pollution, especially by substituting products and processes of lower toxicity in manufacturing and agriculture
- state truth-in-advertising monitoring of claims about consumer goods, to ensure environmentally sensitive production and usability
- establishing a comprehensive recycling policy that encourages creating markets for and use of recycled products
- enacting a state beverage container deposit law
Right use and sharing of the world’s resources for energy are crucial to human survival and welfare. Energy policy should not be based on narrow commercial, military, or state interests, but on global concerns. The price of energy should reflect its true cost. All the people of this world need equitable access to sources of energy for personal needs and development of their communities. We are concerned about the great risk to the environment and to future generations posed by the increased use of nuclear fission and fossil fuels. A shift to solar and other renewable energy sources is imperative. Increased efficiency and conservation are essential: to meet the energy needs of people throughout the world; to lessen the likelihood that war will be used to gain or protect energy sources; and to reduce the dangers to health and the natural environment. We recommend:
- promoting energy conservation through state standards, regulations, and tax policies that reflect the true costs of energy production, distribution, and clean-up
- increasing total spending on energy research and development, and shifting priorities from nuclear and fossil fuels to energy efficiency and conservation, and to all forms of clean and renewable energy. Interstate research on nuclear fusion should continue only if evaluations of risks are favorable
- a moratorium on construction of nuclear fission power plants, for reasons of health, safety, and still-unresolved problems of nuclear waste handling. The pricing of fission- generated electricity should fully cover all costs, including security, storage, disposal and plant decommissioning
- reducing health and safety hazards and environmental damage from production and use of fossil fuels
The dumping of toxic and nuclear waste has created a widespread threat to both human and non-human life on the earth. Government agencies, together with private companies, bear a heavy responsibility for this continuing danger. Cleanup of these hazards is urgently needed and, whenever possible, the costs should be borne by the responsible parties. The dangers of waste disposal, past and future, should not be permitted to fall disproportionately on the poor or other marginalized members of this or any other state. Pollution problems should be addressed with concern for just distribution among affected peoples of the burdens and benefits involved. We urge:
- monitoring toxic contaminant build-ups, in both humans and wildlife, that affect reproduction, fetal and neurological development, and immune system capacity
- protecting human populations from pollution, especially where its effects fall disproportionately on disadvantaged or marginalized peoples
- continuing or expanding the penalties for hazardous discharges in excess of legal limits. Legal limits should balance economic benefit with risk to present and future generations, and risks incurred should be equitably distributed.
- giving high priority to the safest and most socially equitable disposal of nuclear and other toxic wastes
- vigorously pursuing interstate and state efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and damage to the stratospheric ozone layer
1. The words Native peoples, Native citizens, Native Americans are used in reference to indigenous people within the United States, who often use names for themselves that translate as “the people.” These peoples include American Indians. The term “Native” has specific legal meaning in law, that is why we capitalize it in this paper.
3. We acknowledge that Friends are not united in their understanding of such concepts as responsibility, universality, and safety in relation to family planning issues. Such matters as the norms for sexual behavior, access to birth control by minors, and the overall safety of many contraceptive methods are all the subjects of ongoing seeking among us. Our differences are perhaps deepest on the issue of abortion, and as a result FCWPP does not lobby on that issue.
A number of serious issues that confront The legislature and the people of Washington state also challenge the Religious Society of Friends. Many of these issues are not clearly addressed in the Scriptures, in the traditional testimonies of our Religious Society, or in recent statements of official Quaker bodies. Sometimes the controversies derive from different religious convictions or different ethical judgments. Others may more closely reflect the customs and historical traditions of the particular sector of society in which we participate. Furthermore, information bearing on these issues is neither uniformly shared nor interpreted alike by different people.
We believe that Friends could exercise leadership in the ongoing public discussion of these issues. The Quaker belief in sincere and open dialogue, and our recognition of the value of individual leadings, could provide a beacon to others in resolving difficult conflicts.
The FCWPP invites Friends and others throughout the state to enter into loving dialogue on these matters, remembering always that only God possesses all truth.
These CHALLENGES appear in various places throughout this statement of policy, so that they may be discussed within the context of related issues.
Policy on Fundraising in the Manner of Friends
(As approved by the FCWPP Steering Committee on September 21, 2007)
“A life centered in God will be characterized by integrity, sincerity, and simplicity.” (Faith & Practice, North Pacific Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, 2nd Ed., p.27)
The Friends Committee on Washington Public Policy seeks to apply these same criteria to its fundraising work.
We adhere to the highest ethical standards in fundraising. These include honesty in solicitation, presenting the heart of the organization to the donor, seeking to understand the interests and beliefs of the donor, respecting the donor as an individual capable and entitled to personal choice in the use of their resources, and appreciating the opportunity to partner with donors in doing God’s work.
We believe that fundraising solicitation is not about a hard sell, but about understanding the intersection between the organization’s mission and work and the mission and aspirations of the donor, and finding the place where we walk forward to change the world together.
Donor records (names, dates, and amounts) are available only to individuals directly involved in solicitation and processing of donations. This includes the members of the Fundraising Committee and the Treasurer, and may include other members of the Steering Committee in connection with specific fundraising activities.
Anyone with access to donor records is to keep the information confidential, and use it only for the purposes of FCWPP, as approved by a relevant committee.
Currently we do not publicly publish the names of our donors; should it ever seem appropriate to do so, provision will be made for donors to remain anonymous or opt out.
Exceptions to this policy require advance approval by the Steering Committee, or by both the Fundraising Committee and the Executive Committee.