All people are liars. Quakers are people. Therefore, Quakers are liars. But, there are lies; and there are lies. There are categories of lying. Some lies are compatible with the bedrock Quaker principle of Truth. Others are not. Those lies that Quakers shouldn’t tell are self-serving and—according to Arash Emamzadeh—include the following types:
So, what kinds of lie can a good Quaker tell? Well, if the lie is pro-social or altruistic, it’s permissible. Suppose you accidentally meet someone you don’t really like. If you say “Glad to see you,” that’s pro-social and not really un-Quakerly. Or, if you tell a young child that Santa Claus brought the gifts around the Christmas tree, that’s altruistic and needn’t trouble your Quaker conscience. Unfortunately, I suspect that all Quakers sometimes tell lies that fall in the nine self-serving categories. After all, Quakers are human!
~ Richard Russell
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