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Nonviolent Direct Action as a Spiritual Path

By Richard K. Taylor

Pendle Hill Pamphlet #424 (April 2014)

Price: $7.50


Many of the world’s best known activists for peace and social justice have also been deeply religious people. Nonetheless, it is easy to think of social action as an afterthought to our spiritual lives, something we do to express our values, rather than as part of our spiritual practice. Lifelong nonviolent activist Dick Taylor has observed that spiritual openings and deep faith experiences in his life have often occurred in the midst of an action. Similarly, he has found in his religious journey as a Quaker the strength, the courage, and the wisdom for discernment that have helped him in occasions of difficult and scary witness. Using his own stories, which span the civil rights movement to the present time, Dick Taylor explores the relationship between spirituality and nonviolent direct action. Discussion questions included.

About the Author(s)

Richard Taylor grew up in Abington Friends Meeting (Pennsylvania) and attended Quaker schools and colleges.  He has served as staff to the (then) Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Race Relations Committee and the American Friends Service Committee.  Over the past fifty years, he has led or participated in hundreds of nonviolent actions.  He had what he describes as “the great good fortune” to work for two years in the 1960s on the national field staff of Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  He and his wife Phyllis have worked in nonviolent movements to abolish torture, support civil and human rights, protect the environment, end discrimination in housing, protest the Vietnam War, change our government’s support for dictatorships, support the South African freedom struggle, uproot anti-Semitism, and more.  He has published five books, five training manuals, and nearly one hundred articles, mostly on faith and active nonviolence.  He also has worked as a college teacher and as a social worker supporting the homeless. Throughout these many action-oriented involvements, he has attempted to be open to the guidance of Christ’s spirit and to discern how God may be calling him and others to express their faith in strong but loving action for peace, social justice, and environmental sustainability.  Dick is an avid hiker and body surfer and claims to hold the championship in the Middle Atlantic flat-stone-skipping competition.  He and Phyllis have three children, nine grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Pendle Hill Pamphlet #424

Additional information

Weight 2.3 oz