Skip to main content

We ought to be willing to work for causes which … cannot be won in the future unless the goals are staked out now.

E. Raymond Wilson, FCNL’s first Executive Secretary
E Raymond Wilson in front of the FCNL office.

Since 1943, the FCNL community has lobbied Congress to advance peace and justice.

We began lobbying against conscription and for aid to war-torn Europe in the midst of World War II, yet from the beginning Friends had a bigger vision - to plant the seeds of changes for a more peaceful and just world that might take decades to grow. Today, FCNL’s work includes many of the issues of concern to Friends, from military spending and racial equality to a more peaceful foreign policy and a healthy environment.

Video URL

Throughout its history, FCNL has evolved and risen to meet the challenges confronting our country. As we lobby today and look to what’s ahead, we know that we were built for these times. Here are some of the highlights of this work.

2022: Friends Place Opens

After extensive repairs, Friends Place (re)opens on Capitol Hill. It was formerly William Penn House before FCNL Education Fund took management in 2019. The guest house and learning center serves as a welcoming space that offers hospitality centered in peace, civic education, and justice-based advocacy for learners and leaders of all ages with hundreds of guests in the first year.

2017: Pushing to Prevent Genocide and Atrocities

FCNL’s lobbyists work with Congress and the State Department to build the United State’s capacity and investment in peacebuilding. FCNL leads efforts to pass the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act, a bipartisan bill to enhance the government’s capacity to prevent, mitigate, and transform violent conflicts around the world.

2016: Growing the Climate Solutions Caucus

Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) found the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. The purpose of the caucus is to explore bipartisan policy options that address the impacts, causes, and challenges of our changing climate. Members join in a “Noah’s Ark” style, meaning they join “two-by-two,” one Republican, one Democrat. FCNL takes the lead in lobbying members of Congress to join the Climate Solutions Caucus, helping the caucus grow to 60 members of Congress by October, 2017.

2015: Proving that Diplomacy Works with Iran

Forty-two senators voted to support a nuclear deal with Iran, enabling it to take effect and reducing the chances of another U.S. war in the Middle East. FCNL helped mobilize grassroots advocates, nuclear experts, and faith groups to advocate for this deal, which President Obama negotiated in 2015.

2010: Advocating for a New START on Nuclear Weapons

FCNL directs the advocacy that leads the Senate to ratify the New START Treaty. The Treaty aims to significantly reduce the number of deployed nuclear weapons in Russia and the United States. Constituents, Senators, and the White House use swing lists of legislators developed by FCNL as the strategic basis for much of their advocacy work.  

Video URL

2005: Opening the First Green Building on Capitol Hill

FCNL moves back into its building, the first green construction on Capitol Hill, which serves as a witness to our commitment to an Earth restored. The building received a Silver LEED certification in 2007.

Marchers holding War is Not the Answer Signs

2001: Asserting that War Is Not the Answer

The day after the 9/11 attacks, FCNL issues a statement urging the U.S. not to meet violence with more violence. We display this message on our building and on bumper stickers: “War Is Not the Answer.” Over the next decade, tens of thousands of people take up this message, expressing their opposition to the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and search for a way to break cycles of war and violence.

1998: Protecting Immigrants’ Rights to Assistance

FCNL works with other faith and domestic advocacy organizations to convince Congress to restore access to food support to immigrants. Two years earlier, Congress had stripped food support from 250,000 immigrants as part of their welfare reform bill.

1992: Standing Against Chemical Weapons

FCNL is instrumental in helping to ratify the UN Convention on Chemical Weapons. This UN arms control treaty outlaws the production and use of chemical weapons and leads to the destruction of 93% of the world’s declared stockpile of chemical weapons.

1987: Bridging Anti-Poverty and Environmental Action

As tensions around the subject of economic development escalate between those concerned primarily with environmental protection and those concerned with alleviating global poverty, the World Bank turns to FCNL as an organization whose priorities include both. FCNL consults with the World Bank and ultimately recommends that economic development projects are best suited to lift up communities of poverty and ensure the preservation of local environments when communities are given as much control over development decisions as possible.

1985: Talking with the Soviets

FCNL organizes the U.S.-Soviet Working Group, which compiles a draft “Exchange for Peace Resolution” in consultation with members of Congress and State Department officials. FCNL lobbies the U.S. ambassador and the State Department to consider the draft resolution ahead of the Reykjavik summit in Iceland in 1986. Ultimately, the draft resolution contributes to a framework for thawed relations between the Soviet Union and the United States.

1976: Advocating for Health Care Improvements for Native Americans

FCNL leads on lobbying for the rights of Native American. Central to FCNL’s efforts is the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which passes Congress in 1976. The bill authorizes the Indian Health Service to bill Medicare and Medicaid and appropriates $1.6 Billion for improvements to the IHS.

1974: Working to End Vietnam War Funding

Ed Snyder leads efforts to cancel the appropriations of $474 million to South Vietnamese military, expediting an end to the U.S. war in Vietnam.

1972: Addressing Conflicts at Sea

FCNL’s Sam and Miriam Levering lobby Congress and the U.S. government on the importance of the Law of the Sea Treaty. Sam Levering testifies before Congress in 1972 on the subject, urging the U.S. to “extend the area of peace.” The Leverings also help shape the treaty from FCNL’s office. In 1980, U.S. Ambassador Eliot Richardson thanks the Leverings for their “dedicated, constructive, resourceful, patient, persistent, and cheerful” efforts. Though the treaty opens for signatures in 1982, the U.S. has not yet ratified it.

1966: Thawing Relations with China

Gene Boardman, FCNL’s Friend in Washington, conducts nearly 200 meetings with Members of Congress and Administration officials during his year-long residency. He convinces House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Clement Zablocki (WI) to hold the first congressional hearings on U.S.-China Relations. Senator J. William Fulbright (AR) follows suit, hosting U.S.-China hearings in the Senate Relations Committee that prove pivotal in the path to détente between the U.S. and China.

1966 U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing
U.S. Senate Historical Office

1961: Helping Congress Create the Peace Corps

Rep. Henry Ruess (WI), the Peace Corps legislative champion, calls FCNL’s role in the Peace Corps’ creation “pivotal.” Since the program’s creation, more than 220,000 young Americans have served in 141 countries.

1955: Defeating Mandatory Military Training

As the Truman and Eisenhower administrations push for required military training for young men, Quakers lead the push to defeat these proposals in Congress. FCNL’s decade-long campaign results in the defeat of military training legislation in the House in 1952 and 1955, putting an end to compulsory training efforts.

1943: Organizing Quakers to Influence U.S. policies

In the midst of World War II, 52 Friends from 15 Yearly Meetings gather to consider Friends’ ability to influence U.S. government decisions related to war and peace. Out of this meeting in Richmond, Indiana, the Friends Committee on National Legislation is born. E. Raymond Wilson is named the first Executive Secretary.

Video URL

Indigenous Land Acknowledgement

As we bear witness and lobby in solidarity with Native Americans, we also honor the Nacotchtank tribe on whose ancestral land the FCNL, FCNL Education Fund, and Friends Place on Capitol Hill buildings stand. They are also known as the Anacostans, the Indigenous people who lived along the banks of the Anacostia River, including in several villages on Capitol Hill and what is now Washington, D.C. By the 1700s, the Nacotchtank tribe had merged with other tribes like the Pamunkey and the Piscataway, both of which still exist today.