Quaker (Religious Society of Friends)
Top Beliefnet Features
Top Quaker Features
Several years ago, my friend who is a wonderful Catholic and an elder at Special Gathering, gave me a book. I’m not sure of the title or the author because as soon as I finished it, I lent the book to another friend and it hasn’t returned home. The book was written by a Quaker pastor, living in a small, upper New York State community. While my views of many things were radically different f ...
A discussion forum for members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), or those interested.
History: Quakerism originated in mid-17th century England, originally as a break-away branch of Puritanism. George Fox (1624-1691), an English preacher, founded the Society of Friends, whose open structure reflects his aversion to church hierarchy and titles. Fox held that the “Inner Light,” the inspiring presence of God in each person, stands above Scripture and creed. This belief resonates through Quakerism despite a fairly wide variety of practices.
Main Tenets: Quaker beliefs include the emphasis on plain speech and dress; opposition to slavery and war; and the refusal to swear oaths, which Quakers believe undermine the daily mandate for truth-telling. Many early feminists and abolitionists were Quakers, and a strong social ethic continues to pervade the work of the American Friends Service Committee, which shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947.
Quakers, who often met persecution for their beliefs, have also been champions of religious freedom. English Quaker William Penn founded Pennsylvania as a "holy experiment," a refuge for Quakers and other religious minorities.
Organizations: Quaker congregations are called "meetings," which range from structured services led by ministers to open sessions where participants speak when inspired by their own Inner Light. Major Quaker umbrella organizations are the Friends General Conference of Philadelphia and Friends United Meeting, based in Richmond, Ind.
Membership: According to "Quakers in America," by Thomas D. Hamm, there are about 100,000 Quakers in the U.S. and about 350,000 worldwide. Kenya has the largest Quaker population in the world, with about 130,000 Friends.