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The Abolitionists

Date: 01/21/2013

The new release from the PBS series "The American Experience" is a three-part story called "The Abolitionists," the story of the fight to end slavery in the United States.  They were called radicals, agitators, and troublemakers. They thought of themselves as liberators. Men and women, black and white, Northerners and Southerners, poor and wealthy, these passionate anti-slavery activists fought b ...

Related Topics: Blog 97, Slavery, Pbs, The Abolitionists, William Lloyd Garrison, Angelina Grimke

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A Christmas with Friends

Date: 12/17/2012

Yesterday I joined with a group of Quakers to celebrate Christmas. I don’t know if you’ve ever met a Quaker or participated in their meetings, but in their gatherings, silence is golden. During the hour or so when the group met we sat in a circle in complete stillness. In their tradition, no preacher or authority speaks or imparts teachings. The Society of Friends, which is another name for Quake ...

Related Topics: Debra Moffitt, Awake In The World, Light, Silence, Garden Of Bliss, Society Of Friends, Quakers, Celebrating Christmas

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    Quaker Basics

    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. 

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