Feb 26, 2008


I had to do some research on Quakers as an extra assignment-thingy for school. I found them quite interesting, and some sites I visited are...

Here it is!

The Society of Friends began in 1647, when George Fox, the son of Anglicans, at the age of nineteen, began to think there must be more to life than the Church of England’s ritual religion. He was nineteen at the time, and for the next four years traversed about the country, searching for the truth, which he hoped to gain from the priests, churches, and preachers that he consulted.
George Fox could not find hope and truth in any of the current European religions. Puritanism was, according to him, a religion devoid of hope that believed primarily in a judging, cruel God that demanded religion. The Church of England was made up of wealth-chasing leaders, meaningless rituals, and everlastingly repeated ceremonies.
In his search for truth, one day, Fox, who knew the Word of God like the back of his hand, heard a Voice that said, “There is One, even Jesus Christ, who can speak to thy condition.” Fox had finally found the truth. After he heard, or realized (whichever it was), he made four ‘conclusions’ related to the true Christian faith:

a) That what Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you, even to the end of the age,” (Matt 28:20) was true, and that his Savior had risen as the Bible said and is always with us.
b) That, as http://thorn.pair.com/earlyq.htm says, “a Christian is not necessarily someone who has his/her name on a church membership list or who has done something religious. The mark of an authentic Christian is a changed life. A Christian is someone who has been transformed from death to life in a firsthand encounter with Christ. ‘In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.’ (John 1:4)”
c) That the Church is not the building, nor the place of meeting; it is, in truth, the ones that meet and are united in the Word of the LORD.
d) That the success of preachers and pastors in serving the LORD is not based on any degree or education, but on how dedicated and serving they are, and how they make the LORD and His ways real to the congregation.

After George Fox found the truth, before long thousands of others joined him in this abnormal practice of having a true relationship with God and serving Him whole-heartedly. The people of this new faith called themselves Friends because of John 15:15, where Jesus says He calls us friends and makes known to us what His Father tells Him. They became also known as Quakers, because some said they, well, quaked, when one delivered a message from God or in the presence of God.
The women dressed very plainly (based on 1 Tim. 2:9-10). For the most part, women wore black or grey, with white or black(or grey, I suppose) capes and headcoverings. They dressed very modestly. [Some examples of 'back-then' attire and 'now' attire(which isn't much different in some cases) can be seen at the 'Quaker Anne' and 'Quaker Jane' sites above.] Men dressed plainly as well, and most often had beards. There was a definite distinction between men and women, unlike some cases today (yikes-sometimes it can be hard to tell!).

Sadly, there was a dry spell in which some strayed from Fox’s original found truth. Basically, they began to focus on the minor things instead of on the LORD’s truth and message. Hence, the whole movement nearly fell apart in the early 1700s.

In North America, Rhode Island was supportive of them and for a bit, around half of the population of Rhode Island was Quakers. In Maryland, which Lord Baltimore had established as a colony for escaping English Catholics, the Quakers and whoever else wished for religious freedom were given exactly that- or ‘Liberty of Conscience.’
In Massachusetts, which was strictly Puritan, persecuted the Quakers heavily and without relent. They whipped them as they were dragged through town, cut off their ears, bored holes through their tongues, branded the letter ‘H’ for heretic on them, and inflicted all kinds of wicked and altogether ungodly tortures, as well as being banished! Then, the governor, John Endicott, decreed that anyone who returned after being banished would be killed. Four Quakers were hung, one being a woman, named Mary Dyer, who was the first woman to die in North America because of what she believed in. There is a statue of her on Boston Common, reminding Americans to be thankful for what their ancestors went through for religious freedom.
Seventeen Quakers purchased East Jersey for a place for Friends to live in where they would not be persecuted. Here, they found refuge and peace.

When William Penn received Pennsylvania as payment for a debt from King Charles II, and also the land of Delaware(which the Duke of York threw into the deal), he met with some Indians and established a treaty with them, the only treaty between white men and Indians that was never broken, as a French philosopher pointed out later on. In this treaty, he bought land from the Indians.
In Pennsylvania, Penn established the ‘Frame of Government,’ which was based primarily on the Quaker beliefs yet gave freedom to all religious groups. Later, when the leaders of the United States gathered to make the Constitution, they used a lot of these principles. It was very good that the Founding Fathers didn’t use Puritan principles, or they would have had a state church.

The Quakers tried to be consistent with the faith in all they did, including business and day-to-day living. They were the first Christians to release all their slaves, and were prompted to do so by John Woolman. A Friends couple, William and Esther Tuke, opened a home for the mentally ill, which was contrary to the harsh and cruel conditions such citizens were kept in during that time in England. They believed the disturbed should be treated in a kind and loving way, which was most definitely abnormal in the times where such people were poked fun at, treated harshly and cruelly, laughed at, and degraded.
Elizabeth Fry, in the early 1800s, was a Quaker woman who cleaned up the English woman’s prison in London’s Newgate Prison.
Quaker grocer Joseph Hires developed Root Beer as an alternative for alcohol for his customers.
The Rowntree and Cadbury families, who were also Friends, got into the business of chocolate and cocoa, et cetera, and sold hot chocolate as an alternative for the alcoholic drinks their peers were fond of.
Thomas Dimsdale, a Quaker doctor, was summoned to Russia to show them the vaccination for smallpox, and people consider Joseph Lister, also a Friend, to be the leader of antiseptic surgeries.

Today, Quakers have meetings all over the world. I find it humorous that Americans now find Quakers old-fashioned, ridiculous, snobby, and religious, when they were the ones that, thanks to them, Americans are not persecuted for their beliefs.

Note: I do not endorse quite a few of Quakers' beliefs. They do have some strange ones! But there have been some great Quakers and I decided to do an article on them

Abby :)

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