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Society of Friends

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The Religious Society of Friends, better known as the Quakers, is nominally a Christian group, though not all Quakers see themselves as Christians. There are roughly a quarter of a million Quakers worldwide. [1]

The Society of Friends was founded in England in 1648 as a breakaway from Puritanism. Pacifism is one of their major tenets and they have consistently opposed war. Their prayer meetings involve sitting quietly.

Quakers believe that all people are created equal in the eyes of God. They were some of the first to value women as important ministers and to campaign for women's rights; they became leaders in the anti-slavery movement, and were among the first to pioneer for humane treatment of prisoners and individuals with mental disorders.

Quietism[edit]

The essence of Quaker spirituality, as seen in the history of the movement, is a form of Christian mysticism known as quietism, understood as 'the direct experience of God culminating in divine union.' The Quaker innovation is to undergo this "direct experience of God" in a group setting, which answers the Roman Catholic objections to quietism as undermining Church discipline and unity. Quietism was a target of the Roman Inquisition well into the 1700's.

Persecution[edit]

The Society was banned from Massachusetts for many years - Mary Dyer was hanged for going back there to preach her beliefs. This banishment eventually led to the founding of Pennsylvania as a safe home for them. Quakers were not allowed to sit in the British parliament from 1698 to 1833. Many Quakers have been imprisoned for being conscientious objectors in wartime.

A famous trial involved the prosecution of William Penn in England in 1670 for preaching a Quaker sermon, which was illegal at the time. The jury found him not guilty; the judge then imprisoned the jury and informed them they would remain in jail until they changed their verdict. The jury refused to change their verdict, and fighting their own case from jail, won their freedom using a writ of habeas corpus (a legal procedure seeking injunction against unlawful imprisonment first recorded in England in 1305). This case is often considered a precedent setting case affirming the use of habeas corpus as well as establishing that jurors cannot be prosecuted for their decisions in cases where jury nullification occurs or is perceived to have occurred. William Penn would later go on to be granted a charter for a new colony, Pennsylvania, and to found the city of Philadelphia.

The Klan[edit]

In the 1920s, many southern Indiana Quakers joined the Ku Klux Klan, e.g. Quaker minister Daisy Douglas BarrWikipedia's W.svg.[2][3]

Honours[edit]

The Society was collectively awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947. The Quaker and prison reformer Elizabeth Fry was until recently (2016) pictured on the Bank of England five pound note.

Famous Quakers[edit]

  • Captain Ahab, ambulatory-challenged sportsman.
  • Edward R. Murrow, chain-smoking anchorman who fought McCarthyism.
  • Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the United States (1929-33). Thanks to his belief in progressivism he made sure to give huge income tax increases for everyone (for the poor-from 1.5% to 4%, for millionaires-38% to 63%), taking a corporatist approach to the Great Depression by telling employers to Keep Wages High. He also signed... Anyone? Anyone? -- the Republican-backed Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, which only helped sink the economy even faster. Well, he was an engineer, not an economist. Also refused to engage in Gunboat Diplomacy.
  • A. Mitchell PalmerWikipedia's W.svg, Attorney General who hired J. Edgar Hoover. His famous Palmer RaidsWikipedia's W.svg earned him the moniker, "the Fighting Quaker".
  • Richard Milhous Nixon, one and a half-term President of the United States (1969-74), eminent proponent of carpet bombing, was a member of The "Friends Church" (or in specific East Whittier Friends Church), not the Religious Society of Friends - a spinoff sect of Quakers that parted ways in the early 19th Century with the Society of Friends and has more in common with Evangelical Christians.
  • Lyndon LaRouche, bowtie-wearing fanatic (1922-not dead yet) who fancies himself a genius in pretty much everything. Lyndon and his father were both "disowned" by the Society of Friends in Lynn, MA after they accused the sect of closet Bolshevism. He has a pretty long history of brownshirt tactics, directing his members to go smash heads and threaten other physical violence if he doesn't like someone. Imagine if Richard Nixon had even less shame and L. Ron Hubbard had less scruples and human decency, and these men fused together like Goku and Vegeta. The being they would create would be named Lyndon LaRouche and he would have a repugnance level of over one million.
  • Priscilla Hiss, wife of Soviet spy Alger Hiss. When fellow Quaker Richard Nixon swore her in during the highly publicized Hiss Trials, he asked her to solemnly affirm to tell the truth (Quakers can't swear, they can only affirm) highlighting for the world and the jury how a good Quaker girl became a godless communist, and earning for Nixon the undying derision of the liberal media.
  • Eric Baker, co-founder of Amnesty International (1920-1976). Probably more typical Quaker than the above.[4]
  • William Penn, founder of the state of Pennsylvania (1644-1718), egalitarian and democrat, received the state of Pennsylvania from King Charles II as a way of paying off royal debts. Incidentally the debts were to his father and the state is named after his father, whose given name also was William and who was emphatically not a Quaker.
  • Robert Lawrence Smith, author of "A Quaker Book of Wisdom," one of the most well-known books on Quakerism for non-Quakers, and former headmaster of Sidwell Friends School in Washington DC (the school which numerous children of US Presidents attended, as well as the high school from which Bill Nye graduated).

See also[edit]

References[edit]