Learn about the Quakers religion, including the history of the group as well as some of their practices and beliefs. Also learn some interesting Quaker facts.
The Quakers is a religion that was established in the mid-17th century. Like many religions, it has splintered off into different groups with varying beliefs and practices.
Quakers Religion: History
It was in mid-17th century England that a man named George Fox became dissatisfied with Puritan Christianity. He started a group called the Religious Society of Friends.
The meetings were marked by silent meditation with people – both men and women – speaking when they felt led to do so.
Over the years, and even after much of the group moved to the United States to escape persecution in England, it remained quite progressive in many of its ways.
- Allowing women to have an equal role and standing as men
- Refusing to participate in combat
- Fighting for the freedom of slaves
- Being instrumental in the Underground Railroad
- Fighting for the rights of Native Americans
The Religious Society of Friends is still a strong group, with members in many countries around the world.
Quakers Religion: Beliefs
The beliefs of the Quakers vary from group to group, but there are some similarities.
- Personal Revelation: This is one of the most distinctive features of Quaker beliefs. While they do believe in the Bible, they feel that many aspects of one’s belief system must come through meditation and personal revelation.
- Baptism: Many Christian groups baptize in water, but Quakers believe that baptism is an inward act rather than something done outwardly.
- Equality: Quakers are strongly committed to the idea that all humans are equal.
- Meditation: Spending time in quiet communion with God is very important to most Quakers.
The styles of meetings vary among different Quaker groups. Traditionally, the meetings would be silent. Believers would gather and then sit in silent meditation with God. There was no music, preaching or singing. When someone in the group felt inspired to speak, they would do so.
Today, conservative Quakers still hold the same type of quiet meetings. More liberal groups may have services that resemble a Baptist or Protestant service with preaching and singing.
Quakers Religion: Facts
Some fun facts about the Quakers.
- Some say that the Religious Society of Friends earned the nickname “Quakers” when George Fox told a judge that he should “tremble before the word of the Lord.” The judge in reply called him a Quaker, and the nickname has continued ever since. Others say the nickname was earned because members quake when they worship.
- The largest population of Quakers today is found in Kenya, where the group is more than 125,000 strong.
- Quakers believe that God lives in every person, and that is why all humans deserve to be treated equally.
- William Penn, who settled Pennsylvania, was a Quaker.