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  The Society of Friends (Quakers), as it is known today, has had an influence out of all proportion to its numbers. As with many other religious movements, an insulting epithet, in this case describing the way they were alleged to ‘quake’ before God in their meetings, has become an honourable name. They themselves maintained they were a Religious Society (originally called the Society of the Friends of Truth), partly because they abhorred all the theology, pomp and ceremony of churches (‘steeple-houses’) and especially of the Church of England, and partly to try and evade crushing 17th-century legislation against Nonconformists. Addressing each other as ‘Friend’ and using the familiar ‘Thee/Thou’ form, and eschewing all the social customs and formal etiquette of the day, they took Protestantism to its ultimate conclusion. However, they also developed a positive theology based on believers finding ‘inner light’ within themselves, prayer, meditation and reading the Scriptures without the use of any sacraments, clergy or music. They are distinguished by their integrity, complete tolerance, absolute pacifism and support of ‘green’ issues. EMJ

Further reading W.C. Braithwaite, The Beginnings of Quakerism; , R.M. Jones, The Faith and Practice of the Quakers.



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