Essays

The Eternal Quaker

Quakers took their Christianity seriously, with disastrous results.

THE QUAKER experience in Pennsylvania can be described in terms of three tendencies which will help us understand what caused the Quakers to fail in government and what helped them continue, despite heavy trials, to be dedicated Quakers.

Self-Purity and Perfectionism:

Although Penn had originally set himself the task of a holy experiment, of building a community on Friendly foundations, leading Quakers of Pennsylvania showed an unremitting preoccupation, sometimes close to obsession, with the purity of their own souls. On more than one occasion, the Quakers in power seemed more anxious for their own principles than for the welfare, or even the survival, of the province itself…Somehow, whenever tested, the Quakers chose the solution which kept themselves pure, even though others might have to pay the price. To avoid taking oaths, Quakers sacrificed the humanity of criminal laws. While die-hard Quakers kept free of the taint of militarism and preserved inviolate their testimony against war, hundreds of innocent women and children were being massacred by Indians in western Pennsylvania.

Cosmopolitanism:

One of the distinctive features of the Pennsylvania experiment was that American Quakers were subject to constant persuasion, surveillance, and scrutiny from afar. The powerful rules of the London Yearly Meeting were remote from the perils, opportunities, and challenges of America; yet their influence was a check on what might have been the normal adaption of Quaker doctrines to life in America. 

The Society of Friends had become a kind of international conspiracy for Peace and for primitive Christian perfection. Some years later after the Revolution, Thomas Jefferson called them “a religious sect…acting with one mind, and that directed by the mother society in England. Dispersed, as the Jews, they still form, as those do, one nation, foreign to the land they live in. They are Protestant Jesuits, implicitly devoted to the will of their superior, and forgetting all duties to their country in the execution of the policy of their order.”

Insularity

Quaker discipline required Friends to set themselves apart. Intermarriage with non-Quakers was frowned on or prohibited; a young Friend would be officially warned against the charms of the particular non-Friend whom he had been courting. The Quaker Meetings, ostensibly for reasons of peace and good fellowship, required their members to submit disputes to arbitration by the Meeting itself rather than use the regular courts of law. They even organized the “Friendly Association” which they set up to deal with Indians outside the government. In these ways they put themselves outside the law, confined by ghetto walls built by their own principles and cemented by the purity of their consciences. 

— excerpted from Americans: The Colonial Experience by Daniel J. Boorstin (1958)

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Source: Volkish

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Arvin N. Prebost
Arvin N. Prebost
5 October, 2021 10:59 am

I have read that some frontiersmen brought in wagonloads of tortured and butchered Whites to show the Quaker leaders, to try to persuade them that there was a real and persistent danger that existed in the lives of their fellow Whites.

I doubt that the Quaker leaders even bothered to look at the contents of the wagons.

This is very strong indication that liberalism IS Christianity. Maybe without the miracles and perhaps the sexual morality, but other than that, I think they are very similar.

KingVirzion The devout Disciple of Adolf Hitler
KingVirzion The devout Disciple of Adolf Hitler
Reply to  Arvin N. Prebost
5 October, 2021 11:20 pm

Liberalism CAME from Christianity. Of course they are the same

Susan
Susan
12 October, 2021 1:08 pm

Thanks for this piece on Quakers. I’ve wondered about them. It explains why the American Friends Service Committee participated in the effort to integrate blacks into White neighborhoods in the block busting era. In case anyone is wondering “What could go wrong?” about housing integration, writing as a person living in a formerly all-White suburban city now inundated with Section 8 renters, this is what goes wrong: unkempt front yards, speeding and reckless drivers, “doughnuts” and other “sideshows” in intersections, the sounds of gunshots, mailbox and porch delivery thefts, need for more security in stores, degradation of the high school, ruin of the city’s reputation, loss of social cohesion, and other maladies.