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Quakers - The Society of Friends

            Quakers, or the Society of Friends, is a religion that emerged in the mid 1600's in England. During the Civil War, many Christian based religions were forming. When a man named George Fox become unhappy with the Church of England, he had a revelation. He became convinced that it is possible to have a direct experience with god without the help of the church. Having a vision in Lancashire, England, George Fox believe that "The lord let him see in what places he had a great people gathered."5 Following this vision he travelled through England, the Netherlands, and Barbados, preaching his newly found religion, hoping to convert these people to his faith. The Society of Friends had a large amount of followers, especially in England and Wales, increasing to about 60,000 by 1680. Although the population of members of this group was growing, most people still believed the religion to be blasphemous, and led to the persecution of Quakers. Quakers of England were consistently thrown in jail, "some historians estimate that 15,000 had been imprisoned by 1689"6. A reason the people of the Quaker religion were so persecuted is because their beliefs and culture was different from the Anglican Church. Any religion that was practiced in England other than the Anglican Church would be persecuted. The Quakers believed that religion should be practiced more in your heart than in a church. Some of the main differences between the Quakers and the People of Anglican Church was that the Anglicans had very strict ways in which the must practice their religion. Every morning they would have to go to prayer and ask for forgiveness of their sins. They People of the Anglican Church also believed the bible to be sacred, and the only way to go to heaven was to attend sermon. They didn't believe man could achieve anything for themselves; only God could do that. The Quakers, however, believed that God should be in your spirit, not in sermon, and that your authority shouldn't come from a book (the bible), it should come from your "inner light"2, the force that drives you through your life.

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