The Religious Society of Friends (commonly called Quakerism) grew out of the Christian tradition in England in the mid-1600s. The movement began with George Fox, who dissented against the Church of England. He lived during a time of social upheaval and war. Throughout his life, he abandoned luxuries and suffered imprisonment for his beliefs. Although he had little formal education, he did not let that limit his teachings, because he believed the Spirit of God is available to each person, and that the Spirit could speak through anyone who listened. Quakers continue this tradition today during Meetings for Worship.
The Bible is an inspirational source of truth from the Divine Spirit. Jesus of Nazareth taught us that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us, so new insights and understandings can also come to each of us, without an intermediary such as a paid minister.
Quakers uphold six testimonies, commonly called the SPICES, which include:
Quakers have upheld these testimonies throughout history by maintaining values of pacifism, abolitionism, plain dress, women's suffrage, marriage equality, feminism, anti-racism, and environmental sustainability. American Friends like John Woolman spearheaded the abolitionist movement in the American colonies. The Public Universal Friend advocated for women's leadership in religious roles and challenged the gender binary in the 1700's. Today, Quakers continue to advocate for social change through organizations like the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), which supports policies to stop endless wars, reduce human-caused climate change, and care for refugees.