Friends

A group of religious bodies, including: the Orthodox Society of Friends; the Hicksite Society of Friends, dissenters under the leadership of Elias Hicks; the Wilburite Orthodox Conservative Friends, separatists under the leadership of John Wilbur; and the Religious Society of Friends of Philadelphia who seceded from the Wilburites. The religious movement known as the Society of Friends (Orthodox), and commonly called Quakers, and also Children of Truth, Children of Light, Friends of Truth, began in England about the middle of the 17th century under the direction of George Fox. The Quakers suffered persecution in Massachusetts, Virginia, and Connecticut, but were cordially received, in Rhode Island. The first meeting-house was established, 1756. Although the first attitude of the Friends was to treat slavery with toleration, many dissensions arose and finally in 1776 slaveholders were to be 'disowned' if they refused to manumit their slaves. They were subject to much suffering during the Revolution since they took no part in the war because of their religion. A small body of Friends actively supported the Revolution, and were disowned or seceded. They were known as the Free or Fighting Quakers, but after the war they disappeared, and the Friends loyally supported the new government. Although the doctrine of the Orthodox Friends agrees in essential points with that of the Christian Church, they differ in the manner of worship and appointment of ministers; attach great importance to the immediate personal teaching of the Holy Spirit, or Light Within, or Inner Light; have no outward ordinances, including Baptism and the Supper, on the ground that they are not essential, were not commanded by Christ, and, moreover, tend to draw the soul away from the essential to the non-essential and formal; and teach the doctrine of peace and nonresistance, in accordance with which no Friend can fight or directly support war. Monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings, purely business organizations, are held, and woman is absolutely equal with man in Friends' polity. They publish four periodicals. Foreign missionary work is carried on in Syria, India, China, Japan, British East Africa, Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba, Jamaica, and Alaska.

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