ABC News, “From eco activists to anarchist allies, Quakers are redefining what it means to be Christian”

What do Cadbury, Clarks Shoes and Greenpeace have in common? They were all founded by Quakers.

The Christian faith known as the Religious Society of Friends — or, more colloquially, as Quakerism — was founded in the 1650s in north England by the activist George Fox.

Unimpressed by what he saw as a disconnect between Christian values and the behaviour of the Church, Fox established a faith based upon equality, social justice and pacifism.

It may sound like a peaceful endeavour, but the religion and its rule-breaking followers were far too progressive for the 17th century establishment.

Fox’s non-hierarchical views were particularly controversial. He believed that anyone could have a relationship with God, making churches and clergy dispensable.

Between 1662 and 1670, it’s estimated 6,000 Quakers were imprisoned for various crimes, including refusing to swear an oath in court or remove their headwear before a magistrate.

The Religious Society of Friends is no longer persecuted, but Quakers can still be characterised by non-conformity and commitment to peaceful rebellion.

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