By Peter Furtado
A small sect of fewer than 20,000 in the UK, and approximately 100,000 in the USA, Quakers have produced a disproportionate number of eminent thinkers, scientists, businessmen, and their teachings have been widely influential and become mainstream. Best known as pacifists, Quakers have always been at the forefront of social justice and conflict resolution, once being leaders in the abolitionist movement on three continents and, more recently, key players in international peacemaking and fighting global poverty. This book is a fascinating in-depth look at the Quaker religion, philosophy, distinctive culture and its place in history. With roots in the 17th century and the insights of George Fox, Quakers have a core belief in a direct experience of God by simply listening in silence with no need for priests, hierarchies, sacraments or other rituals, an absolute commitment to work for peace and have earned a reputation for being honest and plain speaking which helped them build successful enterprises in the 18th and 19th century. Like many religious sects, the Quakers also endured religious persecution and in the aftermath of the English Civil War fled to America for religious freedom, eventually establishing the Pennsylvania colony in 1681 as a haven for Quakers. Today, Quakers walk an intriguing line between their solemn and deeply held religious beliefs and the challenge of actively engaging in the modern world as they seek to better circumstances and in their founder's words, "walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone."