#1 Are Quakers Catholic?
No, Although Quakerism and Catholicism are each Christian denominations, they are exceptionally different and should not be conflated.
The key similarities and differences between Quakers and Catholics are:
|Meetings||Unprogrammed, silent, in a circle, not all use scriptures, but many still use the bible||Standard congregations, often large gatherings, also not especially scripture-centric.|
|Priests or Clergy||No||Yes|
|Equality of all (priests, man, woman, all vehicles of God?)||Yes||No|
|God is in everything||Yes||Yes|
|Church||No, Meeting Houses||Yes|
|The Afterlife||Up for interpretation, more focused on life-on-earth||Yes, obtaining entrance into Heaven is the primary goal of your life on earth|
|Meetings – Listening or Talking||Listening||Talking|
|Jesus as Lord and Savior||No (some)||Yes|
|Approach to Religion||Plain and modest, quieter and more minimalist than Catholics||Extravagant and ornate to display worship to God (Example, the Vatican)|
|Religion open to interpretation||Yes – Quakers encourage individualism||No – Catholics would prefer everyone believe uniformly|
|Can be Atheist, Agnostic, Muslim, etc. & Still be Quaker/Catholic?||Yes – Can be Quaker and any of those things||No – Can only be Catholic|
Some Quakers argue that they could learn more about community from Catholicism, while some Catholics state that they would like to be more reflective and still like the Quakers. Despite their differences, there is a foundation of Christian morals at the base of each faith
- “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6
- “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’’ – Acts 2:21
#2 Are Quakers Vegetarians?
Not all Quakers are vegetarian, but there is a large population since the Vegetarian Society of England began in 1847. The ‘Friends Vegetarian Society’ (with Quakers also known as ‘Friends’) began by 1902, and vegetarianism became an integral aspect of the faith.
The main reasons that Quakers are vegetarian are:
- For bodily health
- To help the environment
- To avoid harming living things
- To not harm the world’s “poor and hungry” – (friendsjournal.org)
- The bible says, “Thou shout not kill.”
Although many Quakers prescribe to a liberal and self-empowered perspective on Quakerism, others take a more puritanical outlook of legalism. If a Quaker were more traditional, they would follow the bible’s direct scripture, not allowing room for abstract interpretation.
However, to this point, one could also plainly interpret other scriptures, such as Genesis 9:3, as permission from God to eat meat:
“Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.”
- “You shall not murder.” – Exodus 20:13.
- “And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.” – Genesis 1:29-30.
- Quaker.org.uk – Should Quakers Be More Vegan? – Friend’s House; July 24th, 2018.
#3 Are Quakers Celibate?
No, Quakers are not celibate.
The view around sexuality in Quakerism drastically changed after the early 20th century after a piece was published by ‘British Friends’ in 1924, titled, “Marriage and Parenthood: The Problem of Birth Control.” They used this document to describe that contraceptives do not promote promiscuity, and to sexually educated in a productive and non-judgmental manner.
From this point on, there has been a revolution in the liberal interpretation and open-mindedness of the Quaker population. One may conjure up images of the traditionalist Quaker (man in suspenders with beard and hat; woman wearing a bonnet in a floor-length skirt). While this is true of many Quakers, there are plenty of Quakers in the LBGTQ, modern, and non-Christian communities as well.
Being that many Quakers are homo-sexual, non-binary, Muslim, Atheist, etc. – It is considered a highly-inclusive denomination that would not judge one’s sexual morals.
Ultimately, a Quaker is expected to be modest, kind, and prove love to God through self-empowerment. There is little regulation on how a disciple should conduct themselves sexually, and this is left up to each individual.
Keep in mind; this does not mean that there are no traditionalists. There are plenty of Quakers that would find sex before marriage morally wrong; however, there is also a large majority that would not cast judgment on this choice.
- “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28.
- “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” – Hebrews 13:4.
- Quakerquaker.org – Quakers and Sex – a Call to Embrace Sexual Diversity; February 21st, 2016.
#4 Are Quakers Puritans?
Although some Quakers are considered ‘radical Puritans,’ others argue that Puritans are not even in existence today.
The key similarities and differences between Quakers and Puritans are:
|Population||377,000 worldwide||6,746 (No governing body or leader, difficult to measure with some unsure if Puritans still exist)|
|Began in||The 1600s for each|
|History||Each wanted to escape to America for safety and to create a society that would be pure and minimalist, benefiting society|
|Children Sinning||Not born in sin but are capable of sinning||Born in sin – the job of the parents is to (physically or psychologically) beat the devil out of the child|
|Adults Sinning||God lives in everyone, and sins can be forgiven||God may forsake the world because humanity is hopeless and innately sinful|
|Sacraments||No||Yes, baptism and communion|
|Services||In a Meeting House or Home||In a Church|
|Church Viewed As||Liberal, allowing autonomy||Rigid, establishing a system|
|Blessings||Come from within||Come from God to a select few, only a few are chosen for salvation|
|Bible Used For||Foundation and guidance||Establishing direct laws|
|Equality of Genders||No||Yes|
Essentially, Puritans are the stricter and more traditionalist approach to Christian morals, while Quakers allow some autonomy and personal jurisdiction in the matters of biblical interpretation.
Their separation in the 1600s was because Puritans thought they were better than the Native Americans, while Quakers thought they were not better. Puritans became so offended that they banished and executed Quakers that attempted to preach or offer aid to Native Americans.
Similarly, in today’s age, Quakers embrace that men and women are equal (with everyone able to participate in their own priesthood by acting as their own intermediary to God).
Conversely, Puritans cling to a gender hierarchy that places men ahead of women.
- “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” – Romans 6:1.
- “Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman;” – 1 Corinthians 11:11.
- Puritan VS Quaker – October 27th, 2014.
#5 Are Quakers Anabaptist?
No, but it is easy to conflate these two groups. Both the Quakers and Anabaptists formed ‘Historic Peace Churches’, but they were still distinct and separate groups.
Keep in mind that:
- Anabaptists do not believe in infant baptism.
- Quakers do not participate in any sacraments (including baptisms) for adults or infants.
However, Quakers are not described as Anabaptists. The Anabaptist movement began in 1520 during a period of reformation and religious turmoil. The two groups worked together and simultaneously rejected infant baptism, but Quakers cannot be classified into this subgroup because they do not promote adult baptisms (while Anabaptists do).
The key similarities and differences between Quakers and Anabaptists are:
|Founded in||The 1600s||1520|
|Christian||Yes – Same|
|Predestination||No – Same|
|Possibility of Regeneration||Yes – Same|
|Looking Inward for God||Yes – Same|
|Holy Spirit||Yes – Same|
|Peaceful||Yes – Same|
|Self-Autonomy and Empowerment||Yes – Same|
|Scriptural-Based||Yes, somewhat||Yes, more-so|
|Bible||Not final Word||Yes, final word|
|Worship||Quiet, reflective||Scriptural, communal, singing|
|Trading and Large-Scale Business||No, more modest (tend to be farmers commonly)||Yes (Tend to be retailers, bankers, merchandisers, etc.)|
|Embrace Political Support||Yes, sometimes||No, less often|
- “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” – 1 Peter 3:21.
- “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 2:38.
· How are Quakers Different Than Anabaptists? November, 10th, 2016.
#6 Are Quakers Pacifists?
Yes, Quakers are fundamentally pacifistic and do not use weapons, promote war, or encourage violence.
Quakers may describe that the God they receive and hear from is a God of peace. Quakers believe that their interpretation of God contradicts any omnipresent power that would promote war and killing.
They believe that God is against war and deems that conflicts can be addressed non-violently.
There are rare exceptions, where you will see videos or content from conflating opinions (such as this clip from Quaker Speak, Why I’m Not a Pacifist); however, since 1650, Quakers have prided themselves on being an outwardly peace-oriented congregation.
“Peace has always been a very important expression of how Quakers are guided by the Spirit. We wrestle with our understanding of what God requires of us. We are asked to consider if we are called to be pacifists, but this determination is left to the individual as conscience dictates. For many, it has meant a commitment to nonviolence and conscientious objection to participating in war. Some Quakers, however, have served in the military. Quaker institutions, such as meetings, generally hold to a pacifist position.”
- “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” – 1 John 3:15.
- “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27.
- “Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.” – Revelation 2:16.
Why I’m Not a Pacifist – Quaker Speak; March 24th, 2016.
#7 Are Quakers Amish?
No, Quakers and Amish are distinct denominations that have a significant number of similarities and differences.
The key distinctions between the Quakers and the Amish are:
|Population||377,000 worldwide||270,000 in the U.S. (most are located in the U.S.)|
|Peaceful||Yes – Both|
|Abstain from Electricity and Modern Amenities||Sometimes, less often in modern-day||Yes|
|Historically Grew From||1600s Restoration Movement in England||Anabaptist Reformation Movement in 1500s|
|Infant Baptism||No – Same|
|Modest Dress||Yes||Yes, the Amish Dress the way Quakers used to|
|Separate from the Fallen World||No||Yes|
|Calvinistic||Yes, open to salvation||No, no discussion|
|Women have Authority||Yes||No|
|Equality of Genders||Yes||No|
|Sacraments (Baptism, Communion)||No||Yes|
- “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” – Mark 7:21-23.
- Quaker Speak – Are Quakers Amish? July 17th, 2014.
#8 Are Quakers Still Around?
Yes, Quakers are still around and have created many liberal and progressive groups in America, often called ‘Friends’ or ‘Society of Friends.’
Originating in England in the 1650s, there are presently 377,000 worldwide,with the largest percentage of disciples being located in Africa.
Major Quaker groups in America to be aware of are:
- The Friends General Conference – FGCQuaker.org
- Independent Friends – WesternFriend.org
- Friends United Meeting – FriendsUnitedMeeting.org
- Evangelical Friends – efcer.org
- Friends in Latin America and The Caribbean – Fwccamericas.org
- “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” – Psalm 46:10.
- “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” – 1 John 5:3.
- Worldwide Network of Quakers – Friends Center; Quaker Speak – November 20th, 2014.
#9 Are Quakers Christian?
Yes and no.
Most Quakers are Christian, but one of the foundational pillars of what makes a Quaker – Is the fact that they do not attempt to define, classify, quantify, or fully-understand God.
There are Quakers that are:
- Nontheist Quakers
In this sense, Quakers are no required to be Christian or prescribe to any one form of the belief system. The Quaker theology is built-upon principles of:
- Equality of genders
- Direct communication to a higher power (no priest or minister required)
Any of these principles could be applied to the life of a Muslim, Agnostic, or Non-Theist Quaker; therefore, you do not need to be explicitly Christian to be Quaker.
- “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” – Romans 15:7.
- “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35.
- Are Quakers Christian? Quaker Speak; October 31st, 2019.