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social sciences

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Conservative, or liberal, Quakers adhere to earlier versions of Quakerism, believing that the Inner Light shines in every human being and that unprogrammed worship--gathering silently together, until one friend feels the spirit of God move him or her to share testimony--allows Quakers to experience and share this light with their peers. In the twentieth century they have also grown to view the Bible much less literally than their orthodox counterparts and stress the potential divinity in each person over the dominant narrative of Christ.

These differences help account for the diversity of opinion in the American Quaker community about homosexuality. Evangelical Quakers in the United States and around the world resemble other more conservative religions in their view that homosexuality should not be accepted nor should same-sex unions be celebrated. For example, in 1992, the Friends Church Southwest Yearly Meeting issued a statement declaring, "We reject and utterly oppose homosexual activity, especially the 'blessing' of same sex unions, as sinful and displeasing to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."

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In contrast, conservative Quaker communities have extended welcome and acceptance to gay men and lesbians. Many Quaker meetings have passed resolutions in favor of equal rights for glbtq people, including recognition of same-sex unions. As early as 1986, for example, the Beacon Hill, Massachusetts Meeting affirmed "the goodness of committed, loving relationships and offers recognition and support to those who share this ideal and desire to enter into a permanent relationship based upon it . . . . The same loving care and consideration should be given to both same-sex and heterosexual applicants as outlined in Faith and Practice."

Overall, Quakers who worship in the tradition of the original Quakers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries have responded to homosexuality with compassion and sometimes complete acceptance.

Geoffrey W. Bateman

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social sciences >> Overview:  Anglicanism / Episcopal Church

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social sciences >> Anthony, Susan B.

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Abbott, Margery Post, et al. Historical Dictionary of the Friends (Quakers). Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2003.

Bacon, Margaret Hope. The Quiet Rebels: The Story of Quakers in America. Wallingford, Pa.: Pendle Hill Publications, 1999.

Haines, James. "Quakers." Gay Histories and Cultures. George E. Haggerty, ed. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. 2000. 721-23.

Heron, Alastair, ed. Towards a Christian View of Sex. London: Friends Service Committee, 1963.

Hogan, Steve, and Lee Hudson. "Quakers." Completely Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1998.

"The Society of Friends and Homosexuality."


    Citation Information
    Author: Bateman, Geoffrey W.  
    Entry Title: Quakers  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated December 14, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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