UC Not Dangerous

William Penn

William Penn "found himself a prisoner in the Tower of London for denying the Trinity. Penn had repeated Fox’s claim that the word Trinity was not in the Bible and had borrowed arguments from Unitarians whom he respected for their moral earnestness." To be freed from the Tower, Penn had to show that he did not deny Christ’s divinity. "In prison Penn wrote a short version of his book No Errors, No Crown that said everyone should shun all luxury, pride and worldly living and "daily bear the holy Cross of Christ ... in this present evil world" and "look for ... the coming of Christ." If they did, they would be rewarded in heaven forever.

Penn wrote tracts on toleration appealing to non-Quakers: "He felt that outside people had been given ‘a measure of Truth" from the universal Light. Everyone, he felt, would see that persecution of Quakers was wrong."

Early Quakers believed that more Light, more revelations were being given and finally everyone would become a Quaker.

Fox pushed for separation of Church and State and in universal religious toleration. He was one of the first Protestants to have the idea of foreign missionaries. Fox wrote to the Pope and other dignitaries around the world and told his followers to witness "to all nations under heaven."

Quakers were told to stop meeting but they refused and met openly and refused to meet in secret and openly defied oaths of allegiance such as we do in America with the pledge of allegiance. They would not obey many laws and customs of the land. They were constantly persecuted. Like the early Christians, they were persecuted off and on. One time they were severely persecuted because they were lumped with all the small sects and of course out of many groups a few are deranged and idiotic. One group called themselves the Fifth Monarchy Men. They were a radical millenarian sect who believed four monarchies had come and now the final fifth Messianic monarchy was now being revealed and followers of Christ should fight to establish it. So 35 men in London with guns on the night of January 6, 1661 left their hall and tried to seize the city of London, crying, "King James and their heads upon the gates!" The city militia put them down after they roamed about the city scaring the people.

All sects were promptly jailed, especially the Baptists and Quakers. The political leaders prohibited meetings of any small religious group and they were all forced to take oaths of allegiance to the state. The jails were crowded with Friends because they met as usual in their churches and were arrested en masse. 4,230 Quakers were put in prison in a few days in London.

Fox and some of his leaders wrote a letter which was presented to the King and published in London a few days later. They said they are pacifist and never fight. They wrote "we can say to all the world; we have wronged no man’s persons or possessions; we have used no force nor violence against any man; we have been found in no plots nor guilty of sedition when we have been wronged, we have not sought to revenge ourselves." This is exactly what the UC has done when out of hysteria that people like Betty Underwood get their friends like Senator Hatfield to endorse their actions to use the force of the state to take away the freedom of adults. The UC defends itself in court and spends millions of dollars on lawyers and in full page ads in papers saying they are not violent and dangerous, but they are fanatically dedicated workaholics for their cause and feel they have they have that right to be nonconformist and preach world salvation.

The Quakers were persecuted by not only having their meetings broken up and imprisoned but their enemies took them to court to punish them with fines. Many Quakers were financially ruined often by simply having to spend so much time away from work or business that they lost their jobs or businesses.

Quakers worked to get legislation passed for tolerance. In 1689 parliament passed the Toleration Act that gave limited tolerance to Friends. After 40 years of persecution they had finally won a legal battle and given some rights.

For the first 40 years of the Quaker church it is difficult to estimate the number of Friends who suffered imprisonment or other legal penalties. Many Quakers kept accounts of those who "suffered in the cause of Truth." Penn estimated that thousands died in prisons.

When they went to America, they were persecuted there too. An example was in 1662 the barbarous "Cart and Whip Act" in Massachusetts Bay Colony, "under it, many Friends, including women and children, were strapped to the waist, tied to the tail of carts and whipped through towns, ten lashes each, until they were out of the province." In parts of America Quaker meetings were illegal and they were fined if found.

The noted theologian and Quaker himself, Elton Trueblood wrote a book on the Quakers saying that the popular image is one of "mild and harmless people, largely given to silence, totally unaggressive" and that they are not evangelical or evangelistic. They are "generally understood" to be like the "benign character of the man pictured on the Quaker Oats box."

"It is believed," he says, "that Quakerism is a faith which , being essentially antique, is, irrelevant to the life of modern man and women. Many, who hear of the Quaker faith, are not sure whether it is Christian, and few look upon it as a live option for themselves today." He loves his church and says people don’t really know the church and that he wants to right a "false image" because the church is not taken seriously in society and looked at "as a queer little sect."

In telling the story of Quakerism he says there was a "Quaker explosion" in its first "forty exciting years between 1650 and 1690. In this period, Quakerism began in England and spread rapidly to various parts of the world. Starting from nothing" but Fox and a few disciples who burned with fanaticism, "Quakerism was, for a while, the fastest-growing movement of the Western World. Thousands of Quakers, both men and women, suffered cruel imprisonment; many were whipped and beaten; and four, including one woman, were hanged on Boston Common." He says they were all passionate proseltyzers. "Nearly all, in spite of wide differences of ability and of education, engaged in preaching to anyone who would listen, and even some jailers were convinced by the persuasiveness of the message. Kings were addressed; governments were influenced; books and pamphlets were published in fantastic numbers. Whatever the Quakers were, they were not a harmless sect." He says they were filled with "dynamism" For forty years they were a "religious storm. Far from being moderate, the first Quakers exhibited the kind of ‘excessiveness’ which Professor Alfred North Whitehead in Adventures of Ideas has assured us is ‘a necessary element in all greatness. The truly moderate man is not likely to achieve very much.'"

Eric Hoffer, the author of The True Believer, explains that pioneers are "diamond-hard revolutionaries" who build movements that later settle down and become moderate. One of my favorite motivational speakers and writers is Brian Tracy who explains that to get a plane of a ground is a good analogy of getting anything off the ground like a business, the pilot has to race the engine for a short time to get lift off and when the plane is up then the plane can cruise and the engine can be run at medium speed. If the engine were pushed all the time to its limit as it is when there is take-off, it would soon burnout. Moon has taught, and many members do not seem to know this, that we must pace ourselves. He works round the clock but as we saw in his year at Danbury prison he paces himself. He is not frantic, but he is not slow. And like all founders, he outworks his followers. Today the 20 year olds that Barb worked with in Oakland on their crazy fundraisng teams are not single anymore and not traveling in vans. They have settled down in suburbs and are members of the PTA. Even Onni is not leading a dynamic organization now but is home with her babies.

Trueblood continues saying that early Quakers were an "extreme statement of the Reformation. One evidence of the extreme character of Quakerism was the fact that the new breed of preachers were disturbers of the peace. They spoke in church services where they had captive audiences, they shocked officials by treating them as equals rather than with obsequious manners, they treated women as the equals of men, they sang in prison, and they made an effective witness behind prison walls."

"Far from separating themselves from the world, the first Quakers established one important colony and were influential members of legislatures in several others." They had "a style of life in which there was terrific gusto, uninhibited by the fear of seeming extreme. Quakers did not hesitate, for example, to speak of their Movement as ‘Primitive Christianity Revived.’ The recognitions of the danger of immodesty seems to have played absolutely no part in the early nomenclature. Thus, there was no hesitation, among the early Quakers, particularly the dynamic men of the north of England, in calling themselves ‘First Publishers of the Truth.’ Another immodest name was ‘Children of the Light.'"

Members of the UC may have sold flowers in the 1970s at amazing long hours and "deceived" people by saying it was for "Christian Youth counseling" to millions of people but what if they acted like early Quakers?

Trueblood writes that we would see the early Quakers as "shocking." Everyone would be amazed to hear them talk using militant language. "The early Quakers, being steeped in the language of the New Testament, and therefore familiar with the military metaphors with which the New Testament abounds, did not hesitate to employ them. Knowing the Epistles as they did, they felt no embarrassment in speaking of ‘the breastplate of faith and love,’ or ‘for an helmet, the hope of salvation’ (I Thess. 5:8). When they were thrown into foul prisons, it helped them immensely to remember one who said, ‘Endure hardness, as a soldier of Jesus Christ’ (II Tim. 2:3). Militant language was so congenial to Quakers in general that they tended to refer to their entire struggle as the ‘Lamb’s War.’ Such was, indeed, the title of a book by the most eloquent and most maligned of all first-generation Quakers, James Nayler. This reference was also Biblical, being based on Revelation 17:14."

"Perhaps the strangest part of the present distorted image of Quakers is the idea that Quakers are excessively reticent and therefore uninterested in making converts. There may be such Quakers today, but it is doubtful if there was one such in the first forty years of the Quaker explosion. All tried to make converts and they tried all of the time. The clarity of Robert Barclay on this point is indicated by his unapologetic defense of proselytizing when he wrote, ‘We desire therefore all that come among us to be proselyted.’ They even took the opportunities provided by fairs and by wrestling matches. Any situation was a proper one in the Lamb’s War."

Rev. Moon is quoted out of context for using warlike imagery.

Fox, like the UC, constantly had to defend themselves from the accusation that they weren’t Christian. He wrote: "Whereas many scandalous lies and slanders have been cast upon us, to render us odious; as that we do deny God, and Christ Jesus, and the Scriptures of truth, etc. This is to inform you that all our books and declarations, which for these many years have been published to the world, do clearly testify the contrary."

People called them Quakers as an insult but they liked the term and considered the nickname "an unintended complement. It was a way of admitting that people were not insipid, but were, instead, the movers and shakers of the established order."

Trueblood says they had "total involvement." They wrote thousands of tracts. "In the first thirteen years after the start of 1652, Quakers were responsible for at least 25,000 printed pages. In spite of terrible hardships, including cruel imprisonments and other punishments, these people were writing, speaking, and traveling with a fertility that is hard to match in the history, not merely of any religious movement, but of any movement of any kind. These simple people naturally amaze us, as we consider their story in perspective, but it is worthwhile to know that they themselves were also amazed."

The UC story is the same. In its first 40 years it went from one man to a few people in a room to his traveling with the President of the United States and marrying more people the total population of Quakers worldwide today. Would Betty Underwood have believed this in the 70s when she took the church to court that in the next 20 years this little cult would be bigger than her church of 350 years? It happened because of a lot of fanaticism. And her church got off the ground 350 years ago because they were fanatics. Just as today, there were many groups competing for attention.

"During the period of Cromwell’s rise to power, England was seething with new religious movements. Several of these were well represented in Cromwell’s ‘New Model Army’ which is still regarded as one of the wonders of military history. These soldiers discussed religious ideas endlessly, and regiments even formed themselves into ‘gathered churches.’ We know the names of the new movements, not because they survived, but only because of the accounts of contemporary historians. The important fact to note is that nearly all of these movements died. They did not outlive, or did not long outlive, the vigorous influences of their founders. To the detached observer, the young George Fox appeared to be just another of these fervid innovators. Why, when so many new movements died quickly, did the one which was inspired by Fox flourish and survive?"

Trueblood explains that "Modern liberal Quakers" think that the early Quakers were like them, "mildly mystical." "But this is clearly an error." He says they did not live by "a mood of quiet contemplation, as modern man has been led to expect, but by confidence and gusto." He gives an example of Edward Burrough. Barb Underwood’s journal was used in court to show she was brainwashed and had lost all reason and needed help. Quakers often wrote journals and they would be seen as far worse off than Barb. Burroughs had a "combination of vitality and tenderness" and so "was called, by his associates, a Son of Thunder and Consolation. Words poured from him, in both written and spoken form, like a torrent." He was raised a Puritan and then at the age of seventeen he began to have spiritual experiences and when he was nineteen, he heard Fox speak and immediately joined. "After eleven years of feverish missionary activity, Burroughs was imprisoned at Newgate in London and died at the age of thirty.

His journal is filled with his passionate love of his mission. He wrote that he and his comrades "obeyed the light of Christ in us, and took up the Cross." They gave up everything, even family, and went wandering and preaching. He writes they "denied ourselves, our relations and all that stood in the way betwixt us and the Lord." He said he and his friends often felt "the pouring down of the Spirit upon us and our hearts were made glad, and our tongues loosed .. and then began we to sing praises to the Lord God Almighty" and to Jesus who had "brought us out of the captivity and bondage of the world."

He and his buddies would be seen as crazy Jesus freaks today. When they were taken to be tortured or be hanged Quakers acted like the early Christians who would be called what Unificationists are called, "brainwashed glassy eyed zombies." They prayed for their hangman and the crowd.

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