One of my favourite religions are the Quakers, or Society of Friends – I think just the name alone is fantastic. This religion founded in the mid-17th century as a break-off from the Church of England is often misunderstood or derided due to its name, the term Quaker was used to make fun off these worshipers but was soon adopted by the religion themselves.
Quakers have a small but stable following in New Zealand, and I think deserve better recognition as one of the most peaceful religious groups I know of so far. Quakers started due to the belief that religions had got ahead of themselves – that too much power was being given to the leaders of churches, that it was possible to worship without their aid, considered blasphemous by, you guessed it, the Church of England.
Quaker meetings do not follow traditional western religious patterns, there is no spiritual leader as such, but a quiet service is conducted with members free to speak or read as it takes them. There is a sense of peacefulness about them, they refused to serve actively in wars, often being prisoned for this or choosing to volunteer as ambulance and first-aid workers. There seems a higher placing on doing truly good deeds to others rather than caring about servicing God.
I must admit, I have often thought if I were to join one religion this has a strong pull – I have even heard you don’t have to believe in God, just be open to listening to others!