Quaker Myth Busters

MYTH: Quakers are Puritans

| Category: Falsehood

FALSE The Puritans in the Massachusetts Colony killed Quakers for being Quakers. A famous example is that of Mary Dyer.

Early Quakers were influenced by English Puritans’ rejection of non-Biblical practices some churches had adopted. For example, neither celebrated Christmas with a tree and mistletoe, because these were traditions adopted from Yule, a Pagan holiday, not from the Bible. Quakers at this time did not have strict rules of dress. Some even went naked as a sign (ex: Solomon Eccles). Legalism developed later, during what is known as the Quietist period, in the 18th century. Eventually a return to rejecting outward forms and human authority, and depending on whether a person was specifically called by the Spirit to live a certain way, led to the abandonment of the strict rules that had cropped up.

Theologically, Puritans started from the basis that all humanity is depraved, unworthy of Heaven, and only able to get there because God is very merciful. Quakers, on the other hand, believe in that of God in everyone, that we all have the spark of the divine, the Inner Light, through which the Spirit speaks. That is, Quakers believe everyone has something good in them, even if they try to suppress it.

People who think this are likely confused by the Quakers dress like the Quaker Oats man myth and possibly are aware of some strict rules Quakers used to have in some areas, such as not drinking alcohol. This often comes up in reference to attitudes toward sexuality, where it is assumed that Quakers, like Puritans, are extremely tight-laced. While attitudes will vary between branches, the game Wink or Ratchet Screwdriver is played fairly universally by teenage Quakers all over the world and involves plenty of kissing.