The Religious Society of Friends, better known as Quakers, includes both conservative and liberal congregations yet all Quakers believe in fostering peace, finding alternative solutions to problems, and seeking the inner guidance of God.
While it's difficult to compile the number of members, one estimate is approximately 300,000 members worldwide.
George Fox (1624-1691), an English Dissenter, began the Friends' movement in England. He rebelled against the religious and political authorities by proposing an unusual and uncompromising approach to the Christian faith. Though his movement attracted disdain from some, others viewed Fox with respect. In 1647 Fox began to preach publicly.
In the 19th century, there was a diversification of theological beliefs in the Religious Society of Friends, and this led to several large splits within the Quaker movement.
Quakers' beliefs stress individual revelation, but the Bible is truth. All personal light must be held up to the Bible for confirmation. The Holy Spirit, who inspired the Bible, does not contradict Himself. Most Friends believe that truth is continuously revealed directly to individuals from God.
Quakers believe in the priesthood of believers, that every individual has access to the Divine Light within. All persons are treated equally and respected. Quakers refuse to take oaths and commit to simple living, avoiding excess and practicing restraint. Silent meditation, seeking revelation directly from God, is their form of communion.
Most Quakers believe that how a person lives their life is a sacrament, and that formal observances are not necessary. Quakers hold that baptism is an inward, not outward, act. They do not practice a ritual baptism.
Some Friends describe their faith as an "Alternative Christianity," which relies heavily on personal communion and revelation from God rather than adherence to a creed and doctrinal beliefs.
Notable Quakers in history include: Daniel Boone, Betsy Ross, Thomas Paine, Dolly Madison, Susan B. Anthony, and President's Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon.