"Quakers and the Political Process: Living Our Faith in Action,"
Quaker actions have provided strong foundations for the Declaration
of Independence, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights,
many state constitutions, and the United Nations Charter including such
key principles as: Religious Freedom, Separation of Church and State, Freedom
of Individual Conscience, Justice for All, Peacemaking and Relief for All
The Religious Society of Friends, commonly called Quakers or Friends, has significantly influenced American politics and public policy. For example, the following statement inspired Jefferson's language in the Declaration of Independence:
All peace is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness. For the advancement of these ends they have at all times, an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such a manner as they may think proper.
William Penn, "Declarations of Rights"
On October 28, 1701, William Penn granted his Charter of Privileges for all Pennsylvania inhabitants, the earliest prototype for the U.S. Bill of Rights. Directly reflecting the 50 years of persecution Friends had suffered in Britain, the Charter included the following:
no persons who shall confess and acknowledge One Almighty God ... ; and profess ... themselves, obliged to live quietly under the civil government, shall be in any case molested or prejudiced ... because of ... conscientious persuasion or practice, nor be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious worship place or ministry contrary to ... their mind, or to do or suffer any other act or thing contrary to their religious persuasion.
The Liberty Bell was cast in 1751-1753, by order of the Pennsylvania
Assembly, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Penn's Charter of Privileges,
with an inscription adapted from the following
Biblical passage: And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land
unto all the inhabitants thereof ... - Leviticus 25:10
The exhibit consists of twelve large panels that address various aspects of the Quaker contribution to American politics. Topics include an overview of Quaker history, beliefs, and testimony; the history of the Quaker colonies in West New Jersey and Pennsylvania; a discussion of Quaker advocacy work; and profiles of two Quaker presidents, Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon.
Karen Chapman visited Arch Street Meeting House, above, in Philadelphia.
Did she see all of this exhibit? You'll have to ask her.
View the exhibit on the web at <http://www.pym.org/exhibit>.