Is Quakerism a "Passive" Cult?

Although (I assume) people are free to leave, is the Quaker religion a “passive” cult? My cousin joined, and the things she comes out with equate in my mind to a brainwashed Moon child standing on a street corner peddling flowers. While their philosophy seems to be “love everyone, harm no one”, she is against the most fundamental laws that make any Wetsern society function. They support underdog causes, but what kind of underdogs? Underdogs that threaten the very fabric of any Western society, like Osama bin Laden (who could have been “saved”*) and illegal aliens that should have a right to live and work in the USA, for example, no matter how many jobs it steals from legit citizens. I mean, where does it stop?

It seems they cannot see the harm this does to our society as a whole. It is really frightening. I do not mean to offend Quakers, but I MUST question their integrity if they cannot recognize a need for the most fundamental laws established by the majority of a society’s citizens so we can function as a whole.

Maybe other SDopers have similar observations?

*Sure, no one wants to waste a human life, but his kind just thrives on evil! When it’s kill or be killed…the end result is a foredrawn conclusion. There is no “saving” such radicals like him.

From what I know of them, I think they are pretty cool. I wish I could be as idealistic. I don’t see them as being a cult of any sort.

Idealistic - perfect word! While I applaud their efforts to make the world a better place, their idealism is a quixotic paradox!

Are you getting Scrabble points for this somehow?

Early Christianity had a lot of people who were willing to let themselves get executed for their ideals. Their ideas were radical, threatened the status quo, and offended the majority of fine upstanding polytheists. I mean, where does it stop?

Ideals are tough to hold onto in the face of reality, but what’s the point of having them if you let them go the minute they become inconvenient?

Wow - that sounds just like the complaints about Quakers when they were operating the Underground Railroad.

Love for your fellow man, and Peace for everyone aren’t worth shit if you attach an asterisk.

My mum (an atheist) and step-dad (a former Church of England type) are both into Quakerism. This may differ wildly from the American experience but their congregation seems to be a mixed bag of anxiety-ridden needers, those who like to hear their own voices when all others are silent, and disenchanted religionists, bound together by the mutual theme of idealistic liberalism and/or humanism.

I think it’s a reasonably widespread left-wing view that Bin Laden could have been brought before the courts rather than just executed, perhaps to demonstrate the civilised values of western democracy we were supposedly fighting for.

But, fittingly for the Crusades, you decided to get medieval on his ass.

I think it’s a pretty big stretch to say illegal aliens “stealing” jobs threatens the very fabric of Western Society - unless you think doubling the cost of fruits and vegetables is something we desperately require. I also doubt they were in favor of letting Osama bomb at will until he got “saved”.

I think a real test of cult status is how much they isolate members from outside society and how much blind devotion to their own hierarchy is expected. How would you define a “passive” cult?

Well, purely from a libertarian standpoint, if you’re not going to stand up for the rights of Osama bin Laden, then you have no rights ("I said nothing when they came for the Jews . . . .) It’s easy to grant rights to people you like, but the true test of freedom is granting that people you hate have the same rights you do. That’s an important role of Quakers.

I’m no Quaker, but I also agree with them on immigration: all laws restricting immigration are racist. There should be minimal laws and restrictions and we should go back to the rules we had in 1900. Aliens are “illegal” in the same sense that a black man eating an a segregated lunch counter in 1950 was “illegal.” And every complaint about current illegal immigrants (usually Hispanics these days) was lodged against Jews, Irish, Italians, Poles, Chinese, Hungarians, Greeks, and just about every other ethnic group that immigrated to America other than English or German. It was wrong a hundreds years ago, and it’s wrong today.

In any case, you need people like Quaker to remind you that everyone has the same rights that you do – even (and especially) people you hate.

I know a Quaker IRL. He thinks the US should sell 100% of its military assets to Saudi Arabia. Oh, and he went to Harvard law.

“Quaker”? The group is called The Religious Society of Friends; they have no problem calling themselves Quakers or using Quaker as an adjective but your use of the word is awkward.

I keep meaning to visit the Live Oak Friends Meeting, in my part of Houston. Their installation by Quaker James Terrell seems quite worth seeing.

No, the Quakers aren’t a cult. Although that word is quite flexible; cults aren’t necessarily bad.

Having unpopular opinions does not make a group a cult, either from a religious studies or a law enforcement perspective.

In fact, religious studies has pretty thoroughly done away with the word “cult” entirely, preferring to call unpopular or small religious groups “new religious movements”. Law enforcement is only concerned when coercion, fraud or illegal activity is happening.

I don’t think the Quakers count, no.

Even from a “come on, you know what I mean” point of view, I think they still don’t count. A cult, in layperson speak, still means a group you’re tricked into by virtue of not knowing what you’re getting into and you’re forced - physically or psychologically - to stay in while you’re pressured to break all contact with your friends and family so that the cult leaders can twist you into a tool to use to their own secret nefarious ends.

Being (overly?) idealistic isn’t fraudulent - that’s really what they believe. It’s not secret - they don’t hide their beliefs and only reveal them later when you’re psychologically attached, and they don’t even seem to pressure people to stay, judging from the large number of ex-Quakers I know.

ETA: I have no idea what you mean by “passive” cult, though. I can’t grok it. The nefariousness of “cults” is that they’re not passive. A passive cult doesn’t make sense to me.

Every religion has its dumbasses. I’m pretty sure selling the military to a foreign power is not a standard article of faith for the Friends.

I assume the OP meant “pacifist”.

Well, that would be true then…as long as you left off the “cult” part.

I have a good friend who tried the Quakers for a while (I think his parents converted), but left because they were “too Christian”. He’s now a Unitarian. (Incidentally, he lives in Mass. Don’t confuse the eastern Quakers with the California Quaker’s like the Tricky Dick(head).)

Quakers do not proselytize and they have no charismatic leader. There are different kinds of Quakerism, but the kind I grew up in (mainstream, Philadelphia) have no preachers, no officiants at all and, unless things have changed, a meeting (service) is 45 minutes of silence interspersed with individuals getting up to speak as they are so moved. Some read poems, some read from the Bible, some talk about their lives, thoughts, epiphanies and often, current events.

I grew up in the Sixties, so there was a lot of activism; for civil rights, against the war in Vietnam and so on, but AFAICR, no one ever told me what to think, do, say, wear, read or who to associate with. In fact, even though I was raised in the faith and went to First Day School every Sunday for years, the actual tenants of the faith, beyond moderation, nonviolence, conscience and the idea of God in each person (what Quakers call the inner light) are vague to me.

I believe, for me, Quaker education nurtured the freedom of thought that led to my agnosticism. So, no, I don’t believe that Quakerism is in any way a cult.

Ko,
former Quaker

They are a liberal Christian religion (although not all members are Christian). They have always been very pacifist and very into social justice issues, but that doesn’t make them a cult. They tend to value freedom of thought and freedom of belief - if anything that is very uncultlike behavior.

As for the harm they’ve done society, I can’t say what harm they’ve managed to do, but I know they’ve done a hell of a lot of good. Quakers, as was said above, helped bring you the Underground Railroad. Were active in abolition and suffrage. Participated in the civil rights movement. And are the start of religious freedom in the United States prior to their being a United States.

I attended a Quaker wedding last month. I didn’t know what to expect even though I was long time acquaintance with groom. I was struck by how well educated, thoughtful and truly Christian the Quakers in attendence were. Please read Christian as attempting to live as Christ taught in the bible. Love your enemy is hard and frankly only very rarely done. The Quakers I met certainly try to put this into practice.

A cult? Against the most fundamental law of Western society? I think not. Try talking with your sister’s friends. And stay away from the topic of national defense. You won’t agree with them or any member of a Peace Church on that issue anyway. You’ll find people interested in the conditions of their neighbors. People interested in improving things for everyone.

I hear there’s even been one in the White House! (Gasp.)

Shhhhhhhhhh! We try not to let that get around.

My dad, a deist of a general sort became a Quaker over 20 years ago and I just have to say to the OP - huh?

A cult? Harm? Against fundamental laws? How so?

The Quakers brought us women’s rights, the underground railroad, social justice organizations and environmental organizations. You may not agree with the liberal or pacifist view points, but that doesn’t make them a cult.