“Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.”
—William Penn 1644-1718
Peace & Service
William Penn made up a large party of Quakers to come to America that would found the Pennsylvania colony. On August 31, 1682, he set sail from Deal, England, in the good ship Welcome that arrived at New Castle on the Delaware on October 27, 1682. A settlement was made named Philadelphia which means “brotherly love.”
George Fox and the other founders had re-ordered their lives and spoke and acted in ways that directly challenged 17th Century churches. They abandoned the creeds. They abandoned priests and church dogma, hierarchy and all outward forms, beliefs and notions. They felt they had re-discovered the highest order of spiritual experience, available to all people, equally, and that was to be their only Guide.
That experience was then carried to the New World, and Quakers were responsible in part for the US Constitution guaranteeing freedoms of belief and conscience. They were also responsible for our Constitution guaranteeing the right to conscientious objection to military service.
The testimony of peace was a unique and radical theology as confirmed by another first-generation Friend, Robert Barclay:
“Whoever can reconcile this, ‘Resist not evil’, with ‘Resist violence by force’, again, ‘Give also thy other cheek’, with ‘Strike again’; also, ‘Love thine enemies’, with ‘Spoil them, make a prey of them, pursue them with fire and the sword’, or, ‘Pray for those that persecute you, with ‘Persecute them by fines, imprisonments and death itself’, whoever, I say, can find a means to reconcile these things may be supposed also to have found a way to reconcile God with the Devil, Christ with Antichrist, Light with Darkness, and good with evil. But if this be impossible, as indeed it is impossible, so will also the other be impossible, and men do but deceive both themselves and others, while they boldly adventure to establish such absurd and impossible things.”.