“Plain People”–Amish, Amana, Shakers and Quakers–A Discussion

As many of you are aware, I often (but not always) write about Quakers or the Society of Friends. At the release of HONOR, the first in my “Quaker Brides” series, I decided to hold a discussion about these Christian sects which are often called “Plain.”

According to Wikipeida, “Plain people are Christian groups characterized by separation from the world and simple living, including plain dress.”

I will of course be presenting the Quakers. The other participating authors are:

Judith Miller-who writes about Amana, and will guest next Monday September 15,

Ann H Gabhart-who often writes about Shakers, guests on September 22

and Marta Perry-who writes about the Amish, winds this up on September 29

Each author will answer four questions on their day, but will also drop by and comment each week. I hope you’ll join our discussion! (AND LEAVE A COMMENT THIS WEEK TO ENTER THE DRAWING FOR A COPY OF HONOR!)

Here are the questions and my answers FOR THE QUAKERS:

1-When and where did your sect of Plain People begin? Please elaborate as you wish.

The Quakers or Society of Friends began in England with the vision of George Fox around 1650 in England. He preached throughout England and Netherland and Barbados. He was soon brought up on charges of blasphemy by the established Church of England before a magistrate Bennet. This was when they earned the name Quakers. According to George Fox’s autobiography, Bennet “was the first person that called us Quakers, because I bade them tremble at the word of the Lord”.

And we all learned about William Penn, a prominent Quaker who settled Pennsylvania in the 1680’s (I think this photo must be of a very young Wm Penn–before he became a Quaker. No frills or armor for Quakers!)

Wm Penn

2-What sets your group apart from other Christians?

Friends have like other groups separated into different types, but the basic principles of the Friends are

  1. that every Christian can know God personally without the intervention of church hierarchy
  2. all Christians–male and female or of whatever race–are equal before God
  3. to live a plain simple life
  4. in peace.

Their main belief was #1–they called it “The Inner LIght” or “Christ’s Light.” They believed in following this Light.

In the 18th and 19th century, a small percent of Quakers were active in abolition, women’s rights and temperance. They succeeded in all three, finally with Prohibition in 1920. The last one was found to be flawed because merely taking away intoxicants does not change the causes of substance abuse. But as the popular song says: 2 out of 3 aint’ bad. 😉
3-Is your sect still active today? If so, why do you think that this sect has survived? If not, why do you think your sect didn’t last?

The Society of Friends are still alive and well in the world. But since the early 20th century when they dropped the use of the distinctive “thee” and “thy” and began dressing like their contemporaries, they aren’t as noticeable. However, they remain active in social justice and remain pacifists.

4-Why did you choose to write about this sect?

I am very interested that such a numerically small and distinctive group could affect our Western Civilization so radically. The Quakers were definitely salt and light in their dark world.

If you’d like to view a video about the Quakers, click here.

QUESTION: Have you read any PLAIN PEOPLE books? Which? What did you think? Remember to leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a copy of my HONOR.–Lyn

PS: Last Week’s WINNERS:

Gail Hollingsworth and Patsy Glans


About Lyn Cote

Lyn Cote welcomes other authors to her "Strong Women, Brave Stories" blog to share stories of women who triumph over the challenges common to all women.
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12 Responses to “Plain People”–Amish, Amana, Shakers and Quakers–A Discussion

  1. Carol Ann Pileggi says:

    “Plain People” would be an interesting and enlightening read. I will enjoy reading it. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.

  2. Wow! Interesting. When I think about the Quakers, first thing that comes to mind is the man on the box of Quaker oatmeal. Also, they run schools, too. Supposedly, the Quakers run excellent schools. They have a few in the Washington DC Metro area. They’re called Friends schools.

  3. Paula Osborne says:

    Hello Lyn,
    Marta Perry wrote Quaker ladies who traveled south during the Civil War to start a school for blacks on an island off Beaufort, South Carolina I live near here and didn’t know this. I like reading about the plain people they are just so peaceful and we need a break from a stressful world that we live in now. thus reading their stories helps. The history is so interesting thanks for sharing.
    I love to read all these authors listed -so I will be back

  4. Ola Norman says:

    I like reading about different Christians. Every point of view is interesting and the characters make the story.

  5. I enjoyed reading about the Quakers and what about them drew your creative interest, Lyn. With the way the Quakers were interested in changing the way the world thought about slavery, women’s rights, and other social mores and how they were ever ready to step forward and do what they could about changing those things for the better, it’s easy to imagine a lot of great stories about the Quakers. It’s great that you’ve gone a step beyond the imagining and have written those stories down for readers to enjoy.

    Darcie, I agree with you that young people learn more responsibility when they have chores and have to help with family work. I was raised on a farm and so grew up working in crops and packing in wood for the stove among many other chores. While I would have very often have rather been reading, I did learn that I could contribute and help out the family. A great way to grow up.

  6. amyc says:

    What an interesting post. Marta’s comment was interesting too. I lived in Beaufort for 5 years and never knew that. I read all kinds of books and there for a long time I would only read plain people books. Mainly the Amish and Mennonite. But have read some about the Quakers too. Their culture are just quite fascinating to me.
    campbellamyd at gmail dot com

  7. Linda Kubick says:

    I have not read about the Quakers, but always enjoy reading about different religions and there history. Your discussion was very interesting I want to read more about the Plain People and there customs.


  8. Marta Perry says:

    Great kick-off to our discussion of Plain People, Lyn. I recently read Lyn’s latest book, Honor, and was so moved by her story!

  9. Hi Lyn,
    Enjoyed reading your comments about the Quakers. When I think about the Quakers, my first thoughts go to their involvement in the anti-slavery movement and their beliefs in equality. Years ago, while writing a series set in Lowell, Massachusetts, I learned about Prudence Crandall, a Quaker who started a school for African-American girls in Canterbury, NH. She caused quite a stir among the locals back then. Needless to say, I had to incorporate that information into the book I was writing. I’m sure your research into this recent series of yours has provided lots of interesting characters and I look forward to reading about all of them! ~Judy

    • Marta Perry says:

      You know, there were two determined Quaker ladies who traveled south during the Civil War to start a school for blacks on an island off Beaufort, South Carolina. The Penn Center, devoted to the preservation of Gullah culture, is still on that site. We’ve visited several times, and I always come away in awe of the quiet courage of those two women.

      • The faith and courage exhibited by those women is truly amazing. Learning about our courageous forefathers always makes me contemplate the depth of my own faith, and wonder whether I would have exhibited such courage.

  10. Darcie M Stewart says:

    I really enjoy reading about the plain people because I can relate to their way of life and personal values, I was raised doing many of the jobs and task that they did. If more children were raised with these features and rules we would have more sincere and respectful individuals that were willing and able to work and be prosperous than we do now.
    Children would have the manners to respect other people, say thank you, yes mam and no sir to their parents and those older than themselves.
    More people would be working in their gardens to raise, prepare, and preserve the fruits and vegetables that they grew themselves. The economy would be better because everyone would have jobs and enough food to eat.I think their would be less teen and unwed pregnancies because the parents would always know where their child was, who they were with and what they were doing.
    Folks would be more healthy because they would be more active not just sitting about playing video games and watching tv. Children would know how to interact with other children. Adults would help one another when help was needed. The elderly would be taken care of because family members would be home and available to take care of them.
    The only thing I do not like about the plain people books is I do not always know what they are talking about or saying when their native tongue is used. It helps when their is a reference page with translations in each book.I am learning some of the words but their are a lot that I do not know and cannot figure out their meanings without a translation page.
    We all like to get “THANK YOUS” when you help someone or give them a gift.very few people use manners unless prompted to do so.