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Und now a more Serious Post a la Mystical Seeker: John Woolman Slavery and the Current LGBT Issue

February 27, 2007


Mystical posted this in the comment box below, in response to some comments made by Bill and me about how the current issue for LGBT in TEC is very much akin to slavery, especially in the use of scripture to support the continuation of a practice of in violation of human rights.

Mystical Seeker points out a Quaker from the 18th century named, John Woolman. John Woolman, without violence, and yet also without compromise, made it his business to condemn slavery every where he could. This is what I hoped +Katharine might do in Tanzania, but compromise reared it’s ugly head – and being a liberal seeking balance, I can’t say I wouldn’t have done what she did – although, I can say that I would have done it either.

Mystical writes: Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about John Woolman:

In 1754 Woolman wrote Some Considerations on the Keeping of Negroes. He refused to draw up wills transferring slaves. Working on a nonconfrontational, personal level, he individually convinced many Quaker slaveholders to free their slaves. He attempted personally to avoid using the products of slavery; for example, he wore undyed clothing because slaves were used in the making of dyes. Whenever he received hospitality from a slaveholder, he insisted on paying the slaves for their work in attending him.

Woolman worked within the Friends traditions of seeking the guidance of the Spirit of Christ and patiently waiting to achieve unity in the Spirit. He went from one Friends meeting to another and expressed his concern about slaveholding. One by one the various meetings began to see the evils of slavery and wrote minutes condemning it.

In his lifetime, Woolman did not succeed in eradicating slavery even within the Society of Friends in the United States; however, his personal efforts changed Quaker viewpoints. In 1790 the Society of Friends petitioned the United States Congress for the abolition of slavery. The fair treatment of people of all races is now part of the Friends Testimony of Equality.

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