Out of curiosity, Mackenzie Morgan started searching Twitter to see what people were saying about Quakers.
Twitter is a platform where you can see what people all over the world are talking about at any given time, and you can scroll back a bit and see what they’ve been saying the past couple of days, but at one point I got curious what people are saying about Quakers, and so I started looking. Now I keep keyword searches for “Quaker” and “Quakers” (plural) and see what people are saying about us, and sometimes I get into conversations with them.
Weird Quaker Tweets
My name is Mackenzie Morgan, I’m a member of Adelphi Friends Meeting and I’m one of the hosts of “Quaker Faith and Podcast”.
So here are examples of a few of the kinds of tweets that I come across and see as recurring themes:
“Lol He had a gun. This is Texas, everybody has a gun. My florist has a gun. I don’t have a gun. My ancestors were Quakers.”
That’s a quote from the movie Ms. Congeniality. There’s always a half dozen of those every time that movie is on daytime TV.
“Using a candle for light to guide me to the next room. I feel like a Quaker. I think. What’s a Quaker?”
It’s pretty common for us to get confused with Amish. You also see ones where people say they saw a Quaker. They probably saw an Amish person.
“Quakers are blamed for fires and power outages that are actually caused by squirrels. Several states do cull them.”
It turns out there is a type of parakeet that is called a Quaker and is an invasive species in North America so when it escapes from peoples’ homes, they turn into these wild flocks that cause havoc.
“It was the Quakers who helped the slaves, not the Christians. So how come you never see black Quakers?”
While nowadays, it might be a little more up in the air whether any given Liberal Quaker is or is not a Christian (although most of them are), 150 years ago this wasn’t in question. We were definitely Christian back then and so trying to separate those out is a little weird. So those ones I’ll jump in and say, “History lesson! Back then, definitely Christians.”
The second part of that of course saying, “Why don’t you ever see black Quakers?” You do. We definitely have black Quakers here in the U.S. There’s not that many, but it’s really quite a shame to see them erased.
“My ancestors were F-ing Quakers. The only thing they were enslaving was oats.”
This is a sentiment that you’ll see often when people are talking about reparations or racism in the U.S. or anything like that, where someone will say that because their ancestors were Quakers, they don’t have anything to do with whatever bad things white people have done to black people. This is one where I’ll pop in, because Quakers actually did own slaves up until about the 1770s. There were Quaker slave owners, there were Quakers involved in the shipping take that brought people from Africa to the U.S. to become slaves. Our hands aren’t that clean either.
Here’s a tweet that’s from a Quaker:
“If I had a nickel for each time I was asked about my Quaker upbringing and ‘not believing in sex or electricity’, I’d have $$$”
So the not believing in sex thing might sound really surprising to people. There’s this other group, they’re called the Shakers–technically, their founder was a Quaker when she was young–but they are celibate. It’s kind of like, you think of nuns and monks who live in their little dormitories and don’t get married and stuff, but this is an entire denomination of that. There’s two of them left. And people get us confused with them so it’s not uncommon for people to think that Quakers are all dead because well, you’re going to run out of people as the Shakers are doing.
The electricity one, well, we’re not Amish.
“We just passed a place called ‘Quaker Steak and Lube’. Do what you will with that, internet.”
If you are not familiar with this restaurant, it is commonly found in Western Pennsylvania. They have all you can eat wings, so I see a lot of tweets that are about “going to Quaker for wings”. I grew up in Pittsburgh so I knew what that was about but I’m sure there are lots of confused people.
“I’ve been to look at old Quaker farms. They separate men’s and women’s quarters. Big 3 story dormitories. Beautiful, but unadorned wood.”
So in this conversation, one person said something about Quakers all being asexual, which, they are using that word wrong because it’s someone who is just not interested as opposed to someone who is celibate and has chosen not to. But then the next person said, “I know they get mixed up with Shakers a lot and those guys are celibate.” And then the person continued on with it being Quakers instead of going, “Oh, I’m getting these mixed up.” So I also let them know that they were in fact getting them mixed up. The person who mentioned Shakers was correct about the thoughts there.
“They are Quakers I believe. They are like high tech Amish, lol. Because they like technology.”
Well, it’s true that sometimes when people ask me, “Wait… so Quaker, not Amish? What’s the difference?” Sometimes I answer, “Well, I’m a computer programmer.”
So there’s one where the Know More Quakers account tweeted out a photo of Trivial Pursuit and says,
“Really struggling on the pink question.”
Which asks, “What religion was followed by the Frys, Cadburys, and Roundtrees, who set up Britain’s chocolate industry?”
To which someone replied,
“This is why I consider eating chocolate daily to be a religious tradition.”
And all I gotta say is, I picked the right religion.
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.
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- Often what Mackenzie finds on Twitter is people confusing Quakers with the Amish or the Shakers, and she has come up with some creative responses. Have you come across any of these misconceptions about us? What do you think is a creative way to respond?
- Mackenzie came across a few tweets that were about the Quaker history of abolitionism. What beliefs have you encountered that people have regarding Quakers and slavery? What feels important to you to clarify to the general public about the historical Quaker relationship to slavery?