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Glitz Doesn't Become Quakers

September 07, 1997

* It was with a good deal of shock and regret that I read your Aug. 17 article "A Glitzy Spin to a Gentle Faith."

As a "closet Quaker" for my entire adult life, I was unaware that a major branch of arguably the most Christian denomination in America has sold out to popularity, commercialism and political conservatism. To me Quakerism is a lot like wilderness: You might not dwell in its serenity on a regular basis, but knowing that it exists is a source of constant joy.

The Society of Friends (Quakers) represents a 350-year tradition of independence, pacifism and austerity with a history of overwhelming support for the dignity of the human spirit. To lose this continuum of history and tradition to satisfy the shallow desire of popular Southern California hip yuppie culture seems to me an appalling loss. Why doesn't Friend John Werhas face the reality of the situation and apply to the Rev. Robert Schuller for a Crystal Cathedral franchise, Yorba Linda branch?

Quakers have never been in the mainstream of American society, be it their stand on slavery, pacifism, prison reform or consumerism. And as your article pointed out, their numbers are dwindling. Can't Quakers be at least allowed to keep their name and dignity and let the "Bible-thumpers" spend their $15 million on their sanctuary and call themselves anything but Quakers?

TIMOTHY WILHELM

San Clemente

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