This message was heard at the Ocala meeting:
"I experienced a fairly typical adolescent rebellious disillusionment with the conventional church. At 16, coming out of a large protestant church with my mother I said,
'I guess the people here may be a little bit less ornery than they were when they came'. That was the most I could say for what had happened that morning.
"As an adult I gained a slightly higher level of respect for churches, while gradually separating myself from conventional religion. However I had long been aware of history's judgment that the Church had supported every war ever fought in the western world.
"In the 21st century we had a president who announced a war and invaded two sovereign nations, the 2nd and largest one without real justification. (Of course Quakers almost uniformly condemned this action.)
"In the next election we found that, unlike the Society of Friends, the members of the churches in the land disproportionately supported the wartime president.
"After that shock I began to wonder if the Church does in fact provide a net benefit to society. It was difficult to maintain that idea, which now seemed more like fiction.
"It came to me that speaking of Christianity there is a vast difference between the ideal and the actual. The ideal tells us that 'they that take up the sword shall die by the sword.' (I believe that as fervently as I believe anything.)
"Finally it struck me that Quakers may in fact be God's last hope for us. When Elijah was similarly discouraged about his nation and ready to die, God told him that
'Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him'
(I Kings 19:18). Perhaps there may be 7000 Quakers on the East Coast.
"Regardless of our future as a nation it seems sure to me that we have a tremendous debt to pay to the world and to God".
food for thought!