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In 1641 George Fox began to preach in England, and in 1648 he founded the Protestant sect of the Society of Friends, who after 1650 were unofficially known as Quakers. They have no priesthood or formal structure and do not take sacraments. Instead, they practise simplicity of life and worship, and stress the importance of the inner voice of the spirit. Worship, which takes place in meeting houses that are open to all, is conducted in silence until someone is moved by the spirit to speak. The movement is strongly pacifist, and committed to social reform. They have always believed that men and women are equal, so women were always encouraged to preach. In 1727 the Quakers in Britain demanded the abolition of slavery, and in 1790 the Quakers in America petitioned the US government for abolition.

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