Home » People & Society » The Shakers, a Religious Group, are Completely Celibate and Cannot Have Children. They Can Only Gain New Members by Converting Outsiders.

The Shakers, a Religious Group, are Completely Celibate and Cannot Have Children. They Can Only Gain New Members by Converting Outsiders.

The Shakers are a religious sect whose formal name is the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing. Jane and James Wardley founded a branch of Quakerism in England in 1747, which gave rise to the group. But how does this group increase its members if they are completely celibate?

The Shakers are a religious sect that is completely celibate and cannot have children, so they can only gain new members by converting outsiders. As a result, the last existing Shaker community had only two residents as of 2020, though they added one new member in 2021.

The History of Shakers

The first Shakers belonged to the Wardley Society, a Quaker sect founded by James and Jane Wardley. The Wardley Society was founded in 1747 in northwest England, and it was one of several similar groups that arose due to changes in Quaker practices. While the Quakers were moving toward silent meetings, the “Shaking Quakers” continued to participate in trembling, shouting, singing, and other ecstatic spiritual expressions.

Members of the Wardley Society believed they could receive direct messages from God and predicted Christ’s second coming as a woman. That expectation was realized in 1770, when a vision revealed Ann Lee, a Society member, as the second coming of Christ.

I saw in vision the Lord Jesus in his kingdom and glory. He revealed to me the depth of man’s loss, what it was, and the way of redemption therefrom. Then I was able to bear an open testimony against the sin that is the root of all evil, and I felt the power of God flow into my soul like a fountain of living water. From that day I have been able to take up a full cross against all the doleful works of the flesh.

Mother Ann Lee, Society Member that Brought Shakers to America

Mother Ann, as she was now known, led her group to Watervliet, a town in what is now upstate New York. The Shakers were fortunate in that revivalist movements were popular in New York then, and their message was well received. Mother Ann, Elder Joseph Meacham, and Eldress Lucy Wright traveled and preached throughout the region, proselytizing and expanding their group as far west as Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. (Source: Learn Religions

The Beliefs and Principles of Shakers

Shakers are Millennialists who adhere to the teachings of the Bible as well as Mother Ann Lee and her successors. Like several other religious groups in the United States, they live apart from “the world” but interact with it through commerce.

The Shakers believe that God manifests himself in male and female forms, as stated in Genesis 1:27: So God created him; male and female he created them. They also believe in Mother Ann Lee’s revelations, which state that we are now living in the Millenium, as predicted in the New Testament (Revelations 20:1-6):

Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

Mother Ann Lee’s Revelation

Shakers believe that Jesus was the first male resurrection and Ann Lee was the second female resurrection based on this scripture.

Shaker principles are practical and have been implemented in every Shaker community. They are as follows:

  • Celibacy, which is based on the idea that original sin consists of sex even within marriage
  • Gender parity
  • Communal ownership of property
  • Sin confession to Elders and Eldresses
  • Pacifism
  • In Shaker-only communities, people withdraw from the world.

(Source: Learn Religions

Image from Historynet

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