Of the world’s population of 7.8 billion, Christianity is the most widely practised religion in the world, with more than 2 billion followers. Next in popularity are 1.5 billion followers of Islam and 900 million Hindu. There are many beliefs that Christians have in common. There are however, not unsurprisingly, also many differences in the more than 21,000 Christian denominations.
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There are around 210,000 Quakers in the world. Some do and some don’t consider themselves Christian.
The Religious Society of Friends (as the Quakers are formally known) started in the mid-17th century in Lancashire, formed by George Fox. This was a time of great religious, social and political ferment in England, and to some extent throughout Europe. The increasing accessibility of English translations of the Bible contributed to religious turmoil, with large numbers of people seeking alternatives to the established churches.
While many religious people throughout the ages have withdrawn in solitude to realise the presence of God, the Friends' practice of seeking this realisation by meeting together in silence was new and is still a unique contribution to religious practice. The Society was one of many new religious groups to arise at this time. Its growth was very rapid, and it is one of the few to remain into the 21st Century.