Thanks to some silly marketers in the late 19th century, the general public has associated Quakers almost exclusively with oats. What has been obscured with this ‘oatization’ of the Quakers is their long-standing advocacy of peace and social justice. They actually have a lot in common with the Mennonites.
“We want people to know we’re more than just oats,” said one Friend, as they call themselves, from Philadelphia. “In fact, very few of us have anything at all to do with oat-growing, oat-making, or even oat-eating. For most of us, oats occupy very little of our daily activity. Also, we don’t say ‘thee’ anymore.”
In an effort to reshape the public discourse regarding Quakers and oats, several large billboards have been erected in major cities across North America depicting Quakers eating a wide variety of breakfast cereals, none of which contain oats.
“We’ve got Friends eating Froot Loops and Friends eating Frosted Flakes. We’ve even got one with a whole family of Friends eating toast and jam with a side of honeydew melon,” said the representative. “It’s going to absolutely shatter many people’s conception of who we are and what we’re all about.”
It’s hoped that that new campaign will get people interested in learning more about not only the breakfast-eating habits of Quakers, but about more important things like their positions on church community, non-violence, and the priesthood of believers.
“I’m sure the Mennonites would like people to know they’re about a lot more than just the horse and buggy,” said the Friend. “Like the Mennonites there is tremendous diversity among Quakers from liberal and Evangelical, to holiness and traditional. But one thing these groups have in common is that none of them have anything to do with oats.”
(photo credit: by amber.kennedy/CC)