Readers of Friends Journal, the leading periodical of liberal Quakerism, would have been surprised in early 1994 to see a small ad placed in the classifieds section in the back of the magazine. Amidst blurbs for Quaker-related Bed and Breakfasts, a promotion for the environmentalist Friends Committee for Unity with Nature, a job posting for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), and a notice about an upcoming conference for Friends for Gay and Lesbian Concerns, was an ad declaring in bold print “Extraterrestrial Encounters.” In the smaller font below, the ad continued:
“Have you, a Friend [meaning a Quaker], actually seen or encountered a structured craft, aloft or landed, showing evidence of unfamiliar or advanced technology? If so, please get in touch; you are one among many- some silent for fear of ridicule. There is much to share and a Friendly response to think about.”(1)
The author of the ad was worried that this might be seen as too open an invitation for people to contact him, so he elaborated. “Dreams, visions, trances and inner subjective events are not currently useful here,” it explained; only empirical extraterrestrial encounters were of interest. “Valid sightings with other witnesses would be of particular value.”(2) This ad was the first public outreach effort by the Friends Committee on Outworld Relations (FCOR).
Those readers who wrote to the address listed in the ad were shipped a newsletter from Asheville, North Carolina, written by the organization’s founder, John Phillip Neal. “Warm greetings to you who responded to the ad in January’s FJ or made local contact,” Neal wrote. Though FCOR only consisted of a few Quakers in Asheville, Neal believed that it represented the start of something vitally important, the only Quaker group dedicated to facilitating a friendly exchange with aliens.
Neal, 76, had retired a decade earlier from North Carolina State University Minerals Research Laboratory. Neal had a long history as an influential local Quaker. A graduate from Quaker-run Haverford College, during the Second World War he had been a conscientious objector, something that was highly respected by most of his co-religionists. Neal was also a founding member of his home meeting, Asheville Monthly Meeting, and he had been Clerk of both that and Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting.(3)
Neal and the other members of FCOR thought Earth was already the site of frequent visitation by extraterrestrials, most traveling in spacecraft (UFO’s, or Unidentified Flying Objects), a fact being covered up by the United States government. These “visitors,” as Neal explained, were benign but somewhat reluctant to engage in communication with humans, perhaps in part because they used telepathic communication. FCOR envisioned a special role for Quakers in facilitating communications with these beings.
Quakers had a historic tradition of fostering peace and attempting to deal justly with minority groups, including standing against slavery and trying to render aid to Native Americans. FCOR envisioned this Quaker responsibility as extending to otherworldly beings. “How will Friends react to the new (perhaps unnerving) frontier we are facing?” Neal asked. “Should we not be able to reach out to the visitors, accepting them as having ‘that of God’ within? Can Friends’ ministry deal constructively with the cultural shock of this encounter and the developing problems which are sure to occur?”(4) This was not an innovation in religious practice, FCOR argued; the organization would simply bring tested Quaker ideals to bear on a newly important subject.
The idea that Quakers should devote their energy to contacting extraterrestrials did not find a sympathetic audience within the rest of denomination. Though FCOR as an organization lasted until 2001, it never accrued much support, facing stiff institutional resistance in its efforts to publicize its work and ideas. Although liberal Quakers had no formal creeds and permitted a wide array of theological views, the idea that aliens were visiting earth was too implausible for many, and it was widely rejected. It turned out that even liberal religion had limits regarding what views it would tolerate.
The Value of Failed Religious Movements
FCOR as an organization was largely a failure. It did not achieve its stated goals, and the existence of extraterrestrials remained as much in question when FCOR ended as it was when the organization began. FCOR never had more than a handful of members and almost no budget. The group never commanded any kind of great or lasting influence, even regionally. Its total literary output was only ten years’ worth of regular newsletters. On the occasions when it was not scoffed at, FCOR continued to be largely ignored, even within Quakerism. In any kind of future magisterial history of the growth and development of American religion, FCOR is likely to be overlooked.
Historian David Hollinger has articulated his concern that the study of American religion often embraces a “Christian survivalist point of view,” which, in order to defend a commitment to Christianity, attacks the idea of Protestant liberalism which, he claims, leads to secularism.(5) Though one can take issue with this argument, there may actually be an even broader trend among scholars of giving preference to the study of religions or religious movements that survived and endured. Most accounts of American religious groups frame their narratives in terms of why that group or tradition has exercised a continuing influence, asking why they prospered.(6) Yet it may be equally important to ask why a religious movement does not succeed. What combination of factors leads to theological or religious changes being rejected by faith communities?
As a failed religious movement FCOR is an intriguing case study. It had a dedicated and articulate founder in Neal, a number of devoted members and a well-developed cosmology that aligned fairly well with a number of other successful contemporary religious movements, yet all this was ultimately of little consequence. The traditions that FCOR was trying to draw from concerning aliens were metaphysical religious ideas which had been embraced by other groups, but when introduced into the liberal religious world of Quakerism, these concepts were quickly rejected.
All religions have limits to what beliefs are orthodox. With liberal Quakers in particular these limits have sometimes been overlooked or wrongly perceived as nonexistent by scholars. Studying British liberal Quakers, who are very similar in beliefs, demographics, and liturgical style to their American counterparts, anthropologist Douglas A. Kline states that “Quakers do not rely on a common theology.” Indicating that liberal Quakers can hold a number of different religious views, including Christian, Atheist, Buddhist, Jewish or Muslim beliefs within the context of a Quaker identity, he suggests that what unites the denomination is “the symbolic nature of common action, not a common belief.”(7) Even in the context of an attempt to describe a limited section of Quakerism such a view is ultimately somewhat naïve, an idealized and imaginary picture of a religion united more by orthopraxy and political activism that simply does not match the reality. (8)
Quaker Studies scholar Ben Pink Dandelion, examining contemporary liberal British Quakerism, has observed that liberal Quakers are often less permissive than they at first appear. He persuasively suggests that there is an informal but often rigidly maintained “behavioral creed,” which ensures at least a kind of orthopraxy among liberal Quakers.(9) Yet Dandelion perhaps underemphasizes the extent to which liberal Quakers also enforce the boundaries around what is permitted theologically.
Liberal Quakerism in the United States has not been the subject to such extensive study. However, it often also perceived as malleable and adaptable to different theological concepts that individuals might hold- at least within a certain limited notion of personal belief- particularly when that belief had no external ramifications. But when FCOR began to suggest that there were real, physical aliens, that their personal metaphysics had an objective reality, and that there were communal duties incumbent with this belief, they came into conflict with the accepted, if largely unwritten and unspoken, norms in the denomination. An individual with a divergent theology in a silent Quaker meeting could be safely ignored, but an activist group trying to roust the community to action trespassed too many boundaries.
Anthropologist Talal Asad has written about the “authorizing practices” by which “religion” is created. In the context of the Middle Ages and Catholicism, Asad writes, this meant subsuming questions of the validity of particular shrines, rejecting or accepting “pagan” practices, or regulating rule-following orders such as the Benedictines to the wisdom of a single authority (namely, the Vatican) as “the source of authenticating discourse.”(10) Asad would be the first to recognize that the historical contexts of a liberal religion like Quakerism and of medieval Christianity are quite different, making a direct comparison difficult. Nevertheless, this paper will argue that liberal religions also struggle over what is authentic or authorized, even if the source of that authenticating discourse is less clear than if it were coming from a single, universal church, and that they must discipline their members in some way to ensure that lines are not crossed as a proper notion of religion is maintained. This paper will show that FCOR thus is illustrative about what the unspoken boundaries are within a liberal religious tradition that has few overt notions of heresy or orthodoxy. FCOR’s experience shows that even in a creedless religion, there are limits.(11)
Liberal Religious Traditions and Extraterrestrials
The possibility that a religion like Quakerism could accommodate belief in extraterrestrials into its theology was not outlandish. The idea of extraterrestrials has long been present in what scholar Catherine Albanese calls the “metaphysical” religious tradition, which “would function, literally, in borderlands at the edge of liberal Protestantism.”(12)
Emanuel Swedenborg, the great Swedish seer, had perhaps the first recorded visions of direct encounters with extraterrestrial life. In the 1750s Swedenborg claimed that he had voyaged to several different planets and in Concerning Earths in the Solar World, Which are Called Planets; and Concerning Earths in the Starry Heaven; and Concerning Their Inhabitants; and Likewise Concerning Spirits and Angels There from Things Seen and Heard, he explained his meetings with Martians and people from the Moon (the moon people notably spoke from their stomachs). In other works, he chronicled his travels throughout the solar system.(13) While Swedenborg expressed a great deal of hostility towards Quakerism, by the middle of the nineteenth-century analysts tended to lump both Quakerism’s founder George Fox and Swedenborg together as “mystics,” so Swedenborg was not completely at a remove from Quaker thought.(14)
Further, in the United States, by the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, extraterrestrial encounters were a part of several religious traditions. Perhaps most notable of these was the Theosophical Society. Helena Blavatsky, one of the founders of that tradition, explained that there were powerful spiritual beings called “Lords of the Flame,” who were from Venus. The I-AM group, considered by many to be a forerunner of most American UFO religious movements, developed this idea to claim that Venus was a home to a technologically and spiritually advanced alien race. Belief in UFO’s, which focused specifically on beings visiting earth in spacecraft rather than in dreams or through teleportation, only emerged after 1947. That was the year pilot Kenneth Arnold, flying a private plane near Mt. Rainer in Washington state, first reported seeing what was later popularly described as a flying saucer. Subsequently, many more recent groups mixed Theosophical ideas with belief in aliens and UFOs.(15)
Belief in alien visitors traveling to Earth in UFO’s (either with some regularity in the present or at some point in the distant past) became the staple of a number of New Religious Movements, including Scientology, the Nation of Islam, the Raelians and the Urantia movement. These groups were far less tied to liberal religious trends than earlier UFO beliefs had been. Still, despite the fact that they were the most high-profile proponents of alien visitation and UFO’s, their ideas were not unknown in older and more mainstream religious traditions. Quaker believers in aliens may have been few in number, but they would have had some august company and even Quaker ancestors.
UFOs in American Christianity
Belief in alien life, though not much discussed, was not seen by most American Christians as being incompatible with their faith. By the 1980s a number of American Evangelical thinkers had integrated belief in visitors traveling in UFOs into their theology. Billy Graham, for instance, was willing to entertain the idea that UFOs might be visitations from angels and stated that his faith would not be undermined by the existence of alien life.(16) By the first decade of the twenty-first century some theological thinkers within that tradition elucidated different ways that the existence of extraterrestrial life might be compatible with evangelical soteriology.(17)
Other American evangelicals were far more critical of the idea of alien visitation, however. While they did not deny that such encounters took place, they argued that the beings involved were demons, not aliens.(18) This idea continues to have potency within the evangelical community. For example, one professor at Bible Baptist Seminary in Pennsylvania declared that although he did not believe in the ideas of Erich Von Daniken, that “alien astronauts” had spurred technological developments in ancient civilizations, he did believe that demons had fulfilled the same role with these societies.(19) The cosmology of these critics permitted the existence of UFO’s and extraterrestrial visitors as real, even if they disputed the identities of these visitors.
The leadership of the American Roman Catholic Church did not believe that aliens were regularly visiting Earth, or suggest that they had in the past. Nevertheless a number of prominent spokespeople for the Church stated that visitation by aliens would not be unwelcome and would be perfectly consistent with Catholic beliefs. By the 1990s, the question of alien visitation was one that religious organizations took seriously enough to generate official positions on.(20)
FCOR was not unaware of the discussions within other religious groups on aliens. Neal, in the FCOR newsletter, specifically cited the fact that because other groups (he seemed to mostly be referring to evangelicals) might believe that aliens were in league with the devil, Quaker action was essential. Quakers would be more sympathetic to the aliens, making it easier to facilitate a peaceable co-existence with them.(21)
Although FCOR had different beliefs about what aliens were like than Evangelical UFO believers, and planned a more hospitable welcome, the simple act of believing in UFOs and alien visitors was not itself something that would have set FCOR members apart from other American religious perspectives. Liberal Quakers as a denomination could have embraced the idea that aliens existed, or permitted that idea to flourish among many of their members, but they ultimately did not. On this particular topic they drew harder lines around what was an acceptable belief than many American Evangelicals did.
On cursory examination, liberal Quakerism seems to be a religious group that would provide fertile ground for belief in visiting extraterrestrials, and it had been linked with many traditions that have accepted similar ideas. FCOR’s development was simply part of a long tradition of Quaker involvement with esoteric traditions. Albanese has suggested that since Quakerism began in England during the seventeenth century, it has had many of the characteristics of a metaphysical religion, stating that group’s belief in the “inner light,” a notion of a divine indwelling presence usually connected with Christ, was a sort of “magic” that “brought the metaphysical into [Quakers’] everyday world.”(22)
In the nineteenth century Quakerism suffered a series of schisms dividing the denomination into several different branches. The Hicksite branch of the denomination, perhaps the most direct theological ancestors of the liberal Quakers that made FCOR, splintered again, giving rise to the Congregationalist Friends (also known as the Progressive Friends) in the 1840s. These Quakers were sympathetic to abolitionism and the cause of women’s rights. Congregational Friends were also a likely origin point for the spiritualist movement in the United States. The very idea of spirit communication, as it was practiced by its early adherents such as the Fox sisters, could be seen as a refinement of Quaker belief in Friends’ preaching relying on divine guidance. Spiritualism, one of the most prominent metaphysical practices in the nineteenth century United States, originally spread primarily through Quaker networks.(23) The birth of liberal Quakerism effectively happened alongside the creation of this prominent metaphysical belief. Quakerism seemed quite able to theologically and structurally accommodate such developments.
The early twentieth century saw the creation of a distinctive, though not officially recognized, liberal Quaker identity. The Gurneyite branch of Quakerism, which had been far more inclined towards evangelicalism than the Hicksites, was affected by the rise of theological modernism. Many prominent Gurneyite modernists like Walter C. Woodward, Elbert Russell and Rufus Jones sought fellowship with their Hicksite counterparts like Jesse Holmes. Jones, a professor of philosophy at Quaker-run Haverford College, was particularly pivotal in defining Quakerism as a creedless religion primarily based in mystical experience, rather than the beliefs about holiness and sanctification that his evangelical opponents cham-pioned.(24)
Social action, acceptance of Biblical higher criticism and the embrace of new scientific ideas such as evolution became essential to Jones’s stream of Quakerism. By the 1930s Jones’s stream was joined by that of Friends General Conference (FGC), one of the two overarching bodies created at the dawn of the twentieth century to unite U.S. Quaker Yearly meetings. It was descended from the Hicksites and was dominated by liberal theology. At the same time, British Quakers were undergoing a modernist movement of their own and became theological liberals. Due to the close friendships (and often direct family relationships) among leaders in both England and the United States, this movement took on a transatlantic character.(25) The tumultuous 1960s in the United States would further alter Quakerism religiously, opening it to a broad range of religious views and cementing the idea that Quakerism was directly intertwined with predominately liberal political activism.(26)
At the time that FCOR was created in the 1990s, liberal Quakerism evidenced a great acceptance of theological diversity. Universalist Quakers, nontheistic Quakers, Jewish and Buddhist Quakers all coexisted under the banner of liberal Quakerism. The question of whether Quakers were Christian in any sense, or if they should be, was hotly debated by liberal Quakers. There was no resolution to this debate and the Quakers with hyphenated identities remained an active and visible presence in many Quaker meetings.(27)
At the same time a number of new metaphysical beliefs flourished. Religious studies scholar Courtney Bender discusses how Friends Meeting Cambridge provided a setting for shamanistic drumming circles to conduct their worship.(28) Prominent Quaker author Chuck Fager notes that within liberal Quaker Meetings, phenomena that “have sheltered under the current catchphrase ‘New Age’” have been embraced. He specifically lists widespread interest by liberal Quakers in Jungian thought, Tarot cards, Wicca, astrology, the I Ching, and the book A Course In Miracles (which claims to be a channeled message from Jesus). Fager’s work suggests that various metaphysical religious beliefs and practices have been not only common, but widely embraced, within the liberal Quaker fold.(29)
Yet Neal and FCOR were met with skepticism by other liberal Quakers. The reason for FCOR being ignored, and at time outright rejected, was likely because of another current of liberal Quakerism, a commitment to rationalism. This conviction deepened the conflict with the denomination’s traditions and inclinations towards metaphysical belief.
The Quaker modernists had tried to purge Quakerism of all that seemed to undermine modern science and reason. Undoubtedly one of the reasons that Jones had tried to suggest that Quakerism was a mystical belief system dependent on personal religious experience was that in the early twentieth century this seemed to be one of the last bastions available for intelligent theistic belief. Other Quakers were too rationalistic even for that intellectual move. Henry Cadbury, the prominent Hollis Professor at Harvard Divinity School and Jones’ brother-in-law, confessed that he questioned the existence of God, the possibility of resurrection and the validity of mystical experience, resting his religious conviction instead upon the idea of living in a moral manner as part of a religious community.(30)
Jesse Holmes went the furthest, working with a group of other liberal Quakers to publish a pamphlet called “Towards the Scientifically Minded,” which asserted that because Quakers were creedless, belief in God was optional, making Quakerism the ideal religion for modern scientifically minded people.(31) In the decades after these leaders, liberal Quakerism continued the attempt to make itself a haven for reasoned and educated intellectuals. By the early 1960s a survey done of American liberal Quakers indicated that the profession they most desired and respected was that of being a college professor (Quakers from other branches of the denomination listed farmer as their choice).(32)
Highly visible metaphysical beliefs like those espoused by FCOR, particularly ones that were rejected by mainstream science, posed a challenge to the idea of Quakerism as a spiritual home of the skeptical. The practice of permitting identities like Quaker-Buddhists or Quaker-Jews allowed many members of the denomination to affirm their commitment to religious pluralism, perhaps even a covert way to express the conviction that religion was a kind of identity rather than a holistic worldview that had any scientific implications. People did not actively express dislike or prejudice against FCOR or its members, but the organization did not achieve anything even remotely like the success the Spiritualist movement had a century earlier. Embracing Quakers who believed in aliens risked making the entire denomination seem silly.
Some found FCOR’s presence amusing but almost no one took it seriously. A letter to the editor of Friends Journal from a Quaker in Minnesota, defending the inclusion of ads for the pro-euthanasia Hemlock Society in the periodical, noted that more provocative ads like the one for FCOR had appeared. “I don’t intend to join them, but I certainly don’t feel threatened by them, and I commend the Journal for accepting an offbeat ad…. After all, for the majority of the U.S. population Quakers are quite offbeat.”(33)
The Center for the Study of
FCOR was perhaps particularly offbeat for Quakers because it drew many of its beliefs from outside sources. From the beginning Neal envisioned FCOR as being in partnership with the Asheville-based Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CSETI). CSETI, a nonprofit organization, was dedicated to what it explained as the “bilateral ETI [Extraterrestrial intelligence]-Human communication and exchange, and open public education on the subject.” Like FCOR, the official position of CSETI was that there was already ample evidence of alien and human contact, but that the American government (and perhaps others) had engaged in a cover up to conceal it from the public.(34)
Headed by Steven Greer, an emergency room physician, CSETI couched its message in what it intended to be a kind of scientific discourse. As historian Aaron Gulyas points out, even the organization’s name was intended to invoke the image of the far more mainstream Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). CSETI ran a number of programs, which usually required participants to pay a fee. The “Ambassadors of the Universe” training program taught students how to make contact with extraterrestrials at night with the help of remote viewing and “higher states of consciousness.”(35) Training could assist individuals in using their own mental powers to make a sort of telepathic connection with the alien visitors. One of the chief goals of this training was for participants to have the chance of participating in a “CE-5 experience,” or Close Encounter 5 experience, an extension to J. Allen Hynek’s scale of UFO encounters (which ran one through three) that was created by Greer. The CE-5 experiences involved humans and aliens communicating mutually (presumably through telepathy).(36)
By early 1994 FCOR members in Asheville Monthly Meeting were being trained by CSETI staff in how to facilitate communication with alien visitors. CSETI would eventually train at least five members of FCOR, which became the basis for FCOR’s attempts at contacting aliens.(37) CSETI techniques recommended that groups no larger than seven go out into the “field” to try to contact extra-terrestrials. Neal observed in early 1995 that FCOR had ten participants registered to participate in its outings, but that cancelations on any given night meant that they typically went out with only five people.(38) FCOR seems to have been consistent in using only CSETI approved techniques to try to contact aliens, and the workshops that they lead at Quaker gatherings were based upon these techniques.
To some degree, FCOR and CSETI had a business relationship. FCOR purchased training and audio cassettes that they thought would help them make extraterrestrial contact. Generally CSETI training was expensive, with tuition for some sessions running about $595 for a week, so it seems likely that the involvement with CSETI must have consumed much of FCOR’s budget.(39) FCOR would create its own $25 kit for working groups in Quaker Meetings outside Asheville that were interested in UFOs. This kit included two audio cassettes of CSETI training (the cost of which probably was only slightly less than the money FCOR charged for the kit), one guided meditation done by the members of FCOR designed to attract alien visitors, a notebook and a binder for recording alien sightings, and a set of “UFO call signals.”(40)
Yet CSETI was not just a vendor of services for FCOR; it was also a key source of inspiration. Neal spoke of how the methods of remotely contacting aliens employed by CSETI seemed to bear a close relationship to Quaker religious practices, particularly “thoughtful reaching out to ‘that of God’ in every individual (including ET’s).” Linking this idea of an “inner light” to CSETI work confirmed to Neal that Quakers had something unique to contribute to interacting with extraterrestrials.(41)
Neal was not alone in this view. Jean Roberts, an FCOR member from Washington State and the editor of What Canst Thou Say? a small Quaker periodical devoted to discussing spiritual experience, was inspired to write to the FCOR newsletter after hearing Greer, the director of CSETI, give a talk at a conference. Roberts described Greer as having a personality “like the early Quakers,” a statement that was high praise considering the veneration that these pioneering leaders were given within the denomination. Roberts suggested that Greer’s campaign against (what he believed to be) a government cover up about extraterrestrials brought to mind the phrase “Speak Truth to Power,” a motto that the denomination had adopted for peace work during the early Cold War.(42)
Roberts explained to readers of FCOR’s newsletter that she was so moved by the parallels between the work of Quakers and CSETI that she began looking through the discipline of her Yearly Meeting (Pacific Northwest), the text that regulated Quaker practice and provided advice for religious living, for guidance. She quoted statements from early Quaker leader Margret Fell and twentieth-century Quaker Rufus Jones on the need for peace and the value of experience in Quakerism, which she felt offered wisdom when applied to the topic of extraterrestrials. Though she admitted that “Early Quakers were not able to foresee the future discussions on extraterrestrials,” Roberts felt they still “laid the foundations for discernment and right action by focusing on the responsibility of the individual to seek the Truth with Divine help and to act upon it with Divine guidance.”(43)
Greer was in turn quite supportive of FCOR. Though part of this was no doubt for financial reasons due to FCOR purchases from CSETI, it also seems to have been principled. The FCOR newsletter reported that Greer felt “Friends’ religious practices and philosophy should ‘mesh’ very well with the CSETI, although the latter does not specifically promote a religious outlook or orientation.”(44)
Described in the simplest terms, the relationship between CSETI and Quakerism that FCOR displayed can probably be described as one of hybridity (or what used to be called syncretism). While FCOR was decidedly less commercially oriented and more outwardly religious than CSETI, it still adapted almost all of the specifics of CSETI’s worldview.
FCOR and the Media of the 1990s
FCOR of course did not exist in a vacuum, and the specifics of its beliefs were not completely derived from any one source. The 1990s saw a surge of alien visitation in popular culture, and a reassertion of the notion that the United States government was covering it up. Media and cultural studies professor Aris Mousoutzanis has observed that “the alien became something of a cultural icon for the popular culture of the 1990s…”(45) The most visible manifestation of this idea was the popular television drama The X-Files, which greatly shaped public perceptions about the sinister activities of the American government and the possibility of extraterrestrial visitation.(46) While there is no clear evidence that Neal was a fan, the material he was reading and the Quakers with whom he interacted were enmeshed in this all-pervasive conspiracy culture.
FCOR also drew heavily on conspiracy theory literature. Neal regularly included book reviews, usually written by him but also occasionally by other members of FCOR, as part of the newsletter. These reviews praised the works of many authors who wrote on UFOs or extraterrestrials. For instance, Neal became very enthusiastic about the work of self-proclaimed UFO authority Timothy Good, and particularly his book Above Top Secret, in which he claimed that the “government forces of disinformation” were undermining efforts to reveal the existence of UFOs to the public.(47) Neal was less tolerant of authors who were skeptical about his beliefs in UFO’s. In reviewing The UFO Invasion: The Roswell Incident, Alien Abductions, and Government Coverups, a collection of articles on UFOs and aliens originally published in the Skeptical Inquirer, Neal predicted that UFO debunkers would eventually look foolish and “in the years to come perhaps the flat earth society will offer them [skeptics] an honorary member-ship.”(48)
In addition to a vast and expansive literature about UFOs and related subjects, FCOR was also aware of the internet, a new development when the group was founded in the 1990s. The group quickly realized that they should take advantage of this new resource. By the summer of 1995 Clare Hanrahan, who was already working as FCOR’s “email intermediary” (presumably meaning the person who checked their email account), was tasked with regularly checking online Bulletin Board Systems for postings about UFO’s or extraterrestrials.(49)
A number of incidents would teach the members of FCOR not to be uncritical of the information it received via this new form of communication. Shortly after beginning to use the internet to collect information, Hanrahan brought to the group’s attention a federal law that supposedly allowed the government to quarantine anyone who was in contact with an extraterrestrial. This initially caused a great deal of alarm, something that was only alleviated when Beverly Safford, an FCOR member and a lawyer, discovered that the law in question was designed merely to allow astronauts to be quarantined after space travel.(50)
In early 1996 the members of FCOR read what Neal described as an “internet report,” probably a posting to an internet forum, that stated that an object four times the size of earth was following the newly discovered comet Hale-Bopp, which was going to pass by earth in the next year. This object behind the comet was said to be hollow and emitting radio signals, attributes that to the members of FCOR indicated that it might be a craft piloted by extra-terrestrials.(51)
As he read further, Neal became more skeptical of the reliability of the reports, causing him to call the astronomy department of his alma mater, Haverford College.
The department chair explained that he had no knowledge of such an object, and urged Neal to contact Haverford observatory if he had further questions. This conversation and the lack of media coverage of the alleged object convinced Neal that the entire affair was a hoax, causing him to write “I think it would be difficult or impossible to suppress or ignore such a phenomenon to the point where news of it would not appear somewhere on TV or in newspapers; even a report branded as speculative or false would surely appear somewhere.” He admitted that FCOR was going to have to learn to critically sort through the “constant stream of strange, unverifiable, and offbeat reports about outworld visitors and their doings.”(52)
The notion that a starship was following Hale-Bopp was widely publicized among those interested in the idea of UFOs and extraterrestrials, and the fact that FCOR considered this idea shows their close connection to that community. The entire affair was originally traceable to Chuck Shramek, an amateur astronomer, whose photographs of Hale-Bopp capturing the image of this alleged “object” were widely circulated online.
Scientific authorities and the academic community disputed the starship interpretation, viewing the photographs as merely capturing a background star in the image. The California-based Heaven’s Gate group (known formally as Human Individual Meta-morphosis), a religious movement heavily influenced by Ufology and science fiction, interpreted the alleged spaceship and the arrival of Hale-Bopp as confirmation that they should make an “exit” from their current earthly existence and committed mass suicide in 1997.(53)
The fact that FCOR was tied into these various networks and cultures would have inherently made it seem distant to many Quakers. While they would be aware of the X-Files or other popular manifestations of UFOs, most Quakers would have tended to see this as very distant from their religious lives. As FCOR brought together these divergent groups and attempted to stick them in the middle of Quakerism, it is not wholly surprising that their reception was lukewarm at best.
Rejection or Apathy, Being Accepted as a Quaker Organization
Even if Quakers were not enthusiastic for FCOR’s message, FCOR still wanted to reach them. It made its most prolonged efforts at this outreach by appearing at various Quaker gatherings. Because liberal Quakers generally did not have paid clergy these public gatherings were where the most important business of the Religious Society of Friends was transacted, and a place where established Quaker organizations like the AFSC tried to get drum up support and get input from the denomination.
Starting in 1995 FCOR tried to make itself visible by having a presence at the Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Asso-ciation of Friends (SAYMA) gathering. As a Monthly Meeting, Asheville, where most of FCOR’s members were located, was a constituent part of SAYMA, which meant that all the members at Ashville also were members in this larger body. Yearly Meetings include not only worship but also information and program sessions, meaning it was quite normal for Quaker organizations or interest groups to engage with the rest of the denomination in this way.
As SAYMA met at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina, several members of FCOR distributed promotional literature. FCOR members held a gathering session that attracted twenty-two attendees, several of whom, though not affiliated with FCOR, confessed that they had had some kind of experience either with extraterrestrials or their space crafts.(54) Yet the SAYMA gathering did little to increase FCOR’s membership or its funding. Despite the fact that there were a number of people who claimed to have similar encounters, FCOR was unable to overcome the stigma of strange beliefs or fears of derision by more skeptical Quakers.
FCOR was at least successful in making the case that it was a legitimate Quaker organization, and was officially treated as such by SAYMA. In 2000 Neal was able to read a report on the activities of FCOR at SAYMA’s Business Meeting.(55) By 2001 FCOR’s presence was officially welcomed and its delegate was received along with the delegates from more established organizations like Friends General Conference, the Friends Committee on National Legislation and Friends for Gay and Lesbian Conferences.(56) Part of this acceptance may have stemmed from Neal’s longtime affiliation with SAYMA, and his prior service as the organization’s clerk.
Despite this public acknowledgment from SAYMA, the conference never resulted in the kind of attention that Neal wanted for FCOR. Neal was able to distribute many FCOR pins, small lapel pins with an image of a stick figure wearing a traditional Quaker hat while waving at a UFO. Though the members of FCOR hoped that the fact that these items were quickly given away indicated that there was some public interest in their organization, it does seem far more likely that the pins were seen as novelties by the people that took them.
At various SAYMA gatherings FCOR usually experienced a kind of gentle rejection. They were respected as a Quaker organization and given a platform to speak, but few found their message to be of any interest. Those that would have been drawn to the group through personal experiences of perceived alien encounters were too afraid that they would be judged for associating with the organization. While about a third of Americans believed that aliens visited earth, few Quakers were willing to publically proclaim their solidarity with FCOR, for the fear of social ostracism was too strong.(57) It did not require a creed or a heresy trial to scare Quakers who might otherwise have been inclined to believe in alien visitation from associating with FCOR; it simply took the threat that their behavior would be seen as silly.
When FCOR decided to appear at Friends General Conferences Yearly Gathering, hoping to present themselves in a manner similar to how they had appeared at SAYMA, things did not go as well. Despite attending these yearly sessions for over half a dozen years, FCOR frequently feel short of its goals of increasing its membership by these visits.
Throughout its existence, FCOR struggled with membership. After FCOR was founded in 1994, Neal was unable to even generate enough interested members to create an event at that year’s FGC gathering. On other occasions, even when events were held, they drew little prolonged interest. During the 1996 FGC Gathering, for instance, not a single new person subscribed to the FCOR newsletter.(58) In some years their events did attract a modest turnout; one year, twelve Quakers attended an event to discuss their experiences of being abducted by aliens, and in another year around twenty engaged in an outdoor “watch/signal exercise” to communicate with any nearby extraterrestrials.(59)Yet overall FCOR’s appearances under Neal, and those who directed the programs when he was busy or too ill, were not successful at FGC.
The largest hazard for FCOR at FGC, however, was institutional pressure. In 1996 FGC rejected an application from FCOR to conduct a week-long morning workshop at the conference which would have been listed in the Gathering Program, citing the fact that FCOR did not have enough material in their proposed program to justify inclusion.(60) While much of the evidence remains obscure, Neal seemed to imply that he believed that this was simply a way to exclude FCOR from a more respectable and visible place at a major Quaker gathering like FGC.
Whether Neal was correct in this interpretation is relatively unimportant. Even if FCOR was simply refused permission for the week-long workshop due to a lack of content in their proposal for the Gathering, rather than out of any hostility towards metaphysical religious beliefs, the fact they were not perceived as meriting a spot on the official program indicated that Neal was failing in his mission to make FCOR as essential to Quaker life as had been an organization like the American Friends Service Committee. New theological movements within Quakerism had been known to rise to prominence during conferences before, such as the shift brought by the Manchester Conference in 1895, but FCOR’s ideas about Quakers and aliens were simply not in a position to take hold within the denomination. At best FCOR was being ignored, and at worst it was being snubbed.
According to the FCOR newsletter, Neal felt himself partly vindicated in his view that it was being snubbed when in 1998 the carryover workshop clerk from the last FGC gathering (a position that would have given her have considerable input in approving various workshops) apologized to him, noting that during prior sessions FCOR had been treated unfairly.(61) FGC’s rejection of FCOR was not lasting, but it does indicate that there may have organized institutional pressure to stop FCOR from spreading its ideas.
FCOR’s reception at both SAYMA and FCOR is comparable with historian Erin Bell’s analysis that English Quakers in the early modern era used social coercion in subtle ways, like shaming or forcing public shows of repentance for wrongdoing, rather than physical violence or institutional power in order to maintain the cohesion of their society.(62) In prior centuries Quakerism had been quick to formally disown members who showed signs of too much theological innovation or violated either orthopraxy or orthodoxy. The rise of liberal Quakerism has made disownment for theological reasons almost entirely unknown, but standards of behavior were still enforced, now simply through informal means.(63)
Dandelion’s studies of British Quakerism shows that powerful informal prohibitions do exist which enforce standards of practice within Quakerism. What Dandelion describes is how violations of the norms of silent worship will bring a reprimand, either through a public interruption or the words of a Quaker elder (a position sometimes formally recognized in the United States, but also often informally present).(64) While Dandelion suggests in the British context that this kind of policing does not apply to belief, which remains largely open, FCOR offers some evidence that in the United States at least it does also extend into the realm of theology.
Neither SAYMA or FGC as organizations, nor its members, were going to directly confront or publically denounce Neal or the other members of FCOR, but it appears that Quakers generally were under considerable social pressure not to take FCOR seriously. By ignoring FCOR’s information sessions at these conferences, not funding the organization and treating FCOR members as cranks, the divide between what was perceived as rational Quaker practice and the particular metaphysical religion of FCOR was maintained.
The End of FCOR
Low attendance at FCOR sessions at these yearly gatherings, lack of funds and the advanced age of a number of FCOR’s members made it clear that as the new millennium dawned FCOR’s future was far from certain. Neal was very ill at times, at one point having to delay newsletter issues because he was receiving chemotherapy for a newly discovered cancer.(65) Neal expressed the desire for a younger generation to carry on his work, but he did not find anyone willing to do this. Some of the members of FCOR that had been active in Asheville moved away, which decentralized the already small organization and made it even weaker. Neal and his colleagues had set out to bring something new to Quakerism, to create a viable organization that could take the lead in communicating with alien visitors, but after six years of trying it was clear that Quakerism was not receptive to the idea.
Neal never wavered in the faith that aliens were real, and that all humans had to do was reach out to them to make peaceful contact. Towards the end of his time leading FCOR, Neal felt that all his beliefs were confirmed when, during an attempt to contact aliens with Steve Greer of CSETI, he had an encounter. Neal would describe what he believed was his first encounter with alien visitors to the FCOR newsletters readership:
“Our group had fixed its attention on what first resembled a satellite. But it was brighter and moving toward the northern horizon in an unusual direction, trailing a streamer of light. Reaching a point about 30 [degree sign] above the horizon, it suddenly ‘winked out’ for a second or two, then reappeared long enough to send a brilliant flash in our direction before finally disappearing. Satellite? No way. Meteorite? Too slow, and it wouldn’t disappear, then appear again and act like a flash bulb.”
Neal’s belief that this was a UFO was, he felt, was further validated when a helicopter then flew over the group of alien watchers and shined a light on them. This was, he believed, a “covert group with another agenda about the visitors,” part of the government cover-up that kept them from the public.(66) FCOR may not have succeeded as he had hoped, but Neal felt that his life was well spent. He had a religious experience that confirmed everything he had thought; the truth was out there and he had found it, even if no one else knew it yet.
In February 2001 Neal admitted that FCOR was going to go dormant for a few years. He announced:
“FCOR has been held together so far by a small nucleus of loyal supporters, and has depended on three or four Friends to publish the newsletter, write reports and informational material, and organize workshops and interest groups. If this narrow base of support is reduced FCOR must become less active. Our editorial staff is now less able to help then in the past. I personally must deal with a transition in lifestyle, plus temporary setback in health and mobility. In about eight months I will change from homeowner to retirement community resident and the changeover is already under way.”(67)
Yet Neal was optimistic that this was not the end. The day would come when the visitors would be revealed and on that day FCOR would be needed again. His final parting to readers of the newsletter was to hope that “May we grow in insight and inspiration to welcome the presence of intelligent others, and seek unity with them.”
In many ways Neal was a Quaker visionary and a mystic like his early Quaker forbearers John Woolman and George Fox had been. He received a revelation of the truth as he saw it, and had a calling to stand for a cause that he saw as connected to justice, and he followed both. Yet what separated Neal and the members of FCOR from the success of the early Quakers was not their passion or the correctness of their beliefs (many would after all question John Woolman’s condemnation of maritime travel as sinful or the accuracy of George Fox raising the dead) but how the community received their message. The fact that FCOR was dismissed by Quakers is not lamentable.
That its beliefs were against mainstream science remains a valid criticism, but it should also serve as a reminder of that the line between madness and a prophetic calling within Quakerism, or American religion generally, has always been thin. Any person or group on either side of that line is remarkable enough to be studied and remembered.
1. J. Phillip Neal, “Extraterrestrial Encounters,” Friends Journal, January 1994, 30.
3. “Obituary: John Neal.” Citizen Times, June 13, 2015. http://www.citizen-times.com/services/cobrand/header/?from=global&sessionKey=&autologin=.
For information on the leadership of World War II conscientious objectors in postwar Quakerism see: Thomas D. Hamm, Earlham College: A History, 1847-1997. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1997), 195-199.
4. J. Phillip Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 1” (FCOR, February 1994), 1, Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
5. David A Hollinger, After Cloven Tongues of Fire: Protestant Liberalism in Modern American History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013), 19, 45-46.
Past surveys of the scope of American religious history certainly tend to prize the study of Evangelical religiosity and histories of “mainline” denominations above most other topics when considering Christianity. See: Sydney E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People, 2nd edition (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004); Jon Butler, Grant Wacker, and Randall Balmer, Religion in American Life: A Short History, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 2011).
6. The widespread embracing of narratives that prize the continued influence of the group or subjects being studied has occasionally lead to rather questionable overstatements about the longevity of the traditions under examination. Perry Miller famously saw Jonathan Edwards as grasping all of modern thought and suggested that New England Congregationalists in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were actually crypto-Arminians, which enabled him to argue for their intellectual influence even after rise in popularity of Arminianism shortly before the beginning of the nineteenth century. In a more recent example Catherine Brekus suggests that the disparate eighteenth and nineteenth century female preachers she examines in Strangers and Pilgrims, who were largely forgotten after their own lifetimes, were part of the heritage of efforts of modern evangelical woman’s efforts to become ordained. See: Perry Miller, Jonathan Edwards (New York: Meridian Books, 1959); Perry Miller, The New England Mind: From Colony to Province (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1953), 214-215; George M. Marsden, Jonathan Edwards: A Life (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003), 60-61; Catherine A. Brekus, Strangers & Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740-1845 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1998), 15-16, 340-341.
7. Douglas A. Kline, “The Quaker Journey and the Framing of Corporate and Personal Belief,” Ethos 40, no. 3 (September 1, 2012): 281.
8. Dandelion in particular has been a key advocate of the idea that Quakerism is united to some degree by orthopraxy. It might be noted that this idea that there is a core of common practice among is something most often used by liberal Quakers. Those who are more Evangelical or Orthodox theologically simply see their Christian belief as uniting them. Wilmer A. Cooper for instance simply suggests that liberal forms of Quakerism are in error and do not search for a shared essence in the same way. Carole Dale Spencer likewise rejects practice as uniting Quakers and argues that Holiness is the “Soul of Quakerism.” She faults liberal Friends for ignoring this theological idea. See: Pink Dandelion, An Introduction to Quakerism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007); Wilmer A. Cooper, A Living Faith: An Historical and Comparative Study of Quaker Beliefs, 2nd ed. (Richmond, IN: Friends United Press, 2000); Carole Dale Spencer, Holiness: The Soul of Quakerism: An Historical Analysis of the Theology of Holiness in the Quaker Tradition (Colorado Springs, CO: Paternoster, 2007).
9. Dandelion, An Introduction to Quakerism, 136-139; Pink Dandelion, “Research Note: Implicit Conservatism in Liberal Religion: British Quakers as an ‘uncertain Sect,’” Journal of Contemporary Religion 19, no. 2 (May 1, 2004): 219–29; Pink Dandelion and Peter Collins, “Introduction,” in The Quaker Condition: The Sociology of a Liberal Religion, ed. Pink Dandelion and Peter Collins (Newcastle, England: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008), 5,7,8.
10. Talal Asad, Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993), 37-39. Asad’s ideas on this subject of course owe a heavy intellectual debt to Michel Foucault.
11. FCOR may also seem outside the scope of academic study simply because its creation happened only two decades ago, perhaps giving the mistaken appearance that not enough time has passed for it to seem a valid object of study. However, it should be remembered that scholars of religion have been quite willing to engage in the beliefs of New Religious Movements in a contemporary context, extensively writing about groups like Scientology or the Unification church, particularly from an ethnographic or sociological perspective. Additionally, the work of Kathryn Lofton, Amy Johnson Frykholm, Heather Hendershot, and a number of others, has effectively examined current religious traditions through the lens of popular culture. See: J. Gordon Melton, “Introducing and Defining the Concept of New Religious Movements,” in Teaching New Religious Movements, ed. David G. Bromley (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 29–41; James T. Richardson and Barend van Driel, “Journalists’ Attitudes toward New Religious Movements,” Review of Religious Research 39, no. 2 (December 1, 1997): 116–36; Thomas Robbins, “‘Quo Vadis’ the Scientific Study of New Religious Movements?,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 39, no. 4 (December 1, 2000): 515–23; George D. Chryssides, The Advent of Sun Myung Moon: The Origins, Beliefs and Practices of the Unification Church (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1991); Amy Johnson Frykholm, Rapture Culture: Left Behind in Evangelical America (Oxford University Press, USA, 2007); Heather Hendershot, Shaking the World for Jesus: Media and Conservative Evangelical Culture (Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2004); Kathryn Lofton, Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon (Berkley, CA: University of California Press, 2011).
12. Catherine L. Albanese, A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007), 123.
13. Susan A. Clancy, Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens (Harvard University Press, 2009), 87; Gary Lachman, A Dark Muse: A History of the Occult (Basic Books, 2009), 18-19; J. Gordon Melton, “The Contactees: A Survey,” in The Gods Have Landed: New Religions from Other Worlds, ed. James R. Lewis (SUNY Press, 1995), 1–13.
14. The most famous person to link Swedenborg and Fox sharing a kind of common mysticism was, of course, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who frequently paired them in his essays. Steven Fanning, Mystics of the Christian Tradition (New York: Routledge, 2005), 217.
15. Christopher Partridge, “Understanding UFO Religions,” in UFO Religions, ed. Christopher Partridge (New York: Routledge, 2003), 7-21.
16. Billy Graham, Angels: Ringing Assurance That We Are Not Alone (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1995), 8-10; Anne Cross, “A Confederacy of Faith and Science: Science and the Sacred in UFO Research,” in Alien Worlds: Social and Religious Dimensions of Extraterrestrial Contact, ed. Diana G. Tumminia (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2007), 245.
17. Rob Cook, “Would the Discovery of Alien Life Prove Theologically Embarrassing? A Response to Paul Davies,” Evangelical Quarterly 84, no. 2 (April 2012): 139–54.
18. Daniel N. Wojcik, The End of the World As We Know It: Faith, Fatalism, and Apocalypse in America (New York: NYU Press, 1997), 202-204; Michael Lieb, Children of Ezekiel: Aliens, UFOs, the Crisis of Race, and the Advent of End Time (Duke University Press, 1998), 97-98. One of the more notable advocates of this view was Hal Lindsey, a writer who promoted dispensational premillennialist eschatology. Lindsey in Planet Earth- 2000 A.D. he wrote that demons, disguised as aliens, would arrive and lie to humanity that they had been involved in human evolution, creating a new religion. This development would presage the return of the antichrist. Curiously Lindsey seemed to believe these demon-aliens were in league with the Soviet Union.
19. Gary Gromacki, “Ancient Aliens or Demonic Deception?” Journal of Ministry & Theology 16, no. 2 (Fall 2012): 24–62.
20. Ted Peters, “Exo-Theology: Speculations on Extraterrestrial Life,” in The Gods Have Landed: New Religions from Other Worlds, ed. James R. Lewis (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1995), 187–206; Steve Rose, “The Pope Has Said That He Would Baptize a Martian – but Would They Want Our Religions?,” The Guardian, accessed November 30, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/science/shortcuts/2014/may/14/pope-francis-baptise-martian-would-they-want-our-religions.
21. J. Phillip Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 4” (FCOR, September 1994), Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
22. Albanese, A Republic of Mind and Spirit, 75.
23. Ann Braude, Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women’s Rights in Nineteenth-Century America, Second Edition (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2001), 10-19; Chuck Fager, Remaking Friends: How Progressive Friends Challenged Quakerism & Helped Save America (Durham, NC: Kimo Press, 2014).
24. Hugh Barbour and J. William Frost, The Quakers (Richmond, IN: Friends United Meeting Press, 1988), 219-230; Thomas D. Hamm, The Quakers in America (Columbia University Press, 2003), 54-63; Pink Dandelion, An Introduction to Quakerism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 219-253.
25. Thomas C. Kennedy, British Quakerism, 1860-1920: The Transformation of a Religious Community (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).
26. Isaac May, “The President’s Friends and Foes: Richard Nixon and the Divisions of American Quakerism,” Quaker History 102, no. 1 (Spring 2013), 17-38. For a concise overview of the important points of liberal Quaker history see: J. William Frost, “Modernist and Liberal Quakers, 1887-2010,” in The Oxford Handbook of Quaker Studies, ed. Ben Pink Dandelion and Stephen W. Angell (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 78–92.
27. Kline, “The Quaker Journey and the Framing of Corporate and Personal Belief”; Hamm, The Quakers in America, 121-128; David Boulton, ed., Godless for God’s Sake: Nontheism in Contemporary Quakerism (Dent, Cumbria [U.K.]: Dales Historical Monographs, 2006).
28. Courtney Bender, The New Metaphysicals: Spirituality and the American Religious Imagination (Chicago, IL: University Of Chicago Press, 2010), 33-34.
29. Chuck Fager, Remaking Friends, 197.
30. Henry Joel Cadbury, “My Personal Religion” (Universalist Friends, 1936), http://universalistfriends.org/UF035.html. Accessed November 5, 2014
31. Jesse Holmes, “To the Scientifically Minded,” Friends Journal 85, no. 6 (1928): 103–4.
32. Martha Louise Deed, “Major Patterns of Religious Commitment Among Members of the Religious Society of Friends” (Doctoral Dissertation, Boston University, 1969).
33. Edward J. Stevens, “Are We Being Held Hostage?” 47, no. 10 (October 2001): 4.
34. “About Us,” Center for the Study of Exterrestrial Intelligence, 2014, http://new.cseti.org/; Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 1.”
35. Aaron John Gulyas, Extraterrestrials and the American Zeitgeist: Alien Contact Tales Since the 1950s (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2013), 162-164.
36. Paul McCarthy, “Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind- Communicating with UFOs,” Omni, December 1992, http://www.paradigmresearchgroup.org/Webpages/Close%20encounters%20of%20the%20fifth%20kind%20-%20communicating%20with%20UFOs%20Omni%20-%20Find%20Articles.htm. Accessed November 11, 2014.
37. Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 4”; J. Phillip Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 5” (FCOR, January 1995), Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
38. Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 5.”
39. Stephanie Ocko, Spiritual Adventures: A Traveler’s Guide to Extraordinary Vacations (Citadel Press, 2003), 264.
40. J. Phillip Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 10” (FCOR, September 1995), Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
41. Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 1.”
42. Jean Roberts quoted in J. Phillip Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 24” (FCOR, March 1999), Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
44. Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 1.”
45. Aris Mousoutzanis, Fin-de-Siècle Fictions, 1890s-1990s: Apocalypse, Technoscience, Empire (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).
46. David Bell and Lee-Jane Bennion-Nixon, “The Popular Culture of Conspiracy/the Conspiracy of Popular Culture,” The Sociological Review 48, no. S2 (October 1, 2000): 133–52.
47. J. Phillip Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 17” (FCOR, March 1996), Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1; Timothy Good, Above Top Secret: The Worldwide U.F.O. Cover-Up (Quill, 1989).
48. J. Phillip Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 21” (FCOR, March 1998), 21, Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1; Kendrick Frazier, Barry Karr, and Joe Nickell, eds., The UFO Invasion: The Roswell Incident, Alien Abductions, and Government Coverups (Amherst, N.Y: Prometheus Books, 1997).
49. J. Phillip Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 8” (FCOR, June 1995), Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
51. Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 17.”
53. David Wilkinson, Science, Religion, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (Oxford University Press, 2013),14; Douglas FitzHenry Jones, “Reading ‘New’ Religious Movements Historically: Sci-Fi Possibilities and Shared Assumptions in Heaven’s Gate,” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 16, no. 2 (November 2012): 29–46; Benjamin E. Zeller, “Storming the Gates of the Temple of Science: Religion and Science in Three New Religious Movements” (PhD Dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2007).
54. J. Phillip Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 9” (FCOR, July 1995), 9, Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
55. “Minutes for SAYMA, Meeting 30” (Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association, June 6, 2000), http://sayma.org/top/online_documents/YM2000.txt.
57. Caitlin Dewey, “The Fear That Drives Our Alien Belief,” The Washington Post, May 14, 2013, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2013/05/14/the-fear-that-drives-our-alien-belief/. Accessed November 23, 2014.
58. J. Phillip Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 2” (FCOR, April 1994), Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1; Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 10.”
59. J. Phillip Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 19” (FCOR, July 1996), Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1; J. Phillip Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 22” (FCOR, August 1998), Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
60. J. Phillip Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 20” (FCOR, November 1996), 20, Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
61. Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 22,” 22.
62. Erin Bell, “The Early Quakers, the Peace Testimony and Masculinity in England, 1660–1720,” Gender & History 23, no. 2 (2011): 292-293.
63. Dandelion, An Introduction to Quakerism, 140.
64. Pink Dandelion, “The Creation of Coherence: The ‘Quaker Double-Culture’ and the ‘Absolute Perhaps,’” in The Quaker Condition: The Sociology of a Liberal Religion, ed. Pink Dandelion and Peter Collins (Newcastle, England: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008), 1–21.
65. J. Phillip Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 26” (FCOR, October 1999), 2, Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
66. J. Phillip Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 27” (FCOR, July 2000), 27, Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
67. J. Phillip Neal, “FCOR Newsletter 28” (FCOR, February 2001), 28, Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
“About Us.” Center for the Study of Exterrestrial Intelligence, 2014. http://new.cseti.org/.
Ahlstrom, Sydney E. A Religious History of the American People. 2nd edition. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004.
Albanese, Catherine L. A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007.
Asad, Talal. Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993.
Bacon, Margaret Hope. The Quiet Rebels: The Story of the Quakers in America. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1969.
Barbour, Hugh, and J. William Frost. The Quakers. Richmond, IN: Friends United Meeting Press, 1988.
Bell, David, and Lee-Jane Bennion-Nixon. “The Popular Culture of Conspiracy/the Conspiracy of Popular Culture.” The Sociological Review 48, no. S2 (October 1, 2000): 133–52.
Bell, Erin. “The Early Quakers, the Peace Testimony and Masculinity in England, 1660–1720.” Gender & History 23, no. 2 (2011): 283–300.
Bender, Courtney. The New Metaphysicals: Spirituality and the American Religious Imagination. Chicago, IL: University Of Chicago Press, 2010.
Benjamin E. Zeller. “Storming the Gates of the Temple of Science: Religion and Science in Three New Religious Movements.” PhD Dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2007.
Boulton, David, ed. Godless for God’s Sake: Nontheism in Contemporary Quakerism. Dent, Cumbria [U.K.]: Dales Historical Monographs, 2006.
Braude, Ann. Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women’s Rights in Nineteenth-Century America. Second Edition. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2001.
Brekus, Catherine A. Strangers & Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740-1845. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.
Butler, Jon, Grant Wacker, and Randall Balmer. Religion in American Life: A Short History. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 2011.
Cadbury, Henry Joel. “My Personal Religion.” Universalist Friends, 1936. http://universalistfriends.org/UF035.html.
Christopher Partridge. “Understanding UFO Religions.” In UFO Religions, edited by Christopher Partridge. New York: Routledge, 2003.
Chryssides, George D. The Advent of Sun Myung Moon: The Origins, Beliefs and Practices of the Unification Church. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1991.
Clancy, Susan A. Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens. Harvard University Press, 2009.
Cook, Rob. “Would the Discovery of Alien Life Prove Theotogically Embarrassing? A Response to Paul Davies.” Evangelical Quarterly 84, no. 2 (April 2012): 139–54.
Cooper, Wilmer A. A Living Faith: An Historical and Comparative Study of Quaker Beliefs. 2nd ed. Richmond, IN: Friends United Press, 2000.
Cross, Anne. “A Confederacy of Faith and Science: Science and the Sacred in UFO Research.” In Alien Worlds: Social and Religious Dimensions of Extraterrestrial Contact, edited by Diana G. Tumminia. Syracuse , NY: Syracuse University Press, 2007.
Dandelion, Pink. An Introduction to Quakerism. Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
———. “Research Note: Implicit Conservatism in Liberal Religion: British Quakers as an ‘uncertain Sect.’” Journal of Contemporary Religion 19, no. 2 (May 1, 2004): 219–29. doi:10.1080/1353790042000207728.
———. “The Creation of Coherence: The ‘Quaker Double-Culture’ and the ‘Absolute Perhaps.’” In The Quaker Condition: The Sociology of a Liberal Religion, edited by Pink Dandelion and Peter Collins, 1–21. Newcastle, England: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008.
Dandelion, Pink, and Peter Collins. “Introduction.” In The Quaker Condition: The Sociology of a Liberal Religion, edited by Pink Dandelion and Peter Collins, 1–21. Newcastle, England: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008.
Deed, Martha Louise. “Major Patterns of Religious Commitment Among Members of the Religious Society of Friends.” Doctoral Dissertation, Boston University, 1969.
Dewey, Caitlin. “The Fear That Drives Our Alien Belief.” The Washington Post, May 14, 2013. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2013/05/14/the-fear-that-drives-our-alien-belief/.
Fager, Chuck. Remaking Friends: How Progressive Friends Challenged Quakerism & Helped Save America. Durham, NC: Kimo Press, 2014.
Fanning, Steven. Mystics of the Christian Tradition. Routledge, 2005.
Frazier, Kendrick, Barry Karr, and Joe Nickell, eds. The UFO Invasion: The Roswell Incident, Alien Abductions, and Government Coverups. Amherst, N.Y: Prometheus Books, 1997.
Frost, J. William. “Modernist and Liberal Quakers, 1887-2010.” In The Oxford Handbook of Quaker Studies, edited by Ben Pink Dandelion and Stephen W. Angell, 78–92. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.
Frykholm, Amy Johnson. Rapture Culture: Left Behind in Evangelical America. Oxford University Press, USA, 2007.
Good, Timothy. Above Top Secret: The Worldwide U.F.O. Cover-Up. Quill, 1989.
Graham, Billy. Angels: Ringing Assurance That We Are Not Alone. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1995.
Gromacki, Gary. “Ancient Aliens or Demonic Deception?” Journal of Ministry & Theology 16, no. 2 (Fall 2012): 24–62.
Gulyas, Aaron John. Extraterrestrials and the American Zeitgeist: Alien Contact Tales Since the 1950s. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2013.
Hamm, Thomas D. The Quakers in America. Columbia University Press, 2003.
Hendershot, Heather. Shaking the World for Jesus: Media and Conservative Evangelical Culture. 1 edition. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2004.
Hollinger, David A. After Cloven Tongues of Fire: Protestant Liberalism in Modern American History. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013.
Holmes, Jesse. “To the Scientifically Minded.” Friends Journal 85, no. 6 (1928): 103–4.
J. Gordon Melton. “Introducing and Defining the Concept of New Religious Movements.” In Teaching New Religious Movements, edited by David G. Bromley, 29–41. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
———. “The Contactees: A Survey.” In The Gods Have Landed: New Religions from Other Worlds, edited by James R. Lewis, 1–13. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1995.
Jones, Douglas FitzHenry. “Reading ‘New’ Religious Movements Historically: Sci-Fi Possibilities and Shared Assumptions in Heaven’s Gate.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 16, no. 2 (November 2012): 29–46.
Kennedy, Thomas C. British Quakerism, 1860-1920: The Transformation of a Religious Community. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Kline, Douglas A. “The Quaker Journey and the Framing of Corporate and Personal Belief.” Ethos 40, no. 3 (September 1, 2012): 277–96. doi:10.1111/j.1548-1352.2012.01258.x.
Lachman, Gary. A Dark Muse: A History of the Occult. Basic Books, 2009.
Lieb, Michael. Children of Ezekiel: Aliens, UFOs, the Crisis of Race, and the Advent of End Time. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998.
Lofton, Kathryn. Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon. Berkley, CA: University of California Press, 2011.
Marsden, George M. Jonathan Edwards: A Life. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.
May, Isaac. “The President’s Friends and Foes: Richard Nixon and the Divisions of American Quakerism.” Quaker History 102, no. 1 (Spring 2013).
Miller, Perry. Jonathan Edwards. New York: Meridian Books, 1959.
———. The New England Mind: From Colony to Province. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1953.
“Minutes for SAYMA, Meeting 30.” Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association, June 6, 2000. http://sayma.org/top/online_documents/YM2000.txt.
Mousoutzanis, Aris. Fin-de-Siècle Fictions, 1890s-1990s: Apocalypse, Technoscience, Empire. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
Neal, J. Phillip. “Extraterrestrial Encounters.” Friends Journal, January 1994.
———. “FCOR Newsletter 1.” FCOR, February 1994. Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
———. “FCOR Newsletter 2.” FCOR, April 1994. Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
———. “FCOR Newsletter 4.” FCOR, September 1994. Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
———. “FCOR Newsletter 5.” FCOR, January 1995. Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
———. “FCOR Newsletter 8.” FCOR, June 1995. Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
———. “FCOR Newsletter 9.” FCOR, July 1995. Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
———. “FCOR Newsletter 10.” FCOR, September 1995. Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
———. “FCOR Newsletter 17.” FCOR, March 1996. Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
———. “FCOR Newsletter 19.” FCOR, July 1996. Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
———. “FCOR Newsletter 20.” FCOR, November 1996. Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
———. “FCOR Newsletter 21.” FCOR, March 1998. Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
———. “FCOR Newsletter 22.” FCOR, August1998. Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
———. “FCOR Newsletter 24.” FCOR, March 1999. Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
———. “FCOR Newsletter 26.” FCOR, October 1999. Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
———. “FCOR Newsletter 27.” FCOR, July 2000. Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
———. “FCOR Newsletter 28.” FCOR, February 2001. Haverford College, Quaker Collection, Friends Committee on Outworld Relations, SG1.
Ocko, Stephanie. Spiritual Adventures: A Traveller’s Guide to Extraordinary Vacations. Citadel Press, 2003.
Paul McCarthy. “Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind- Communi-cating with UFOs.” Omni, December 1992.
Peters, Ted. “Exo-Theology: Speculations on Extraterrestrial Life.” In The Gods Have Landed: New Religions from Other Worlds, edited by James R. Lewis, 187–206. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1995.
Richardson, James T., and Barend van Driel. “Journalists’ Attitudes toward New Religious Movements.” Review of Religious Research 39, no. 2 (December 1, 1997): 116–36. doi:10.2307/3512177.
Robbins, Thomas. “‘Quo Vadis’ the Scientific Study of New Religious Movements?.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 39, no. 4 (December 1, 2000): 515–23.
Rose, Steve. “The Pope Has Said That He Would Baptise a Martian – but Would They Want Our Religions?” The Guardian. Accessed November 30, 2014.
Spencer, Carole Dale. Holiness: The Soul of Quakerism: An Historical Analysis of the Theology of Holiness in the Quaker Tradition. Colorado Springs, CO: Paternoster, 2007.
Stevens, Edward J. “Are We Being Held Hostage?” 47, no. 10 (October 2001): 4.
Wilkinson, David. Science, Religion, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.
Wojcik, Daniel N. The End of the World As We Know It: Faith, Fatalism, and Apocalypse in America. New York: NYU Press, 1997.