Anthony was raised a Quaker, but her religious heritage was mixed. On her mother’s side, her grandmother was a Baptist and her grandfather was a Universalist. Her father was a radical Quaker who chafed under the restrictions of his more conservative congregation. When the Quakers split in the late 1820s into Orthodox and Hicksites, her family sided with the Hicksites, which Anthony described as “the radical side, the Unitarian”.
In 1848, three years after the Anthony family moved to Rochester, a group of about 200 Quakers withdrew from the Hicksite organization in western New York, partly because they wanted to work in social reform movements without interference from that organization. Some of them, including the Anthony family, began attending services at the First Unitarian Church of Rochester. When Susan B. Anthony returned home from teaching in 1849, she joined her family in attending services there, and she remained with the Rochester Unitarians for the rest of her life. Her sense of spirituality was strongly influenced by William Henry Channing, a nationally known minister of that church who also assisted her with several of her reform projects. Anthony was listed as a member of First Unitarian in a church history written in 1881.
Anthony, proud of her Quaker roots, continued to describe herself as a Quaker, however. She maintained her membership in the local Hicksite body but did not attend its meetings.She joined the Congregational Friends, an organization that was created by Quakers in western New York after the 1848 split among Quakers there. This group soon ceased to operate as a religious body, however, and changed its name to the Friends of Human Progress, organizing annual meetings in support of social reform that welcomed everyone, including “Christians, Jews, Mahammedans, and Pagans”. Anthony served as secretary of this group in 1857.
In 1859, during a period when Rochester Unitarians were gravely impaired by factionalism, Anthony unsuccessfully attempted to start a “Free church in Rochester … where no doctrines should be preached and all should be welcome.” She used as her model the Boston church of Theodore Parker, a Unitarian minister who helped to set the direction of his denomination by rejecting the authority of the Bible and the validity of miracles. Anthony later became close friends with William Channing Gannett, who became the minister of the Unitarian Church in Rochester in 1889, and with his wife Mary, who came from a Quaker background. William had been a national leader of the successful movement within the Unitarian denomination to end the practice of binding it by a formal creed, thereby opening its membership to non-Christians and even non-theists, a goal for the denomination that resembled Anthony’s goal for her proposed Free church.
After Anthony reduced her arduous travel schedule and made her home in Rochester in 1891, she resumed regular attendance at First Unitarian and also worked with the Gannetts on local reform projects. Her sister Mary Stafford Anthony, whose home had provided a resting place for Anthony during her years of frequent travel, had long played an active role in this church.
Her first public speech, delivered at a temperance meeting as a young woman, contained frequent references to God. She soon took a more distant approach, however. While in Europe in 1883, Anthony helped a desperately poor Irish mother of six children. Noting that “the evidences were that ‘God’ was about to add a No. 7 to her flock”, she later commented, “What a dreadful creature their God must be to keep sending hungry mouths while he withholds the bread to fill them!”
Elizabeth Cady Stanton said that Anthony was an agnostic, adding, “To her, work is worship … Her belief is not orthodox, but it is religious.” Anthony herself said, “Work and worship are one with me. I can not imagine a God of the universe made happy by my getting down on my knees and calling him ‘great.'” When Anthony’s sister Hannah was on her death bed, she asked Susan to talk about the great beyond, but, Anthony later wrote, “I could not dash her faith with my doubts, nor could I pretend a faith I had not; so I was silent in the dread presence of death.”
When an organization offered to sponsor a women’s rights convention on the condition that “no speaker should say anything which would seem like an attack on Christianity”, Anthony wrote to a friend, “I wonder if they’ll be as particular to warn all other speakers not to say anything which shall sound like an attack on liberal religion. They never seem to think we have any feelings to be hurt when we have to sit under their reiteration of orthodox cant and dogma.”
Just saw a CNN tweet about how people are putting “I voted” stickers on her grave. In case people don’t know….in the USA after you vote you are given an oval sticker that says “I voted” on it. They should put it on all the graves because liberals are using the names of the dead to vote illegally at the polls.
Anthony was a feminist leader that is being pushed to young women to look up to but I want to say that I DON’T. She did not believe in God and she was a Universalist who said rude things about the people who believed in God. She was not led by God and she is not a role model to Christian women. Neither is Gandhi or Mother Theresa or Martin Luther King Jr. or Frida Kahlo or Barack Hussein Obama as they push in schools. Look into their biography and see that they are not the great people that people make them out to be.