anne hutchinson takes a stand

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ANNE HUTCHINSON TAKES A STAND
In 1634, Anne and her husband William, left
England for Boston, Massachusetts. Expecting
religious enlightenment in the Massachusetts
Bay Colony, what Anne found were minsters
devoted to the dry duty of prayer and strong
self-discipline.
Hungry for something more spiritually, and
noting that the male members of Boston’s
church met regularly after sermons to discuss
the Bible, Hutchinson started to hold similar
meetings for women in her own home.
Anne espoused a radical point of view that
mere conformity to religious laws was no proof
of godliness. True spirituality derived not from
minister’s sermons, not from books or even the
Bible, but from one’s own inner experience of
the Holy Spirit. Her ideas began to draw a
following among men as well as women.
Her popularity brought criticism from the
church leaders. In time, what started as a
difference in religious point of view became a
gaping split which threatened the political
stability of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. As
Hutchinson’s opponents saw it, to question the
church was to challenge the state
(government).
The General Court banned all private religious
meetings. Despite this ban, Hutchinson
continued to hold her meetings and was
charged with heresy. The Court described her
meetings as, “a thing not tolerable…nor fitting
for your sex.”
At trial, Anne proved to be an intellectual equal
to the Court; however she let her emotions get
the better or her. The Lord, she said, had
revealed Himself to her, and told the Court to
take heed, for “God will ruin you and your
posterity, and the whole State.” With that the
Court replied, “that the revelation she brings
forth is delusion,” and voted to banish her from
the colony, “as being a woman not fit for our
society.”
Fortunately for Anne Hutchinson, she was not
the only spiritual outcast in New England. In
1636, Roger Williams was banished from the
Massachusetts Bay Colony for having preached
tolerance for all faiths, for seeking respect and
fair treatment of the Indians and for preaching
the separation of church and state.
Anne, with her husband, children, and sixty
followers, moved to Rhode Island. When her
husband died in 1642, she took her children to
the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. Tragically,
in August 1643, a band of Indians raided her
house killing Anne and five of her children. A
sad end for a woman many credit as being
among the first to lead the public fight for
religious freedom and women’s rights.
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