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.