Massachusetts bay colony
Massachusetts Bay was an English colony in America that was dominated by Puritans. The colonial administration could not hold any religious diversity and often considered the conflict of their beliefs as unfathomable(Frost-Knappman & Cullen-Du, 1997). The people lived under the instructions of the clergy and blindly followed their teachings without question. However, there existed many religious misappropriations especially based on the interpretation of the teachings to fit political interests. This paper will discuss the role of Anne as a pioneer of religious and social freedom as well as gender equality in the modern American society.
Summary of the Massachusetts Bay Event
Anne Hutchinson was an England religious leader who lived between 1591and 1643 who migrated to live in Massachusetts Bay in 1634 in the quest to gain religious education(Knappman, Christianson, & Paddock, 2002). Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams are among the rational thinkers who happened to reside in the colony at the time and such people often resulted in a conflict wherever they spoke their minds(Frost-Knappman & Cullen-Du, 1997). Anne was very religious and had a broad comprehension of the biblical teachings. Whereas the Massachusetts enforces a “proper behavior” on the population, Anne thought that salvation was rather a predetermined fate than dependent on one’s behavior. Her teachings contradicted the teachings of the church attracting the attention of the authorities.
Consequently, the church was losing popularity and authority in the social setting. The power of ministers in the church was stripped because the people started having divided loyalty to the church and its teachings(Frost-Knappman & Cullen-Du, 1997). She was gaining popularity attracting many people to come and listen to her comments in her parlor and was, therefore, becoming a threat to the Puritans(Knappman, Christianson, & Paddock, 2002). Among her teachings was the separation of the church from the state political government to form two different entities.as a result, she was declared a threat to the Puritan experiment by the clergy. Also, the religion at the time did not tolerate debating and questioning of religious teachings(Knappman, Christianson, & Paddock, 2002). The Puritans, furthermore, did not expect women to decide that they could interpret the Bible on their own, without the guidance of the clergy.
On the contrary, she claimed that the Bible gave her, the right to minister, a responsibility that was only reserved for male Puritan church clergy members(Knappman, Christianson, & Paddock, 2002). By questioning the power of the clergy and the teachings of the church, and venturing into the dangerous religious territory of religion in several ways discussed above, Anne was arrested and charged with heresy(Knappman, Christianson, & Paddock, 2002). John Winthrop, the governor of the Bay was both the prosecutor and the judge in Anne's trial. She was not found with solid evidence to prove the charges placed against her because she never held open meetings. However, she was convicted of traducing the ministers and was excommunicated from the church (Knappman, Christianson, & Paddock, 2002). Furthermore, she was banished from Massachusetts Bay and moved to Long Island. She was later assassinated in 1643 during an Indian raid on the island.
Importance of the Massachusetts Bay Event
Anne Hutchinson was a special woman of her time, having struggles to attain religious and economic freedom in the new America. Anne changed the way people perceived the Puritan religion(Frost-Knappman & Cullen-Du, 1997). The people in Massachusetts had been meant to believe that the Puritan colonialists were interested in bringing up a godly society in the colony. On the contrary, it was oppressing people using the church. The colony had given the clergy the power to give people instructions and thus had mixed the political environment with the spiritual matters(Frost-Knappman & Cullen-Du, 1997). However, Anne, through her weekly meetings in her parlor with many people gave them another perspective of understanding the Bible better than they already did, thus enabling them to open their mind and reason. With time, the people started to understand the Bible better than the clergy explained to them and started to figure out some of the interests of the colonial government through the church, which was not spiritual. For instance, the colonial government through the church used the spiritual power of the clergy to give political instructions to the people whereas the church and government are expected to be different entities(Frost-Knappman & Cullen-Du, 1997).
Anne also brought out the strength of a woman in the patriarchal society of the time(Stille, 2006). The church perceived women as unable to interpret biblical teachings on their own and necessitated that they should listen and adhere to the teachings as interpreted by the clergy. On the contrary, Anne showed a broad understanding of the scripture and even questioned the teachings of the clergy(Stille, 2006). She theologically analyzed the teachings of the Bible and came up with her own understanding that was beginning to win many people in Massachusetts and drawing them from the church. Also, she was a trained nurse and midwife and was smart and outspoken, characters which encouraged other women and ladies to come speak up in the society(Stille, 2006). Her effect would be perceived in the society during and after her time when many women began to defend their rights and take up responsibilities that were initially considered to be taken by men(Stille, 2006).
Her theological analysis of the teachings of the church and those of the Bible made enlightened the people of Massachusetts religiously(Mangal, 2004). She led to the emergence of questions such as the source of religious authority, the amount of dissent that a religious community should tolerate. She also raised the concern of political interference in religious matters that was common in many parts of America(Mangal, 2004). She also brought up a heating argument on the people who decide the source and limits of religious authority. She, therefore, formed the basis for the struggle against religious imperialism which was running the society at the time and which was being used by politicians for political and personal interests as opposed to their regular religious responsibilities.
Long-Term Effect of Anne Hutchinson
Anne can be considered the pioneer of civil liberty and religious freedom that Americans enjoy today. She sparked off a struggle that led to the same, which is among the rights and freedoms documented in the American constitution today. She was the first woman to stand and fearlessly defend the civil freedom from religious imperialism that had dominated America. As a result, Americans today enjoy the freedom of worship, irrespective of their gender, denomination, and religion. She, therefore, formed the basis for the religious diverse society that America is today, which has many religions that are well accommodated in the constitution(Mangal, 2004). She also led to the separation of religion from politics that is being enjoyed by Americans today.
Also, Anne Hutchinson formed the basis for the struggle of gender equality in America. She defended the rights of women based on religious discrimination. She openly proved that what men can do in the society when she declared that she did not need the clergy to interpret the Bible for her(Buchanan, 2006). Being learned and informed, she is the role model for other female right activists that rose in the late seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century. Through her, the American Society has formed a gender equal society with equal opportunities for both genders across the population(Buchanan, 2006). Therefore, Anne Hutchinson is an American national figure that formed the basis for many achievements that Americans enjoy today.
Buchanan, L. (2006). A study of maternal rhetoric: Anne Hutchinson, monsters, and the antinomian controversy. Rhetoric Review, 25(3), 239-259.
Frost-Knappman, E., & Cullen-Du, P. K. (1997). Women's rights on trial: 101 historic trials from Anne Hutchinson to the Virginia Military Institute cadets. Detroit: Gale.
Knappman, E. W., Christianson, S. G., & Paddock, L. O. (2002). Great American Trials. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group/Thomson Learning.
Mangal, M. (2004). Anne Hutchinson: Religious reformer. Mankato, Minn: Capstone Press.
Stille, D. R. (2006). Anne Hutchinson: Puritan protester. Minneapolis, Minn: Compass Point Books.
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