During the 17th century, around 1630, the puritans settled in New England. However, their main purpose was not to promote religion or religious freedom; rather they wanted to achieve freedom from the church and public officials in England. They believed the church and public officials prevented them from pursuing their religious beliefs as God intended them to. This essay focuses on the life of Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams who were deeply religious individuals during the 17th century. Although they led separate lives, the two are linked together because of their religious beliefs that led to them being banished from Massachusetts Bay Colony. This paper explores the reasons led to their banishment. The paper discusses the views the two held that put them in conflict with the church and the community leaders. It expresses the religious views of both Anne Hutchinson and roger Williams. Finally, the paper discusses the new colony that they settled in that late came to be regarded as a sanctuary for those who found the constraints of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to be insufferable.
Anne Hutchinson was a woman who was deeply rooted in religion. According to her interpretation of the biblical law, she believed the ministers in Massachusetts had gone contrary to what the bible was teaching. She felt as though they had lost their way. She had strong religious views about the church, and she was not afraid to share them. She was of the idea that the church’s enforcement of proper conduct and behavior by the church members of conflicted how the Biblical laws were supposed to be interpreted. During one of her sermons, she put across a question, “If God has predetermined for me salvation or damnation, how could any behavior of mine change my fate?"(ushistory.org). Anne was of the opinion that living a holy life does not necessarily mean one would get salvation. This line of thinking was considered to be extremely dangerous. The church feared that if the public ignored the authority of the church, anarchy was imminent. They feared that the power of the church ministers would decrease. She held meetings in her home and had a weekly sermon. Her position as a woman also threatened the puritan order. The clergy felt that she was a threat to the puritans and was arrested for what they considered to be heresy. She represented herself in court and argued her case intelligently. However, the court found her guilty of heresy, and she was banished from Massachusetts Bay in 1637.
Roger Williams was an enigmatic young clergyman who came to New England in the 17th century. On his arrival, he was received by Winthrop as one of the “godly ministers”. Just like his predecessors who had criticized the Church of England of not doing enough to expand the kingdom of God, Williams was outspoken and used his voice to challenge the colonialists to put more effort in advancing the kingdom of God. The puritans were devoted to limiting religious ordinances to those whom they considered to be selected by God. Religious interaction was restricted to those who were considered to be ungodly. Williams was zealous in his quest; this led him to insist on things that were viewed as extreme by most of his peers. Williams took a hardline stand and held views that were considered to be out of line with the puritan’s beliefs. He believed in the separation of the church and state. He also believed and emphasized on religious freedom. This meant that no church was supposed to be supported by any money derived from tax collected from the colony. Williams believed in civil authority. He held the view that, taking land from the Native Americans without paying was cruel and unfair. These beliefs were believed to undermine the government of Massachusetts Bay Colony and the beliefs of the church. In 1635, he was arraigned in court, and the magistrates ordered the banishing of Williams from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
In conclusion, Williams continued to meet in secret with others and expressed his views that had been condemned. The authorities got wind of this and decided to seize and immediately return him to England. However, his friend John Winthrop warned him, and he was able to flee to Narragansett Bay where he bought a land from the local Indians. The land he settled later came to be known as Providence in the colony of Rhode Island. Here, he would continue his quest for further religious truth. He later became a Baptist and abandoned the hopes of a pure church that was created by men. He came up with a position and belief that called out for religious tolerance. After her banishment in Massachusetts Bay Colony, Anne Hutchinson and her family had decided to relocate to either Long Island or New Jersey. However, she moved with her family to Rhode Island after being convinced by Roger Williams to settle in Providence in Rhode Island.