For Women’s History Month, A More Perfect Blog will feature profiles of influential and heroic female leaders from our middle school curriculum, Being An American: Exploring the Ideals That Unite Us. Use the profiles to start a class discussion on what makes a hero and how each of the people we describe is heroic.
Anne Hutchinson stood up to a religious theocracy (where the church and the government are the same) in defense of religious liberty. A well-educated minister’s daughter, Hutchinson came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634. She became a midwife, and she made friends. Soon she began to invite women to her home for Bible study.
Over the years, Hutchinson attracted a following. Almost sixty people, both men and women, joined her group. The discussions at her home soon became more like sermons. She criticized the teachings of the colony’s ministers. For anyone – and especially a woman – to go against the official religion of the colony was a crime. Colony ministers charged Hutchinson with eighty-two “erroneous opinions.” But she did not keep silent. She courageously defended her beliefs. In the end, Hutchinson was convicted and banished.
Hutchinson’s struggle helped spread the values of respect and religious liberty. In 1789, the Constitution banned religious tests for public office; the First Amendment, adopted in 1791, stopped the federal government from establishing a religion; finally, all the states ended their official churches by the early 19th century. Anne Hutchinson’s struggle helped religious liberty take root.