The Trial of Anne Hutchinson (1637) The God in America study guide provides a good description of the significance of Anne Hutchinson, an important figure in understanding the dynamics of the American political and religious traditions—particularly the tensions between orthodoxy and dissent. Anne Hutchinson was charged with 1) disturbing the peace by conducting religious services in her home—which was directly across the street from John Winthrop; and 2)—preaching religious doctrines that the Puritan politico-religious leaders (including Winthrop) considered incorrect—including her belief that individuals were responsible to God for their actions, not to the church or church officials. And she was a woman. Why was she considered a threat? The transcript of her trial testimony in response to the charges filed against her reveal the courage of her convictions, and her ability use scripture against the church leaders who accused her of preaching incorrect doctrines. A religious dissenter challenging established authority. The trial is taught today as an early example of the dynamic of religious conflict between the established religious orthodoxy (in this case the Puritan clergy) and dissenters (individual believers who challenged the religious authority/institutional leadership), and between the church hierarchy and lay people. Hutchinson was found guilty. The sentence was banishment from Massachusetts Colony. What is the moral of the story of the trial of Anne Hutchinson—that is, what is its meaning in American religious politics? The Salem Witchcraft Trials (1692) B. The Early Years of the Republic The Declaration of Independence The Constitution Article VI: “….but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; …” Madison’s Federalist No. 10 . The Problem: Factions. Economic, geographic, party, even religion. A religious sect may degenerate into a political faction. The Solution: Pluralism. Religious Revivals. Utopian Movements: Sacred and Secular. Fruitlands (1840s) and Brook Farm (1840s). Transcendentalism and freeing individuals from established…. III. “Civil religion” in America In an influential 1967 essay, the sociologist Robert N. Bellah (1927–2013) coined the term “civil religion” to describe the distinctive American political religiosity—the surprisingly large role that religion plays in American politics and government. What is civil religion? Does the U.S. have one? “ Civil Religion in America ” IV. The Puzzle of American Religiosity
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- Fall '19
- Christianity, Faith