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Analysis Of Freedom Of Dissent

1568 words - 6 pages

Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson were one in the same character: A ruthless dissenter who went against the majority. They both believed in conscience liberty, suffered persecution at the hands of the theocrats, and both went on to help dissenters make life anew in the colonies.

First of all, during their time, it was recognized that one did not have a right within the choice of religion versus government. It seemed that whatever one wanted to believe was not an option when it came to following a creed, it was more than probable that one’s government had made that choice for its people. Roger Williams, having been educated by Sir Coke on religious ideals, seemed to be bothered by this fact and was fervent to change this as his former master whom had spent time in a London jail for his own ideas (Humanities, 1983). Anne Hutchinson, being the daughter of a dissenting puritan minister (Reuben, 2011), had ideas differing from the major religious institutions of her land, and was especially dissatisfied with not being able accept creeds differing from the main. Williams’ works touched on this subject beautifully as he logically, even through quotes in scriptures, explained why it was that if one wished to be a true follower of Christ, that religious tolerance was a must. In The Bloudy Tenet of Persecution, Williams explains that Christ ‘abhors’ the practice of forced worship and persecution of differing beliefs of even those who are not Christian. Anne Hutchinson openly practiced the freedom of conscience as part of her life. She had at one point in England, meetings where she would speak about the doctrines and treatises written by John Cotton, and she would always add in her own interpretations (Anne Hutchinson, 2003). She continued these meetings in America and even attracted the likes of young Governor of the Colony, Henry Vane. Roger Williams wrote much more on the freedom of conscious, as it was his Magnum Opus idea. Since the times of the English Civil war, the question of worship had become one of great importance. Even before that people in England suffered persecutions at the hands of either of whichever Christian majority had enough firewood and drive to burn dissenters. The situation that each of these great figures in religious tolerance had found themselves in was one of great bravery as persecution was an unavoidable part of life for them. They had suffered persecution not just at the hands of commoners but also at the hands of the governmental officials.
The governmental officials of England as well as, and perhaps mostly, the officials of The Massachusetts Bay colonies were ruthless theocrats (Baym, 2007). Theocrats are people who believe in theocracy, i.e. god is at the head of all government. Roger Williams opposed this idea saying that to believe that Jehovah embraced any other state other than Israel was foolishness (Williams, 1644). Roger Williams himself had grown up with a world that imprisoned the heretics, and he was...

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