Anne Hutchinson – was she a witch or a spiritual teacher?
“The elder women should instruct the young,” Hutchinson wrote, paraphrasing the New Testament.
But in Boston, in the 1630s, women were not to teach. Women speaking and preaching in public, let alone with spiritual authority, was a contentious issue. Hutchinson was teaching groups of men and women in her home, encouraging them “to pray, to teach their children, and to attend religious services.” Viewed as dangerous, Anne was excommunicated from her church and expelled from the Massachusetts Bay colony.
Most Christian denominations at this time, and through the 18th and 19th centuries, held that women were to be “silent” in church (and apparently their living rooms!) They were not entitled to spiritual revelation the way men were; certainly not if it meant speaking or influencing.
This was about to be challenged. The Great Awakening and American Revolution were coming. The spiritual and political landscape was about to shift, emphasizing leadership from “common” people, and encouraging more personal expression.
Anne Hutchinson was a trailblazer for women At the Pulpit! But it would take over 150 years to really see change…
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