A City Upon a Hill

What does “a city upon a hill” imply? “A city upon a hill” hints to the superiority of one city over another; a model of goodness for other cities to follow. One of the first attempts at being “a city upon a hill” was the forming of the Massachusetts Bay colony. However, the Puritans religious beliefs and the influence of the church on the colonial politics drove away many settlers, such as Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams.

The colony of Massachusetts Bay was founded in order for settlers to be free from religious persecution in England. The founders wanted a safe haven for Puritans along with the prospect of making money. This new “haven” was to serve as an example of holy goodness. The Puritans that settled in Massachusetts Bay did not want to break away from the Church of England. Instead they wanted to reform the Church of England from within. The inhabitants of the Massachusetts Bay lived on the basis of hard work and thrifts. Material gifts were considered a sign of being in God’s favor. Although the goals of the Puritan settlers seemed righteous, they were far from it.

What is a theocracy? A theocracy is where the church is the government. Although the church lacked any formal political power, they influenced many of the church members on political issues. However, if you were not a Puritan “saint” you could not vote. Inhabitants of Massachusetts Bay were taxed in order to fund churches; by law the populace were forced to attend service. While trying to make a prosperous colony, the government and church suppressed the religious rights of citizens; it was conform or leave. Several newcomers did not agree with the running of the colony, such as Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson.

One view by Roger Williams, a controversial minister, was that the church should be separate from the state. Otherwise the church would be corrupted by the “outside” world. Another outlook held by Roger Williams was that the church in Massachusetts should be separate from that of the Church of England. Because of the threat Roger Williams imposed on the colonial government he was banished from the colony. Roger established the colony of Rhode Island; in which the government gave no support to the church. Another outspoken person, living in the Massachusetts Bay was Anne Hutchinson. Anne confronted the role of women in Puritan society; which angered many male clergy. Anne also believed that salvation was achieved through grace; not hard work and deeds like other Puritans. Anne claimed she communicated with the Holy Spirit; which violated the Puritan belief. Anne acquired many followers, male and female, which were referred to as antinomians or against law. Because of her radical teachings and her open animosity towards the clergy; she was put on trial where she was banned from the Massachusetts colony.

The Massachusetts Bay colony was created to be a safe haven for religious beliefs. However, plans and actions are often incongruent. The power of the church over the state forced many actions to spoil the plans the Puritans had involving the new colony. Anne Hutchinson along with Roger Williams was two of many who did not conform to the religious practices and in effect were forced to leave.

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