Tuesday, March 7, 2017

International Women's Day celebrates American founding mothers

© 2017 Christy K Robinson 

For more information on their contributions to our human rights and civil liberties, see the "For Educators" tab above. 
Celebrate International Women's Day, March 8, by honoring Mary Dyer and Anne Hutchinson. Religious liberty is STILL not settled, even after nearly 400 years of strife. If you're deeply religious, as Mary and Anne were, or a non-believer, religious liberty covers everyone. Everyone.

ANNE HUTCHINSON (1592-1643) was a Puritan woman who stood for grace against legalism, which she called the Covenant of Works. She's best known for being a Bible teacher in Boston from 1634-1637, then being tried twice for sedition and heresy because she taught in public, and taught men--which was contrary to the ultra-zealous Puritan community of the 17th century. She led a large group of men and women to found a new colony in Rhode Island, that was formed as a social democracy standing apart from religious law.

MARY BARRETT DYER (1611-1660) was a Puritan woman who arrived in Boston in 1635, and became a close friend and follower of Anne Hutchinson. Her first pregnancy in the New World terminated in the miscarriage of an anencephalic (no brain) fetus with spina bifida--and the tiny corpse was considered proof of Mary's heresy in associating with Anne. Mary and her husband William went with Anne and the "Antinomians" to co-found Rhode Island. Mary was held in high regard for her beauty, intellect, and marriage to William, the first attorney general in America. In the 1650s, Mary went back to England for a period, and became a Quaker there. When she returned to New England, she was imprisoned without trial before being rescued by her husband. But she was determined to share the Gospel of grace, or at least support fellow Quaker missionaries (there's no record that she actually preached or what she preached), and she was arrested several times. She was banished "upon pain of death" from Massachusetts Bay Colony, but returned more than once to protest the bloody persecutions of other Quakers, which was what we call civil disobedience. Mary was sentenced to hang in October 1659 but was reprieved against her will. She was released, but then entered Plymouth Colony and was jailed there. She spent the winter on Long Island, and then sailed to Providence, Rhode Island, from where she walked the 44 miles to Boston at the time when more people were in the capitol than any other time of year. She was duly arrested. The court was reluctant to execute her because of her high social status and the danger of making her a martyr, but Mary forced their hand. They hanged her on June 1, 1660. Word quickly sailed to England, where King Charles II ordered that further capital crimes for religion be sent to his court, and Quaker persecutions cease.  (This is what Mary Dyer wanted, so she won!) Her husband was part of the team which wrote the Rhode Island charter of liberties that the King granted in 1663, and the charter, which gives religious liberty and secular government, was used as a template for the US Constitution's First Amendment.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Share this link with your friends and family, share it with women and girls for their inspiration, and share with the politicians at state and federal levels who represent you in government. http://bit.ly/2lZW81S

HOW TO CONTACT YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

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