Massachusetts Bay and Religious Intolerance

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Massachusetts Bay and Religious Intolerance
When Puritans arrived in America in 1620, they had experienced religious intolerance in the Old world, yet they still supported Europe’s theory that in order to have unity within a state, everyone must be of the same faith. Puritans believed in predestination, which meant that God had already decided which of his children would receive the privilege of going to heaven and which would not, and one could not persuade His judgment. This belief, along with the strict Puritan lifestyle, intertwined closely with the government and its laws. This led to persecution, exile, and even capital punishment for those who did not agree with Puritan ideals. The laws of the Massachusetts Bay Colony came straight out of the Old Testament in the Christian Bible. The most common crimes against the Puritan church involved attendance at church services. In1648, for example, authorities penalized a group of men for not attending the morning worship services and another man for sailing on the Sabbath, which was disrespectful because of the money-making he did. Also, four servants had to pay a fine for killing a raccoon during a church meeting. Other penalties involved skipping church meetings to go drink in a local tavern, sleeping in church meetings, stealing on Sunday, and more serious crimes such as slandering the Church and its ministers. The story of Anne Hutchinson perfectly exemplified the religious intolerance prevalent among colonists in Massachusetts Bay. Hutchinson challenged the role of the “elect” (the souls predestined for heaven) in Puritan society. In one of her main arguments against predestination, she pointed out that if God solely decided who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell, then man shouldn’t have to worry about keeping commandments and obeying the laws of God. People might as well do whatever they please. Hutchinson also pointed out that the “elect” Puritans should emanate godliness while in their earthly...
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