And yours, too!
Mary Dyer was the first woman in America hanged for her religious beliefs, but her death began a revolution no one could stop. She inspired kings and governors to enforce laws guaranteeing our rights to religious freedom. Find out how this quiet, humble Quaker has shaped American beliefs for more than 300 years!
READ CHAPTER ONE RIGHT HERE!
MARY DYER, LOYAL FRIEND
Mary Dyer walked into church on March 22, 1638, ready for an argument. The people of Boston, Massachusetts, had turned against her best friend and teacher, Anne Hutchinson. Four months earlier, town leaders had banished Anne from her home; now they were banishing her from her church. Would Mary join her or beg the people to show mercy?
The problem for the people of Boston was simple. They belonged to the Puritan Church and did not like people who disagreed with them. Anne and Mary were both Puritans, but they didn’t believe everything the Puritans did. The Puritans had very strict beliefs about God. They thought only ministers could teach the Bible and that people had to do good deeds if they wanted to get into heaven. Anne and Mary believed that anyone could speak to God and that people did not need to go to church to learn the Bible. Anne also taught that both men and women could be preachers, even though most Puritans believed only men should preach. Anne felt that faith in God and being a good person were more important than following the Puritan’s laws.
Puritan leaders were among the most powerful people in Boston, and they worried that Anne’s ideas would stop people from coming to church. The Puritans said people like Anne and Mary were breaking the law and called them “antinomians,” which comes from a Greek word meaning “against the law.”
Puritan leaders urged Massachusetts Governor John Winthrop to arrest and banish all antinomians, so the governor charged them with heresy—the crime of disobeying religious teaching Mary Dyer was one of Anne’s most ardent followers. She believed that women and ordinary people could teach the word of God. Even though Mary was twenty years younger than Anne, they were good friends. Now that friendship was being put to the test.
Anne had mocked one of the Puritan ministers, the Reverend John Wilson, saying he wasn’t fit to preach. Now, Rev. Wilson was about to determine Anne’s guilt, and he did so without hesitation. He told Anne she had to leave the Boston church forever. When Anne stood up to leave, Mary was the only person who walked over and took Anne’s hand. Mary had made her choice. She would stand by her friend.
The two women walked out of church together. But Mary didn’t just leave the church that day.
Anne had been banished from Boston and the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Now Mary also had to find a new home. She may have liked Boston, but she liked her friend more. Mary always showed great loyalty to her friends no matter how much trouble they were in. Sometimes it got Mary in trouble, too, but she would not give up her fight to bring religious freedom to everyone, even if it cost her her life.
Mary Dyer’s story will lead your young reader to admire her sacrifice for us all. If he or she is inspired by civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, they’ll be impressed by Mary Dyer’s courage, too. Find out her full story in Mary Dyer, Friend of Freedom today!
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