Skip to main content

Search LearnTheBible

Dissent in Puritan Society

In "The Failure of the American Baptist Culture" (p.83), James B. Jordan argues that there was freedom of dissent in the Puritan society of colonial New England. "To be sure, Quaker women were not permitted to parade nude in the street, and Roger Williams was made to leave when he persisted in disrupting society (and not because he was a Baptist, by the way), but there was a good deal of diversity in New England, and those holding private opinions contrary to the religious establishment were not molested unless they stirred up trouble."

Perhaps Jordan forgets that four Quakers (three men and one woman) were hung in Boston Common in the seventeenth century. The Baptist preacher Obadiah Holmes was whipped within an inch of losing his life in Boston Common for quietly entering a man's home and holding a private service for him. So much for private opinions. Roger Williams was forced into a wild wilderness in the winter and Anne Hutchinson was forced out of colony because of her doctrinal beliefs. Henry Dunster, the first president of Harvard, was removed from his position because of Baptist beliefs. State taxes required of all were used to pay for the established church salaries. The list goes on and on. Baptists had to fight for 150 years in this country in order to obtain their freedom and the Reconstructists want us to trust them to take us back to the good old Puritan Commonwealth.