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Religious Freedom

During my school years, I learned about Roger Williams and religious freedom; not until my immersion in women’s history did I learn about Mary Dyer who was hanged on Boston Common in June 1660 for defying the Puritan law banning Quakers from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Banished once, she kept returning & being banished. Finally the authorities sentenced her to be hanged, unless she repent. “Nay, I came to keep bloodguiltiness from you, desireing you to repeal the unrighteous and unjust law made against the innocent servants of the Lord,” Dyer declared. “Nay, man, I am not now to repent.” This statue by Sylvia Shaw Judson, a Quaker sculptor stands in front of the Massachusetts State House in Boston. The text reads: “MARY DYER/QUAKER/WITNESS FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM/HANGED ON BOSTON COMMONS/1660/MY LIFE NOT AVAILETH ME/IN COMPARISON TO THE/LIBERTY OF THE TRUTH.”

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