Men’s beards and women’s hair both have spiritual significance in Amish culture in that once married, the men never cut their beards, and the women never cut their hair. Because of this, if anyone were to cut the beard or hair of another, it would be considered humiliating and shameful. A group of Amish are being charged with hate crimes for cutting the beards and hair of other members. These people were part of a breakaway Amish community settled about 20 years ago by a man named Samuel Mullet (like the hairstyle) in an eastern Ohio village called Bergholz.
Mr. Mullet had unconventional ways of pastoring his flock. Last fall, when certain community leaders had been complaining about how strict he was, he coordinated an attack on them with the help of 15 others in which some of these people were dragged out of their beds at night and sheared under the moonlight. ABC News recapped:
The government said the cuttings were an attempt to shame members of Mullet’s community who he believed were straying from their beliefs. His followers were found guilty of carrying out the attacks, which terrorized the normally peaceful religious settlement that aims to live simply and piously.
Is ABC News subtly calling this a “terrorist attack?” I guarantee that if we only had to deal with these kinds of “terrorist attacks,” we’d have world peace.
This seems to be a far cry from the usual “hate crime.” Like someone getting beat up “because he’s black,” or someone getting killed “because he was gay.” Now, it’s someone getting his beard cut because he disagreed with the leader. Just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Granted, there were some bad things going on in this particular community that needed to be dealt with, if what witnesses were saying was true. Of the more serious accusations was that Mr. Mullet offered more than just marital counseling to some of the young married women, if you know what I mean. If that’s true, then that would be adultery, which under Biblical Law is punishable by death. He should at least be excommunicated from the church and their community. Maybe that’s all that needed to happen for the rest to live peacefully. But, instead, federal prosecutors like Steven Dettelbach decided to focus on the ferocious act of beard-cutting:
The victims in this case are members of a peaceful and traditional religion who simply wanted to be left to practice their religion in peace. Unfortunately, the defendants denied them this basic right and they did so in the most violent way.
I think I can think of more violent ways to carry out an attack than cutting a man’s beard or cutting a woman’s hair.
Prosecutors are treating these “terrorist attacks” as if they were murders or child molestations because all 15 involved are looking at doing 10 or even 20 years in prison. All this will do is destroy that particular community. Six married couples were involved in carrying out these attacks, and among these couples, there are 50 kids. Who is going to take care of these kids now that their parents are going to jail? I know that many in the community will help out, but it will for sure put a tremendous strain on them.
I don’t think the Feds really cared one bit about the “victims” of these “hate crimes.” They probably laughed about it before they took the case. I think they want to cripple the Amish community. I know we all have theological and cultural disagreements with these people, but that’s not what this is about. Remember, the government doesn’t like people who don’t need the state for survival. They can’t tolerate people’s self-sufficiency. They had to get this community on something, and beard-cutting was the worst they could find, and they were able to turn it into a hate crime which yields the longest prison sentence.