Inter-Amish religious war!

October 9, 2011 • 5:11 am

OMG, even the Amish, peaceful as they seem, aren’t immune to religious warfare.  But instead of defenestration, they engage in depilation.

Alert reader Hempenstein noticed a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  that one sect of the Amish in Ohio has broken away from the others.  Members of the renegade sect are engaged in Bartkrieg, invading the homes of other Amish and hacking off their beards. The motivation? Faith, of course:

There have been only minor injuries. Each time, beards have been targeted.

“What they’ve been doing to everybody else is shaving the entire head and beard,” Mrs. Miller said. “We believe their intent was to do the same things here.

“They say this is to uncover sins, and it’s to straighten us out.”

Then, she continued, “They’ve been making threats they’re going to do worse things.”

One Amish man from Mechanicstown, who was working in Bergholz on Friday, said that about a year ago the members of the group shaved their own beards and hair.

“They were under the impression that would cleanse them before God,” said the young man, who asked that his name not be used.

21 thoughts on “Inter-Amish religious war!

  1. Ah, ha ha ha… Too funny.

    Just as an historical FYI, Mennonites and Amish were, at one time, the same group. But the divide, over religious interpretation, became so great they split. Years later, when they came to the US, the divide was still so bitter they not speak to each other even when they were on the same boat…

    So it’s not like this doesn’t have precendencs…

    1. The Swiss Mennonites originated in Switzerland and fled persecution there to Alsace and the Palatinate. Jakob Ammann believed that some of them were getting too lax, and split from the other Swiss Mennonites living there. When Charles III Philip became Elector Palatine in 1717, he raised the fee that Mennonites had to pay to be tolerated in his realm. As a result, many Mennonites, including Amish Mennonites, emigrated to Pennsylvania.

      Just to be clear, what you are referring to as “Amish” are the “Old Order Amish”. The Amish are Mennonites, but we refer to the Amish who didn’t become Old Order Amish as “Amish Mennonites”.

      Schism has precedent, but violence in a group that has been strictly pacifist since the time of Menno Simons in the 1530s is unusual.

      1. Just to make one correction – Amish are not Mennonite. Both groups would be considered anabaptists, but there is denominational structure to all Mennonite congregations whereas the Amish are organized around a singular bishop or a grouping, such as the Beachy Amish or the notorious Swartzentruber Amish. Nine members of the latter group were recently sent to the slammer for not displaying the required orange reflective triangle on their buggies. Supposedly the triangle represents the Trinity and thus such worldly things are blasphemous and violate the separation of church and state.

        Weird Al’s Amish Paradise is a classic!

  2. It’s amazing how, with tourism marketing and romantic wishful thinking about “simpler times,” the Amish have become America’s best-loved cult.

    From Hempenstein’s link:

    “A Sept. 6 attack… is also under investigation. In that case, a couple who had left the Bergholz group were attacked by their children, who are still in the group”

    Now that is some first-rate psychological conditioning!

  3. It just goes to show that the competition to be ‘holier than thou’ is endless. No matter how much you suffer, there is always someone to tell you that you don’t suffer enough and what’s more, who is prepared to do you the favour of making sure you suffer more.

  4. I read it in the US news, then it was reported in the Australian press, however there wasn’t a clear rationale given for the debearding. Its a clear psychological experiment in what drives both cults and especially break-aways. Faith, my foot.

      1. Microraptor – your comment brought a new thought to my mind: the Amish probably get the lowest tax break of an US religious group. Since they meet in homes, they do not own church property [maybe their accountants work on that for them]. They do own school grounds, but they are modest since they are not supposed to continue education beyond the age of 16.

        Only recently did I learn of an amazing tax trick by the Churches of Christ. Since the group adheres to the “priesthood of believers” it naturally follows that all members are ministers. And as such, they are all allowed the ministers housing allowance as outlined in the US tax code. Despite some overtures from the IRS, I think that this practice continues.

  5. This just in: the Amish have split into 5 sects. There is no going back. They are the Goatee, the handle bar, the mutton chop, the van dyke and the fu manchu. Well, hair today, gone tomorrow.

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