If you’ve been keeping up with the Mullets (and who hasn’t . . . ahh) then you’ll already know that these beard-trimming Christian anarchists refused a plea of leniency that would have landed most of these Amish folks on probation–as opposed to what they now face: a very long stint in prison.
[Favorite lines from linked story: ” . . . chopped off his beard in the moonlight” (sounds almost romantic); ” . . . being educated and reading newspapers” (yup, newspapers will make you so smart); ” . . . and was given a paper bag stuffed with the hair of one victim.” (Freakin’ Capone over here!)]
Since a significant prison sentence would disrupt the very fabric of their community (being thoroughly familial as it is), and given that it may be difficult to turn this into a hate crime, the likelihood of such a sentencing seems remote. Nevertheless, it is a real possibility. The crux will hinge on whether or not, as just stated, it’s declared a hate crime. Most of us know that in-house Amish disciplining, practicing the ban (and shunning), has a longstanding tradition finding its roots in Matthew 18 (sans the shears). Therefore, as messed up and as violent of an act as was committed, in the minds of the perpetrators it seemed that they were attempting to enact a drastic (albeit, rather looney-tooney) form of discipline–as opposed to committing a hate crime. Of course, it goes without saying that the ban should never have anything to do with violence; this is completely at odds with our historic peace church tradition. To me, it just seems that this is a case of how a Jim Jones-type-character can pop out of any religious tradition. Whether or not that constitutes a hate crime is an altogether different issue.
Then again, maybe it’s not.
About the Author
Tripp York teaches religious studies at Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, Virginia. He is the author of more than half a dozen books including, Third Way Allegiance, The Purple Crown, and Living on Hope While Living in Babylon. He is the co-editor of the forthcoming three-volume collection called the Peaceable Kingdom Series. An actor and a lighting designer, Tripp also surfs and spends his weekends shoveling elephant and giraffe poop.