Three men in Amish beard-cutting cult waive hearing

Three men from an Amish splinter group facing hate crime charges over beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in Ohio waived their right to a hearing on Friday and will remain behind bars.

Reuters reports

On Wednesday, a federal magistrate judge in Youngstown, Ohio denied bond to four other members of the sect, including leader Samuel Mullet, Sr., two of his sons, and his son-in-law.

Judge George Limbert made the Wednesday ruling after hours of testimony by an FBI agent and local sheriff about the sect’s leader, Bishop Samuel Mullet Sr., his two sons Johnny and Daniel Mullet and son-in-law Emanuel Schrock.

The three men who waived their hearing Friday were Lester Mullet, another son of Samuel Mullet, and Levi and Eli Miller.

All seven men were charged under the Hate Crime Act in connection with attacks that took place throughout the fall in three counties south of Cleveland, one of the country’s largest concentrations of Amish. […]

The most serious charges in the case could carry a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

The Associated Press notes

Authorities say the men forcibly cut the beards and hair of Amish men and women in a feud over church discipline.

Amish believe the Bible instructs women to grow hair long and men to stop shaving after they marry. The cutting allegedly was meant to shame the victims.

In a story titled, Ohio Amish consider renegade Bergholz Clan a cult, the Mennonite Weekly Review says:

Worldwide media attention has focused on the story of the Berg­holz Clan and the eastern Ohio Amish ever since the beard- and hair-cutting attacks occurred in early fall.

U.S newspapers have published hundreds of stories, and global news wire agencies have distributed dozens.

International newspapers covering the story include The Daily Mail (United Kingdom), The Daily Telegraph (U.K.), The Times of London (U.K.), Frankfurter Rundschau (Germany), Die Weit (Germany), Le Monde (France), la Repubblica (Italy), El País (Spain) and Sydney Morning Herald (Australia).

Media outlets originally portrayed the attacks as a seemingly random religious dispute among two Amish groups. Recent reports have noted the uniqueness of the Bergholz Clan.

Since September, sociologist Donald B. Kraybill of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College has been interviewed by the BBC, CNN, NPR, and dozens of newspapers.

Kraybill said he aims to set the record straight: Although Mullet presents himself as Amish, he is not.

“He is a renegade cult leader who masquerades as being Amish but by virtue of his behavior violates basic Amish teachings and beliefs,” Kraybill said. “He uses religion and the Amish good name to protect himself from law enforcement. For Amish people, this is embarrassing and shameful.”

An Amish man who grew up near Mullet and has known him for years, told Kraybill, “He’s not one of us. We don’t have anything to do with him.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday December 3, 2011.
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