Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Opinion

September 24, 2012

Mullet’s crime belonged in a court of law, not the Amish church

For most of the year, many of the Amish faith have uncharacteristically been keeping an ear out for news seeping from an Ohio courtroom. An Amish man named Samuel Mullet Sr. was charged with orchestrating a series of violent hair and beard cuttings of other Amish men and women because he felt they had strayed from their conservative beliefs.

Thursday night the verdict was handed down as a federal jury found the 66-year-old Mullet guilty — along with 15 others in his breakaway sect — of the attacks that involved the unwilling cutting of hair, which has spiritual significance in the Amish faith. The victims were both Amish men who grew long beards and Amish women who also allowed their hair to grow long. The 16 defendants face prison terms of 10 years or more at their scheduled Jan. 24, 2013, sentencing.

Furthermore, the judge determined that since the crimes involved religion, they are deemed “hate crimes.” Mullet said in an interview last year that he essentially had the right to punish his people in his Amish group if they failed to obey and live up to the standards of Amish religion.

Rarely does the Amish faith and secular law intersect. The Amish are valuable and respected members of our community here in Indiana and in other communities throughout the country. Normally, they are well-equipped to handle matters in their own house. This situation with Mr. Mullet and the other defendants strayed beyond those capabilities.

One of the great aspects of this country is that our people are free to follow the religion of their choosing. They are free to interpret the word of God as they see it. They are not free to assault others as a result of their own illusions of self-importance. Mullet’s orchestrating was an act of assault and it was against the law, which in our land still supersedes the Amish rank and file.

We are thankful for our Amish neighbors here in our community and respect their lifestyle. Their presence and contributions help make this community special and unique. Mr. Mullet’s actions should be punishable by American law, but certainly should not diminish the overall reputation of a productive, unique, God-fearing and law-abiding faith.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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