charged with federal hate crimes. That's unusual for Amish, who generally are under the radar because of their peaceful ways. Their crime? Cutting hair.
"In the Amish faith a man's beard and a women's hair are sacred religious symbols," Bridget M. Brennan, an assistant U.S. attorney, said in her opening statement. "The beard and the hair are symbols of Amish righteousness, religious symbols that God is present in their lives."
Dean Carro, attorney for defendant Lester Miller, told jurors that at one time his client cut off his own beard and voluntarily slept in a chicken coop in order to right himself with his Amish religion. Carro also said Miller believed his parents, two of the victims, had strayed from the Amish path.
"He thought his parents had forgotten the rules," Carro told jurors. "He was trying to bring them back to the fold."
According to the article, the issue at hand is that "Amish leader Samuel Mullet Sr., who is one of the defendants, was not present at any of the attacks but he preached to his followers that the victims deserved punishment for disagreeing with him in the past."
So we have a religious leader who issues a religious "punishment" on members of his own congregation, and he is arrested for "hate crimes". Let's put this in perspective. Suppose he were a Catholic bishop refusing Holy Communion to a pro-abortion politician. Still a hate crime? Or does this fall under religious liberty?