Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Amish attacks 'not police business'

Levi Miller of Bergholz, Ohio, and two other men are accused of cutting another Amish man's hair and beard (AP)

The leader of an Amish group whose members are accused of going into the home of another Amish man and cutting his hair and beard has said it is a religious matter and police should not be involved.

Sam Mullet said he did not order the hair-cutting but did not stop two of his sons and another man from carrying it out last week on a 74-year-old man in his home in rural eastern Ohio.

Mr Mullet, 66, said the goal was to send a message to Amish in Holmes County that they should be ashamed of themselves for the way they were treating Mr Mullet and his community.

"They changed the rulings of our church here, and they're trying to force their way down our throat, make us do like they want us to do, and we're not going to do that," he said outside his house on the outskirts of Bergholz, a village of about 700 residents.

"We know what we did and why we did it. We excommunicated some members here because they didn't want to obey the rules of the church."

Mr Mullet said he was upset that his group - about 120 people living on several small farms - had been called a cult by detractors. "We're not a cult. We're just trying to live a peaceful life," he said. "I was hoping I could move here, try to start a group of church people, do things in school and church the way we wanted."

Mr Mullet said he should be allowed to punish people who break the laws of the church, just as police were allowed to punish people who break the laws of the state. "You have your laws on the road and the town - if somebody doesn't obey them, you punish them. But I'm not allowed to punish the church people?" he said. "I just let them run over me? If every family would just do as they pleased, what kind of church would we have?"

Amish men typically grow beards as adults and stop trimming them when they marry, and the beards are held in high esteem.

On Saturday, police arrested two of Mullet's sons, 38-year-old Johnny Mullet and 26-year-old Lester Mullet, and another man from the community, 53-year-old Levi Miller, on burglary and kidnapping warrants. The three men were being held in Jefferson County jail on 250,000 dollars (£160,000) bond each pending extradition to Holmes County.

Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said he expected two more arrests this week.

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