Amish Beard Cutting Trial Begins In Ohio

Is shaving someone’s beard a hate crime? Sixteen Amish men and women are being charged with hate crimes after a beard cutting attack that occurred last fall.

The Associated Press reports that federal government will start laying out its case today against Sam Mullet Sr. and 15 of his followers.

According to the Huffington Post, Mullet Sr. and and the others broke away from the placid Holmes County Amish community 17 years ago to establish their own community. Mullet Sr. is the leader of the new group and has a devoted following.

Mullet Sr. and 15 of his followers are accused of participating in several beard cutting attacks against rival Amish communities.

Donald Kraybill, a professor at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania and an Amish expert, said:

“The beard for Amish men is a symbol of their adult manhood…. So to cut their beard is an assault on not only their personal identity but also on their religious identity and their religious faith.”

The federal government views Mullet and his followers as simple gang in a rural part of the country. Mullet, however, feels that he is doing God’s will.

“You have your laws on the road and the town — if somebody doesn’t obey them you punish the people… But I’m not allowed to punish the church people? I just let them run over me? If every family would do just as they pleased, what kind of church would we have?”

Mullet denies, however, that he ordered the beard cutting attacks.

The Amish beard cutting trial is expected to last about two weeks. Mullet Sr. and his followers are being charged with hate crimes, conspiracy, evidence tampering, and obstruction of justice. reports that some of the defendants could face 20 years in prison if convicted.