PHOTO CAPTION: Bergholz "Amish" bishop Sam Mullet photo before he was arrested.
Attorneys for the Bergholz Amish are employing a novel legal argument to have their charges dismissed. Right now 12 Amish men are all being charged under the Federal hate crimes statutes. Their attorneys are challenging this arguing that this is instead an inter-religious feud. Hate crimes were intended to punish crimes that specifically target people because of their ethnicity or religion. This is a fascinating line of legal attack because it ultimately is going to come down to is Sam Mullet "Amish?" And this case could ultimately answer the question of what exactly it means to be "Amish."? In a very expansive way I suppose anyone can call themselves any religion in this freedom of worship society. I actually think in some ways their legal argument has merit. I would argue, however, that because the Bergholz clan employed violence in their attack that they violated pacifist principles, one of the key pillars of the Amish faith Although, is a Catholic not Catholic if they use birth control? This is going to be a real, real close call legally. If the Federal crimes are dismissed that does not mean Mullet and his crew get off (although Mullet could since he never actually engaged in any attacks), they would just be charged under existing state laws. Charges could be refiled by local prosecutors. What do you think, were the attacks "hate crimes" or just run-of-the-mill crime?