December 29, 2016

"Amish Say Horse Diapers Violate Their Religious Freedom."

Lawsuit filed.

I know, you may be thinking: Does an approach to interpreting the Bible that causes you to see a rule against putting a diaper on your horse not also forbid you to file a lawsuit?

For reference, on the subject of bringing lawsuits, here is 1 Corinthians 6:1-7:
When one of you has a grievance against a brother, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, matters pertaining to this life! If then you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who are least esteemed by the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no man among you wise enough to decide between members of the brotherhood, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?
As for excrement, here's Deuteronomy 23:13:
... and you shall have a stick with your weapons; and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it, and turn back and cover up your excrement.

75 comments:

rehajm said...

Deuteronomy. Heh.

rhhardin said...

A lawsuit serves a social function. It says enough is enough, whatever the judge rules. Going to court is that expression.

Wilbur said...

"...the Old Order Swartzentruber Amish, a conservative sect, settled in Auburn in the mid-2000s"

So they move to this community and insist the residents let them ignore the laws and ordinances passed by this community. The Amish claim they are only subject to their religious book, the Bible.

Sounds like Islamic sharia. I have little sympathy.

dreams said...

The farm we owned growing up is now split into three sections that are now owned by the Amish and they've built pretty houses that are aesthetically located on each section which is typical with other Amish in the area. They're obviously good carpenters and seem to be always remodeling and building.

The only problem I have with them is I have to be careful when I'm driving back in my home town area so that I don't run into a horse and buggy but really the main problem is finding the opportunity to pass them on curvy country roads. You just have to be aware of them.

tim maguire said...

Blogger Wilbur said...Sounds like Islamic sharia.

Yeah, just like Sharia, except for that minor explody and stoney stuff. Details, really.

Humperdink said...

I have been exposed to Amish for 25 years. I count many as close friends. I have had dinner in their homes. Although some are "religious", most are not. They adhere to a lifestyle. It's the lifestyle that holds the community together.

Some oddities:
> They can borrow and use a chainsaw, but can't own one. They are permitted to own a weedwacker.
> They can use a cellphone or a landline, but can't own that either. One Englishman (that's us) built a shed with a landline from his house in the Amish community for their use.
> Sewerage was installed near our Amish community. The first Amish farmer refused to connect as the system required an electrical grinder pump. Litigation on-going.
> They drink, they smoke, they use profanities with the best (or worst) of them.
> They have Honda (always Hondas) motors to pump their water wells. The water is pumped into large water tanks are in their attics and the water is gravity fed for their water needs. Most do not have outhouses.
> The local Bishop makes these rules and they change over time.
> The strangest ruling lately was Amish furnish makers could us a gasoline powered air compressor, but only for spraying a finish on furniture, nothing else.

It's a lifestyle.

Dan Ledbetter said...

The scripture you reference is in regards to suing a fellow Christian, is it not? If so, I see no contradiction. Do you?

Oso Negro said...

I am for the Amish! In an age where horseshit is everywhere evident in our culture, why should theirs be denied?

Hagar said...

Annoying those who would put diapers on horses is a righteous act.

mockturtle said...

Legalistic tradition, not religion.

Michael K said...

The Amish are crazy in a nice way. University professors who want to keep secret what they teach in their courses, are crazy in a not nice way.

Levi Starks said...

Founding father John Adams was known to be a manure connoisseur. And is recorded as having conducted hands on examinations of cow manure while in France, ultimately concluding that his manure was superior.
Health hazard? I doubt it.
The attached Amish story explains the Amish carry shovels, and in fact cleanup after their horses. If it's sufficient for dogs, then why not horses? Whether it's religious or not, I'm on their side.

David Baker said...

1 Corinthians 6:1-7:

What nonsense.

MadisonMan said...

I almost hit an Amish horse and buggy once. The teen driver was running a red light. Who knew that horse hooves skidded on pavement?

(I was able to stop my car).

@Wilbur, I'm inclined to agree with your 720AM post, except for the fact that the mayor has claimed that a child slipped in the manure on the way to school. That's a piss-poor excuse for a law.

SayAahh said...

Obama/Kerry have yet to cover up their UN excrement.
They need a stick...not a shtick.

David Baker said...

1 Corinthians 6:1-7:

Not to mention the translator's struggle with English syntax.

Awful, just incredibly awful.

Ann Althouse said...

"Sounds like Islamic sharia."

So does that 1 Corinthians.

Also Jesus in Matthew 18:15-17:

"15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector."

Ann Althouse said...

If you don't like that translation, pick another: here.

MaxedOutMama said...

Christians are not supposed to lay charges or sue fellow believers. They are not forbidden at all to go to civil law to assert rights that they believe have been denied to them by that civil law.

There is a sharp distinction between going to court to sue an individual for damages and going to court to assert that the civil structure of law is denying an individual or community of his/their rights.

In other words, this is an idiotic post. It really is. You should not blog about scripture or religion you don't understand unless you are willing to take the trouble to learn what it means.

For what it is worth, many biblical Christian communities do indeed take this scripture very seriously indeed. So do the Amish/Mennonites. But you have utterly misapplied it.

What it does mean in practice: I have been robbed multiple times, once at work, and I have never laid a claim before the law even if I did not know that the perp was a Christian. That is because of this prohibition.

But, when in my town in GA an utterly unreasonable condemnation of a school building was laid (it had been bought by a black church), nothing about this prohibition applied to prevent me and hundreds of others from showing up to protest this action, which we did both civilly and by going there. The reason why the building, which was structurally sound, was condemned, we believed, was because it had frontage very close to a major highway, and speculators wanted to purchase it cheaply.

We could not protest with violence or blocking any rightful activity, but we did get the condemnation reversed, and at the next election, everyone involved in this piece of corruption was tossed, including the mayor and most of the council.

SayAahh said...

Horse diaper capital is lovely Mackinac Island.
The smell of horse manure competes with the smell of fudge.

rhhardin said...

Why don't the Amish get to own casinos?

Otto said...

@ Ledbetter- you are correct.She misapplied scripture to the story. Then she makes another misapplication of old testament scripture which refers to your own excrement and not that of an animal. Also if you read the article, the Amish use shovels to remove the crap. Actually this whole thing by AA is horsesh*t :-)

MaxedOutMama said...

To continue about what this scripture means and what it does not: I have known multiple religious families who lost a family member due to accident/malpractice/negligence who have foregone all legal and civil remedies. And my mother was one of them - she was killed by a driver who ran a red light at a very high speed. We got the proof. We did not pursue it. We actually do take this very seriously. We did get the detective who falsified the accident report very quietly demoted from his position in order to preserve the structure of the law.

The the horses are an innocent third party, and are not required to obey this word of God. It's not very comfortable for them, and it is a ridiculous law. Because the claimants are not seeking damages or injury to any individual, this biblical prohibition in no sense applies.

A believing Christian may argue that a law or regulation may be changed due to lack of justice. The prohibition is against seeking damages or penalty for an injury done to oneself or one's own against a particular individual. Trying to correct an inequity in the law doesn't even fall within the purview of this scripture.

Get the beam out of your own eye before you try to remove the motes from the eyes of the Amish, Ann.

rhhardin said...

The bible is a living document.

David Baker said...

If you don't like that translation, pick another: here.

Actually I do "like" the translation, for its awfulness, for its struggle to make sense. I can even picture the translator, deep in the candlelight, waiting for the Anglo-angels to alight.

Meanwhile, the "translation" I prefer is by Elaine Pagels (re: Gnostic Gospels).

dreams said...

Well, according to Jiminy Glick, Larry David's people like to litigate. I guess people just can't get along.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJshb7vM13w

Sydney said...

Agree with the others, the prohibition is clearly against suing other Christians, not the state.

Jim Grey said...

A community in my state passed, and then recently repealed, a similar horse-diaper law targeted at the Amish: http://www.indystar.com/story/news/politics/2016/12/27/horse-manure-law-repealed-indiana-county/95868238/

Yeah, that 1 Corinthians passage is meant to teach Christians to live peaceably with each other. It's in line with the teachings on forgiveness: Suffer the wrongs done to you and do not seek revenge or repayment, so that you can live peaceably.

Given that the divorce rate within the church is not much different from the divorce rate outside the church, clearly lots of Christians are suing each other in court.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm mainly asking: How does the Amish interpretation of the Bible permit the bringing of a lawsuit?

tcrosse said...

Since neither contraceptives, trans-genders, nor gay marriage are involved, this will be of little interest.

AllenS said...

If, when I was growing up, and we had Amish passing by our house, my father would have made sure that I was to go out and scoop up every bit of manure, and throw it in the garden, or on the lawn. Free fertilizer.

Gabriel said...

@Ann:I'm mainly asking: How does the Amish interpretation of the Bible permit the bringing of a lawsuit?

And you have been answered. You picked out two verses that have no applicability to this situation and you made your own interpretation without any reference to what Amish people, or other Christians, actually believe.

The Deuteronomy verse refers to human excrement. Do you think Jews didn't have horses and cows? Do you think they buried all the animal poop in Israel? No one in history, I bet, ever interpreted this verse in the way you have here, that horses should have to wear diapers.

The Corinthians verse refers to fellow believers. The Matthew verse comes right out and says that if your brother doesn't listen you can sue him -- "let him be to you as a Gentile or a tax collector".

Gabriel said...

The fact is that there is no Christian, of any denomination, who feels obligated to live according to every literal word of the Bible.

And if the verses Ann had picked off the Google had any relevance to the situation it might be worthing asking an Amish person about it.

You might as well ask why the Amish, and all other Christians, aren't killing infants, in accordance with Psalm 137:9, "How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock."

MaxedOutMama said...

I explained that, Ann. It is not a prohibition against lawsuits, per se. For one thing, the interpretation often followed is that it is a prohibition against suing believers (who are under your own law). But the whole application and how far it goes in relation to non-believers is in dispute. Generally it is agreed that mediation/negotiation is necessary regardless.

What is not in dispute is that believers may make claims under systems of law that a particular law/regulation is wrong without in any way disobeying the rules laid out in the Bible.

The interpretation I was taught goes back to the Lord's Prayer. "Forgive us our debts (trespasses), as we forgive the debts (trespasses) of others." The basic rule is that one may not sue to collect damages or a debt owed to oneself. To do so threatens our own salvation. One may not seek injury to others.

But, if the problem is structural or if the problem is a wide injustice (a bad law), one may certainly ask that the law to correct itself. One is at one's strongest position if you are suing (always as a last resort) on behalf of others. Since our law does not allow this in all cases, sometimes it has to be filed as a group action.

In practice this would first take the form of asking the local authority to correct itself, and if that failed, then the lawsuit (which is this country's way of asking the law to correct itself). You are getting hung up on the word "lawsuit", which is just dumb.

In practice there are other issues and circumstances. For example, in the Bible Belt, a doctor is well advised to pick a church and go to it. Most churchgoers then will not be able to sue you for malpractice. But, as happened in my community, if the local hospital/doctors are so bad that ignoring it will lead to other needless deaths, some action may be necessary.

The way we dealt with that in my locality (not at all Anabaptist, although there are some Brethren a little further out) is that a negotiated settlement was reached so the local hospital was merged with a more functional, larger hospital. This probably caused some loss to the group of doctors that owned the local hospital. But no one sued for malpractice, even after the most egregious errors occurred leading to many needless deaths. For example, one of my coworkers lost his father, a diabetic, after he developed an acute gastrointestinal illness and the hospital simply forgot to give him his insulin. He slipped into a diabetic coma overnight (the family had been visiting and had brought the medication and had talked to the doctors and nurses about it - it was the grossest possible negligence) and that caused a heart attack which caused such damage that the family had to agree to let their husband/father/uncle die. Terrible needless error. But no lawsuit.

The practical operation of this rule really does limit damage and maximize benefits. Biblical Judeo-Christianity WORKS.

Humperdink said...

Old Testament = live by the Law

New Testament = live by Grace

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Oh, horseshit!

Michael K said...

Horse diaper capital is lovely Mackinac Island.
The smell of horse manure competes with the smell of fudge.


This is all a nonsensical issue. Asthma is caused by the absence of dirt, especially barnyard dirt. There are studies going on right now trying to identify the organism or molecule in barnyard dirt that protects children from asthma.

Rural children from an agricultural background exhibited a reduced risk of asthma. Early life exposure to crop farming and high environmental endotoxin levels might protect the children from asthma in southern China.

The lowest risk of asthma is in dairy farm children in northern Europe. Other autoimmune conditions are affected.

Fernandinande said...

"We suggested that one might construct an “Amish Quotient” inductively by analogy with the way that IQ was discovered and developed, purely from correlations among observable traits.
...
Here is the result: each letter is the placement of an individual subject in the PCA space.[image] The “a”s are young Amish men while the “n”s are young non-Amish men. There is almost a complete separation between the two groups: a Fisher discriminant analysis between the two group misclassified two of 50 subjects with its hit-miss table. There are black circles around the two Amish men misclassified by the discriminant function.
...
We wonder especially why generic Indiana young men are so similar to citizens of the UK yet so different from Amish young men who likely live right down the road."

mockturtle said...

Rural children from an agricultural background exhibited a reduced risk of asthma.

My father grew up on a cattle ranch in Colorado. As an adult he had frequent bouts of asthma living in Washington State.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Are not the Amish a tourist draw for the area? Do not horse diapers just ruin the whole esthetic of it - like a port-a-potty in the middle of a Civil War re-enactment battlefield? A few scattered road-apples are an essential part of the whole ethnic experience.

Stupid Government working against it's own Tourism Bureau.

mockturtle said...

In verse 6, Paul says: But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.

I infer from this that taking Christian disputes before the worldly is a poor witness.

dreams said...

"Are not the Amish a tourist draw for the area? Do not horse diapers just ruin the whole esthetic of it - like a port-a-potty in the middle of a Civil War re-enactment battlefield? A few scattered road-apples are an essential part of the whole ethnic experience."

In Ky the Amish are relatively new to Ky having moved into the state in the last thirty or forty years so they aren't really a tourist attraction.

Unknown said...

Ann, like the others I think you are misreading these scriptures.

First, Paul was talking about lawsuits between Christians. Recall that this was in Roman times, and it was generally wiser (and much more likely!) that a Christian would get justice from the Church before they would the state.

The Old Testament had lots of rules about seeking justice. Paul only modified some of them, for a specific group of people. You should get some of BYU Law professor John Welch; who has written extensively on Biblical law.

Long story short: just like legal advice today, Paul was asking people to reconcile privately first, then go to mediation (Church sponsored, since it was the most likely to be fair); and only after that to lawsuits. I see nothing in the scripture saying that lawsuits were forbidden entirely. The only case you may have is if you argue that the law and mayor is Christian.... and we all know that American government is not Christian. Just ask the ACLU.

--Vance

Michael K said...

My father grew up on a cattle ranch in Colorado. As an adult he had frequent bouts of asthma living in Washington State.

Maybe he's allergic to apples. Just kidding. It said "reduced."

dreams said...

"Maybe he's allergic to apples. Just kidding. It said "reduced.""

When I was young, I noticed that a lot of the apples I liked were from Washington State.

urbane legend said...

Amish Say Horse Diapers Violate Their Religious Freedom
Meanwhile, numerous horse's asses have no compunctions about doing so.

kentuckyliz said...

The horse diapers are electric?

Left Bank of the Charles said...

You've got the wrong Bible verse for dismissal of this case, as it refers to "grievance against a brother." That would mean no lawsuits against fellow Amish. Also, they are asking that the law not be enforced. That's different than asking that a law be enforced.

MadisonMan said...

As an adult he had frequent bouts of asthma living in Washington State.

Why was the asthma living in Washington State? :)

mockturtle said...

Yes, MM, Washington is a very wheezy state.

Ambrose said...

and yet they use titanium tipped horseshoes on those same horses.

Bob R said...

There is a Biblical prohibition against My Little Pony Crotch?

Guildofcannonballs said...

"Meanwhile, numerous horse's asses have no compunctions about doing so."

From you fingertips to Lowell Weicker's brain.

urbane legend said...

MadisonMan said...
As an adult he had frequent bouts of asthma living in Washington State.

Why was the asthma living in Washington State? :)

The Asthma have to live somewhere. It is scenic country, reasonably pleasant living conditions, and the Amish have the eastern side of the country under their control. And the Miasma have New Jersey and Louisiana.

thor47 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

Speaking of misinterpretation, how can I be accused of misinterpretation when I mad no interpretation?

I framed a question.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I find myself wondering whether there is such a thing as Amish-themed pornography and whether it can be found for free on the internet.

Fernandinande said...

Wasn't "Horse Diapers" an old Marxist Brothers film?

robother said...

Worse than misinterpretation, Ann misspells "1 Corinthians." Should be 1 Corinthian, 2 Corinthians, etc. (See OED, latest usage quoting Trump, DJ.) 20 lashes with a wet finest Corinthian leather belt.

Fernandinande said...

Humperdink said...
Old Testament = live by the Law
New Testament = live by Grace


Clarified and nicely illustrated in God Man Comics (click to embiggen)

Static Ping said...

Christians (and Jews) are not barred from filing lawsuits for any matter whatsoever. However, they should first to try to resolve the issue with the person/institution in question, then go to religious mediation if the other person is so inclined.

I have no idea why horse diapers would be a problem. That's never come up as a theological question before.

mikee said...

I'd read that "the short end of the stick" referred to the Roman tool for cleaning one's bum after evacuating one's bowels. Perhaps the phrase, and the tool, is of even older origin. What difference, if any, is the Deuteronomical stick and the Roman stick? Surely someone reading Althouse has this knowledge at hand!

Gabriel said...

@Ann:I framed a question.

A passive-aggressive question that presumed an answer.

Your minor unstated assumption is that the Amish are some flavor of Biblical literalists. You had major unstated assumption that Amish would NEED to have some sort of religious justification for their lawsuit.

Why should they have to have to justify ANYTHING they do from their religion any more than you do?

Why did your religion allow you to be a law professor? Can you kindly point to the place in your holy book where you career choice is allowed?

Do you see how that is a such a passive-aggressive question?

Gabriel said...

@Static Ping:I have no idea why horse diapers would be a problem. That's never come up as a theological question before.

RTFA would sort this out for you. The Amish community at issue regards horse diapers as against their Ordnung.

@Ambrose: and yet they use titanium tipped horseshoes on those same horses.

Amish do not reject modern technology per se. They make use of any and all technologies compatible with their religious observance and their community life.

Gabriel said...

@mikee:"the short end of the stick" referred to the Roman tool for cleaning one's bum

No one knows what it refers to. Both "short" and "stick" may have been entirely different words, a la "tow the lion" for "toe the line".


The Roman tool was a sponge, incidentally, mounted on a stick, and so you might get the "sponge" end I guess.

The Godfather said...

If you want a translation of the New Testament that any reasonably intelligent English-speaker can comprehend, I recommend The Kingdom New Testament, a "Contemporary Translation" by N. T. Wright.

mockturtle said...

I haven't known any Amish but quite a few Mennonites, some close friends. The Mennonites I know, though very conservative [there is a liberal branch], use computers, internet and drive motor vehicles.

Unknown said...

I think law and order is for everyone and Lawyers are the one who deals or handle every legal issues and gives the best legal advise being in the law

Ann Althouse said...

"A passive-aggressive question that presumed an answer. Your minor unstated assumption is that the Amish are some flavor of Biblical literalists...."

You're the presumptuous one.

I wanted to initiate a conversation about interpretation: How is it done?

The main thing I implicitly assumed was that someone who takes a hard line with relation to a sacred book ought to have one approach to interpretation and to use it all the time, not vary it to get outcomes one likes.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't seriously present the OT verse as the place to find the answer to the horse diaper question.

As for the obligation to follow the secular law, I could have pointed to some NT verses.

Ann Althouse said...

Romans 13:1-5:

"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience."

Ann Althouse said...

Matthew 5:

"38“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."

How can you take that seriously and then insist that you don't need to follow the city's requirement to put a poop-catcher on your horse?

It's not just about getting along with fellow Christians so that your in-group will be more harmonious! It specifies that the conflict can even be with an "evil person."

The town that produced the law is probably full of Christians anyway.

The Amish seem to be displaying pride in the aesthetics of their horses and feelings of annoyance or shame about horse diapers. What religious duty do they arguably have not to put a diaper on their horse?

I'm interested in how people devoted to a text, demanding special treatment because of this devotion, use the text and explain their use of the text to others who are being asked to give up preferences they have, through democracy, put into law.

Ann Althouse said...

And, by the way, whatever approach to accommodating you want to use for the Amish, you must be prepared to give to other groups. You can't say: special treatment for the Amish, because they seem nice and they are a traditional feature of the American landscape. You must be prepared to use the same approach — unless you want to be the hypocrite (and want to violate rights to equality) — for groups of people you think are not so nice and who look like new arrivals.

mikee said...

Gabriel, "toe the line" is a perfectly understood phrase. In the British Navy of the Napoleonic era and even earlier, the sailors literally lined up, bare-footed toes on marks made on deck, when they were being inspected.

And look at you, all fancy with your sponge. I bet only the rich people had sponges. Elitist!

Gabriel said...

@Ann:. What religious duty do they arguably have not to put a diaper on their horse?

Ordnung. I already linked to it.

Who gets to decide what is the important part of their religion? Who gets to decide that that if they emphasize the text of the Bible where they consider it to be most significant, that they have to be held to the standard of texts you pulled out of the Google as opposed to what is valid in their faith tradition? And who gets to decide that an Amish community's Ordnung is less binding on them than verses that you pulled out of the Google?

When a Muslim prisoner got the right to a half-inch beard, you said:

"The prisoner showed that he had a sincere belief that his religion — Islam — requires him to have a beard, so it didn't matter that some Muslims believe a believe a beard isn't required or that the prisoner believed that if the government forced him to shave, he'd get "credit" in his religion for trying to do what was required. There was a substantial burden on his religion within the meaning of the statute, and that meant the government had to show that imposing that burden was necessary to serve its compelling interest."

If the opinions of other Muslims on what is "really" important to Islam were not relevant, how much less relevant would the opinions of people not Muslims be?

But for some reason, when it's the Amish, and you don't give any evidence of knowing much about them, or even the Bible besides what you find on Google, you don't reason the same way. Maybe it's horse poop you object to, I don't know.

whatever approach to accommodating you want to use for the Amish, you must be prepared to give to other groups.

Yes, indeed I am. What, in anything that I have said, makes you assume that I am not?