Brandon Blackwell

Brandon Blackwell writes for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland.

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Amish Fringe Group Wants the Word ‘Cult’ be Banned From Hate-Crime Trial

by Brandon Blackwell 08-15-2012

CLEVELAND— Members of a fringe Amish group charged with committing hate crimes against fellow Amish have requested that certain words, including "cult," "splinter" and "rogue," be banned from their upcoming trial in U.S. District Court, according to court documents filed Monday (Aug. 13).

They also requested that any Amish called to testify "affirm the truthfulness" of their testimony rather than swear an oath because swearing an oath "would offend the witness' religious outlook."

Samuel Mullet, 66, of Jefferson County, Ohio, and 15 of his male and female followers are charged with hate crimes and cover-ups. Prosecutors accuse them of forcibly cutting the beards and hair of fellow Amish members. The attacks were designed to settle scores with people with whom Mullet and his followers had disputes, prosecutors said.

Amish Report Staggering Growth in Midwest

by Brandon Blackwell 08-07-2012
RNS photo by Gus Chan / The Plain Dealer

RNS photo by Gus Chan / The Plain Dealer

The Amish are one of the fastest-growing religious groups in North America, according to a new census by researchers at Ohio State University.

The study, released July 27 at the annual meeting of the Rural Sociological Society, suggests a new community sprouting every three and a half weeks.

Nearly 250,000 Amish live in the U.S. and Canada, and the population is expected to exceed 1 million around 2050.

The growth may not be visible outside Amish country, but the rural settlements definitely see the boom.