Amish Couple Sues Federal Goverment Over Photo Citizenship Requirement

From the Associated Press:

INDIANAPOLIS — An Amish couple with 13 children sued the federal government on Wednesday, accusing officials of violating their constitutional rights by insisting that they provide photographs of themselves before the Canadian wife’s request to become a permanent U.S. resident can be approved.

The Indiana couple won’t allow themselves to be photographed “for any reason,” in keeping with their Old Order Amish belief that photos of people are “graven images” prohibited by the biblical Second Commandment, the lawsuit states.

Their complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis as a last resort after federal officials repeatedly refused to accommodate the couple and “their sincerely held religious beliefs” and other efforts failed to resolve the dispute, it contends.

The U.S., the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the two agencies’ leaders are named as defendants. Both agencies said Wednesday that they don’t comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit identifies the couple only as John and Jane Doe and contends that revealing their identities “would force them to further compromise their religious beliefs, including the prohibition against acts of self-promotion.”

They wed in 2014 after the now 44-year-old man’s first wife died from complications during childbirth, leaving him widowed with 11 children. The man and his 42-year-old second wife now have two children of their own and live with the 13 children in an Amish farming community in southern Indiana.

It’s unusual though not unheard of that Amish go to court over issues like this. As described above, the suit is “a last resort” following other attempts at resolution.

The question of mandated photo identification has been a recurring one for the Amish. While some don’t have an issue over such photos, in the past Amish have come into conflict over photo requirements for passports and firearms IDs. One media outlet even speculated on photo ID requirements potentially thwarting Amish voter turnout in 2012.

Government has worked with Amish to provide accommodation, such as in the case in 2015 of the Illinois legislature permitting fingerprint IDs for buggy drivers.

After the woman’s permanent resident application was denied, the couple contacted various government officials but to no avail. The attorney describes the only remaining options, aside from litigation, as the wife or the entire family leaving the country.

More on Amish views on photography.

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    1. Glenda. Johnstone

      In this day and age

      I am very supportive of the Amish community… I love and respect their way of life. But it is not being a responsible child of God. This identification picture is a protection for everyone in the US against terrorism.
      Get the photo and move on please

    2. Citizenship Photo

      I also fully support the Amish and their natural ways of life, however, as previously stated, the photo is for the protection of everyone in this country. Like their religion, this country has rules and regulations and if someone chooses not to abide by those rules, or they don’t like those rules, then they are free to leave this country.

    3. George DeVos


      Yes, terrorists really hate to have their pictures taken. How a photo ID keeps a terrorist from committing terrorism is a mystery to me. Terrorism is a handy excuse for various trespasses on our privacy and on our freedom to be left alone. My parents response about harmless non-conformity was “well it’s a free country”. Not so much anymore. Can you say “Patriot Act”?

    4. Carol A Hogan

      Then go to Canada

      Making an image to worship is the sin, not taking a photograph for governmental reasons (to prevent terrorism). If the wife can’t abide by our government’s rules, let her move back to Canada or have the whole family go as well. It is not a Scriptural rule to disobey the government, and I would think that the Amish bishops need to gather together and clear the issue up.

    5. Concerned human


      Psh. Leaving a peaceful group of humans alone should be a fundamental right that everyone works to protect. Instead we built empires on that principle only to flip the script and turn it into a global control state. Hardly anyone noticed the trickery involved in conditioning us to this flip, and now most slaves of the state want everyone to sink with them. The world won’t be a place worth living if we don’t protect these basic necessities. People keep expected Uncle Sam to hold their hand towards a free world, but the only thing free for us(and profitable for some) is corruption running rampant utilizing orchestrated chaos, social manipulation through data collection, censorship, and algorithmic enslavement. Protect the Amish at all cost.