Son assaults father in new beard attack

In Ohio, a new beard-and-hair cutting attack was reported over the weekend (article no longer online):

An elderly Amish man was attacked by his own son, who a sheriff said cut the man’s hair and beard in the latest incident in a breakaway Amish community. The victim told the sheriff he was scared and upset but wouldn’t press charges.

Facts are sketchy, but a couple things strike me as strange.

For one, the fact that another attack happened.  Seems like this group would lay low for now.

On the other hand, who knows if the attacks ever stopped?  Maybe this is the only one we’ve heard of since the much-publicized arrests of  5 members of the Bergholz group.  As in some previous cases, the victim here did not want to press charges.

Second, this one, at least on its face, seems especially devious.  The victim, a 70-year-old man, traveled to the Bergholz community, according to another report, “in response to an invitation from his son to reunite”.  He made the trip from Ashland County to see his son for the first time in several years.

I know the word “reunite” as reported in a news story can have more than one meaning. But if you’ve really got reconciliation on your mind, that meeting doesn’t end with you wrestling your dad onto the ground then cutting his hair off (with help from the grandkids, apparently).

Finally, while all this was going on, Jefferson County’s Sherriff Abdalla was in the vicinity, parked nearby the scene of the incident.

He had warned the son against trouble.  I suppose the scope for intervention was limited, but it’s disturbing that protection was so close by yet the attack still happened.

I guess it says something about the attackers–and the whole sorry situation–that they feel they can be so brazen.

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    28 Comments

    1. Marilyn from New York

      It’s hard to believe that a son would do that to his father and I don’t care what religion they are in. No son should ever treat their parents that way. My parents are with the Lord now, but we disagreed in views throughout life and I would have never considered anything to hurt my parents that way. We had our arguments as I guess most parents and children do in life-but nothing like that. We are suppose to honor our parents. Shame on that son.
      Marilyn

    2. I was just reminding some friends that we should follow the instructions of St. Paul in Galatians 5:22-26. There is a lack of humility in these assaults that bothers me greatly – it isn’t just the lack of respect for authority (and age) but a lack of respect for the teachings, and an arrogance that seems to be saying that this group considers themselves above the law of the country and God.

    3. No fear of consequences?

      On the one hand I am surprised at how bold they are in these attacks.

      On the other, maybe I shouldn’t be. Knowing there is a high chance their victims won’t bring charges probably only encourages them to act with impunity.

    4. Forest

      These criminals give all Plain people a bad name. I hope the press makes it clear how any Christian, Plain or not, would find this behavior beyond the pale (but they won’t, of course….) People will be given the idea that this is normal behavior for the Amish, when it is certainly not.

      Sadly, the children in this case, the victim’s grandchildren, are being led into sin by the actions of their parents, who will bear an especially heavy punishment for what they are doing when their time comes.

      In the meantime, a few years in the county jail wouldn’t hurt either….

    5. Mary Yoder

      Son assaults father in new beard attack

      Please believe me when I say that the Amish are SO appalled by these people. These people are not Amish, they are led by Satan, I know this sounds really judgmental, and we shall not judge… we also know a Christian will NOT cut anyone’s hair in anger.

      I hope most people know that these Bergholz people have some huge problems and are wearing Amish clothes to cover up their sins. Not that clothes can do that, sorry if I made it sound like that.

      We need to pray for the families and also for the clan.

    6. Katie Troyer

      I also expected that group to lay low but guess not…

    7. Mary, what you said makes perfect sense. It is obvious by their actions that they are not Amish even if they look like they are by their appearance.

      I will pray this comes to a peaceful end soon for all involved.

    8. Lissa Holder

      Shame on them for doing such a bad thing and to include and teach the children these things. Pray that they repent and stop this evil behavior.

    9. John

      Agree with Mary

      I can take you to many Amish homes and get you to meet hundreds of Old Order or New Order Amish and not one of them would like to be associated with any of these guy’s. (I am sure Eric would tell you the same)

      In one hand it’s funny, because it’s childish on the other hand it makes you quiver because it’s associated with an obvious evil force.

      We are heading into a dark era, which has been prophesied in the Bible times, the downfall will come and woe to them that help it along.

      We really need to pray for both sides of this

      1. Lois Morgan

        Entering a Dark Era

        I read something a philosopher said just the other day. He calls this

        “The Age of Insanity. Seems to be true.

      2. john Allan Powell

        beard attack reply

        The Bible says to me that there are thorns growing among the wheat,the harvest is coming,the good grain will be winnowed out and put in the grainery…the thorns go into the fire..many things have been done in the name of God thru the centuries..shameful things but God IS GOOD and we are sinners all..don’t throw out God because some associate with His Name but are far from HIM…Blessings,JAP

        1. john Allan Powell

          addedum

          BUT>>>The criminals should be given some mercy and love if there is true repentance,repayment and real reconciliation..after all,that is the purpose of forgiveness,grace and love reeived from above…Blessings,JAP

    10. Comment on Son assaults father in new beard attack

      I wonder what the son said to make the father feel like there would be a runiting or reconciliation? Poor father thinking that they would probably mend whatever was wrong only to be wrestled to the ground and have his hair and beard cut in front of the whole world. Have we come so far that a personal humiliation is okay? I will definitely pray that this groups sees the error of their ways and attempts to mend this horrible situation. I wonder what the rest of that particular group feels about this and will they shun them from the group?

    11. Paul A.B.

      Sounds like typical bullying

      The behavior of these “hair cutters” smacks of typical pathological bullying, and little else. There certainly is nothing devout or thoughtful in their actions. I think that the behavior says it all, and that the perpetrators are simply on some kind of power binge. Bullying is bullying – here, it just happens to be a few Amish who are doing the bullying.

    12. Tom

      Until these victims start reporting all the attacks and filing charges then these incidents will continue. These perpetrators are hiding behind the Amish code of conduct and yet violating the rules as they wish. The Amish do not like to bring government interference into the community and these thugs are taking advantage of this. I wonder why another group of Amish do not at least police their own.

    13. Al in Ky.

      I was reading in the book An Amish Paradox the other day and
      was surprised to read on pages 41 and 42 about another incident
      of a hair cutting attack in the early 1990s among some Amish
      in Ohio. This happened among the Swartzentruber Amish in Holmes
      and Wayne counties Ohio when they split into the Mose Miller group
      and the Joe Troyer group. In the incident reported in this book,
      one night some Amish boys of one group went to the home of an
      Amish minister of the other group “held him down and cut his
      hair, an action that had tremendous symbolic implications”.
      Since Amish people often do not seem to talk about details of
      conflicts in their churches, I’m wondering if there have been
      other incidents of involuntary hair cutting. I hope not, but
      I was really surprised to read of this incident which happened
      in the 90’s.

      1. Swartzentruber Amish beard-cutting incident

        Glad you mentioned this Al. That incident was a part of the Swartzentruber division. I don’t think I’ve heard of any others, but I suppose it is another indication of the importance placed on the beard and how degrading the act of forcibly cutting it off can be. As the Sherriff described in this most recent attack, the latest victim was a ‘broken man’.

        This earlier Swartzentruber beard-cutting story would be known in Amish circles, particularly in the Holmes community. I wonder if it has served as any inspiration to the Bergholz people. Given the importance of the beard, I kind of doubt the 90s incident was the first time it ever happened, but it may very well be one of the few or even only such incident in living memory, up til now. I wonder.

    14. Alice Mary

      Missing a page?

      Don’t worry, Mary Yoder, I doubt anyone on this blog would confuse the “true Amish” with these scissor-yielding crackpots! I feel really bad that the real Amish are suffering such bad PR due to a few scofflaws. It also bothers me that the Amish have to live in fear, like the 70-year-old victim. To lure him there under what seem like false pretenses is especially cruel.

      It makes me wonder if these “Christians” have lost a page or two from their bible…”…do unto others…,…honor thy father…”, etc.

      There should be a “neighborhood watch”, the English neighbors watching out for their Amish neighbors. If I lived nearby, I’d honestly do it!

      Al in Ky., very interesting! History repeats itself, doesn’t it? What a shame, back then and now.

      Alice Mary

      1. Yes Alice Mary, sounds like selective reading to me.

        I can see how someone might get by with that reading an obscure book of the Bible, but seems a lot harder trick to pull with the 10 Commandments.

    15. Tom Schulte

      News story accuracy

      The story makes me wonder about the accuracy of the reporting. Details are rather sketchy and this does make for a sensationalist type of tale.

      1. Beard-cutting story details

        As far as accuracy, the most sketchy bit for me (noted above) is the bit about ‘reuniting’…that explanation seems like it could get stretched–I think for most people ‘reuniting’ suggests an emotional/relationship reconciliation–whereas it could just be the first physical meeting in some years.

        I can see where a reporter may have gotten info that father and son were meeting for the first time in years, and decided to use the word “reunite”, perhaps knowing that by most readers’ interpretations of the word it would up the drama, even if reconciliation wasn’t the purpose of the meeting.

        Otherwise, this isn’t the first incident–and just like this one, other of the attacks have been family member on family member, conducted in the same violent manner. So I don’t think there’s much reason to doubt that it happened, particularly with Sherriff Abdalla’s contribution to the story.

    16. Lee Ann

      John, I believe you that few Amish act in this way. Everything I have learned show them to be kind and caring. I have alot of respect for the Amish groups. Just cause a few cause problems, it won’t affect my views of the Amish as a whole.

      So sad that a few hold grudges which is against the Christian faith and Amish way of life.

    17. Ed

      These attacks are a good example of how religion can be a double-edged sword — it can inspire people to do great works or it can provide justification for all manner of terrible things.

      When I think of the Amish I think of the great things they do the austere lifestyle they live which no doubt deters most religious charlatains. But clearly, any religion can be perverted, and anyone who unquestioningly follows a religion can be led astray.

      1. Paul A.B.

        Ed, that is well said. If we’re talking about Christianity specifically, I’ve always believed that if there is an instance where there are any doubts over doctrine or a specific issue, mercy must win out over procedural orthodoxy. God, if we believe in Him, is certainly bigger than all that – and I can’t imagine that petty human vengeance, how ever purportedly righteous its motivation, is ever justified if it ends up hurting another.

    18. Valerie

      Amen

      Ed, Paul, I throw in my Amen on your comments.
      They pretty much summed up what Jesus came to set straight & die for. Alot of people are praying, God’s listening, I hear alot of changing happening in Amish communities regarding blind following of what’s been perverted, He is at work, He loves them too.

    19. Sharyn Ecker

      Sam Mullet arrested

      This am Sam Mullet and others were arrested by FBI & local law enforcement ,news conference later today . Charged with federal hate crimes . My local Amish ( we had the first hair /bread cutting here ) are content that Sam was arrested along with the others . Just thought you might want an update Erik

      1. Thanks for the update Sharyn. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Hopefully that’s the end of the attacks.

    20. glen k wilson

      r u fully informed? not hardly

      these men were NOT taken to erick’s barber shop,their faces wrapped in hot towels to be replaced with hot shaving cream. then their pre-softened beards taken off with a hand strapped razor.

      these male victims were ASSAULTED in their homes, in front of children and grandchildren. some dragged outside, held down and dry shaved with hand shears. remember to an Amish man, his beard is a large part of PERSONAL identity with in HIS community.(not ours)
      Paul a.b., this is not petty human vengeance,this punishment for multiple criminal acts.

      Amish women NEVER EVER cut their hair. now imagine a 70+ grandmother held down, having her hair cut and RIPPED from her scalp. yes, ripped. Amish women’s hair is a large part of her PERSONAL identity within her community also.
      those convicted should get the mercy they showed to the victims.