Hutterite Social Network

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Hutterites are a communal branch of Anabaptists who, like the Amish and Mennonites, trace their roots to the Radical Reformation of the 16th century.

Since the death of their founder Jakob Hutter in 1528, the beliefs of the Hutterites, especially living in a community of goods and absolute pacifism, has resulted in hundreds of years of odyssey through many countries.

Nearly extinct by the 18th and 19th century, the Hutterites found a new home in North America. Over 125 years their population grew from 400 to around 50,000.

History

Originating in the Austrian province of Tyrol in the 16th century, the forerunners of the Hutterites migrated to Moravia to escape persecution. There, under the leadership of Jakob Hutter, they developed the communal form of living based on the New Testament books of the Acts of the Apostles (Chapters 2 (especially Verse 44), 4, and 5) and 2 Corinthians—which distinguishes them from other Anabaptists such as the Amish and Mennonites.

A basic tenet of Hutterian society has always been absolute pacifism, forbidding its members from taking part in military activities, taking orders, wearing a formal uniform (such as a soldier's or a police officer's) or contributing to war taxes. This has led to expulsion or persecution in the several lands in which they have lived.

In Moravia, the Hutterites flourished for over a century, until renewed persecution caused by the Austrian takeover of the Czech lands forced them once again to migrate, first to Transylvania, and, then, in the early 18th century, to Ukraine, in the Russian Empire.

Some Hutterites converted to Catholicism and retained a separate ethnic identity in Slovakia as the Habans until the 19th century (by the end of World War II, the Haban group had become essentially extinct). At this time the number of Hutterites had fallen to around 100.

In Ukraine, the Hutterites enjoyed relative prosperity, although their distinctive form of communal life was influenced by neighboring Russian Mennonites. In time, though, Russia had installed a new compulsory military service law, and the pressure was on again.

After sending scouts to North America in 1873 along with a Mennonite delegation, three groups totalling 1265 individuals migrated to North America between 1874 and 1879 in response to the new Russian military service law. Of these, 400 identified as Eigentümler and shared a community of goods.

Most Hutterites are descended from these 400. Named for the leader of each group (the Schmiedeleut, Dariusleut, and Lehrerleut, leut being based on the German word for people), they settled initially in the Dakota Territory; later, Dariusleut colonies were established in central Montana. Here, each group reestablished the traditional Hutterite communal lifestyle.

During World War I, the pacifist Hutterites suffered persecution in the United States. In the most severe case, four Hutterite men subjected to military draft who refused to comply were imprisoned and tortured. Ultimately, two died at Leavenworth Military Prison from mistreatment, after the Armistice had been signed ending the war.

The Hutterite community responded by abandoning Dakota and moving 17 of the 18 existing American colonies to the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. With the passage of laws protecting conscientious objectors, however, some of the Schmiedeleut ultimately returned to the Dakotas beginning in the 1930s, where they built and inhabited new colonies. Some of the abandoned structures from the first wave still stand in South Dakota.

In 1942, alarmed at the influx of Dakota Hutterites buying copious tracts of land, the province of Alberta passed the Communal Properties Act, severely restricting the expansion of the Dariusleut and Lehrerleut colonies. The act was repealed in 1973, allowing Hutterites to purchase land. This act resulted in the establishment of a number of new colonies in British Columbia and Saskatchewan and at the same time there was expansion into Montana and eastern Washington in the 1940s and 1950s. Today, approximately three of every four Hutterite colonies are in Canada (mostly in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan), with almost all of the remainder in the United States (primarily South Dakota and Montana). The total Hutterite population in both countries is generally estimated between forty and fifty thousand.

For a few years in the early 1950s, and in 1974–1990, the Arnoldleut (or Bruderhof Communities) were recognized as Hutterites. Although most Hutterites live in the Midwestern United States and in Western Canada, Hutterite colonies have been established in Australia, Nigeria and Japan. info from Wikipedia

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