The Persecution Of Innocenece Essay, Research Paper
The Persecution of Innocence
This essay will examine in detail the wrong doings of society upon the Hutterite people. It will also show how the Hutterian Brethren?s agricultural expertise has been beneficial to the world. It will explain many accounts of torture and hardship endured by these people. The Hutterian brotherhood has been wrongly persecuted because of their religion and their way of life, for many years.
The first written account of the Anabaptist movement dates as far back as January 21, 1525. On this evening several young men attempted to baptize one another. They did this upon confession of the faith. These young men had all planned to study classics at University but they quickly turned to the Bible. The young men mentioned as founders of Anabaptism were Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz, and Jorg Blaurock. All of these men were well-respected scholars.1
The newfound Anabaptist movement seemed to spread rapidly throughout Switzerland, southern Germany, Tirol, and Moravia. A German chronicler described the rapid growth in these words, ?Anabaptism spread so quickly that their teachings soon covered, as it were, the land. They soon gained a large following and baptized many thousands, drawing to themselves many sincere souls who had a zeal for god.? Because of this astounding increase in the number of Anabaptists church and state officials resolved to extirpate the Anabaptists. This is where all the death and torture began for these innocent people.2
Only eight days after the first Anabaptist baptismal service, there was a continual flow of mandates issued against them. There were over two hundred edicts proclaimed against the Anabaptists in the sixteenth century, one hundred of which were issued in the first twenty years. Such officials as territorial rulers, bishops and the emperor issued the mandates. The mandates were not only directed against the Anabaptists themselves but against anyone who helped or aided them in any way.3
These mandates were a serious matter, penalties outlined in the mandates ranged from expulsion to death. Some of the punishments described include burning holes in cheeks, branding foreheads with the sign of the devil, cutting off the fingers or the tongue, and stretching on the rack. The years to follow brought about a period of brutality and suffering for the Anabaptists.4
In order to catch the Anabaptists or other parties guilty of aiding them, there were house to house searches. People were questioned about being an Anabaptist, and also about possible interactions with Anabaptists. The cruelest measures taken to seek out the Anabaptists occurred in southern Germany. German soldiers were sent out after the Anabaptists in large numbers, reaching up to one thousand. The soldiers were given orders to exterminate the Anabaptists by any one of several means including fire, water, sword, or hanging. The soldiers were to act immediately and without giving a trial. More brutal actions were taken against the Anabaptist leaders in an attempt to deter them from recruiting more people. For example a great preacher, Hans Hut was made to endure ?alle Qualen der Holle? (all the agonies of hell).5
There are many accounts of extreme brutality these people faced for many years. This particular account is very brief and simplistic but it does get the point across.
Some were tortured terribly on the rack that they were torn apart and died. Some were burned to ashes and powder as heretics. Some were roasted on beams, some torn with red hot irons. Some were penned up in houses and all burned together. Some were hung on trees, others executed with the sword, and chopped up in pieces. Many had gags put in their mouths and their tongues tied so they could not speak and testify to their faith, and were thus led to the stake. What they had confessed with the mouth they testified with their blood. One group of women were cast into the water and then taken out again and asked if they would recant. Seeing that they were steadfast, their executioners cast them again into the water and drowned them. So terribly Satan raged through his children. Many were promised great gifts and riches should they recant. Others were entreated to utter just a single swear word, even a slight profanity, and they would be released. Many were talked to in wonderful ways, often day and night. They were argued with, with great cunning and cleverness, with many sweet words, by monks and priests, by doctors of theology, with much false testimony, with threats and scoldings and mockery, yes, with lies and grievous slanders against the Brotherhood, but none of these things moved or made them falter.6
Many people began discussing the strength the Anabaptists seemed to have. They seemed extraordinary strong in will and in faith. A person who had witnessed these executions and who was against the Anabaptists described his reaction in these words.
I have seen with my own eyes that nothing has been able to bring back the Anabaptists from their errors or to make them recant. The hardest imprisonment, hunger, fire, water, the sword, all sorts of frightful executions, have not been able to shake them. I have seen young people, men and women, go to the stake singing, filled with joy; and I can say that in the course of my whole life nothing has moved me more.7
The above accounts of what the Anabaptists had to face are only a fraction of
what is on record. The extreme terror that these people encountered every day is
Unimaginable. Living day to day without any assurance you will see the sun rise for tomorrow must have been unthinkable. On what grounds were these people so severely persecuted? They were punished for their unwavering faith and beliefs. Today, if more individuals shared their view of life, our world would be a much more peaceful and safer place.
Things did however vastly improve with time. Even though the harassment did not cease it did taper off. One of the Anabaptist beliefs is that they are never to participate in a war. It is against their religion to use force to achieve any goal. The Anabaptists would not even pay war taxes to aid their country in winning the war.
Through the years smaller groups began to form, sharing most of the same beliefs as the Anabaptists. The Hutterites, which are a form of Anabaptists have molded the Anabaptist religion and made it their own.
In the year of 1874 a large group of Hutterite people migrated to the United States in search of peace and freedom.8 They were successful in finding both, until the outbreak of the 1st World War in 1914. When the United States Army drafted a large number of young Hutterite men the Brethren agreed among themselves that their men would register and attend the physical examination, but they would not wear the uniform or obey any orders. The military was very determined to pressure the young Hutterites into service, at any cost. At a military camp, called Camp Funston, Hutterite men were viciously tortured if they refused to co-operate. They received repeated beatings, brutal bayonet gashes, and near fatal drownings, and again all because of their religion.9
At the same time Jacob Wipf and three Hofer brothers were summoned to a military camp at Fort Lewis. When these four men refused to wear their uniforms they were beaten and put on trial. The men were sentenced to thirty-seven years in Alcatraz prison. Once again the men refused to wear their uniforms. They were sent to solitary confinement. They received many beatings but never once gave in.10
Shortly after the war ended the Hutterites decided to move north to Canada. The Canadian government was very anxious to have the Hutterites as a part of their nation. The Canadian government and the Hutterian Brethren signed an agreement that freed the Hutterites from any warlike obligations. This agreement assured the Hutterite people that they would never have to participate in any war. The Canadian government knew that the Hutterites were very good farmers and with so much unbroken land they would be very beneficial. The Hutterites broke uncountable acres of land and farmed it with great care and expertise. They also produced numerous breeds of livestock. The Hutterites were and are known for their beef and swine production.
The Hutterite people were tortured, slain, and exiled all because of the way they chose to live their life. Their choice of religion and faith brought them year after year of brutality. They never once broke, not for fire, steel, or water, they stood strong for all. They believed in their religion so much that they would rather die than give it up. For that they were beaten and murdered because society thought they were wrong. Society was mistaken.
?Hutterite History?.www.hutterianbrethern.com. 01\02\00.
Hofer, John, The History of the Hutterites. Winnipeg:W.K.Printers? Aid Ltd, 1982.
Wurz, Joe S, The History of the Hutterites. 1999.