A group of Amish men and women accused of hate crimes in hair-cutting attacks took action out of concern that members of their religion were straying from their beliefs, defense attorneys said Tuesday.
Attorneys for the defendants didn’t deny that the hair cuttings took place. Instead, they argued that the Amish are bound by different rules guided by their religion and that the government shouldn’t get involved in what amounted to a family or church dispute.
At the center of the trial, which opened this week in federal court, are the rules of a religion that distances itself from the outside world and yields to a collective order as opposed to the laws of society. “These are religious separatists,” said Ed Bryan, the attorney for the group’s accused ringleader.