Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Apr/12

28

Balkanization Watch

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Via the Washington Post:

The Hutterites are Protestants similar to the Amish and Mennonites who live a life centered on their religion, but unlike the others, Hutterites live in German-speaking communes scattered across northern U.S. states and Canada. They don’t pay wages, don’t vote and don’t enlist in the military. They make their own clothes, produce their own food and construct their own buildings.

“Their core belief is that they have no property. All the property and labor they have, they contribute to the colony,” Ron Nelson, an attorney for the Big Sky Colony, told the Montana Supreme Court.

The state’s high court on Wednesday heard arguments by the colony and the state on whether Montana’s requirement that employers carry workers’ compensation insurance can be expanded to religious organizations. A state judge has already ruled the 2009 law expanding the workers’ compensation law to force the Hutterites to pay for the insurance violated their right to freely exercise their religion.

The state is asking the high court to reverse that decision, arguing the new law deals only with commercial activities and stays out of the Hutterites religious affairs.

The Hutterites’ argument that everything they do is tied to their religion cannot exempt them from regulation when they voluntarily enter into an outside commercial activity, assistant Attorney General Stuart Segrest said.

“They’re not allowed to become a law unto themselves,” Segrest said

Quite.

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1 comment

  • Author comment by Jeeves · April 29, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    I don’t get this. Forget whether the Hutterites have “employees” in any conventional sense of the word. They sound more like volunteers to me. But more crucial is the fact that worker’s comp benefits are tied to wages. The Hutterites apparently pay none. I can’t think why the Montana legislature acted as it did unless Hutterites were making worker’s comp claims that were paid by the state because the colony lacked insurance.

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