Category Archives: Anabaptist & Pietist Studies

Spring books preview: religion

Seasonal catalog cover spring 2016We’re excited about the books we’ll be publishing this spring—and we’re pleased to start off the new year with a series of posts that highlight our forthcoming titles. Be sure to check out the online edition of JHUP’s entire Spring 2016 catalog, and remember that promo code “HDPD” gets you a 30% discount on all pre-publication orders. Today we feature spring books on religion; click on the title to read more about the book or to place an order:

noltThe Amish
A Concise Introduction
Steven M. Nolt

trollingerRighting America at the Creation Museum
Susan L. Trollinger and William Vance Trollinger, Jr.

weaver-zercher16Martyrs Mirror
A Social History
David L. Weaver-Zercher

Use discount code “HDPD” to receive a 30% discount on pre-publication orders for JHUP’s spring 2016 titles.
To order, click on the book titles above or call 800-537-5487.

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Filed under American Studies, Amish, Anabaptist & Pietist Studies, Cultural Studies, History, Publishing News, Religion

Amish quilts: For every rule, there is an exception

Guest post by Janneken Smucker

Since the publication of Amish Quilts: Crafting an American Icon last fall, we’ve experienced a flurry of important exhibits and books about quilts. It’s no surprise that readers and museumgoers flock to these books and events. Quilts feel good. They bring on nostalgic feelings of warmth and family, even to those of us who did not grow up in a home full of quilts. That’s part of why quilts—whether antique art pieces, contemporary pieces produced by Amish cottage industries, modern art works, or factory made bedcovers—have long had such appeal.

One of the newest additions to the quilt reading list this fall is Roderick Kiracofe’s Unconventional and Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000featuring selections from his collection of eclectic quilts, often produced from scraps and leftovers with surprising patterns, fabrics, and combinations. This has gotten me thinking about unconventional and unexpected Amish quilts. Ever since outsiders to Amish communities “discovered” these objects in the late 1960s and early 1970s, we’ve developed preconceived notions about what constitutes an Amish quilt, based on colors, patterns, and fabrics. As I explore in Amish Quilts, it’s actually quite challenging to pin down what is an Amish quilt because of the diversity among Amish settlements, the changes to Amish fashions over time, and the individual quiltmakers who liked to push boundaries and disregard conformity within their communities. For every supposed “rule” about what makes an Amish quilt Amish, there are many exceptions.

So, what makes an Amish quilt unconventional? It could be pattern, technique, colors, overall style, or even function. Some unconventional Amish quilts might actually be quite conventional to the rest of us; they just don’t fit what we expect from Amish quiltmakers. This is true of this cheery Basket of Flowers quilt, made by an unknown Amish maker who adapted a Mountain Mist pattern likely acquired by purchasing a roll of quilt batting—the soft inner layer of a quilt.

Basket of Flowers, unknown Amish maker, c. 1935. Possibly made in Ohio. International Quilt Study Center & Museum, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Basket of Flowers, unknown Amish maker, c. 1935. Possibly made in Ohio. International Quilt Study Center & Museum, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The pattern is quite conventional for the 1930s among the wider community of quiltmakers. But instead of the bubbly printed fabrics common to quilts of the Depression era, this Amish maker used the commercial pattern in a decidedly Amish setting, with black sashing and a wide outer blue border.

Other quilts we as outsiders might consider unconventional among the Amish may have in fact been quite conventional; they just did not fit the aesthetic of tastemakers who shaped the market for antique Amish quilts in the 1970s and 1980s. This is true of this blue and white sailboat quilt, as well as the many blue and white quilts—called “everyday” or “summer” quilts by some Amish—made since at least the 1920s in many Amish settlements.

Sailboat, unknown Amish maker, c. 1930-1950. Possibly made in Ohio. International Quilt Study Center & Museum, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Sailboat, unknown Amish maker, c. 1930-1950. Possibly made in Ohio. International Quilt Study Center & Museum, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Few collectors were interested in these light-colored quilts as they did not fit the aesthetic of those bedcoverings some Amish called “old dark quilts”—made from darker blues, purples, browns, and deep reds, which appealed to art collectors due to their resemblance to modern art.

Perhaps truly unconventional, at least among Amish quilts that have survived into museum collections, is the hap or comforter—a heavy utilitarian bedcover. Rarely did such objects come on the market, and more seldom still did a museum curator select one for a collection. But the unconventional and totally remarkable collection of Amish quilts at the Indiana State Museum, first acquired by David Pottinger, features not just quilts that look like abstract paintings, but any and every quilt Pottinger’s Amish neighbors in northern Indiana would sell him.

Nine Patch Four Patch, knotted comforter or “hap,” unknown Amish maker, LaGrange County, Indiana. From the collection of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites.

Nine Patch Four Patch, knotted comforter or “hap,” unknown Amish maker, LaGrange County, Indiana. From the collection of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites.

This hap is just one of many quilts in this collection that demonstrate the great diversity of Amish quiltmaking from just one geographic area.

The Amish indeed are a religious group that does many things strictly by tradition—by convention. But quilts made by individuals from this group can be quite unconventional, both by our standards and by theirs.

smuckerJanneken Smucker is an assistant professor of history at West Chester University. A quiltmaker herself, she is author of Amish Quilts: Crafting an American Icon, now available from JHU Press. 

To read The New York Times 2013 Holiday Gift Guide’s review of Amish Quilts, click here.

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Filed under Amish, Anabaptist & Pietist Studies, For Everyone

JHU Press events in September: Star-Spangled (and then some)

September is shaping up to be a banner month for JHU Press authors and staff—and decidedly star-spangled here in Baltimore. This month, the city hosts the Star-Spangled Spectacular to celebrate the bicentennial of the Battle of Baltimore and the moment when Francis Scott Key put pen to paper, and we’ll be waving the JHU Press flag at a book sale in the National Park Service tent at the Inner Harbor during these once-every-200-years festivities. The Press returns to the Inner Harbor at the end of September when the Baltimore Book Festival tries out a new waterfront location. Author talks and signings from New York to D.C. to South Carolina to Ohio round out the month. So spread the word, please, and wish us luck!

10 September 2014, 6:30 pm
Book Talk & Signing –
“The Battle of Baltimore: How Our Harbor Helped Define America”
With Marc Ferris (Star-Spangled Banner: The Unlikely Story of America’s National Anthem)
Burt Kummerow (In Full Glory Reflected: Discovering the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake)
and Ralph Eshelman (IFGR and Travel Guide to the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake: A Reference Guide to Historic Sites in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia)
National Aquarium
Baltimore, MD

Ferris_jacketThe Battle of Baltimore—which took place in September 1814, shortly after the British attack on Washington, D.C., and the torching of the Capitol and the White House—was an uplifting victory for beleaguered America. The success of Baltimore’s citizen soldiers hastened the war’s end and famously inspired Francis Scott Key’s “The Star-Spangled Banner.” As tall ships return to the Inner Harbor for Baltimore’s bicentennial celebrations, join us for a special program exploring the history and legacy of the Battle of Baltimore, featuring a panel of historians and authors whose recent work has focused on the War of Travel_Guide_cover1812 and its impact on American identity. A reception and book signing precedes the program. This event is hosted by Aquarium CEO John Racanelli and is co-sponsored by JHU’s Odyssey Program, the Maryland Historical Society, and the National Aquarium’s Marjorie Lynn Bank Lecture Series. Book-signing at 6:30 p.m.; program at 7:00 p.m.

Admission: $15.00; register online through JHU’s Odyssey Program (refer to session 918.088.91) or call 410-516-8516.

11 September 2014, 12:00 pm
Author Interview
  Marc Ferris
Star-Spangled Banner: The Unlikely Story of Americas National Anthem
Midday with Dan Rodricks
WYPR, 88.1 FM

eshelman201211 September 2014, 12:30 pm
Book Talk & Signing –
The Battle of Baltimore

Ralph Eshelman
In Full Glory Reflected and Travel Guide to the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake
Johns Hopkins Club
Baltimore, MD

Admission: $20. Club members should call the Hopkins Club for reservations; non-members may contact Jack Holmes for information at 410-516-6928.

SSS logo

1214 September 2014, 11:00 am to 8:00 pm
Book Sale at
Star-Spangled Banner Spectacular
National Park Service Tent
McKelden Square, Inner Harbor
Baltimore, MD

JHU Press will sell books related to the War of 1812 and host our authors for book signings in the National Park Service tent during the Star-Spangled Spectacular at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Join us at the NPS tent in McKelden Square (at Pratt and Light Streets) to celebrate the bicentennial of the Battle of Baltimore and the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner”!

Admission: Free. Visit Star-Spangled Spectacular for information.

13 September 2014, 9:15 am
Author Interview
  Marc Ferris
Star-Spangled Banner
Weekend News
WBAL TV, Channel 11

Ferris_jacket13 September 2014, 6:00 pm
Book Talk & Signing –
Marc Ferris
Star-Spangled Banner
The Ivy Bookshop
6080 Falls Rd
Baltimore, MD 21209

Book talk, performance, and signing by Marc Ferris at the Ivy during Baltimore’s Star-Spangled weekend!

Admission: Free; call the Ivy at 410-377-2966 for information.

Amish_QuiltsAmish Quilts Events in September – Janneken Smucker
Amish Quilts: Crafting an American Icon

12 September 2014
Study Session
American Quilt Study Group Annual Seminar
Milwaukee, WI

15 September 2014, 1:00 pm
“Abstract Art or Country Craft: The Quilts of the Amish”
Friends of the Bucks County Historical Society
Mercer Museum
Doylestown, PA

18 September 2014, 7:00 pm
“The Amish Quilt Craze: Art, Business, and Authenticity”
Hagley Museum and Library, Soda House Auditorium
Wilmington, DE

Generic18 September 2014, 6:00 pm
Book Talk & Signing – Jeremy A. Greene
Generic: The Unbranding of Modern Medicine
The New York Academy of Medicine
1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street
New York, NY 10029

Sponsored by The Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health and the Fellows Office.

Renegade_AmishRenegade Amish Events in Berlin, Ohio – Don Kraybill
Renegade Amish: Beard Cutting, Hate Crimes, and the Trial of the Bergholz Barbers

19 September 2014, 7:00 pm
Book Talk & Signing

Perry Reese Community Center
Hiland High School

20 September 2014, 9:00 am to Noon
Book Signing

Gospel Book Store

Admission: Free, call 330-893-2523 for more information.

Coastal_Fishes24 September 2014, 6:30 pm
Book Talk & Signing – Val Kells
“Art of the Sea: Illustrious Fishes”
Hosted by the Gibbes Museum of Art
The South Carolina Aquarium
100 Aquarium Wharf
Charleston, SC

The Gibbes Museum of Art hosts this cocktail lecture with marine science illustrator Val Kells, whose work appears in A Field Guide to Coastal Fishes and other JHUP books. A longtime contributor to exhibit art at the South Carolina Aquarium, Kells leads guests on a behind-the-scenes tour focusing on the value of hand drawings in today’s digital world, and gives a presentation on her illustration process from research to final painting.

Admission: $30; $20 Gibbes Museum members; call 843-722-706.

20–27 September, 2014
JHUP Exhibit  American Ornithologists’ Union
Annual Meeting
Estes Park, CO

Information: AOU Annual Meeting

LOC Folklife logo

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress

25 September 2014, 12:30 pm
Book Talk & Signing  Felipe Hinojosa
Latino Mennonites: Civil Rights, Faith, and Evangelical Culture
Many Paths to Freedom Symposium
Sponsored by the American Folklife Center
Library of Congress
Washington, D.C.

Admission: See the program schedule for more information.

BBF_logo26–28 September, 2014
Baltimore Book Festival

The Inner Harbor
Baltimore, MD

Johns Hopkins University Press and the George Peabody Library jointly host the JHU Press Book Sale along with talks, book signings, and special exhibits. Visit us at the 2014 Baltimore Book Festival in the beautiful Baltimore Visitor Center overlooking the Inner Harbor.

The JHU Press Book Sale takes place inside the Visitor Center throughout the Festival, with Press authors scheduled to meet the public and sign books throughout the weekend. The George Peabody Library will offer a special exhibit of archival books and materials related to Baltimore history, and members of the Special Collections staff will offer a Peabody Collections Spotlight each day.

Visitors Center

The JHU Press Book Sale will be held in the beautiful Baltimore Visitor Center when the Baltimore Book Festival moves to the Inner Harbor this year.

Presentations in the Visitors Center include book talks by JHU Press authors Gil Sandler, Fraser Smith, Mike Olesker, Rick Striner, Melissa Blair, Michael Wolfe, Charley Mitchell, and others. Each day will end with with performances by students from JHU’s Peabody Conservatory. The Visitor Center will remain open for business as usual during the Festival, welcoming visitors and showing a short film about Charm City every 20 minutes.

See the entire JHU Press/Peabody Library BBF schedule here.

The Ivy Bookshop will host two JHUP authors for talks in the Ivy tent on Rash Field at the Book Festival: Jeremy Greene discusses Generic on Saturday, September 27, at 1:00 pm; Charley Mitchell discusses Travels through American History in the Mid Atlantic: A Guide for All Ages on Saturday at 3:00 pm. See the Ivy’s BBF schedule here.

The Ivy Bookshop and JHU’s Sheridan Libraries co-host a talk by JHU’s Alice McDermott in the BBF Literary Salon on Saturday at 1:00 pm.

Admission: Free; visit the Baltimore Book Festival for more information.

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Filed under American History, Anabaptist & Pietist Studies, Baltimore, Book talks, History of Medicine, Press Events, Regional-Chesapeake Bay, The War of 1812, Washington

Why the Amish Sing: Songs of Solidarity and Identity

Guest post by D. Rose Elder

elderThe media typically portray Amish characters as either disapproving, humorless, and colorless adults rigidly humming a solemn hymn to keep worldly thoughts at bay or conflicted, cocky, out-of-control rumspringa adolescents listening to ear-splitting rock and testing all the limits of decency. Of course, TV and the movies are by definition fantasy. But for many curious non-Amish these images lurk in their minds as at least partial truth.

While interviewing Amish families for my book Why the Amish Sing, I discovered a fuller picture. First and most importantly, to quote an Amish friend, “We’re human just like you are. We have the same temptations. We have to choose.” Music is one area where the Amish work at holding back the wild horses of modernity and secularism by carefully selecting the texts and tunes that nurture godliness, kindness and mutuality. I argue that music serves as one of the scaffoldings by which the Amish build and maintain boundaries and healthy community structures.

The soundtrack of an Amish life includes many noises from the modern world. Cars zip by even on remote back roads. A windmill or pump rubs and grinds, screeching metal-on-metal. The roaring whirr of a lawn mower shatters the silence. Nature’s sounds of birds trilling or cooing welcome the dawn. Horses nicker, and cows pleadingly moo, “Milk me.”

Human voices also adorn an Amish person’s day. A grandmother calmly provides directions for safely using scissors. A father petitions God for breath, strength, and the ability to forgive. A daughter’s lilt leads a favorite family song. High-pitched children’s voices gleefully encourage each other on the baseball field or buzz in loud whispers around the potbelly stove before school starts. An auctioneer coaxes up the price of a dozen eggs. In casual settings, several verses of “How Great Thou Art” ring in the air, or a German text about being a faithful child is sung to the tune of “Just As I Am” in unison or well-rehearsed harmony.

Last winter, a lovely Amish couple, Atlee and Mary Miller, invited some friends over and allowed my friend Steve Hebrock, a sound engineer, and me to record their singing. When we arrived, Atlee, his son, Daniel, and two friends, Steve and Jerry, were joking and amusing each other with personal stories. Mary joined us. We became caught up in the air of delight. This group of men was comfortable with each other with no social lubricant other than stove-brewed black coffee. Atlee told of his bus ride from his military induction appointment when the announcement came that world leaders had signed the armistice ending World War II. Steve mentioned a favorite moment in the chicken house with his son. The men enthusiastically sang Steve’s song, ““Ich war ein kleines Kindlein,” a meditation on the human condition. “What have I accomplished while I have been on this earth?” the singers asked.

I was a small child born into this world;

As to my time of death

I have nothing to say what happens on the earth;

I have created nothing in my time on earth.

The words require participants to accept their humanity and to devote themselves to their Creator. Mary, Atlee’s wife, adds that the words of that text are very touching.
Sung a third again as fast, the tune would sound like a cousin of the haunting British folk tune, “Barbara Allen.” But, at the pace the men sang, it is a bittersweet introspection that ends on a heartbreaking modal (mixolydian) flat ti (lengthened for emphasis), then do, re, do. Singing together provides the setting for Amish friends to share serious memories and keep their community’s stories vibrant.

D. Rose Elder is an associate professor of ethnomusicology and rural sociology and coordinator of humanities and social sciences at the Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute. She is the author of Why the Amish Sing: Songs of Solidarity and Identity, recently published by the Johns Hopkins University Press.

This post has also been published today on the Amish Wisdom Blog.


Filed under American History, American Studies, Amish, Anabaptist & Pietist Studies

Latino Mennonites and Interethnic Religious Activism

Guest post by Felipe Hinojosa

In 1973 La Luz magazine, one of the first national magazines for U.S. Latinos, featured an article about an important social movement that had developed within a relatively unknown religious group. The article, “The Minority Ministries Council: Mexicanos, Puerto Ricans, Blacks, and American Indians Working Together,” focused on the interethnic coalition that formed in 1968 in the Mennonite Church. Calling themselves the “Minority Ministries Council” (MMC), the group caught the attention of La Luz writers not only because they were a multiethnic organization but because they worked within the religious structures of a small, ethno-religious community in the Midwest—the Mennonite Church. Firmly situated in Midwestern places like Elkhart, Indiana, Hesston, Kansas, and Kalona, Iowa, the Mennonite Church was a denomination that in the 1970s counted only six percent of its total membership as nonwhite.

Out of their Mennonite Board of Missions offices in Elkhart, Indiana, where MMC leaders hung their “Black Power” and “Chicano Power” poster art, this relatively small and unknown group managed to organize an impressive movement for social change between 1968 and 1973. They planned Cross-Cultural Youth Conferences, developed a K-12 educational program for Latino and African American youth, funded programs in churches of color across the country, and challenged the mostly white Mennonite Church to be more responsive to the needs of black and brown communities. Their activities and programs helped usher in substantive change in the Mennonite Church. White pastors left their leadership positions in Latino and black congregations; white missionaries began to rethink their role in minority communities; and the assumption that being Mennonite was tied solely to ethnicity became a point of contention. Mennonite identity in the 1970s was shifting away from its foundation in ethnic kinship to a belief system that appealed to a much broader audience, and Latinos and African Americans were at the center of this shift.

The coalition of black and brown Mennonites that emerged in 1968, however, was part of a longer history that dated back to the 1930s and 1940s when white Mennonites first organized churches, vacation Bible schools, and social service programs for Mexican American and Puerto Rican families in Chicago’s Near West Side, the farming towns of South Texas, and in rural Puerto Rico. In those days how one dressed, whether women should wear make-up, and what one believed about non-violence sparked debates about what Latinos needed to do in order to be welcomed into the Mennonite family. Many Latinos believed that full belonging would come only if you dressed like a Mennonite, or if you worshipped like a Mennonite (you know, quietly), or if you signed up as a conscientious objector.

In some cases, Mexican American and Puerto Rican women wore the traditional head covering and a good number of young men signed up as conscientious objectors, even as many of their neighbors and family members served in Vietnam. But by the late 1960s and early 1970s it was clear to many that no matter how you dressed or what you believed about peace theology, full inclusion into the Mennonite Church seemed out of reach. For many Latino pastors and church leaders the civil rights movement changed this. No longer worried if white Mennonite missionaries would allow “Mexican music” to be played in church and much more comfortable incorporating their own Pentecostal-infused worship styles into their churches, Latinos asserted their cultural identities in their quest to redefine Mennonite identity on their own terms. And they did not do this alone. In 1968 Latina and Latino Mennonites from Chicago, Denver, and South Texas joined African American Mennonites who since the 1940s and 1950s had been engaged in discussions on race and racism in the Mennonite Church.

This new interethnic coalition redefined racial politics in the Mennonite Church during the era of black and brown power in the late 1960s. More importantly, it was also one of the few religious interethnic movements in the country. For most Christian denominations (mostly mainline Protestants) in the 1960s and 1970s, “interracial councils” focused on black and white racial politics in the church, with Latino movements not totally invisible but certainly marginal. I say this with some caution, however, because for the most part these movements remain understudied. And the studies that do exist have focused on either Latino politics or black politics without considering the possible collaborations and organizing that I believe were happening behind the scenes between progressive whites, blacks, and Latinos. It’s hard to dismiss the connections between the “Black Manifesto” and Latino activist takeovers of mainline churches in 1969 and 1970. Or the relationships and political alliances that formed between multiple groups around issues of poverty, migrant labor, and antiracist activism in the church.

Across the evangelical spectrum, and especially in the Mennonite Church, interethnic coalitions introduced the politics and discourses of the black, Chicano, and Puerto Rican freedom struggles into white evangelical and mainline Protestant churches. And this is why the case of Latinos in the Mennonite Church is so important. Because it forces us to move away from a single ethnic group approach to one that considers the intersections of multiple groups and recognizes the power of interethnic coalitions within religious contexts. These coalitions, after all, are why many Latinos and African Americans remained in the Mennonite Church rather than jettisoning it for a religious group reflective of their cultural traditions. Telling the stories of interethnic coalitions—the relationships, the struggles, the hopes, and the possibilities—that Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, African Americans, and progressive Anglos formed together promises to reorient our long-held assumptions about religious activism during the civil rights era. But more importantly, these new and for the most part untold stories of interethnic religious activism can perhaps show us a way forward as we imagine and work towards a better future in our churches and in our communities.

hinojosaFelipe Hinojosa is an assistant professor of history at Texas A&M University. He is the author of Latino Mennonites: Civil Rights, Faith, and Evangelical Culture.

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Filed under Anabaptist & Pietist Studies, Latin American Studies, Religion

Q&A with Donald Kraybill

From the Preface to the forthcoming Renegade Amish: Beard Cutting, Hate Crimes, and the Trial of the Bergholz Barbers:

Amish. Hate. Crimes. These three words suddenly linked arms in the fall of 2011 when a string of beard-cutting attacks startled the Amish community in eastern Ohio. The fact that the perpetrators were Amish generated an avalanche of news stories about Amish-on- Amish violence as the bizarre story played out until the defendants were sentenced in February 2013. Pundits and late-night talk shows alike poked fun at the Amish—these supposed saints who now had streaks of sin on their faces. Even a cartoonist joined in the humor by depicting a distraught Santa Claus with only stubbles on his chin, waiting in vain for children to sit on his lap. Apart from beards, bonnets, and buggies, nonviolence is a cardinal signature of Amish identity. That a band of supposedly pacifist Amish had assaulted their own people shattered all the Amish stereotypes in the popular imagination.

When this cultural brawl finally ended, ten men and six women from a maverick Amish community near Bergholz, Ohio, were behind bars. A federal jury found them guilty of multiple charges involving conspiracy, hate crimes, kidnapping, lying, and obstructing justice. Most shocking of all, the three Bergholz clergymen—Bishop Samuel Mullet and his two ministers—were among those charged and convicted. The jurors found evidence that the assailants had attacked the Amish victims because of their religion.

Apart from etching violence into the annals of Amish history, the case set a new legal precedent—under the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act—for its first-time conviction of assailants for religion-driven hate crimes. Moreover, it was also the first one within the same faith community. In addition, because a hate crime conviction requires evidence of “bodily injury,” the jury had to judge whether cutting a beard qualified as disfigurement, which is one type of bodily injury. The verdicts stretched the definition of bodily injury for hate crimes and the nature of acceptable evidence for interstate commerce—one requirement for federal jurisdiction and prosecution of hate crimes. Some legal experts considered the interstate commerce evidence tenuous in the Bergholz case, and others have even raised questions about some aspects of the constitutionality of the Shepard-Byrd Act.

With his new book coming out in August, Donald Kraybill has stopped by the JHUP blog to answer a few questions about the Amish beard cutting scandal which shook the Amish community in late 2011.

Q: How did you first learn about the Ohio Amish beard cutting story?

A: I heard about it on various media in September 2011. I thought it was a joke at first or some kind of misunderstanding.

Q: Have beard cutting attacks happened before in Amish history?

A: This is a precedent. It never happened before these attacks by the Bergholz Amish community. It’s the most bizarre thing I’ve come across in researching and writing on the Amish of North America over the last 35 years.

Q: How did you get involved?

A: I was contracted in the spring of 2012 by the U. S. Department of Justice to assist them in the prosecution. I helped them to understand Amish beliefs and practices. In September 2012 I served as an expert witness for five hours during the three-week federal trial in Cleveland, which included 16 Amish defendants.

Q: Why did you write the book?

A: For several reasons. This was such a benchmark case in Amish history. I wanted to understand it better and also document it for historical purposes. I was also curious about the background of the Bergholz Amish which executed the attacks. Who were they? How were they transformed from a peace-loving group into a violent one? Were they, in fact, really Amish?

Q: How did you answer that question in the book?

A: I provide an abundance of evidence that shows many ways in which the Bergholz clan strayed from Orthodox Amish faith. Throughout the trial they maintained that they were Amish. They still use horse and buggy transportation and dress Amish-like. Of course there are no laws that prevent any group from claiming the Amish brand. In my judgment they are not Amish, at least not according to any conventional standard of Amish belief and practice.

Q: How do other Amish people view the Bergholz clan?

A: The 65,000 other Amish people in Ohio were greatly embarrassed and shamed by the beard cutting attacks. The attackers even included members of the Bergholz clergy. Another reason I wrote the book was to vindicate the thousands of sincere and devout Amish people in Ohio and other states whose Amish identity was maligned by these attacks

Q: Why did the federal Department of Justice become involved in what might appear as a petty Amish quarrel?

A: There were nine victims, sixteen offenders, and five different attacks in various counties. It would have been difficult to undertake multiple prosecutions in different counties for a host of reasons which I explain in the book. The federal prosecutors argued that the nature of the crimes and the fact that they involved interstate commerce made it possible to prosecute the offenders under the 2009 Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Act. The jury agreed and convicted the sixteen defendants with some 87 different criminal charges.

Q: What surprised you most about the story?

A: The case is now under appeal to the sixth circuit federal appellate court. Recently the national Anti-Defamation League pulled together a coalition of 40 different groups vigilant about civil rights abuses. These groups filed a friend of the court brief urging the appellate court to uphold the convictions. The coalition groups view the Amish convictions of federal hate crimes as a benchmark that will help to protect many other Americans from hate crime attacks. The case is especially pertinent for attacks motivated by the hatred of a person’s religion, sexual orientation, race, gender, or disability.

Q: What is the most important take away of the book?

A: The sad irony is that the hate crime convictions of some former pacifist Amish have helped to reinforce the long-standing American tradition that citizens are legally protected to practice their religious faith according to their conscience without fear of being attacked by those who may despise their religion.

Kraybill_RenegadeDonald B. Kraybill is a Distinguished College Professor and Senior Fellow at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of more than a dozen books on Amish culture, including The Riddle of Amish Culture, The Amish, and the upcoming book on the Bergholz Barbers, Renegade Amish.

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Filed under American History, American Studies, Amish, Anabaptist & Pietist Studies, Current Affairs, Law, Religion

March events feature Shakespeare, Lindsay, Einstein, and more

March roars in with a variety of events suitable for lionizing, and JHU Press authors, editors, and staff will keep busy all month. Stephen H. Grant loved the idea that the official publication date for Collecting Shakespeare would be the Ides of March, and several events around that date welcome his book. At Hunter College, Joseph P. Viteritti and a group of very distinguished panelists will discuss the legacy of New York Mayor John Lindsay to launch the publication of Summer in the City: John Lindsay, New York, and the American Dream. And Michael C. C. Adams will discuss and sign Living Hell: The Dark Side of the Civil War in the latest Virtual Book Signing™  hosted by Chicago’s Abraham Lincoln Book Shop. A Virtual Book Signing™ is a live and online book talk and signing event webcast from the bookstore and streamed round the world. Customers both in the store and online can listen to the presentation, ask questions, and then buy books and see them signed by the author. Please spread the word about JHUP’s March line-up!

weaver-zercher rev comp.indd6 March 2014, 11:30 a.m.

Book Talk & Signing
– Valerie Weaver-Zercher
Thrill of the Chaste: The Allure
of Amish Romance Novels

Common Hour, Mayser Gymnasium
Franklin & Marshall College
Admission: Free and open to the public; information here.

 grant.collecting11 March 2014, 12:30 p.m.
Hopkins Club Lunch & Lecture – Stephen H. Grant
Collecting Shakespeare:
The Story of Henry and Emily Folger

JHU’s Homewood Campus
Baltimore, MD
Admission: $20; members call the Club to make reservations; non-members contact Jack Holmes at 410-516-6928 to attend as a guest of the Press.

mace512 March 2014, 7:30–9:00 pm
Book Talk & Signing Peter V. Rabins, M.D., M.P.H.
The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss
The Kaleidoscope Program
Roland Park Country School
Baltimore, MD
The author’s JHUP’s best-selling book discusses “The Ethical Issues of Alzheimer Disease and Memory Loss” in the popular RPCS speaker series.

Admission: $30; call 410-323-5500 to register.

gimbel13 March 2014, 6:30–8:30 pm
Book Talk & Signing – Steven Gimbel
Einstein’s Jewish Science
The Johns Hopkins Odyssey Program
JHU’s Homewood Campus
Baltimore, MD
Admission: $28; call 410 -516 -8516 or register online here.

14 March 2014, 7:00 p.m.
Book Talk & Signing
– Stephen H. Grant
Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger
One More Page Books
2200 N. Westmoreland St.
Arlington, VA
Admission: Free; call 703-300-9746 or visit

adams.hell15 March 2014, 12:00–1:30 p.m.
Virtual Book Signing™
– Michael C. C. Adams
Living Hell: The Dark Side of the Civil War
The Abraham Lincoln Book Shop
Chicago, IL
Admission: Free and open to the public; participate at the book shop or online; more information here.

osteen19 March 2014, 6:00–8:00 p.m.
Book Talk & Signing
– Mark Osteen
Nightmare Alley: Film Noir and the American Dream
Loyola University Maryland, Knott Hall
Baltimore, MD
This program is sponsored by the Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Association of Greater Baltimore.
Admission: Free with RSVP to

kelly20 March 2014, 6:30–8:30 pm
Book Talk & Signing – Cindy Kelly
Outdoor Sculpture in Baltimore: A Historical Guide to Public Art in the Monumental City
The Johns Hopkins Odyssey Program
JHU’s Homewood Campus
Baltimore, MD JHU Press author Cindy Kelly will present “A Close Look at Baltimore’s Battle Monument.”
Admission: $28; call 410-516 -8516 or register online here.

vitteriti20 March 2014, 5:00 p.m.
Book Talk & Signing
– Joseph P. Viteritti
Summer in the City:
John Lindsay, New York, and the American Dream

Hunter College, The Kaye Playhouse
New York, NY
Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College hosts a launch event for Summer in the City featuring Joseph P. Viteritti, Sam Roberts, Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Vincent Cannato, Lizabeth Cohen, and Richard Ravitch.
Admission: Free, reservation required; call 212-396-7931.

20 March 2014, 6:00–8:00 p.m.
Book Talk & Signing
Stephen H. Grant
Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger
Drama Book Shop
250 W. 40th St.
New York, NY
Admission: Free; call 212-944-0595 or email

kilcup26 March 2014, 7:00 p.m.
Book Talk & Signing
– Angela Sorby
Over the River and Through the Wood:
An Anthology of Nineteenth-Century
American Children’s Poetry

Boswell Book Company
Milwaukee, WI
Admission: Free; 414-332-1181 or visit online.

28 March 2014, 6:30 p.m.
Book Talk & Signing
– Stephen H. Grant
Collecting Shakespeare:
The Story of Henry and Emily Folger

Folger Shakespeare Library
Washington, D.C.
Admission: Members only; for information, call 202-675-0302.

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