An Amish family in Pennsylvania have lost a major battle against the state which is now forcing them to violate their religious beliefs and use electricity.
Joseph and Barbara Yoder live entirely off-grid in Warren County and their religious lifestyle includes the use of an old fashioned self-composting toilet, that does not require electricity or running water. Despite the fact that the family never caused harm to anyone by not using electricity, the government is now forcing them to connect to the grid anyway.
Activist Post reports: At the heart of the Amish religion is the rejection of individualism. The Amish anti-individualist orientation is the motive for rejecting labor-saving technologies that might make one less dependent on their community. Modern innovations like electricity might spark a competition for status goods which is in direct conflict with the Amish way of life. Therefore, they reject it.
While the Amish lifestyle may seem odd to others, the fact that it causes no harm should mean that no one should be able to force them to change. Sadly, that is not the case.
The Yoder family lives entirely off-grid. This off-grid religious lifestyle includes the use of a self-composting toilet—an “old-fashioned privy”—that did not require electricity or running water.
Had the Yoder family been dumping their raw sewage into the public watershed or otherwise polluting the community in any way, requiring them to hook up to the grid would be more sensible. However, that is not the case.
The Yoder family is being required to violate their religious beliefs and go against their long-standing traditions—which have harmed no one—for the mere fact that they are in violation of a city code that requires all property owners to be tied into the grid.
For years, the Yoders have successfully fought off the sewer connection requirement. However, they will now be forced to hook up an electric grinder pump. The court ruled that the electric pump is the “least intrusive means” of connecting to the sewer system.
Judge Patricia A. McCullough voiced the dissent, arguing the Yoder’s are sincere in their religion-based shunning of electricity. “I believe (the Yoders) are being denied their rights to religious freedom,” she wrote.
The American Civil Liberties Union also weighed in on the ruling, noting their concern for the Yoder’s religious freedom as well as the undue burden it now places on them to install the pump.
“They didn’t consider the other ways that the government could have achieved its ends,” Sara Rose, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU said.
Rose said that although this case didn’t set a precedent, it will undoubtedly be cited in future cases which may apply to Pennsylvania’s Religious Freedom Protection Act.