Thursday, 14 June 2012

‘Meet the Hutterites’ upset by ‘American Colony’

There are three groups of Hutterites: Dariusleut, Lehrerleut and Schmiedenleut, living on colonies in the four western provinces of Canada and in some States. King Ranch Colony in Montana, featured in the new National Geographic series, is part of the Dariusleut. Here in Manitoba, we have the Schmiedenleut.

With all the differences among the Hutterites, the common bond is that they live in Christian communities - as Anabaptists they believe in the teachings of the New Testament, one of which is community of goods as outlined in Acts chapter 2. This expression of faith is exercised daily, and witnesses who they are as a people. The Christian aspect of the Hutterite way of life is the key element that’s sadly absent on the first two episodes of ‘Meet the Hutterites’.

 Subsequently, Hutterites are appalled by what has been shown on the series so far. True, there are glimpses of what we stand for, besides modest dress, but they are rather scarce. When portraying a Christian community, faith should be more visible than mere snippets, no matter what the general public wants to see, and what film producers and some media pay handsomely for to broadcast.

 The main theme so far boasts defiance, disrespect, profanity, arguing and murmuring, highlighted by titles like ‘Harvest Party Scandal’ and ‘Battle of the Sexes’, and obviously staged to please the general public. No question, Hutterites deal with the same struggles as other people. However, is such representation of Hutterites accurate and fair or serve any real purpose?

 I am proud to call myself Hutterite, thankful to be part of a Christian community that reaches beyond my home colony, and which has a rich spiritual heritage and history. Along with most other Hutterites, all I feel about this series is disappointment and hurt. Disappointed in the fact that the people at King Ranch chose to take part in a scheme that portrays Hutterites in a negative light and hurt because of the repercussions to follow, some of which we’ve experienced already, in hostile things people say against us, when we try to explain our stand against this kind of portrayal.

I don’t have anything against media doing features on Hutterites, as long as they are respectful and that what they’re presenting is accurate, well-balanced and not focused on their own agenda. Unfortunately, Colin Avenue Inc. and National Geographic failed miserably. There is so much more to Hutterite life than the dirt that has been aired thus far! The few positives that were captured are quite frankly, all but buried in the muck. Unless of course, the best is yet to come.

 My heart goes out to the people of King Ranch as they temporarily lost focus of who they are, why they live communally and for naively allowing themselves to be swayed by a secular organization; subsequently misrepresenting an entire people. It’s rather late, but they have deep regrets and realize that the financial gains were not worth the humiliation this has cost.

 In conclusion, the only reality in this show is, instead of a fatted calf, this ranch was left with an ailing steer, with no means to put it out of its misery. Hopefully though, all involved have lassoed some lessons, that will carry over to the next time someone wants to portray Hutterites.

(I welcome your thoughts... however, I draw the line on disrespectful and insensitive comments and they will not be published. Thanks for understanding!)


King Ranch Media Release of Dariusleut Bishop

32 comments:

  1. I agree with you, I also watch Amish out of order and they do a great job showing the hardships leaving the amish life and it doesn't look "spiced" up.

    I actually looked up "Hutterites" after watching this show because it looked so phoney that I didn't believe this actually existed. I'm sorry but they do seem to be portraying them BADLY. They do not act or look very christian like, I was blown away by all the profanity and the way the kids all seem to be doing whatever they want, I'm English and I wouldn't put up with that behavior in my own home with my own kids!

    I am so sorry that this is how they decided to portray the Hutterites.

    Lisa

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  2. Hi,

    Well said! I haven't watched any of the episodes, but I haven't heard anything positive about any of it. I think I'll wait till I can watch everything at once...

    Lisa Decker
    (Pebbles in my Pocket)

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  3. Hello,
    I agree with all that you guys have said. I'm from BC Canada and have recently become interested in Hutterite Communities. I am a Christian and I'm starting to believe that their doing a lot of things right in regard to living how the bible says to live. Watching clips of the show online after doing research on the groups I cannot believe that National Geographic would portray the Hutterites like that. There is nothing about religion really, or church and communal living on the show at all. It makes me sad because I am very interested in visiting a community in Alberta where they give tours, but after my mom saw the show she is against it. I was excited to learn more from the show, but it was no help at all. I'm still interested in the communities and the way of life so if there are any current Hutterites that would be able to make contact with me I would greatly appreciate it as well.

    Chelsea Scott
    (chelsea_scott25@hotmail.com)
    (778 232 6800)

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  4. Hello,
    I agree with all that you guys have said. I'm from BC Canada and have recently become interested in Hutterite Communities. I am a Christian and I'm starting to believe that their doing a lot of things right in regard to living how the bible says to live. Watching clips of the show online after doing research on the groups I cannot believe that National Geographic would portray the Hutterites like that. There is nothing about religion really, or church and communal living on the show at all. It makes me sad because I am very interested in visiting a community in Alberta where they give tours, but after my mom saw the show she is against it. I was excited to learn more from the show, but it was no help at all. I'm still interested in the communities and the way of life so if there are any current Hutterites that would be able to make contact with me I would greatly appreciate it as well.

    Chelsea Scott
    (chelsea_scott25@hotmail.com)
    (778 232 6800)

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  5. it's always wonderful to find people are interested in our culture.
    Chelsea, you can find possibly all the information (except for "real life") you're looking for at www.hutterites.org
    It's been updated recently, and it's very realistic and has all the details concerning us.
    :) (Possibly even a way to contact a colony for visiting)

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  6. I have to agree with the first commenter, who said she had to look up the Hutterites, because the show seemed phoney, and I could not believe that a Christian community would allow the disrespect and profanity that was so widely displayed on the show. I find your way of life very interesting and am interested in learning more. Hopefully the producers will wake up and bring more truth to the portrayal of your way of life.

    Regards,
    Steven

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  7. I am sorry for the stink this is causing. It is so unfair to the Hutterite people.

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  8. I don't watch TV, but I've heard nothing positive about the show. It sounds like so much drama played up for a TV audience hungry for a scandal - so surprising to hear that type of thing from National Geographic. And it seems so sad, the impact this has had on all Hutterites and on the King Ranch colony especially. As a fellow Anabaptist (Mennonite), raised in an area full of colonies, I deeply respect Hutterites and believe that we all could have plenty to learn from your convictions and lifestyle as communal Christians. I hope that somehow this is the message that can be spread, rather than drama and tabloid trash. So to all Hutterites (and the rest of us "plain people!") who are offended by "Meet the Hutterites," the best course of action is to let your Christian witness shine to all you meet!

    Blessings to all.

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  9. I was intrigued when I first saw the show. I am not a Christian, but I believe in many Christian values. It's hard to know what is not authentic and what has been "spruced up" to make the show interesting for "English" viewers. It's clear that many of the Hutterites do not appear on the show since there are apparently 59 of them, and we only see Bertha's and Toby's families mainly. It's already clear that the Elders have disapproved of so much, I am really surprised they allowed the filming of such a series. Many the Elders were misled about the content of the show. Does the Colony benefit monetarily of the series airing. I am sad the other Hutterites do not approve of the series.. I truly feel the families in the King Colony maybe do use profanity. I mean seriously is profanity that forbidden? They don't use the Lord's name in vain, just colloquialisms that is used in everyday speech.. As I don't agree with it and can't understand religious people's disdain of it. I think the King Colonist's are colorful and interesting. It brings a great audience in the show and I for one do not look down upon them. It helps me understand them more.

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  10. All groups of people, either religious or otherwise have certain members who "act out" and/or want the world to see it. I think that is what this show is. I have been interested in Anabaptist groups of all sorts for years and realize this show is an anomaly. You can almost hear them reading what they are saying when interviewed individually. Although not religious myself, I have total respect for those who are and for their beliefs. Please know that there are at least a few of us out there who know the truth =))

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  11. I am so saddened by this sure attack against God's children! I have not watched that show and do not in anyway want to give into the entertainment of this world. When I saw the previews for the show, alarms immediately went up in my spirit and my thoughts were to the scripture of Proverbs 15:2 that says "The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly." When I looked up folly it said "a costly and foolish undertaking; unwise investment or expenditure." My, my, my. This show is a certain reminder that the enemy is in wait to devour and deface God's children and how easily it is to be ensnared into the ways of the world!!

    My heart goes out to the Hutterite community in general, but more specifically to this community who has lost track, for whatever reason. I pray that the Holy Spirit would remind them of their first love and their service to our Father in Heaven and not to man. I'm so thankful that I serve a God that extends His mercy and love that is renewed every day!

    May God bless the corporate Hutterite body as you press through KNOWING that what the enemy intended for evil, God will turn it for your good!!

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  12. how do hutterites watch the show since they don't have tv? is there a place to watch it online, and also the previous episodes? i do not have cable.

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  14. I have been watching the National Geographic show of the Hutterites. My husband and I thought where is their Christian values....we were shocked to see them drinking and cussing. We truly enjoy the Amish out of Order, they protray them as the people they are and what real life hardships separating from their way of life into a new one and all the changes they go through. I would really like to see the true Hutterite colony and the type of Christian people they are. Don't bow down to Hollywood, be real to yourself and to God.

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  15. There are clips on the NatGeo website, don't know about previous episodes, but they'll probably be posted somewhere eventually. I heard some have seen complete episodes on facebook.

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  16. I dont understand everyone being so upset with the producers.All I heard watching clips of the show on line was profanity coming out of the mouths of these Hutterites.Old and young alike.If you think that's the producers portraying them in a bad light that's ridiculous.Being a christian I would never allow that talk in our home,I was shocked to hear them talk that way.They portrayed them selves that way,no one forced to them swear!

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  17. I was also shocked at how the Hutterites are being portrayed but in all reality I grew up that way, drinking, cussing, carousing around, nothing was ever said about being saved except of course my mother who continually admonished us but when I became a christian it was only then I realized that what was missing over all was Jesus...

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  18. To Linda Ortiz....as a former member of the old order Amish, I can tell you that the out of order series show only profiles of the Amish that seem to come from what sounds like extremely dysfunctional families. Yes, this type of ex-communication happens but in rare instances. They don't show the other side because drama is what sells! There are many,many, dysfunctional "English" families, but that's not "news". I'm sure they get paid for being on the show and what they don't realize is that really they are getting paid for being exploited. I've been watching the hutterite show as well and I believe the same thing is happening to them. I'm sure all the cursing and drinking really happens. I'm also sure that not all Hutterites participate in such. Although I believe the people in the show are showing their true selves, they are being exploited as well and don't even realize what a bad impression they are giving people of all Hutterites, themselves included. If NatGeo wanted to be fair they would show all sides of a story, but the fact is, they want to make money. They don't care whose life they destroy doing it. I was Old Order Amish till the age of 37. I had a happy childhood and still have a wonderful relationship with many friends and family even though I left the church. Nat Geo would not be interested in my story though because it's not the drama that sells.

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  19. Hi Linda
    I agree the feel of the show tends towards the negative, and knowing media, that I take with a grain of salt.
    What I ask is the lifestyle that is portrayed, the rules and regulations, the tradition that controls lives, I don't understand the purpose or motivation for it?
    Linda

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  20. Well said! It was difficult for me to say what it was that I really didn't like. It all comes down to personal conviction -- to God and the church.

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  21. I thought the show is interesting. I was expecting TV to show what they want to show and therefore look beyond the obvious "drama". I also suspect that part of the "rebellion" that is been shown is part of colony taking adventage/having fun with being filmed. It broaden my knowledge, I also had to look up the colony. The show makes me miss a simpler life were you have people around you that you can count on (by simpler, I don't mean that it isn't hard work.

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  22. I am very sorry for the way the show has exploited your culture. However, I am thankful I was able to be exposed to Hutterite life. Before the show, I had never heard of you guys. Such a beautiful way to live! Please know that many people can see past the "hype".

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  23. I am deeply grateful for all your kind thoughts, and value the fact that you see this for what it is: an inaccurate and insensitive portrayal of an entire people! Listening to producer, Jeff Collins on the CBC radio today reminded me that he still doesn't get it that King Ranch is one small piece of a much larger picture - a picture that he helped to distort and misrepresent. Obviuosly the fact that this is a Christian community was of no importance to all involved in this pitiful production - it's all about public pleasing show biz, cause that's where the money is, right? And that is extremely sad. So thanks also for 'getting it', even though some of you never even knew anything about Hutterites before. Yeah, after months of filming, how can you not understand this?

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  24. I am a secular person, but I really enjoy these shows about religious lifestyles. It's actually taught me a lot and shows they are actually human and act and speak like me. Why is it wrong to drink and curse as long as you keep your devotion to your god? It's obvious they all retain the Christian faith since they live together as a "colony". I think what the show is trying to convey is even though they still live as their ancestors did, they are having to deal with the changing and modern world around them and how that is mpacting their way of life. I don't find anything negative in the show at all. I mean Claudia looking to do the tamest and most innocent things a teenager can do? There is nothing terrible that she does. She's hardly out on the street or something. If the worst thing people did on this colony is drink and swear we would all be better people. I find them charming and honestly wishing Bertha was my mother. She seems to be the sweetest and most down-to-earth person I have ever seen on TV. Please cut the show some slack. Seriously, this show is showing us an innocent way of life no one thought was possible anymore in America (except for maybe the Amish).

    - from California

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  25. Anon. Really, how devoted to God is a person who's drinking and cursing? Living together in a colony doesn't mean that 'they all retain the Christian faith', as you see on this series. There's actually little to no evidense of it, and that is precisely why the Hutterite community is appalled. Nope, sorry can't cut them any slack - they all should have known better.

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  26. I think you all are missing the point of this show, which is to show that Hutterites are normal people. They have problems, they aren't perfect, they struggle with what is expected of them.

    Yet, when it comes down to it, they all love one another and take care of one another. I think this is a wonderful show and it is showing the truth about this colony; good, bad or indifferent.

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  27. I am "English" and Christian. I had never heard of the Hutterites until this show came out. I am happy to have learned what I have. I do not judge those that I have seen so far. I believe that they are just introducing us to individuals and their personal struggles in a life where the focus is not on the individual. I am sure that they will delve deeper into how important faith is to the community the more we get to know them. I like how the community works together. I can tell the teen girls give their mamas just as much trouble as our teenagers do! I do wish they would focus less on the girl who is having so much trouble with the traditions (Claudia). She is disrespectful to her mother and causing her a lot of grief. I know she is only a young girl and has a lot to learn. I am glad to have a glimpse at their lives. I do not believe because one or two are swearing that that means that all Hutterites behave that way. Just figured I would let you know that not all of us outsiders would believe that.God Bless.

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  28. I LOVE THIS SHOW! It shows real people dealing with the common problems of life. They are warm, friendly, salt-of-the-earth people. I even watch the reruns when I feel the need to be around normal people, not the crazy, arrogant, out-of-touch city dwellers I deal with constantly. They live as my grandparents did on their farm, and it brings back warm memories. Growing your own food, strong work ethic, and believing in God. The dogma might be a bit different, but basically humble, down-to-earth honest folk. Extract the positive, eliminate the negative from this show. It is all in your perspective.

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  29. Perspective, exactly. And from a Hutterite prespective there are hardly any positives. Sad, but true.

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  30. Although I love this show, I take it with a grain of salt. After all, this is the same network that makes the show "UFO Hunters".

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  31. For what it is worth, I don't believe that most people think that all Hutterites necessarily behave the way this is portrayed. However, I do think the show has benefited non-Hutterites with some understanding of Hutterite beliefs, lifestyle and conflict with a world that is rapidly changing. In order to remain competitive in the marketplace to sustain this way of life there are I am sure many accomodations that have been and will be made. If anything the show has shown that the young do go through soul searching process, albeit some of it enforced by parents, before becoming baptized and fully accepting a committment to the colony way of Christian life. I don't see that conflict of youthful thought processes and family interaction as any different than the rest of us "English" face. In fact, getting away from what may be embarrassing have been the many positive testimonies offered about the committment. I suspect that other colonies would not tolerate many of the activities portrayed. For what it is worth, while many Hutterites feel distressed from their points of view, I hope that you can communicate that everyone else in this country are facing the same problems with their children. Most responsible parents have rules about computer use, tv/radio viewing/listening habits, when or if to consume alcohol and dating choices. I don't know any parents who encourage swearing. Perhaps the only thing that appears to be unfortunate is the fear of education. Medical training could be useful to colonies. Improved agricultural practices could provide better methods of land care and production. Healthier eating also seems like something that benefits everyone. I am not really hearing the Hutterite youth wanting to leave their way of life, but really wanting educations to improve it and continue to embrace their way of life.

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  32. I am Catholic, living in Alberta. I do watch this show, and think it is reasonable to know young people of any faith will sometimes question their way of life. I am close to the closest hutterite colony. I have even been to the home of mt hutterite friend. They are beautiful people with wonderful, questioning children. I have answered their questions on a lot of subjects, even my tatoos. I speak to them with their Mother present and I am very respectful of their way of life. But their are problems in families on the colony. For instance, driving to my friends home, some young boys yelled to me in language a sailor would be ashamed of. I stopped the car and told them they needed to think about how God feels when they say such things. They apologized right away. Yes, they question and some are even rebellious, but that only makes them guilty of one thing, being human.

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