A cult or sect refers to a small group of people who follow a set of religious beliefs and observances that are in conflict with those practiced by the predominant religious groups. Most cults are usually religious groupings in their initial stages of formation. With time, they may end up becoming a major denomination. Sects usually adopt some of their religious practices from their parent denominations and then come up with other divergent views that serve to differentiate them from the main denomination. Cults are mostly led by single individuals who are seen as the epitome of spirituality by their followers.
The history of the Hutterites traces back as far as the year 1525 during the historic baptism ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland. During this event, three people, Conrad Grebel, Felix Mantz and Georg Blaurock formed the Anabaptism movement. However, this was followed by persecution of the Anabaptist movement followers, forcing them to flee to other regions such as Nikolsburg area of Moravia, which is today part of the Czechoslovakia republic (Riedemann & Friesen 29). Georg Blaurock emerged as a strong religious leader of this movement and he continued baptizing more followers even after he was banished to his native Tirol in Austria.
The Hutterites are highly religious people as they belief that human beings are born to sin and must be “born again” for them to be in a good relationship with God. They are also opposed to the protestant and catholic beliefs of baptizing infants, as well as the aspect of state-run religions. This explains one of the main reasons why they broke from such mainstream denominations. Their living in colonies symbolizes the consecration similar to that witnessed during Noah’s time, and they believe they will be safe from God’s judgment by living in the ark.
Among the main practices of the Hutterites is that of communal living. This community lives in small groups consisting of up to 15 families, referred to as colonies. Everything belongs to the community and the aspect of individualism is highly discouraged. They are historically an agricultural community. They sell their harvest for the benefit of the whole community and not for individual gain.
Among the Hutterites, men are superior to women, who are not allowed to participate matters of church and Colony administration (Hostetler 22). Women are considered as being inferior to men both physically and intellectually. For this reason, they only perform domestic duties such as cooking and looking after children, as men perform income-generating activities. Full and unquestionable obedience to men and the Hutterite authority is expected from women and children. However, a certain level of deviance is allowed as children grow up and become teenagers.
Baptism marks the official transition into adulthood. It is done at an adult age because people are considered capable of making independent decisions to follow Christ. Among the Hutterites, caring for the sick, widows, orphans and other vulnerable society members is encouraged, as it is part of their religious teachings (Hostetler 31). Murder, hostility, excessive drinking and other extreme behaviors are highly discouraged. The fear of being banished from the community is high and this helps maintain good social cohesion.
Marriage is considered sacred among the Hutterites. Childbearing is encouraged and pregnant mothers are given good care. The families are patriarchal with the man as the head. Divorce is unheard of among the Hutterites as reconciliation is highly encouraged.
Hostetler, John A. Hutterite Society. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. Print.
Riedemann, Peter & Friesen, John. Peter Riedemann's Hutterite Confession of Faith: Translation of the 1565 German Edition of Confession of Our Religion, Teaching, and Faith, by the Brothers Who are Known As the Hutterites. Waterloo: Herald Press, 1999. Print.