Meet the Hutterites tackles the big question: Are the Hutterites a cult.

By Mechele R. Dillard

“So, I heard about Hutterite colonies being like a cult,” one tourist of the colony said to Wesley.

That obviously got under Wesley’s skin.

“Well, when I hear about a ‘cult’ or whatever, it’s like this group that you join and you can’t leave ever again, and they do all these weird things. You’re free to leave whenever you want, just when you do leave, you just leave with your own personal possessions, which aren’t much. So if you do leave, you basically leave with the little that you have.”

Which, in most cases, does not include an education—one reason, undoubtedly, that some feel they are forced to stay.

Be A Hutterite or Go to College

Claudia and her friend Lori decided to take an EMT class, “without having to run away from the colony,” Claudia said, “like we would have to do if we were going to college.”

Apparently, by taking the EMT class, the girls would be providing a service to the colony, so it was allowed.

“Even if I knew where I wanted to be,” Lori said, “I think the hardest decision I would have to make is if I would want to leave the colony or stay in the colony.”

Claudia, however, said she would like to do more than “colony work,” and is considering getting a degree in psychology. But, she was afraid to tell anyone, including her mother, because she “would just make me feel guilty, and she wants me to stay on the colony and become head cook one day.” Additionally, she knows her mother would be in serious trouble with the elders.

But, Claudia made it clear:

“I can do what I want. I’m 19 years old, I’m an adult, trying to be responsible and do things for myself. But, you’re kind of an obstacle in my way. I don’t really care what people will say. I don’t have to be a Hutterite for the rest of my life. If I want to leave, that is my choice, and nobody can keep me from doing that.”

Harsh words, but words Claudia needed to say, and Bertha needed to hear. What is disappointing is that such a conversation had to be had at all. Claudia wants an education. She wants to make her own decisions. She wants her own life. But, to do so, she cannot be a part of the Hutterite colony, which simply makes little, if any, sense. After all, as Claudia pointed out, “It’s not like I don’t believe in God anymore.”

It is unclear, however, if that is even important, really, as long as everyone stays on the colony.

The season finale of Meet the Hutterites airs next Tuesday, July 31, at 10 p.m.

Stay tuned.

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