By Kristin Brzoznowski
Bishops Representing All Hutterites in North America have issued a statement regarding National Geographic's "American Colony: Meet the Hutterites," airing on June 14, 2012
"We are deeply disappointed with the National Geographic Channel's depiction of the Hutterite people in their so-called reality series, 'American Colony: Meet The Hutterites,' filmed at the King Ranch Hutterite Colony in Montana. It's unfortunate that Jeff Collins and his production team chose to come through the back door rather than the proper channels to receive permission to film our people."
Hutterites are pacifist Protestants who, not unlike the Amish, live in tight-knit, traditional communities. Hutterites originated in Austria in the 16th century. Due to their refusal to bear arms, they were persecuted throughout Europe before immigrating to North American in the 1870s. Hutterite groups, which they call “colonies,” live peacefully on ranches and farms, where they follow the precepts of Christian community described in the Book of Acts.
"What was promised by the producers to be a 'factual documentary' is, in fact, a distorted and exploitative version of Hutterite life that paints all 50,000 Hutterites in North America in a negative and inaccurate way. Scenes and dialogue were contrived resulting in a 'make believe' depiction of how we live and the spiritual beliefs we cherish," the statement continued.
"We were reassured by the fact that it would be shown on the National Geographic channel. With its stellar reputation, the National Geographic has, in the past, been a hallmark for accuracy and sensitivity in its portrayal of the world's cultures and religions.
"This is not the case in this instance and we are compelled to say so in defense of the Hutterite people and the values and traditions we hold dear in a changing world and a challenging time.
"We are deeply saddened by the skewed image with which the public may now perceive the Hutterite faith and way of life. It is distorted and damaging, and we feel betrayed. We understand very well that we are not perfect and we face many challenges. Nevertheless, our vision is to live meaningful Christian lives in community as Christ has instructed us to do.
"On behalf of the Hutterian Brethern, we would like to express sincere thanks to the media and the public for the opportunity to present our point of view."