Beard-cutting attacks this month among the Amish in central Ohio have brought unwanted national attention to the community and exposed a widening rift between mainstream Amish and followers of Sam Mullet, 66, a bishop who rules a breakaway group that some regard as a cult, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. It also shed light on the strange punishment some say is doled out for crossing Mullet. The hair and beard cuttings are meant to be degrading. Once married, Amish men let their beards grow and women do the same with their hair, believing it is prescribed by the Bible.
Police say the five men accused in the attacks were three sons and two followers of Mullet. In a rare interview with the Associated Press last week, Mullet said he didn’t order the attacks but acknowledges that he didn’t stop them. Mullet said the beard cuttings in Holmes County were to send a message to Amish people there that they should be ashamed of themselves for calling his community a cult.