When Amish become Martyrs

I felt compelled recently to writing an article about an issue that has arisen between a local law in Auburn, Kentucky and a group of Swartzentruber Amish. Two Amish men Amos Mast, and his son, have been arrested for not placing collection devices on their horses. They have refused to pay the fine, and now they are headed for jail. There is a new report of a woman who was cited in Auburn for the same reason. It will be interesting to find out if she will also go to jail rather than pay the fine.

Here is an excerpt of the article:

This issue is not a new one and it concerns everyone who lives around the Amish. A Google search turned up newspaper reports about communities in Loyal, Wisconsin; Brown City, Michigan; Huevelton and Gouverneur, New York; and Negley, Ohio, In 2006, there was a mystery concerning horse manure that brings comic relief to this issue in my home community of Middlefield, Ohio.

You can read more by clicking over to the News Democrat Leader. I would love comments and questions from those who don't agree with what I have to say as well as those who do.

Feel free to share on your social media. And thank you, as always, for being such loyal readers.


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19 thoughts on “When Amish become Martyrs”

  1. I read the article and thought your suggestions were right on. I was thinking of the exhaust from automobiles, as well, and thought I’d rather have manure on the road rather than toxic fumes in my lungs. Besides, as you said, it’s biodegradable.

    I wish the Amish had their own roadways. My goodness I’m sure they pay enough taxes to have at least some built in particularly high traffic areas. The numerous articles I’ve read concerning deaths and buggies is outrageous. Something should have been done a long time ago concerning the dangers.

    If the manure bags would spook a horse I say nix the whole idea. A person is more important than biodegradable matter on the road. I think the authorities should leave the Amish alone. Afterall, green is in!

    1. Fran, thank you for your comments. I agree, with the ever-increasing Amish population, I think it would be wise to have separate buggy roads. They could be wider than bike paths, but with the same purpose… so buggy drivers can travel safely.

    1. Thank you, Fran. When I went to find a photo in my collection, I thought this one was perfect… an immaculate Amish home, with the “natural horse autograph.” (That was well-put).

  2. Elva Bontrager

    I’m not sure how I feel about it. As far as roads are concerned, I definitely think that horse droppings are not a problem. Vehicle traffic cuts up horse manure and it disappears and dissipates quite quickly.

    City streets are different. I happen to like horse manure- very unlike cow manure and dog droppings!- so I don’t see a big problem with people stepping into horse manure even when it is fresh. Horse manure is visible and easily avoided and routine street sweeping will pick up dried horse manure efficiently.

    However, not everyone has lived on a farm. Not everyone is fond of horses. To some people a dropping is a dropping – and we must admit that a pooping horse emits fairly odorous gases :)- so I can easily believe that some people are mightily offended at the very idea.

    What is the solution? I don’t know.

    1. Elva, I know what you mean. I’ve struggled with this idea, too. I’m with you, I would much rather deal with droppings from a horse than a cow or a dog. But that may not be true of everyone. And yet, there really is not a good way to keep it off the streets when you’re driving a horse and buggy. Perhaps the Amish should pay to have someone clean the streets if it is that much of an issue.

      Thank you for your comments.

  3. Kristine Lange

    I say “When life gives you lemons – make lemonade.” I believe this is also another “government” money making idea (court costs, fines, etc.) So why doesn’t someone in their “environmental control dept.” pick up the manure and sell it as “environmentally safe” garden manure. That stuff is not cheap when you buy it in the stores. But then again, that might entail “physical work” on their parts. Governments only like to collect money for doing “nothing”. All they want is some to “pay”.

    I live in SW Missouri and am ashamed to say that it is probably one of the worst states for trash on the roads. We live on a farm and live on a “farm road”. People from the “city” come and dump their garbage on our roads – literally house garbage, appliances, tires, furniture and even shoot their dogs on the road and leave them, shoot deer and take the parts they want and leave the rest.) I lived in Wisconsin for 19 years and there wasn’t garbage on the roads. Go to Florida and you won’t even hardly see roadkill laying in the road. My main point is that this trash in our state is not Environmentally safe and can’t be recycled into anything. Even if we caught them “in the act” of dumping trash, our “law officials” wouldn’t do anything about it.

    Bottom line – if Auburn really wanted to, they could make this a “win-win” situation for both sides instead of dredging up the negative.

    1. I agree, Kristine, that there are several win-win situations one could come up with, but sending people to jail isn’t one of them.

      I’m sorry to hear about the garbage problem in your area. That has to be really annoying, especially if law enforcement isn’t doing anything about it.

      Thank you for your comments.

  4. I believe that the Amish use their religious exemption too much and in doing so run the risk that people and communities will tune it out in the end. It is a relatively easy thing to do and it doesn’t harm them or their religious prerogatives in any way. Incidentally such manure is not safe for edible crops as it can bring unpleasant bacteria etc. which are not good to eat as you can imagine. Such manure must be composted first to destroy the bacteria. This situation is similar in some ways to that concerning the need for steel tanks to contain the seawge generated in outhouses. Just letting it leech away into the soil is extremely unhygienic and can end up causing a health hazard for everyone in the community. While we are sympathetic to the Amish and their religious needs their lifestyle should not exempt them from rules of hygiene and community health and safety; particulary as following such rules does not impinge on their religious liberty in any way. Another example of this is the refusal of some Amish to use safety triangles on the rear of their buggies when travelling at night. This failure not only jeapordizes them but also any motorist who has the misfortune to hit them with the potential of causing serious injury to themselves and the occupants of the buggy. As I said this kind of thing is not only foolish but will have the added result of diluting public sympathy for the Amish cause.
    Saloma, can we e-mail you privately without having to post a comment first?

    1. Thank you for your comments, and I will respond to your email shortly.

      As I mentioned in the article, I think there is a big difference between the issue of the collection devises and making buggies visible on the road. One involves safety, the other does not.

      The Amish know they need to compost the manure before using it in their vegetable gardens.

      The Amish do receive many religious exemptions, I agree. But I think it’s important to pick our issues. I think horse manure on the roads goes with having Amish neighbors.

      Thank you for your comments.

  5. You have got to be kidding me. Fining for horse poo on the roads??? And make them wear a Depends?? Someone clearly has too much time on their hands. And my hunch is this aimed specifically at the Amish. Oh, I shouldn’t have touched this one…

    1. Hello, Beth. Since the Amish are the ones driving horses down the road, this probably is aimed at them. The question is whether this is a valid concern. Some people seem to think it is, or the controversy wouldn’t exist.

  6. I wonder if town officials in Auburn, KY, realize exactly how many little towns in the USA are successfully negotiating the manure issue with Amish communities right now. I would think they would want to draw on the wisdom of mayors/etc. where things are going well, rather than declaring “the manure is a problem” and attempting to solve it via the police and the courts. If we all could ask for help when we needed it, look for a proven path of success rather than bogging down in a conflict, how much easier could we make life for ourselves and those around us?

  7. Sally Schwartz

    It sounds like the town of Auburn needs to learn to pick their battles.The hazard signs on buggies and issues around containment for outhouses is one thing, but horse droppings?? This sounds like pure harassment! I wonder if this part of Kentucky has not traditionally had an Amish population and this is a new issue for the town. On the other hand it is really hard for those of us who don’t see everything in religious terms to understand those who see every moment and detail of their lives as connected to to their religious beliefs. Thus the conflicts….

    1. Sally, I do believe the Amish are new (as in the last 20-30 years) in the area of Auburn, Kentucky. I know, I also feel this is a minor issue in comparison to others that arise between the Amish and their neighbors in the mainstream culture. And you’re also right that for someone who doesn’t think like the Amish to understand their point of view (and vice versa). As you said, “Thus the conflicts… ”

      Thank you for your perspective. It is always appreciated.

  8. Pingback: When Amish become Martyrs | Former Amish News

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