A WESTERN Pennsylvania Amish farmer who insists he has a “religious” right to dispose his sewage on neighbouring fields, has been jailed for 90 days.
Cambria County Judge Norman Krumenacker said he respected Andy Swartzentruber’s religious beliefs but had no choice but to sentence him to jail and fine him $1,000 for being in contempt of court for disposing of the sewerage from two outside toilets in an irresponsible manner
Said the judge:
Quite frankly, this is not a religious issue.
According to this report, he also ordered the Amish school and outhouses on Swartzentruber’s former property padlocked. About 18 children attend the school.
Deborah Sedlmeyer, executive director of the Cambria County Sewage Enforcement Agency, said her office just wanted compliance, not to see Swartzentruber sent to jail. But she said of the sentence:
It’s a victory for the environment and public health; it was never an issue of religious freedom.
Swartzentruber said little when brought before the judge. About a dozen other Amish men and women sat in the gallery. But he did make clear that:
I will take a stand for my religion. If I don’t, it could destroy the whole church group.
A district judge last year convicted Swartzentruber and church elder Sam Yoder of one count each of failing to obtain a proper permit and discharging untreated sewage into the ground.
Waste from the outhouses had been collected in plastic buckets, then dumped onto fields. Citing state regulations, the county had demanded the Amish install a holding tank and contract with a certified sewage hauler for disposal.
The privies cited in the initial violation were been torn down, but new ones erected last September still don’t follow regulations, county sewage officials said.
Yoder testified that his community was willing to pay for a permit, but wouldn’t allow soil samples to be taken by the county or a certified scientist, which is required for a permit. He cited religious beliefs as a reason for not permitting the soil samples but didn’t elaborate.
The Swartzentrubers branch of the Christian Amish sect, according to this report, only number only about 8,000, or fewer than 5 percent of the roughly 220,000 Amish in the US.
While all Amish shun the modern world, the Swartzentrubers are known for their more extreme opposition to technology and contact with the outside world.
NOTE: When we were looking for a picture to illustrate this report, we stumbled on the one below at this site. This beautiful Photoshop creation says it all about the Amish.
Hat Tip: Paul Edmonson