Hutterian Brethren


{huh - tir' - ee - uhn}

General Information

The Hutterian Brethren, or Hutterites, are a group of Christians that traces its origin to the 16th century Anabaptists of central Europe. Like other Anabaptists, Hutterites reject state churches, practice adult baptism, and are pacifists. Under the guidance of their founder, the Tyrolean Jacob Hutter (d. 1536), they also adopted common ownership of property.

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Although the Hutterian Brethren were peaceful citizens and excellent farmers, they suffered intermittent but severe persecution. Hutter led his followers from the Tyrol to Moravia. Although he himself was executed, his followers were generally tolerated there until the early 17th century. Then they fled eastward, eventually to the Ukraine. In the 1870s they emigrated to the United States and settled in South Dakota; during World War I many moved to Canada. Numbering about 20,000 adherents today, they maintain their traditional piety and insularity, their pacifism, their agricultural diligence, and their hostility to modern culture. They still speak German in their communities, which are scattered throughout the Dakotas and Montana in the United States, and in Alberta and Manitoba in Canada.

Mark A Noll

D Flint, The Hutterites (1975); J A Hostetler, Hutterite Life (1965) and Hutterite Society (1977); J Hostetler and G E Huntington, Hutterites in North America (1967); K A Peter, The Dynamics of Hutterite Society (1987).

Hutterian Brethren

General Information

The Hutterian Brethren are a communitarian religious sect that originated among Anabaptists in Moravia (now the Czech Republic) during the Reformation and is now located chiefly in South Dakota, Manitoba, and Alberta. Also known as Hutterites, they took their name from their original leader, Jakob Hutter, who was burned as a heretic in 1536. Throughout most of their history, the Hutterites have formed agricultural colonies, called Bruderhöfe. Their way of life is rural and conservative. On the basis of the New Testament, they are pacifists and shun political participation. As a result, they have often been subject to social pressure and persecution. Over a period of centuries in Europe they sought to escape persecution by moving eastward, finally reaching Russia, before migrating (1874-79) to the northern United States, from which they spread to Canada. They now number more than 20,000; their inward-looking sectarianism continues to elicit some hostility from their neighbors.

The individual articles presented here were generally first published in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed on the Internet in May 1997.

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