Out in the rugged West there are colonies of people called Hutterites who embody the pioneer spirit but live entirely removed from the modern world. The Hutterites are Anabaptist farmers and ranchers – close cousins of the Amish – who, after centuries of persecution in Europe, found religious freedom in North America in the 1870s. Their central belief in a kind of Christian communism informs everything they do. They work, worship, and eat together, and have no personal possessions. They do use computers and high-tech machinery; but they speak an old Austrian German dialect, sew their own clothes, and shun television, radio, or anything else that might let in the temptations of worldly materialism. Hutterites live rigidly structured lives that leave little room for individual expression, but they give this up willingly in exchange for the strong community support that promises spiritual salvation.
For the Hutterites, the way to heaven lies through faith, communal living and a lot of hard work. The Hutterites live in farm communities, devoutly holding to the rules their founder laid down. In every Hutterite colony, the minister or spiritual leader is also the chief executive and he, along with an advisory board, makes the day-to-day decisions. The minister s duties include conducting church sermons, marriages, baptisms, funerals, and disciplining members of the church. The minister carries a lot of responsibility, as it is his duty to focus and worship everyday of the week. Hettorites are taught to surrender their lives and give themselves to the community, as this is God s will. In addition, Hutterites are taught that they are not on earth to enjoy themselves, but to serve the community in preparation for eternity.
Each Hutterite colony has to provide for its people. Most Hutterites are sustained through agriculture. Most colonies are crop producers and have fair-sized farms. They also raise a large amount of livestock. In addition to agriculture, manufacturing is gaining a lot of momentum on colonies. Every person on a Hutterite colony is assigned a job. Some assigned jobs include carpenter, chicken man, farm boss, etc. Each person is in charge of his compartment, usually with one or two helpers. Most Hutterite colonies support themselves through agriculture, some through the manufacture of such salvable items as hog feeders and coal boilers. No one draws a salary for this work; each person’s needs are provided for by the colony. No one earns wages. Each member works according to his or her ability and receives according to his or her need. Men and women seem easygoing and at ease with each other. Income in excess of what’s required for basic living expenses goes to buy more land.
Hutterites going about their daily lives — a dozen women in the kitchen are usually cleaning, cooking and singing. Women put in long hours. Besides all the usual domestic chores, they also have to perform tasks, such as milking for other colonies. No woman has to work extremely hard and can socialize while working. Therefore, most girls and women absorb skills simply by participating in, group work, as they are not allowed to have a personal opinion. Whatever the task at hand, Hutterite men lay it aside for the day s main meal, which is eaten communally. The spotlessly clean dining room holds four tables complete with benches. Usually men and women eat at different tables. The women speak almost exclusively in their German dialect, as most in the colony do when conversing among themselves.