Academic journal article Alberta History

Inside the Ark: The Hutterites in Canada and the United States

Academic journal article Alberta History

Inside the Ark: The Hutterites in Canada and the United States

Article excerpt

Inside the Ark: The Hutterites in Canada and the United States

by Yossi Katz and John Lehr. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center, 456 pp., illus., colour, maps, soft cover, $39.95

There are about 40,000 Hutterites in Canada and the United Stated occupying 474 colonies. As such, they form the largest communal group in the world. Steadfastly they have maintained their religion and customs over the centuries, since they were first formed in Europe in 1528. But as the authors point out, there are clouds on the horizon. In the 113 years between 1880 and 1993, only 114 persons left the colonies but in only five years between 1950 and 1955 there were 144 who abandoned communal life. At the present time, the desertion rate is greater than the colonies' birth rate.

In this book, the authors examine all aspects of Hutterite life, past and present, and consider the threat to their existence by modern communication. Cameras, cell phones, wrist watches, and other such devices are banned, yet a surprising number exist on most colonies. But, according to the authors, the greatest threat to a Hutterite way of life is not "the vulgar and lewd secular world" but the pressures of evangelical Christian groups, such as the Church of God, that have been proselyting among them, offering salvation without a commitment to communal life. …

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