Without a doubt, the best religion story of 2011/2012 happened when a gang of Amish vigilantes illegally entered the homes of various brethren whom they accused of doctrinal impurity and forcibly cut the victims’ beards. It didn’t hurt the news value (or the comedy quotient) that the gang leader was a man named Samuel Mullet.
Mullet eventually received an eye-popping, frankly ridiculous prison sentence of 15 years, mostly because the prosecutors presented his admittedly inexcusable behavior as a hate crime.
A curious wrinkle in the case unfolded when Mullet and his co-convicts (all the others received sentences from one to seven years) were sent to different prisons; their lawyers argued unsuccessfully that this constituted cruel and unusual punishment,
… placing an overly harsh burden on their relatives, who, because of their religion, cannot travel by plane and have to hire drivers for car travel. For instance, for Mullet’s wife to visit him and three sons convicted in the case, she’d have to travel to Oklahoma, Louisiana and two prisons 160 miles apart in Minnesota.
The other day, the ringleader was back in court: