Meet the Hutterites: Closed religious society now NatGeo stars

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

The National Geographic Channel presented a new show, American Colony: Meet the Hutterites, this week, but the one question that remains unanswered after the first show is, "Why are they doing this if they want to keep the outside world away?"

American Colony: Meet the Hutterites premiered this week on the National Geographic Channel, and one has to wonder, why?

It’s not that the show isn’t an interesting concept—in fact, delving into the inner workings of a religious group like the Hutterites is a lot like finding the key to a secret society, and that can be quite intriguing. But, really, why would a religious group like the Hutterites, who presumably live their lives away from the spotlight of the modern world, decide to invite cameras into their private society?

Claudia is one of the younger members of the Hutterite King Colony. In the first episode, she wants to invite a boy—a Hutterite runaway—to the upcoming Harvest Party. Her mother, inquiring about her potential date, asks about him, and she is honest: He is an ex-Hutterite.

“Well, you know you can’t do that. You know what happens when you marry off the colony. I don’t want you to get close to him,” Bertha told her daughter.

“I hate hearing Claudia talking about dating outsiders,” Bertha said to the camera. “If she marries an outsider, she’d have to leave the colony. That would be the worst nightmare for me.”

So, what sense does it make to be bringing more of the outside into the colony, if this is the mindset of the Hutterites?

Still, Bertha does say, “I would love to see Claudia living in a Hutterite colony all her life. But, I want to see her happy, too,” alluding to the distinct possibility that she may leave one day.

High School Not Permitted by Hutterite Elders

Even going to high school is prohibited, Bertha indicates, after a certain age.

“It’s hard, because the elders don’t want our kids to go to high school or play sports [her son, Carver, plays basketball]. They want our kids to drop out at the age of 15, so they can work at the colony. But, I can’t bear to tell Carver that he can’t do something he loves. I’m afraid that if the elders find out that Carver is going to school, he will be forced to leave, and that will break his heart.”

Not exactly a society that one would expect to be open to a reality show.

The Hutterites apparently do not reject some modern conveniences, such as electricity, so they do not completely reject the modern world. What they do reject, it seems, are the “ways” of modern society—religious ideas and practices, morals (or lack thereof), etc. Are they assuming that opening themselves up via reality television might have a positive effect on modern society and, perhaps, a serve as a religious duty? Or, is there another, more worldly reason for the decision to participate in the show, i.e. money?

Well, at this point, the reason for doing the show has not been broached by the colony. But, hopefully, as time goes forward and the show continues, it will be addressed. Otherwise, it simply seems like a contradiction of their beliefs, if not outright hypocrisy.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Was bringing the Hutterites to the masses a mistake?

Image: Wikimedia Commons


Submitted by Tina7778989 (not verified) on
This colony probably feels like this tv show is a harmless way to make money. They apparently have some respect for NatGeo, because National Geographic magazine did a respectful series of stories on them in the 70s.

Submitted by Wally (not verified) on
Huuterites as a group do not promote this. This colony took this on themselves with out consent from the group It was the primary reason for money. Almost all Hutterites are against this sort of ad ertisment They believe in keeping themselves apart from all such evil and worldly things. They don't realize that they bring shame not only to themselves but all Hutterites. But please don't color them all the same because one group within a group choose to go the way of the world. Most Likly they will be punished for there actions.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I am a hutterite living on a colony in Manitoba...The reason they are doing this? It could be more or less because they want to get the message and perspective out of who and what hutterites really are. No; dont color us all with the same brush, but personally, for me, I enjoy showing and telling the outside world who and what I am. There is nothing freakish about our trends or rituals; everything we have and do is sensible, even if outsiders would not necessarily agree with it. I sometimes feel like outsiders get the wrong impression about us, maybe because of a bad influence one or more of my fellow members might have somewhere...But I still like to do my part in showing who we really are.

Just curious: As a Hutterite, and as one who is obviously proud of your heritage, do you see a conflict at all with Hutterite beliefs and values, and this colony choosing to become reality television stars?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Are they doing it for the sake of becoming Hollywood Television stars? Yes, I have an issue with that; exploiting my heritage for fame and fortune, even by a member of my own kind, would in my opinion by doing something for the wrong reason. Having said that; it has been done before. There are a few documentary productions that have been made where outsiders are invited to come into the community for a week or two. As far as I'm concerned, I think it answers a few questions, and clears a few opinions outsiders have about us.

Thank you for your point of view; I know readers and viewers of the show will appreciate it. As for myself, I am looking forward to seeing more of the show, and I do hope they address the question as to why they chose to do it directly at some point; I think it would make the message more clear overall.

Submitted by Herb (not verified) on
These people are a disaster!!! I call them HINO's, Hutterites In Name Only!! Shame, shame, double shame!!! Making a mockery of themselves and the lives they are supposed to be living!! They have no class, no character, pitiful!!! As for Natgeotv, they are classless, characterless clowns who are porpusefully and knowingly perpetrating a mockery and a lie to further there sick and perverse agenda. They did limited research on their subject because they are not interested in the truth. As a true Hutterite it angers me!! God have mercy on them.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I was on the impression that these folks might be doing it for a better reason than they obviously are...The show is an embarrassment to Hutterites and the Hutterite lifestyle. Shame on King Colony and National Geographics. Total disgrace.

Submitted by Darlene M. (not verified) on
I enjoy the show. As a outsider I am amazed at the faith and conviction that is so strong in this community. I sometimes think it would be a welcomed change to live in such a community and learn from the women there. They seem so knowledgable of task that I've never learned. I don't believe the Kings Colony is being properly presented in the series but do feel the colony people are being honest about trials and tribulations that we all go thru. I feel confident that God will continue to guide their steps and that all Hutterite Colonies will benefit from experience. God Bless!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
In my mind these videos make no sense at all, I have no clue what these people are trying to prove.


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