Meet the Hutterites: 'We feel betrayed' say Bishops in statement

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

Bishops from the three Hutterite sects respond to the portrayal of King Ranch Colony on the National Geographic Channel reality series, Meet the Hutterites.

Although viewer response to the National Geographic Channel reality show, Meet the Hutterites, has been mixed, there is no confusion on the part of the three Hutterite sects regarding the portrayal of King Ranch Colony and its inhabitants' belief system.

Today, John Stahl, Bishop of the Darisleut Sect (which includes King Ranch Colony, featured on National Geographic’s Meet the Hutterites); Peter Entz, Bishop of the Lehererleut Sect; and John Waldner, Bishop of the Schmiedeleut Sect, released a joint statement regarding the participation of King Ranch Hutterite Colony in Montana in Meet the Hutterites, as well as the depiction of the colony by the National Geographic Channel. Not surprisingly, the views of the three were not positive:

"We are deeply disappointed with the National Geographic Channel's depiction of the Hutterite people in their so-called reality series, 'American Colony: Meet The Hutterites,' filmed at the King Ranch Hutterite Colony in Montana. It's unfortunate that Jeff Collins and his production team chose to come through the back door rather than the proper channels to receive permission to film our people.

"What was promised by the producers to be a 'factual documentary' is, in fact, a distorted and exploitative version of Hutterite life that paints all 50,000 Hutterites in North America in a negative and inaccurate way. Scenes and dialogue were contrived resulting in a 'make believe' depiction of how we live and the spiritual beliefs we cherish.

"We were reassured by the fact that it would be shown on the National Geographic channel. With its stellar reputation, the National Geographic has, in the past, been a hallmark for accuracy and sensitivity in its portrayal of the world's cultures and religions.

"This is not the case in this instance and we are compelled to say so in defense of the Hutterite people and the values and traditions we hold dear in a changing world and a challenging time.

"We are deeply saddened by the skewed image with which the public may now perceive the Hutterite faith and way of life. It is distorted and damaging, and we feel betrayed. We understand very well that we are not perfect and we face many challenges. Nevertheless, our vision is to live meaningful Christian lives in community as Christ has instructed us to do.

"On behalf of the Hutterian Brethern, we would like to express sincere thanks to the media and the public for the opportunity to present our point of view."

At this time, the National Geographic Channel has not responded to the Bishops’ concerns.

UPDATE: Will there be a Season Two for Meet the Hutterites?

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Comments

Submitted by Heather (not verified) on
First and foremost, it is important to note how all three of the Bishops, from all three sects of Hutterites, Lehererleut Sect, the Schmiedeleut Sect, and the Darisleut Sect have collaborated together to compile such an eloquent, gentle, response to an issue I know they must be very angry with. This in itself is an example of a Hutterite. ~To tell the truth with a soft and gentle spirit.~ I thank you for this. I will also agree with them on many of the areas they addressed, particularly this statement. "We understand very well that we are not perfect and we face many challenges. Nevertheless, our vision is to live meaningful Christian lives in community as Christ has instructed us to do." I would agree that this truly is the mission of all of the colonies leaders. That being said, Hutterites are people just like everyone else. We all make mistakes. However, National Geographic still has "stellar reputation", and still is "a hallmark for accuracy and sensitivity in its portrayal of the world's cultures and religions". Sometimes having to see issues right before our eyes, that we would rather just ignore or pretend do not exist, is hard. Period. Why? Because we paint a picture in our minds on how we want things to be and then reality proves us wrong. I do this in my own life. Lastly, please be assured that this one show will not tarnish the image of all of the Hutterites. What it does do is let the rest of society see that Hutterites are just people too. In closing, I personally love the Hutterites. My closest friend is a Hutterite. I understand and mostly respect the delicate nature of your culture. In Peace.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I am a hutterite and you said well my friend .One day you drop buy and we will talk over a cup of coffee

Submitted by Heather (not verified) on
Thank you. I would love to come over for coffee someday.

Submitted by Heather (not verified) on
My point was clear and recognized by those I was trying to reach. There are some other forums that you may find easier to understand.

Submitted by Some guy (not verified) on
Apparently you lack the ability to comprehend the thoughts and feelings of what someone puts down in words. I don't live that life. Have seen the show 3 times, do not know anyone in those Colonies and I understood everything she said. What she said, could be applied to the life anyone leads. She expresses herself very well....too bad your mind is not open.

Submitted by Heather (not verified) on
Danke...some guy....

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
can an american turn into a Hutterite or how to become one

Submitted by MsMatthiesen (not verified) on
I would love to spend a week with the King Ranch Colony their beliefs are very intesting. I do believe that reality TV is distorted and exploitative. In some cases for example The housewives of blah blah blah, paint some women to be nasty, etc. While National Geo is respectable. Any producer would like any type of juice that goes on in any type of environment to create better ratings.

Submitted by Heather (not verified) on
Me too! I think, well know, that each colony is different for sure. But I think being immersed in their culture would be very interesting.

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