Do Mennonite communities vote?


Members of Ohio Mennonite communities recently offered their opinions on the presidential election. Ohio Amish and Mennonite voters are of particular interest—the first ever Republican Super Political Action Committee was launched this year to get Amish and Mennonites to turn out at the November polls to vote in the general election.

If those of the Amish and Mennonite communities did vote, they would probably vote Republican because their beliefs align most closely with the policies of the Republican party, according to one Mennonite farmer in Rainsboro, Ohio.

“I would probably vote Republican if I did vote because of the values of the times,” said the Rainsboro man, who preferred not to be named in the newspaper.

And this is exactly what the Republican Super PAC said it wants: if just 5 percent of the Amish and Mennonite populations in Ohio and Pennsylvania were to vote, it could change the outcome of the general election.

The Republican’s Amish PAC Plain Voters Project’s purpose is “to beat Hillary Clinton in 2016 by turning out a deeply conservative and often forgotten block of voters” and is “specifically tailored to potential Amish and Mennonite voters,” according to the Amish PAC website.

But the Rainsboro Mennonite man said he wasn’t sure about voting for Trump, even if he were to vote Republican.

“All of that stuff is against the scripture, which I’m a Christian, and we don’t think that’s right. And if you have a leader of a country that supports that, you wonder. We heard about Trump, heard some about him, but I don’t know—he’s got some aggressive views, which I’m not an aggressive person so I don’t use that technique. He has got some good ideas about what’s good for the country. He’s got a lot of support, Trump does,” said the Rainsboro farmer.

And he wasn’t the only member of the Mennonite communities in Ohio to speak out and say Trump’s opinions and actions are too aggressive for their Christian values and beliefs. Some of the Mennonites do vote—those who are less traditional—and there’s about 30 different kinds of Mennonites, the man said.

“There are horse and buggy Mennonites and then there are modern Mennonites, there are new order Mennonites. They just have their own group. Some of them do [vote],” he said. “They have some of the Mennonite values but they don’t keep the traditional values.”

Traditional Mennonites don’t vote because of their beliefs, according to Chris Stauffer. Stauffer lives in Highland County and manages Pickett Run Farm Greenhouse & Nursery in Hillsboro. Stauffer is aligned with the traditional Mennonite beliefs of his community and believes those in the community need to remain separate from the worldly government.

“We believe we need to maintain separate beliefs, but that doesn’t mean we can’t form an opinion or two,” said Stauffer.

As a community, the Mennonites believe “the overall governmental process of the world includes defense by force and we cannot feel that Jesus gave room for that, so that’s the reason we don’t get involved in the voting process of the governments,” said Stauffer. “That’s not saying that they can’t do well.”

Although he does not vote, Stauffer thinks the political news is interesting. He knows a little bit about Trump, he said, enough to have an opinion of him.

“It seems rather exciting to see somebody with a new breath of fresh air coming into the scene. You could say the establishment is getting pretty old. But that’s not saying it’s a good—you know, we still don’t know how good of a president he would be. Adolf Hitler was a very, very popular leader in his earlier days. Christians were even voting for him, Jews were probably voting for him … he was a very popular guy. He just went overboard. We don’t know where this will lead but—I can’t help but think that somebody with too radical a view of something might wind up going down the road too far,” said Stauffer.

Stauffer said he isn’t so concerned about what the next elected leader might do for the country.

“I can’t say I’m worried about it, but you can’t help but wonder whether the history will be repeating itself in that way or not,” said Stauffer.

Stauffer said the excitement around Trump as a leader may come from seeing a lot of political leaders ignore important issues. Political leaders like pat each other on the back, Stauffer said.

“People are so sick of the establishment, so to speak. I’m talking about the whole nation in general—or probably the whole civilized world,” said Stauffer.

But overall the country has been very good to us, he said, noting that as religious people, they have had a lot of peace. It’s best to hope and pray for the governments so that God can continue to create leaders that allow us to be quiet, useful people, Stauffer said. “That’s really all we can do. We get up Monday morning and roll up our sleeves and go to work.”

The sign at the entrance of Pickett Run Farm in Hillsboro. sign at the entrance of Pickett Run Farm in Hillsboro.
Amish and Mennonites targeted by Super PAC

By Ashley Bunton

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Reach Ashley Bunton at the Record-Herald (740) 313-0356 or on Twitter @ashbunton.

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