Amish buggy ride
An Amish buggy ride. Image: puliarf/Flickr/CC BY

Nine men, all members of a conservative Amish order, were ordered to pay a fine or go to jail in Kentucky Monday, and eight of them are now behind bars. The jailed men refused to pay a fine imposed on them for not posting bright orange, triangular signs on their horse-drawn buggies. The men said that compliance would be against their religion.

Required for slow-moving vehicles

The triangular orange signs are required as a safety measure on all slow-moving vehicles by order of state law. However, the men all refused to post the signs or to pay the imposed fines on religious grounds, according to the local Courier-Journal.

Old Order Swartzentruber

The men all belong to a strict Amish order called Old Order Swartzentruber. The order has a strict code of conduct called Ordnung, which regulates dress, grooming, transportation and education. Not only are they forbidden to wear or display bright colors, the triangle symbol is offensive to them unless used as a representation of the Holy Trinity, according to CNN. They had been using reflective tape as a substitute for the signs, but apparently that didn’t fly with law enforcement officials.

Found in contempt of court

One of the nine men arrested has had his fine paid by an unidentified good Samaritan because the man has a sick child at home. The other eight are behind bars in the Graves County jail serving sentences from three to 10 days. They were sentenced Monday by District Court Judge Deborah Hawkins Crook, who found them in contempt of court.

The jail has provided the eight men with dark uniforms in lieu of the standard bright orange jumpsuits required of inmates.

Defended by ACLU

This has been an ongoing protest with the Amish men of Mayfield, Ky. The local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has represented them in the cause since 2008, when they were first arrested. The conviction has been appealed to the state Supreme Court, which has not yet decided whether it will hear the case.


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