Swartzentrubers develop their living traditions or ordinances in church business meetings. Because the Amish worship in their homes, not in separate church buildings, the resulting traditions are given a wide berth by the courts as an essential part of the group’s exercise of religious liberty.
Some people misunderstand why they hold so firmly to tradition, said Professor Donald Kraybill, an expert on Amish and other Anabaptist groups at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania.
‘‘In this conservative group, those issues would be discussed at church business meetings, so there is kind of a divine legitimization of it,’’ Kraybill said.
Barbin said, in the end, the Swartzentrubers are being true to their consciences, despite the best efforts of the government to accommodate their beliefs.
‘‘I remember going to the house that the judge met at ... and the wife came out and said, ‘You’re going to keep me from going to heaven. Whose fault is it going to be that I'm going to hell?'’’ Barbin said.
‘‘That was the statement, the underlying thought, that showed me we weren’t just dickering over costs.’’