Friday, 20 March 2009

Toilet “theology”

According to the report “Amish man jailed over toilet theology”, in The Independent (a UK national daily newspaper) on 18 March a western Pennsylvania Amish farmer has been sentenced to 90 days in jail and fined $1000 after refusing to bring a pair of outhouses into compliance with state sewage laws. The farmer cited his conservative religious beliefs in refusing to abide by an earlier court order to make the privies used by schoolchildren compliant and pay a $500 fine. “Quite frankly, this is not a religious issue,” said the judge.

I agree with the judge, but maybe a compromise solution should have been sought by the local county “sewage enforcement agency” − a solution that would protect both the health of the schoolchildren and the environment in a way that didn’t offend Amish beliefs, yet was acceptable to everyone else; and if this required modification of local sewage disposal regulations, then so be it. Did anyone say to the Amish “Look, your current sanitary solution is absolutely no good, so how would you improve it in a way that’s acceptable to both you and us?” − that sort of thing. I’d bet good money that this wasn’t even considered!