We think of Mennonites as an extremely conservative Christian sect that is cautious about adopting modern technology. But apparently, with the right incentive, they can innovate, as a group of Bolivian Mennonites demonstrate.
Wall is among 130 women and girls of the Mennonite colony in Manitoba Colony, who claim that from 2005 to ’09, the same cloudy horror visited them. They’re the victims of what is allegedly one of the ugliest sex scandals in the history of the Mennonites, a pacifist Christian Anabaptist denomination founded in Europe in the 1500s, if not Bolivia and South America. In a criminal trial now under way in nearby Santa Cruz, Peter Weiber, 48, a Mennonite veterinarian, is accused of transforming a chemical meant to anesthetize cows into a spray to be used on humans. For four years, Weiber and eight other Mennonite men allegedly sprayed the chemical through bedroom windows in Manitoba at night, sedating entire families and raping the females.
Charming fellows. Old-timey farmers. Quaint horse-drawn buggies. Insular, inbred, arrogant patriarchal monsters.
The accused didn’t just commit horrible acts, but don’t seem to feel guilt or remorse.
The men range in ages from 20 to 48. Four of them, including Weiber, are married. But they don’t seem to take the case too seriously: they often joke with guards or fall asleep during trial proceedings, and during one victim’s testimony the judge had to reprimand them for laughing and making faces. That may be one reason victims rarely go to the courthouse. “My heart was racing and my head hurt,” Susana Banman, 55, tells TIME about her one day at the trial.
Suddenly, I don’t find myself as distressed at the thought of the imminent potential extinction of humanity by ecological disaster as I once was. So that’s a bit of good news.