An Amish man was sentenced to 90 days in a Pennsylvania jail for failing to abide by a court order to bring two school outhouses into compliance with sewage regulations.
Andy Swartzentruver of Barr Township had been warned a month ago to bring his two schools into compliance with sewage requirements, but Swartzentruver said he would rather go to jail than compromise his religious beliefs.
“I stand by my religion. If I don’t, it could destroy the whole church group,” he told The Tribune-Democrat.
In addition to jail time, Swartzentruver was fined $1,000, escalating the $1,600 he already owed for failing to obtain a sewage permit and follow municipal sewage regulations.
Sam Yoder, an Amish elder, said some improvements were made to the outhouse and the collection of the waste. While the sect would be willing to pay a permit fee, members would not post a required bond, allow soil testing or submit a sewage planning model.
“This is not a religious issue,” said Judge Norman Krumenacker of his decision. “The bottom line of this whole case is the balancing of society’s needs for protecting the health, safety and welfare of its citizens and the balancing of reasonable [requirements] around your sect’s beliefs.”
Swartzentruver asked to keep his hair long, wear his distinctive clothes and have no TV or electricity while in prison. Krumenacker said they will “make every accommodation we can. I don’t think we [force inmates] to cut hair any more.”