Persecuted moralists: The Mennonites

Culture Facts

Where: Originally from Netherlands – settled in Canada, USA, Mexico, South America – now centred in Belize
History: Peaceful and moralistic beliefs have made them persecuted, their journey for a homeland has lasted 400 years.
Beliefs: Simple dress, no fun allowed, no war and rejection of worldly concerns.

The Mennonites are a Protestant religious sect, first formed in the Netherlands in the 16th century. Their staunch religious beliefs, including the refusal to pay certain taxes, has made them a target for attack and persecution, thus Belize is their latest stop in their search for a home country that has spanned four centuries.

Mennonites in Belize

The first Mennonites arrived in Belize in 1958, and now some 3,500 members live in agricultural communities in Belize. Their farming methods, although outdated, are so efficient that they are the most successful farmers in Belize and they supply much of the countries produce.

Beliefs

Other Mennonite beliefs include the refusal to bear arms, the rejection of worldly concerns, simplicity of dress, refusal of contraception and marrying outside the religion.

In appearance, Mennonites set themselves apart from the local community by dressing in old-fashioned clothes and speaking in an 18th century German language. Other rules prohibit Mennonites from smoking, drinking, going to parties, or dancing. All Mennonites are exempt from military service they don’t vote or take any public office. They use their own schools and uphold morals from a bygone age.

The Mennonite religion has separated into a number of factions during their history, which has seen the emergence of many orders of Mennonites (varying in degrees of strictness). The most well known is the faction of Mennonites that went on to become the Amish religion. The Mopan Riverin Belize separates the conservative Mennonites in Barton Creek from the progressives.

Besides living in Belize, large numbers of Mennonites have settled in Canada and some colonies inUSA, Mexico and South America.

More Information

Overview of Mennonites
Overview of the Mennonite religion from Encyclopaedia.com

A multi ethnic, multi lingual society
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