We all know that things can getting pretty weird on the religious front here in Vo Dilun. But we seriously doubt the state can top a story out of eastern Ohio, as recently reported in the New York Times.

Seems that members of an Amish splinter group, described as "cultlike" by Ohio prosecutors, has been charged with multiple counts including conspiracy, hate crimes, kidnapping, and destroying evidence. The leader of the "cult" goes by the unlikely (and somehow fitting) name of Samuel Mullet Sr.

Mullet is said to hold some 18 families in his thrall in "an isolated settlement" near Bergholz, Ohio. He allegedly put followers in chicken coops for days in order to "cleanse them of impure thoughts and other sins." He also allegedly had adult members "hit one another with thick wooden paddles," according to the Times.

Prosecutors say Mullet would "counsel couples, particularly women, on how to be sexually satisfied." His counsel included "having other men's wives live in his house and have intimate relations with him."

He has also been accused of sending out his followers, Chuck Manson-style, to attack his perceived enemies by cutting men's beards off and shearing off long swaths of women's hair.

It occurs to P&J that this has all the elements of a Three Stooges short. But the Amish shun most elements of the mainstream culture, so it is highly unlikely that these folks are aware of the marketability of their story.

The Mullet trial kicked off this week. Your superior correspondents (and, undoubtedly, our pals the Farrelly Brothers) will be following the proceedings with interest.

Send truth serum and Pulitzer-grade tips to  p&j@phx.com.

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