[A] body of Christians practicing strict communism based on religious principles. The Brethren are descendants of those Moravian Anabaptists who were followers of Jacob Hutter, a minister from the Tyrol who was burned at the stake in 1536. In the 17th cent. there were a number of Hutterian brotherhoods in Moravia. Persecution drove them eastward to eventual settlement in Russia. In 1874, in company with Russian Mennonites, a group emigrated to the United States, settling near Tabor, S.Dak. Other groups followed. Their doctrines and principles, aside from their practice of common ownership, are in accord with those of Mennonites in general. There are around 400 Hutterite colonies in the United States and Canada today. They are also known as Hutterische Brethren or Hutterites.
To be a Hutterite is first of all to be a member of a community, a tiny part of an integrated whole. In small colonies these Christians live in shared buildings, eat in common dining rooms, labor and worship together. They hold no personal property, and have little contact with those outside their community. This, they believe, is God's plan.
Like the Amish and Mennonites, the Hutterites are descended from the 16th-century Anabaptists, whose condemnation of infant baptism made them heretics. These pacifists take their name from an early leader, Jacob Hutter. After moving around eastern Europe for three centuries to avoid persecution, they immigrated to the United States in the 1870s.
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