How to Get to Heaven with the Hutterites

An intimate insight into the world of the Hutterites

How to Get to Heaven with the Hutterites is an intimate insight into the world of the Hutterites, a Christian community who believe living communally and separate from what they call ‘the world’ is the route to heaven.

The Hutterites are one of several sects of anabaptists who fled from post-reformation Germany to America. The much better known of these are the picturesque Old-Order Amish, another one are the Mennonites.

The community lives in communitarian villages, are pacifists, keep to themselves and still use modern technology. They’ve managed to live this way for hundreds of years.

Throughout the documentary the film makers seem adamant in chasing down a story of unhappiness or break the Hutterites’ facade. The documentary crew rarely challenge the Hutterites.

That being said, the film crew does find two dissenters amongst the community. One of them is a teenage dropout who’d rather be an architect and own an iPad than collect eggs all day. The other one is a talented photographer who isn’t able to do anything with his abilities in the small rural community he’s born into.

The photographer runs away to the big city where his big sister already lives. The film makers use this as their ‘dangerous escape scene’.

Although beautifully shot and interesting subject, the documentary falls short in not taking the Hutterites seriously or challenging them. In effect, this creates a flat and slightly superficial film.

The Hutterites

The Hutterites is a religious society based in the US. Like other religious societies, such as The Amish, The Hutterites have very strict rules for members of its community. To enforce it, communities often shun those who crave real US society. The Hutterite Churches believe in “a set of community rules for Christian living and the principle of worldly separation”.

The Hutterites originate from the Austrian province of Tyrol in the 16th century. The first Hutterites migrated to Moravia to escape persecution. Here, under the leadership of Jakob Hutter, The Hutterite community’s living condition was set to that of the New Testament books of the Acts of the Apostles. More specifically, that of chapters 2 (especially Verse 44), 4, and 5 and 2 Corinthians—which distinguishes them from other Anabaptists such as the Amish and Mennonites.

Hutterite Rules

Like all similar societies, The Hutterites have a mass of different rulesets to govern its community. As a religious group, most of these rules are derived from their interpretation of the Bible and what The Church has decreed.

One of the basic rules for the Hutterian society consists of absolute pacifism. I.e. it is forbidden to take part in military activities, take orders, wear formal uniforms or contributing to war taxes. This has led to expulsion or persecution in the several lands in which they have lived.

Another rule proclaims that baptizing babies is not biblical and that separation of church and state is required.

Their ruleset goes on with how the Lord’s Supper is symbolic of the suffering of Jesus, and should be done in remembrance of God and how pastors in the Church need to be responsible for teaching, disciplining and any community bans.

A final rule lays proclaims that other duties and oaths are not to be taken by Christians.

How to Get to Heaven with the Hutterites
  • Info
  • Release date2013
  • Full runtime
  • Director(s)Lynn Alleway
  • Production companyBBC