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Nine Amish men have been jailed after refusing to put go-slow safety signs on their carts — and there are dozens more facing a similar fate, reports the British newspaper the Daily Mail.
The men, who belong to the conservative Old Order Swartzentruber Amish in western Kentucky, had objected to displaying the triangular stickers because they are bright orange and violate their modesty code. Their buggies are black and grey. Their clothing’s colors are similarly subdued — and never orange.
All nine were caught at the reins of their family-owned horse-drawn buggies and charged with failing to comply with a state law requiring the orange safety emblems on any slow-moving vehicles on public roads. The requirement was imposed after a series of tragic accidents resulting in Amish loss of life.
Fines for the minor motoring offences were imposed, but a long-running legal battle followed after the Amish men said paying the fines would mean complying with a law that is against their religion, reported the Daily Mail:
Finally, at a court hearing in Graves County today each of the defendants were handed between three and 10 days behind bars.
However, there was a problem – in jail they would be expected to wear orange jumpsuits, so dark-colored ones had to be specially ordered.
Not all Amish groups — including another community that lives nearby — refuse to comply with Kentucky state’s safety requirement. But the Old Order Swartzentruber Amish do, saying they won’t wear bright colors or put trust in man-made symbols for their safety.
The sect has appealed to the state Supreme Court, which has not decided whether to hear the cases.
Judge Deborah Hawkins Crooks said she had 44 other cases involving the same charge. The Old Order Swartzentruber Amish claim the Kentucky constitution’s religious-freedom clause requires sincerely held beliefs to be accommodated. The men have sought permission to use lanterns and gray reflective tape rather than orange, but the state and courts have said that wouldn’t be as effective in daytime.