By Daily Mail Reporter and Associated Press
PUBLISHED: 15:57 EST, 27 March 2013 | UPDATED: 16:59 EST, 27 March 2013
A county health board in Ohio has condemned two houses recently built by the Amish because they have outhouses and refuse to install modern septic tanks and wells, claiming it is against their religion.
The fight in Hardin County, Ohio, began last summer when the Kenton-Hardin County Board of Health said it would start enforcing the rules on any new home, including those built by the 200 Amish families who live there.
Health officials say the hand-dug privies used by the Amish can allow human waste to leech into the water table and contaminate neighboring wells.
Health violation: A county health board in northeast Ohio says Amish outhouses pose a danger to neighboring homes because human waste could leech into the groundwater
The two homes in question are the first the fall under the new rules.
More than 100 Amish turned out Tuesday night to ask the health board to reconsider the condemnation order, which requires that the homes be brought into compliance or the families move out.
Henry Yoder read a letter signed by the Hardin County Amish community’s seven bishops asking the board to reconsider its orders. Yoder owns one of the houses that are not in compliance.
‘Our goal is to uphold and maintain the biblical principles of faith which our forefathers believed: to be a separate people,’ Yoder read. ‘And, as stated in Romans 12th chapter, “Be ye not conformed.”‘
After more than two hours of testimony from health officials, the board’s eight members didn’t change their minds. They reaffirmed the orders to condemn the homes that they initially issued in January.
Now, the families can dig proper wells and install approved concrete pits under their outhouses, appeal the orders to the Hardin County Common Pleas Court, or move.
Freedom of religion? The Amish say the new health rules encroach on their primitive lifestyle, which is dictated by their religious beliefs
‘Our goal is to live simple, God-fearing lives, and we feel your requirements are undermining our simple way of life,’ Yoder said, reading from the bishops’ letter. ‘Our plea is to live in peace among our fellow citizens and maintain our lifestyles on our own personal properties unless it is definitely proven we are a health hazard to our neighbors.’
All other Ohio counties with an Amish population have long ago settled similar disputes. Logan County, for example, agreed to let the Amish build their own pits as a compromise. Holmes County, with the state’s largest Amish population, says the Amish follow the rules.
County Prosecutor Brad Bailey said the issue is bigger than just two homes.
‘Our rules at the health department are to prevent problems before they happen, not to react to them,’ he said.
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