National Geographic Channel Stages Documentary About Hutterites

The Associated Press reports that National Geographic Channel is being accused of having staged a documentary about the life of Hutterite communities. The leaders of the colony request the channel to apologize to the entire community for portraying them in a bad light.

Hutterites, like many other religious communities, are very keen on preserving their good image. This is why the 10-part series about the King Ranch colony that was broadcast at the beginning of the year by the National Geographic Channel offended the leaders of the respective community. They wrote a letter to the channel’s CEO, David Lyle asking him to publicly apologize for misrepresenting their colony. The executive, however, refused to conform to the leaders’ request because in his opinion, the documentary hasn’t done anything to offend their reputation.

The women who have starred in the show are afraid that the elders could excommunicate them on accounts of what was presented on the documentary. They, nevertheless, have an excuse; they claim that producers considered their life to be too boring, so they started making up situations in order to render “American Colony: Meet The Hutterites” more interesting for the viewers. Bertha Hofer, one of the stars on the show, told the press that producers turned the documentary into a reality show by encouraging discord between the members of the community.

Producer Jeff Collins thinks Hofer might have been influenced by the Hutterite elders in Canada. According to him, these elders were disturbed by the fact that women on the show made use of modern technology, namely, the camera to speak about education, about the women’s role in the society, as well as their struggles to adapt to the modern world.

Collins further added that Bertha Hofer, the main character on the show, was forced to lodge a protest through external pressure. He believes Bertha is now afraid of being excommunicated because the woman is displayed in one of the episodes while she is trying to get her daughter Claudia to apply at a college in Great Falls. Bertha wants her children to get full education, but Hutterite elders only accept the eight-grade education. They are afraid that young Hutterites who leave for college will not return to the colony.

Hutterites are Protestants of German descend who have similar community rules to those of the Amish and Mennonites colonies. They lead a traditional life, mainly centered on religious customs and agricultural practices. 

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