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Horse Manure Figures in Fight Over Religious Freedom

Two Amish men in rural Kentucky say a law requiring horse diapers is unfair
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2017 9:33 AM CST

(Newser) – An unusual clash about religious freedom is playing out in the small city of Auburn, Kentucky: It's all about horse diapers, reports the Wall Street Journal. Two local Amish men have filed a lawsuit against the city, its mayor, and its police chief, accusing them of violating their ability to exercise their religion. Back in 2014, the city passed an ordinance requiring that horses on city streets have a "properly fitting collection device." The city says it's simply a health and safety issue, reports the Democrat News Leader, and not just about sanitation: The mayor says a child slipped in manure while walking to school. The law isn't targeting anyone "based on his or her religious views," says an attorney for the defendants, a view that the lawsuit disputes.

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The men who brought the suit belong to the Old Order Swartzentruber Amish, an especially conservative branch that shuns modern contraptions. They carry shovels to clean up manure, and argue that this should be sufficient, while the city's lawyer says stopping to shovel poop poses dangers of its own. Regardless, the Amish say they took a vote and decided to ignore the law, and they say that individual members would be "shunned" if they didn't comply with the vote, reports the Daily Beast. Another problem: These Amish aren't allowed to pay fines, which is why one of the plaintiffs spent 10 days in jail in 2015. (See why this Amish teen was pulled over while driving his buggy.)

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