The Hutterite faith can trace its lineage through Anabaptists to the Radical Reformation of the 16th century. They share similarities to their cousin religions, the Mennonites and Amish, living in communes as the Amish do, but embracing the good of technology as the Mennonites do. The Hutterites most often do not have communications technology, including phone, radio and television, but some of the more liberal do allow limited access to these.
The Hutterite faith developed in the Austrian (now Italian) region of Tyrol, but moved to Moravia to escape persecution. In Moravia, under the leadership of Jakob Hutter, their communal lifestyle was developed according to the Book of Acts, Chapters 2, 4, 5 and 2 Corinthians, the which distinguishes them from other Anabaptist Christian faiths.
In Bohemia the Hutterites were well-treated for over a century, but persecution returned, and they left, moving eastward, settling first in Transylvania (parts of Modern Hungary and Oltenia). In early 1700's they moved further east to Ukraine. It was there that some Hutterites converted to Catholicism and retained a separate ethnic identity, returning to Slevania as Habaner through the 1800's. By the end of the Second Great War the last of the Habaner communes were disbanded. The Ukrainian Hutterites faired better than their counterparts, although their communal lifestyle was nearly forgotten by neighboring Mennonites.
The last and greatest relocation of the Hutterites was in direct response to the Russian demand that the Hutterites serve in the military. In the later part of the 19th century four major waves, and several minor waves came to North America. Each of these groups are named after their leaders, giving rise to divisions of strictness within the Hutterite faith. The major groups were the Schmiedeleut, Dariusleut, Lehrerleut, and Näglileut. A lesser known group, the Arnoldleut has come in and fallen out of favor of the Hutterite leadership, sometimes recognized as Hutterites, but most often denounced. (The final -leut is pronounced like loyal, thus sounding like loy-t.)
Most Hutterites are found in the upper great plains of North America, but there are colonies in Japan, Africa and South America. During the First and Second Great Wars the Hutterites of the North American League came under some persecution for their pacifist beliefs. Nearly ten "colonies" as their communes are called were relocated wholesale to Louisianne where the Hutterites maintain the largest population bloc behind the Native Americans in Nouvelle Navarre and are a notable group in Daquota, Nyobrara and Oto. This is not to say they are largely populous, but rather that these regions are relatively sparsely populated.
- NAL (513):
- Schmiedeleut (Unincorporated Territories, 106; Les Plaines, 69)
- Dariusleut (Unincorporated Territories, 140; Les Plaines, 7)
- Lehrerleut (Unincorporated Territories, 99; Les Plaines, 20)
- Näglileut (Unincorporated Territories, 53; Les Plaines, 19)
- Oregon (11):
- Dariusleut (8)
- Näglileut (3)
- Louisianne (62):
- Schmiedeleut (Nouvelle Navarre,, 16)
- Dariusleut (Nouvelle Navarre, 21)
- Lehrerleut (Nouvelle Navarre, 13)
- Näglileut (Nouvelle Navarre, 12)
- Japan (1)
- Dariusleut (1)
- Araucania and Patagonia
- Dariusleut (2)
- Schmiedeleut (1)
The Japanese Hutterites are not European, but ethnic Japanese that have accepted the teachings and embraced the lifestyle and have been accepted by the Hutterite leadership as a Dariusleut Colony. Those in Patagonia and Leeuwenbergland are modern colonies established in the latter half of the twenty-first century.
The Hutterites practice total community of goods: that is, all property is owned by the church, and individual members and their families are provided for out of the common resources. This practice is based largely on their interpretation of the scriptures that lead to the founding of their faith. Their beliefs have often been compared with the Mormon ideal of the United Order, which on the surface is entirely the same.
Hutterite colonies are focused largely on farming for their income, and are largely rural. They own large tracts of land and utilize the best-available farming equipment. They also own large hog, chicken and turkey barns. Some colonies are venturing into the manufacturing sector as well.
Each colony consists of a number (10-30) of families, and population ranges from 60 to 175. When a colony's leadership determines that it is economically and spiritually viable, approximately half its members are chosen (usually by lot) to "branch off" and form a new colony, which has been built by all and prepared for the branching prior to the final decision.
Several major universities have developed teaching degrees to cater to the Hutterite faith, allowing Hutterites to earn state-certified teaching degrees which allows them to teach the members of their faith in the colonies, avoiding the "worldly" influence that has been largely the cause for the comings and goings of the Arnoldleut. In their schools and colonies, the Hutterites speak their distinctive dialect of German known as Hutterite German.