Guess This Religion! Here's Three Hints!
June 26, 2011 6:30 PM   Subscribe

What religion is this?

I am trying to buy some farm items from some folks who live about 60 miles away from me, in an isolated agricultural area. Over two phone conversations, they have told me that they

-observe the Sabbath on Thursdays
-do not raise pork, as they "follow Biblical dietary laws"
-perhaps not an entirely religious motivation, but they have no bank account and deal only in cash

They have a phone and a Craigslist ad, so they use at least some modern technology.

Does anyone have an idea of what religion they are part of?
posted by Leta to Religion & Philosophy (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
7th Day Adventist?
posted by wowbobwow at 6:32 PM on June 26, 2011

Are you sure that this is for real and they're not just messing with you? It reminds me a little of that 30 Rock episode where the writers make up a fake religion to avoid participating in Kenneth's Secret Santa.

Seventh Day Adventists observe the sabbath on Saturdays. Muslims have theirs on Friday, and observant Jews go from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday (which means Jewish-owned businesses often close early on Fridays). But Thursday's a bit of an outlier.
posted by Sara C. at 6:36 PM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, definitely not Seventh Day Adventists; I went to college in something of an Adventist enclave, and they definitely observe the sabbath on Saturday.
posted by willpie at 6:39 PM on June 26, 2011

Best answer: My guess is that they are obsessed with the Thursday Crucifixion theory and they are just a variety of Baptist. Or, they have to work on Sunday (Saturday if they're of the Adventist persuasion) so they choose another day to rest.
posted by michaelh at 6:39 PM on June 26, 2011

Also, seconding that they might be messing with you.
posted by willpie at 6:39 PM on June 26, 2011

Is it all day Thursday, or just from Thursday's sunset (and then through Friday's sunset)?
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:42 PM on June 26, 2011

Best answer: We met some Amish folks who were originally from Maine, who were similar to this. They did not own most modern machinery or technology, but would use it borrowed from someone else. They indicated that they were from old order Amish, but had no current contact (perhaps shunned?) because they rode bicycles with gears, and other things. They email us, and use phones when needed. Their Sabbath was thursday eve to Friday eve, and they did very little on that day.
posted by batikrose at 6:45 PM on June 26, 2011

Where are you? A general geographic location would help. Might be some branch of Plain People who tend to congregate around various parts of the country.
posted by Ookseer at 6:55 PM on June 26, 2011

posted by MikeMc at 6:58 PM on June 26, 2011

Response by poster: I am in the U.P. of Michigan. As far as I know, the only Plain People here are Old Order Amish, over by Newberry. The folks in question are over 100 miles from Newberry.

I very much doubt this couple is just messing with me. For starters, they both have Yooper accents thick enough to spread on toast, and Craigslist-ad-selling-something-just-to-mess-with-people-over-several-phone-conversations would be a most unYooperish thing to do, especially if they are middle aged to older (which I think they are; younger folks here tend to not have such a strong accent). More importantly, I want to drive to their house on Thursday and pay them hundreds of dollars for something they not only want but NEED to be rid of, and the lady seemed very disappointed that Thursday is the day I have available, since "Thursday is our Sabbath and we do not buy or sell on the Sabbath".
posted by Leta at 7:07 PM on June 26, 2011

posted by goggie at 7:13 PM on June 26, 2011

Response by poster: Also, when I lived in the Michigan-Ohio-Indiana border area, I had frequent (if not extensive) contact with Amish and Mennonite people, virtually all of whom had the same distinctive accent based on their primary German dialect spoken within their communities and homes.

My husband had very extensive contact with many Amish (carpooled to work with several Amish men, contracted with them often for furniture building/carpentry/leather goods).

The hubs and I are in agreement that these people don't sound Amish at all, just Yooperish.
posted by Leta at 7:14 PM on June 26, 2011

I'm going to go in a completely different direction here. I'm guessing that they are Muslim. Did you want to pick up the equipment after work on Thursday? That might be too close to sundown. They wouldn't raise pork. The Muslim region has specific rules relating to interest; although there are banks that cater specifically to this community, these may not be readily available in your area.

On preview, Michigan has a significant Muslim population.
posted by Morrigan at 7:17 PM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

goggie: "Bahai"

No Sabbath, no Biblical diet restrictions.
posted by galadriel at 7:17 PM on June 26, 2011

Response by poster: It is all day Thursday. I can get there any time on Wednesday, so I presume their Sabbath does not start at Wednesday sunset.
posted by Leta at 7:17 PM on June 26, 2011

Well, OK, if they're not having you on, my guess is that they're members of some teensy little outlier Evangelical group that chose some weird hill to die on fifty years ago. Like the people who only use the 1611 King James bible.
posted by Sara C. at 7:19 PM on June 26, 2011 [9 favorites]

i suspect Sara is right
posted by PinkMoose at 7:25 PM on June 26, 2011

Response by poster: I doubt that they are Muslim. Again, lots of Muslims in Southern Michigan (highest per capita in the U.S., at least when I lived there), I had lots of interaction with them.

I never once heard a Muslim refer to abstaining from pork as a Biblical law. I heard it called "haram" an awful lot, though. And when restaurants were Muslim friendly, they called their menus "halal". (Totally off topic: if you get the chance to eat a halal restaurant, take it. I never had anything less than a rockin' meal at every one I ever ate at.)

In the eight years I've lived here, I've met exactly one Muslim Yooper, and he is an Egyptian immigrant. There isn't a single mosque anywhere in the U.P.

I am thinking that michaelh and Sara C. are probably right, that they are small Protestant Christian offshoot.
posted by Leta at 7:30 PM on June 26, 2011

I have some UP cousins and they're into some weird Baptist offshoot stuff with all sorts of funky rules.
posted by k8t at 7:44 PM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Galadriel, my mistake, I was mis-remembering that the weekend is considered to start on Thursday at sundown. Sorry for the confusion!
posted by goggie at 8:20 PM on June 26, 2011

They definately sound like evangelicals of some sort who have a strange theory about what day the sabath is. This guy, for example, seems to be making an argument that devout protestants should believe in a Thursday crucifixion.

And when restaurants were Muslim friendly, they called their menus "halal". (Totally off topic: if you get the chance to eat a halal restaurant, take it. I never had anything less than a rockin' meal at every one I ever ate at.)

The word 'Halal' doesn't describe a type of food or 'Muslim-friendliness'. It means that the food is OK for observant Muslims to eat - it obeys religious laws about cleanliness, ingredients, and animal slaughter. Just like kosher places (which are the same idea, for Jewish law), halal eating establishments range all over the place in terms of quality.

If you get a chance to eat in a great Pakistani, Turkish, Persian, Afghan, Somali, or whatever restaurant, definately go for it - you are unlikely to regret it - good food is always worth your time. A bad restaurant is not going to be made any better by a halal or kosher certificate, however.
posted by Wylla at 1:03 AM on June 27, 2011

Sounds to me like they're basically making it up themselves. They're not Amish and probably not Mennonite, as both have fairly clearly defined ideas about both Sabbath observance (on Sundays) and both have been known to raise pigs. Hell, scrapple is a traditional Amish/Mennonite breakfast side.

I'm guessing they're just your garden variety independent American "Christian" denomination who happened to pick up a little extra crazy somewhere along the line. Christians stopped following Jewish dietary laws basically right away, and Christians have worshiped on the first day of the week since the very beginning. Throw an aversion for checking accounts in with deviation from those two things, and it sounds to me like they're just another splinter group, and maybe not even a group. The Bible isn't the easiest book to get your head around, and people can come up with some pretty interesting interpretations if left to their own devices. Add the extra of the relative isolation of the UP and you've got yourself a bona fide breeding ground for this sort of stuff.

It wouldn't even be the strangest thing people have come up with. It is admittedly a little unusual to move the Sabbath from Sunday to Thursday, as there's really no historical precedent for that whatsoever. But there isn't for snake handling either, and people certainly do that. People have died as a result. There's also a minority group of people, spread across a number of denominations, who refuse to create any kind of business entity for their churches under the theory that this somehow makes them impermissibly beholden to the state. This mucks up property ownership beyond belief and is a real nightmare should the church get sued. So if you're going to get eccentric with your theology, there are worse things to pick than what these people have latched onto.
posted by valkyryn at 5:05 AM on June 27, 2011

(Smacks forehead)

You're in the UP! I somehow missed that - they're likely some particularly strange Laestadians - that's a _very_ conservative variety of Lutheranism that is found only in Finland (mostly northern Finland) and places like the UP, were people from Finland have migrated.

The Thursday thing makes no sense still, but the rest of your description fits.
posted by Wylla at 3:50 AM on June 28, 2011

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