Why did a student from Kentucky’s Transylvania University stand outside a Lexington, KY Federal Courthouse holding a sign that read, “I don’t need the FDA to protect me from an Amish Farmer?”
In June a 57 year-old Amish farmer and father of 12 was sentenced to six years in prison. His crime? Producing an herbal skin cream without the government’s permission. Why should this case matter to any of us? It represents how an unrestrained, regulatory government can treat religious groups.
For decades the Amish people, because of sincerely held religious beliefs, have been problematic to governments. They are hard working, peaceful people who just want to be left alone. As such, governments have granted them certain concessions.
For example, they are exempt from Social Security taxes. Because they are such good builders, building codes are waived. In 1972 the United States Supreme Court ruled that the state could not force Amish children to attend public schools, saying that the parent’s right to educate their own children outweighed the government’s interest in educating children. This is an important ruling.
So, Samuel Girod felt quite free to formulate homemade skin-care products and produce them on his farm. They are made of all natural ingredients. He sold them for two decades throughout the Midwest by word-of-mouth promotion. No one complained of adverse effects of his herbal products. No one was harmed or injured. Then the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stepped in.
Girod was ordered to stop selling his products. He ignored them. Then he would not allow FDA inspectors on his property. Snubbed, the agency opened a federal criminal investigation.
At trail Girod refused representation. He would not answer any questions. He told the judge, “I do not waive my immunity to this court. I do not consent.”
He was found guilty on 13 counts related to FDA regulations, guidelines and proceedings. The judge said that Girod “exhibited continuous and blatant disregard for the law.”
The sheriff from Girod’s home in Bath County, KY asked the court why the FDA was attacking a peaceful and law-abiding American? Who was harmed? Who was wronged? Only the FDA.
You and I can easily criticize Mr. Girod’s actions, but mind you – if a government agency’s intrusion can send peaceful man to prison, what is to stop them from persecuting other people because of sincerely held religious beliefs?
I agree with the student from Transylvania University. “I don’t need the FDA to protect me from an Amish Farmer.”