Editor's note: For more on the trial, check out CNN affiliate WOIO-TV in Cleveland.
By Tricia Escobedo and Chris Welch, CNN
(CNN) – Federal prosecutors are expected to argue that an Amish sect leader, accused of orchestrating beard-cutting attacks against fellow Amish men, was operating a cult out of his family compound in rural Ohio.
The sect leader, Samuel Mullet Sr., is one of 16 Amish men and women charged with federal hate crimes in the beard-cutting attacks last year. The trial began Monday with jury selection in federal court in Cleveland. Mullet and several of his sons, who were arrested in December, are among those on trial.
To the Amish, a beard is a significant symbol of faith and manhood.
Prosecutors have said the accused men and women, all members of Mullet's breakaway Amish sect, planned and carried out the attacks "on their perceived religious enemies" under Mullet's orders. CNN has sought a response from Mullet's attorney, Edward Bryan. Bryan has disputed the prosecution's characterization of his client, according to The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
We Are at War
Exploiting 9/11 for the Benefit of a Few.
By Johnny Barber
Who benefits from the War on Terror and who benefits when America threatens war?
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.