Anabaptist Beginnings and in Modern TimesAnabaptists (Greek for twice baptised, or "re-baptizers”) are Christians of the Radical branch of the Reformation. They got their start in approximately 1525. Anabaptists rejected conventional Christian practices such as wearing wedding rings, taking oaths, and participating in civil government. In the 1520s and 1530s Anabaptist preachers spread the movement throughout central Europe, and authorities, either from a lack of knowledge about the new sect, desire to maintain orthodox doctrine, or a variety of other nuanced reasons, usually responded with executions and banishment although a few leaders did exercise moderation in dealing with the Anabaptists.Much of the historic Roman Catholic and Protestant literature has represented the Anabaptists as groups who preached false doctrine. That negative historiography remained popular for about four centuries. The Roman Catholics and Protestants alike persecuted the Anabaptists, resorted to torture and other types of physical abuse, in attempts to curb the growth of the movement. The Protestants under Zwingli were the first to persecute the Anabaptists. Felix Manz became the first martyr in 1527. The Anabaptists were the most persecuted religion sect throughout the Catholic Reformation. They were mainly persecuted because they broke away from the Catholic Church and questioned many of the main Catholic beliefs, especially infant baptism. (It should be noted that the Catholic Church used baptism records as a basis for tax records, and a child unbaptized was a child untaxed.)On May 20, 1527, Roman Catholic authorities executed Michael Sattler. King Ferdinand declared drowning (called the third baptism) "the best antidote to Anabaptism". The Tudor regime, even those that were Protestant persecuted Anabaptists as they were deemed too radical and therefore a danger to religious stability. The Anabaptists were early promoters of a free church and freedom of religion -- usually associated with separation of church and state. When it was introduced by the Anabaptists in the 15th and 16th centuries, religious freedom independent of the state was unthinkable to both clerical and governmental leaders. Religious liberty was equated with anarchy.Thieleman J. van Braght's Martyrs Mirror describes the persecution and execution of thousands of Anabaptists in Austria, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and other parts of Europe between 1525 and 1660. Continuing persecution in Europe was largely responsible for the mass immigrations to North America by Amish, Hutterites, and Mennonites.
Additional ReadingAs a web designer whose awareness of this movie began with an interest in the career of Norbert Weisser who played Michael Sattler, I do not claim to be an authority on this belief. This information was gathered largely from various articles in Wikipedia and other locations throughout the internet.Additional information can be found by following these links:If you have a website, blog or other research that you have done that pertains to this belief, or these characters, I will be happy to link it here. Please contact me.
A Sisters and Brothers Production
Several existing denominational bodies may be legitimately regarded as the successors of the continental Anabaptists -- Amish, Bretheren, Hutterites, Mennonites and Bruderhof Communities. Total worldwide membership of the Mennonite, Bretheren in Christ and related churches totals 1,616,126 (as of 2009) with about 60 percent in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Groups deriving from the Schwarzenau Bretheren, often called German Baptists, while not directly descended from the 16th-century Anabaptists, are usually considered Anabaptist because of an almost identical doctrine and practice.Puritans of England and their Baptist branch arose independently, but were influenced by the Anabaptist movement.