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The origins of the movement were within the Swiss Anabaptist movement, which grew out of the conviction that:
- baptizing babies is not biblical
- the Bible requires the separation of church and state
- a Christian should not wield the sword (complete pacifism)
- the Lord's Supper is symbolic of the suffering of Jesus, and should be done in remembrance of him
This movement became known as the Anabaptists ("re-baptizers") because they were baptized a second time, in adulthood. The first communal village, known as a bruderhof (German: "place of brothers"), was established in 1528, in Moravia. Five years later they were joined by a South Tyrolean preacher, Jacob Hutter, from whom the sect acquired its name. Despite repeated persecution (Hutter was burned at the stake in 1536), by the beginning of the seventeenth century there were around 70,000 Hutterites and over ninety bruderhofe.