What happens within the movement »« Big Amish Brother

What Amish life is really like, by an eyewitness

A comment by isavaldyr on Big Amish Brother. Life among the Amish.

I grew up in a very rural part of Ohio less than a mile from some Amish families. My parents, who were (and are) avid gardeners, had dealings with them related to seeds, produce and simple woodcraft–stakes for tomato plants, things like that. It’s not uncommon for the Amish to have small businesses. Sawmills (only gas-powered machines of course–being connected to an electrical grid is too worldly) and things like that. Less entrepreneurial Amish men often fall into the same niche that Mexican illegal immigrants do in many other places, providing cheap labor for things like home renovations, since Amish will work for less than an “English” roofer or sider and won’t sue you if they get hurt on the job.

Some Amish are fairly well-to-do and have pretty luxurious lives (by Amish standards–meaning they can afford battery-powered headlights and a plastic windscreen for their horse-drawn buggy), but the ones I grew up around lived in grinding poverty. Think subsistence agriculture. The father worked part-time picking fruit at an orchard, but no one else in the family had an income. And it was a BIG family. At least 12 kids–I wish I was exaggerating. Male children (often at really horrifyingly young ages) were expected to do the farm work, while female children did everything else. The family bathed once a week, all using the same tub of water and homemade soap made from animal tallow. The father and some of the older male children had shoes, but most of the family didn’t. A few years back, the mother died from cancer; she was younger than 50. A lot of Amish will go to chiropractors or veterinarians instead of medical doctors when they have health problems, or rely on folk remedies. I remember hearing about a man from another local Amish family who was badly burned in a workshop accident and rushed to the hospital by his English coworkers. He was bandaged and given instructions to come back for a follow-up appointment, but as soon as he got home he took his wound dressing off and went into the woods to gather herbs for a poultice. I wouldn’t believe that this kind of thing still went on in 21st century America if I hadn’t seen it myself.

Amish children go to special Amish schools whose curricula have little or no science and only go up to about 8th grade. They have inadequate nutrition, inadequate healthcare, and live in homes without running water or electricity, meaning no cooling in the summer and no heat in the winter that can’t be provided by a wood-burning stove. It’s hard for me to imagine what it’s like for the women, especially, who have to work outdoors in the brutal heat and humidity of the Ohio summer wearing heavy, black or dark blue-colored dresses and tight-fitting bonnets. They can’t even count on having a glass of ice water to cool down when they’re done–no freezer. (We’ve let this family use our freezer to store their meats more than once.) It’s just an awful, awful life of deprivation that “English” people, even poor ones, can scarcely imagine. It’s also worth noting that Amish parents very much believe in corporal punishment.

The thing that pisses me off is that the way Amish people live would be considered abusive to their children if “English” people did it. But because they believe it’s mandated by their religion, they get a free pass. People I know don’t understand why I get so worked up about the Amish, but I’ve lived around them, talked to them, seen where they live, and it’s awful. One thing I will always remember: when I was younger, we used to have a trampoline in our front yard, and whenever the Amish kids would come down to ask a favor of my parents or barter on behalf of their father, they got to jump on it, and they were more thrilled with it than I’ve ever seen anyone be about anything. They’d also stand outside and look in our livingroom window at the TV, standing utterly still and transfixed in complete wonder. It makes me sick to think of how many other amazing things they’ll never get to experience simply because they had the misfortune of being born into a religion that rejects the whole world.

 

Comments

  1. isavaldyr says

    Oh, goodness. I didn’t expect my first comment to make the front page. I’ll share something else I’ve learned, then: Amish buggies are dangerous as hell to have on the road. Particularly at night. They’re black, which makes them rather hard to see until you’re close to them even in clear conditions–nevermind if it’s foggy or raining. Some of them have reflective tape on the back, but most I’ve seen carry only a small lantern on the back for illumination. Yes, an actual lantern with lantern oil in it. For real. Plenty of buggies have been hit by cars, and it’s usually only fatal for the Amish people and their horse, given the construction of their vehicle. It’s just a wooden frame with iron wheels. Not the most survivable thing to be in when a speeding car or truck rear-ends you. (As an aside, the iron wheels of buggies and the metal shoes of the horses cause damage to the road surface, which then experiences further degradation in the winter due to frost heave–when water from melted snow seeps into the cracks and chips in the asphalt, then expands when it freezes. So they damage our roads, but don’t contribute to fixing them, since they don’t pay taxes… sounds fair.)

    One particularly nasty winter–2004 or 2005, I think–we had an ice storm that made the roads very un-fun for driving. Early one morning, at an intersection a few miles down the road from our house, a car came up on an Amish buggy, slammed on its brakes, slid on the ice and careened into the back of the buggy, and just utterly demolished it. I don’t know if the whole family died, but I remember hearing that at least one of the children did. When we were driving into town to get groceries, we went past the scene, and the dead horse was still lying alongside the road. It was just a surreal sight to see on a road in the 21st century. It seemed really large. You don’t typically see roadkill that big, or dead horses in general, you know?

  2. Beatrice says

    I never had a particularly romantic view of the Amish, but these things you are sharing are horrible.
    I hope US gets rid of religious exemptions. Having a little kid in the car without a special car seat will get you a ticket, but driving them around in a death trap is apparently perfectly fine because religion!
    Not to mention all kinds of abuse that are rampant in these isolated communities.

  3. Fractal says

    According to Wikipedia, Amish teenagers are not required to be baptized as adult Amish practitioners, and before they do (usually around the ages of 16 and 17) many of them experience life outside Amish communities, including technology, before deciding whether or not to become baptized. Even though they leave their communities for a brief period and are given the option to leave their community and religion permanently, most return to be baptized and live as adult Amish. Adolescence in general is referred to as rumspringa by the Amish. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumspringa

    A perfect example of how effective brainwashing from birth is…

  4. says

    @3 thecalmone

    That is a good question. I do know one woman who did leave the community. It may be worth noting that they have a ritual known as rumspringa, where they are given the option to leave. The Wikipedia page I linked to says most stay. I would suspect that many would just be overwhelmed with how different “English” society is. (As an aside, I do not know if the woman I know left during her rumspringa. It is a question I should really ask. I do know that she does have occasional contact with her family, as she has posted pictures with them on her Facebook page.)

  5. isavaldyr says

    I’ve always viewed rumspringa as a false choice. Of course almost none of them will choose the confusion and culture shock of the English world–for which they have had little or no preparation–over the familiarity of Amish life, especially given the knowledge that they will be shunned if they leave, with various degrees of severity depending on their particular community. Amish teens usually have no guidance during their rumspringa and live to excess, drinking too much, taking drugs and getting in trouble. It’s a caricature of what normal life is like.

    It’s like keeping someone in a basement their whole life until they turn 16, then pushing them outside at high noon and asking if they want to live outside from now on, while they scream in pain and terror from the sunlight. Of course they’ll go back down into the basement.

  6. Leafhuntress says

    Hmm, my parents are hippies. They bought a more then hunderd year old ship & took off.
    I grew up without electricity & running water. Bathing once a week with iron bucketts warming on the stove & poored in the bath. My mum went first, then my brother & me, & my father went last. On other days one used a pitcher & bowl.

    I must be soooo deprived!

    Differences; we went to normal schools, got all the shots etc. we needed & there were only two children.

    I learned to grow my own food, can chop wood etc. Never learned to knit though… I still hate washing clothes by hand, particularly the rinsing & drying by winding them, it hurts your hands.

    I think americans are crazy for using airconditioners, but shamefully those things are seen more & more here in europe too.
    I think the dependence on so much senseless machines is depriving future generations of nessecary stuff like fridges, washingmachines & all that is used in hospitals. I happen to like computers too. ;-)

  7. isavaldyr says

    Oh! Another fun tidbit I forgot. Amish communities have higher rates of genetic disorders than the general population, owing to inbreeding. They don’t marry anyone except other Amish people, so, as you might expect, the gene pool is pretty small, especially among the more isolated communities. Almost all Amish people alive today are descendants of the same group of about 200 people from the 1700′s. It’s pretty amazing. The language they speak dates from around the same era, an outmoded form of a regional dialect of German. I’m mostly fluent in German, but I can’t really follow them when they speak “Pennsylvania Dutch”, apart from picking up a few words here and there. It’s easier to parse when it’s written down, but, of course, it usually isn’t. Most of them speak English to some degree of fluency, with a characteristic accent.

  8. says

    I was brought up in the UK just after WW2. When I was very young we all bathed once a week in front of a coal fire. We also had newspaper instead of blankets on our beds. But my parents made sure we got out of that pretty quickly and by the time I went to school everything was more or less normal. We got a car when I was 7 and a few years later we had a tele. Strangely it was disguised to look like a cocktail cabinet.

  9. says

    And about the religious exemption – a famous Supreme Court decision, Wisconsin v Yoder, turned on that. It found that Amish parents have a right to ignore laws mandating education, because religion. It was a horrible decision. (A dissenting Justice – Douglas? – pointed out that the children’s rights were being ignored. Well quite.)

  10. isavaldyr says

    No one is saying that everyone who grew up without modern conveniences is horribly deprived and abused by default. Particularly if you grew up in a time period when the things we take for granted in 2012 were uncommon or nonexistent. Given that we have those things now, though, how is it not awful and unconscionable to force your children to toil and suffer when they don’t have to? How is it not outrageous to make an eight year-old boy till a field with an iron plow and a team of horses when it could be done safely and in a fraction of the time by an adult with a tractor? How is it not unacceptable to make your young daughter weed the garden by hand in a stifling, floor-length homemade dress and bonnet when she could be wearing a t-shirt and shorts (or, better yet, in school)?

    Nobody (I hope) would argue the cruelty in forcing a child to cut the lawn with scissors, because there are better ways of doing it. There is a better way of doing things than the Amish way–but we let them continue maintaining an oasis of poverty and deprivation in one of the richest countries on the planet, trapping their children in an 18th century time-warp, ’cause it’s their religion and we gotta respect it. No. Fuck that. I don’t respect the religious right of the Amish to abuse their children any more than I respect the religious right of the Taliban to keep girls from going to school.

  11. says

    …..aaaaand Leafhuntress comes along to derail the thread with her hippy-crunchy sense of superiority, missing the entire point of the post: religious oppression.

    Differences; we went to normal schools, got all the shots etc. we needed & there were only two children.

    And these are such minor differences, eh?

    I think americans are crazy for using airconditioners, but shamefully those things are seen more & more here in europe too.

    Tell that to the families of the 15,000 people who died during the heat wave about a decade ago.

    I run an air conditioner in the summer because I can’t breathe well when it’s 100° Fahrenheit and the humidity is 70° Fahrenheit. If that burns you, too bad.

    Bathing once a week with iron bucketts warming on the stove & poored in the bath.

    You all must have smelled delightful.

  12. sharoncrawford says

    I spent my first seven years on a farm (in Missouri) without electricity, running water, indoor plumbing. And we did the Sat night bath ritual because it was way too hard to haul indoors all that water and then heat it on a wood burning stove.

    I also went to a one-room school.

    But as soon as my grandmother could persuade my grandfather, we got the hell out of there and moved to California. Back in the sixties when people would rhapsodise about the simple life, I would just shake my head. I knew exactly what that life entailed.

    My great-grandmother and great-grandfather were first cousins. They had to go to Iowa to legally marry.

  13. Arty Morty says

    I second what Beatrice said in #2. Thanks for sharing this, isvaldyr, and thanks for bringing it to my attention, Ophelia.

    There’s another big ex-Amish show running right now on National Geographic (ugh, “NatGeo”) called Amish: Out Of Order. It’s surprisingly un-faith-coddling for a mainstream US cable channel. The show’s tagline: “It takes a lot to leave the only life you’ve ever known—for one you’ve been told will lead you straight to hell.”

    Two’s a trend!

  14. pipenta says

    I once knew a gal who had lived in eastern PA, in a community with a large population of Amish people. She worked as an assistant in an OB/GYN office and the things she saw and heard did not leave her with a good impression of the culture, for the reasons you might expect. It’s a patriarchal agricultural culture, with all that implies.

    I won’t go in to a lot of the stories, but one in particular stayed with me; a woman came into the office for a follow-up after a particularly difficult birth. Her husband didn’t seem overly concerned about his wife’s misery. He looked at the doctor and bluntly asked, “When can I breed my wife again?”

  15. Billy Clyde Tuggle says

    I grew up in East Ohio and can relate to those hard to see Amish black buggies. One night on the way back home from college (I was near Millersburg IIRC), I topped a hill going too fast and came very close to taking one out. The buggy driver cracked the whip and darted for the ditch while I simultaneously swerved left of center. It was a very close call which scared the heck out of me, but fortunately we avoided contact.

    I didn’t live close to any Amish families so I wasn’t aware that there lives were quite so harsh. I was raised by my grandmother who would often tell stories of life before elecricity and telephones, so I just figured the Amish were living in some analogous fashion (to hear my grandmother tell it those were mostly happy times).

    We didn’t get air conditioning until I was in my teens, but at least we had electric fans and a fairly well insulated house (with a basement) to hide in when it got really hot. And, of course, we didn’t have to work in the fields. When we went outside it was to ride our bikes or shoot basketball.

    \BCT

  16. Hunt says

    Another factor to consider is that heating by wood burning stove is being revealed to be more and more unhealthy as time goes on: asthma, long term exposure and lung cancer risk, etc.

    There is an excellent documentary on the Rumspringa thing called “The Devil’s Playground.” As I recall it was pretty good. There’s definitely a fear factor and psychological hamstringing effect going on, which I consider a level of cruelty above the ordinary. I’m not really one to fall for moral relativism enough to just let things like this slide.

  17. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    Leafhuntress:

    I think americans are crazy for using airconditioners, but shamefully those things are seen more & more here in europe too.

    Shamefully?
    You speak as though there’s something wrong with technology making people’s lives better.
    Why do you think using an air conditioner is crazy? If you’re living in an area with oppressive heat, wouldn’t an effective means of cooling off be welcome (obviously if the option is available)? I find extremes of temperature to be stifling. That’s why I like to stay warm in the winter and stay cool in the summer.
    What are the benefits you perceive in not having air conditioning?

  18. isavaldyr says

    @Billy Clyde Tuggle: Ah, Millersburg. I’ve been there a few times. My parents had friends in Holmes County they liked to visit. There are definitely plenty of Amish out there, too. I grew up in Wayne County, which has Lehman’s Hardware, a specialty store with a lot of non-electric appliances designed to appeal to Amish people. You have to admire the hard-nosed business savvy of someone who looks at a community of insular borderline-Luddites and thinks “untapped market”.

  19. says

    isavaldyr @ 12 – Indeed, and one of the guys said just that – he was sick to death of doing everything the hard way.

    One of the interesting things about this show is that the subjects really dislike it, just as we would. I’m a little surprised that’s not prettied up or anything. They sound grumpy and annoyed and fed up and as if they feel generally fucked over. They hate the bishop and the bishop’s wife and all the spying, they hate the stupid hard work, they hate having no education, they hate the clothes – they don’t want it.

    The Italian/Puerto Rican adoptee cried over the letter saying she was going to hell – the nasty cold cruel letter.

    It’s all vile.

  20. Francisco Bacopa says

    Ophelia, you probably know this, but there’s not much risk of problems with second cousins, or even first cousins. Problems start when you have second cousins who had parents who were second cousins. Several generations of not so close inbreeding is worse than a one off case of much closer inbreeding.

    Someone made a comparison between the Haradrim and the Amish in the previous thread. I agree they are quite similar, though I think the Haradrim are perhaps a little more oppressive.

  21. A. Noyd says

    Billy Clyde Tuggle (#17)

    I was raised by my grandmother who would often tell stories of life before elecricity and telephones…

    I don’t know how, but I misread that as “life before electricity and tampons.” Now I’m trying to decide which would be worse to go without.

  22. octopod says

    Haradrim. LOL! Picturing men with Oliphaunts and side-curls in the streets of Brooklyn now.

    That said: it is spooky, isn’t it? There is this sort of blueprint for repressively patriarchal, pseudo-old-fashioned, isolationist religious cults, which is being followed by the Amish and the Haredim and the FLDS and I’m sure a dozen others outside my knowledge. Is there a handbook or something, or do abusers-of-authority just all want exactly the same things?

  23. DaveL says

    @9

    I don’t suppose you were ever on TV?

    @4

    A perfect example of how effective brainwashing from birth is.

    It’s not just brainwashing. They also try to sabotage any chance their adolescents have of transitioning to adulthood in the outside world. There’s also the implicit threat of being rejected by your own family and community if you refuse to join the Amish church. So it’s effectively a choice between staying Amish or being cast out without help into a world you know nothing about and are ill-equipped to deal with, to eek out a niche for yourself starting from nothing.

  24. sheila says

    The prospect of losing your family must be terrifying, but the prospect of coping alone with a world you’re not prepared for must be very intimidating too. Is there a such a thing as a non-profit to help people who want to leave, so they actually have a choice? Stuff like counselling, but also practical advice on, say, opening a bank account and getting a driving licence and using the internet. Is this something A+ might do?

  25. Anonymous Atheist says

    Interesting idea, Sheila.

    There are some somewhat-similar nonbeliever-oriented organizations I’m aware of:
    http://clergyproject.org/ – Clergy Project for helping people leave being priests/preachers
    http://www.takeheartproject.org/ – Take Heart Project for helping people leaving Quiverfull lifestyles

    Specifically for helping people leave Amish life, the only thing I see currently is:
    http://www.mapministry.org/i-am-new/about-map – Mission to Amish People, an evangelical Christian organization that does the things you mention, but accompanied by evangelizing.

    Mose Gingerich, an ex-Amish (but still Christian) man who’s been on TV a number of times, said a couple months ago that he’s working on starting an organization to help ex-Amish people, something he’s done as an individual for a number of people already.
    http://amishinthecitymose.com/2012/06/leaving-a-way-of-life-and-leaving-this-life/
    It will be called the Cephas Yoder Foundation, after one of his ex-Amish friends who died in a car wreck: http://amishinthecitymose.com/cephas-yoder-foundation/

  26. grumpyoldfart says

    Every few years I read another story about the Amish fucking their own children. They seem to be just as bad as the Catholics.

  27. Trends says

    Montréal has a huge comedy festival every summer that is attended by 100s of 100s. Most of it takes place in the streets and some of the material is a little lewd.

    This summer while watching some street comedy I chanced upon an entire Amish family ( beards, dowdy clothes…the whole bit) laughing it up and having a great time.

    They live a pre-industrial lifestyle, but appear to have accommodated modernity on many levels without compromising either their principles or beliefs.

    That kind of balancing act requires quite a bit of effort.

  28. sheila says

    @Anonymous Atheist, I’m glad to hear there’s some help available, and I can’t help thinking that ex-Amish would be able to do it best.

  29. rory says

    I would second the recommendation made in post #18 to see ‘The Devil’s Playground,’ which follows a group of Amish teens during their period living a modern lifestyle. What struck me most was how many of them have substance abuse problems–it’s like having been deprived their whole lives, they go overboard during their period of freedom and end up getting themselves into trouble. Not to trivialize it, but it reminds me of my first semester in college, where a lot of kids just went to pieces without parental guidance to keep them in line.

    Good film, though. Worth a watch if you want to know more about this culture and some of it’s ugly aspects.

  30. Socio-gen, something something... says

    isavaldyr:

    I grew up in northeastern PA in an area that had a small Amish population (about 80 families — or 18-ish depending on whether one counted households or kin relationships). My experience was pretty similar to yours.

    Most of the families were dairy farmers, with the poorer men working “outside” jobs in construction. The wives and daughters often ran roadside vegetable and baked good stands, in addition to all the housekeeping and child-rearing — all made more difficult and labor-intensive by their refusal to use modern technology. Few Amish women had any schooling past the 6th grade.

    The amount of abuse that Amish women and girls experienced (then and now), and the degree to which it’s simply accepted by everyone in the Amish community as an expected, normal, day-to-day experience is sickening.

    Trigger Warning for a description of abuse:
    I still remember seeing the girl who sold baked goods on the corner being whipped by her father (with a buggy whip) for failing to sell as much as he’d expected. I was crying and begging my grandmother to stop the car and help.
    .
    .
    I was only 7 or 8 and didn’t understand any of her explanation of why we couldn’t interfere. Someone is being hurt, what do you mean we can’t do anything?! I’m still brought to tears by that memory and the sick sense of horror and utter helplessness. And I remember how disillusioned I was, realizing that adults could not be counted on to act to protect someone in danger.

    From that day on, my grandmother would go to the stand on Saturday evenings and buy whatever was left so that Dora would not be hurt. It was the only form of protection she could offer (and which Dora would accept).

  31. says

    Yikes. That’s another one that needs to be on the main page.

    You were right and (with all due respect) your grandmother was wrong. I can easily imagine making the same mistake myself, at least before I’d thought about these things, but I would have been wrong. (Of course, it would have been a big nightmare to interfere, but all the same – it has to start somewhere.)

  32. Scrutationary Archivist says

    It sounds like the kids going on rumspringa could use a guide, too.

    Is there any organized effort to help these Amish teenagers deal with the outside world, and avoid the worst excesses? Having a good experience might make it harder for the elders to say “We told you so”.

    And, Sheila, I agree that formerly-Amish people might be best for that kind of task.

  33. says

    What about an organization that provides “foster” care for Amish children on Rumspringa? Basically it would organize households who are willing to extend a friendly hand and a room for young men (and women? Are they allowed rumspringa?) out of the environment for the first time.

    Friendly faces and a helping hand in navigating what must be an incredibly confusing world would, I think, help many folks leave the lifestyle.

    If I ever found myself living anywhere near any Amish communities I would gladly participate in such a project (and the chances aren’t that low. My wife eventually wants to have a place where she can keep horses).

  34. Socio-gen, something something... says

    Ophelia: It’s tough because stepping in almost always ends up bringing more abuse on the victim because now they’ve shamed the family by bringing their “private matters” to the attention of the “English.” When two boys on my bus stood up for an 11 or 12yo girl who was being abused by her older brother, she ended up being yanked from school and forced to kneel in their side yard for 12 hours a day reciting prayers, for six weeks straight.

    It’s an incredibly complex problem. Even when you step in, the victim has been brainwashed from birth to believe this is the natural order of things and is unwilling to accept help. There are no support services to provide shelter or relief to battered Amish women because a) nothing exists within the Amish community, and b) they won’t take advantage of outside agencies/services because it means cutting ties with their entire community — which, they have been taught, also means they lose all hope of salvation.

    Even when law enforcement is willing to step in (such as a child sexual abuse case) often they cannot do anything because the victims are not willing to give up their “immortal souls” by testifying and being shunned.

  35. says

    I know Leafhuntress said it way up thread but their comment:
    “I think americans are crazy for using airconditioners,”

    Pissed me off to a fair degree. I live in Arizona, the Valley to be exact. Almost every day in the summer it is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (I think that’s 37 degrees Celsius.

    During heat waves all across America you hear about the elderly dying of heat stroke. Here in the Valley it’s not uncommon to hear about the odd elderly person (usually the very, very poor) dying of heat stroke. It’s not at all uncommon for people to suffer from heat exhaustion (not something to laugh at either).

    I count myself as damned lucky to be able to have an air conditioner, especially after it broke a few years back and we went without for a good long while. OR my old car which had no AC after it got broken into and the stereo stolen (they had to pry off the whole front display which took out the AC too). I had to drive to and from work an hour each way in good traffic with no air. Had to drive with the window down and I would still end up drenched with sweat and dehydrated at the end of the day.

    Just… kinda hit a nerve there. If people can afford comforts that don’t hurt people… why fault them for having it? And why do so in a manner that dismisses all the people who actually suffer without such a luxury?

  36. says

    Two thoughts. My first thought is on air conditioners, as it keeps cropping up. Where on earth did anyone get the idea that air conditioners don’t hurt anyone? It’s a vicious cycle with air conditioners using green house gasses, causing more climate changes. They use a lot of electricity and fossil fuels (in building them and through the electricity). It shocks the hell out of people when I tell them I don’t have an air conditioner, my part of Ontario gets hot and humid in the summer. But I find fans, keeping windows open at night, and going outside in the evening helps. I didn’t see anything in that reply saying she thought they should be banned or nobody should use them. By all means, the sick and elderly should go ahead. But everyone else should stop and think before plugging them in. The more you use them, the less you can handle the heat to begin with. And yes, I’m aware all technology has an environmental impact. Picking the technology we need the most is better than going with it all. And I’m not willing to join the Amish in avoiding it entirely.

    Second thought. I disagree with abuse in all forms. People should have the right to their own beliefs. That right should not extend to the abuse of others in the name of religion. I think children should be getting the same education that everyone else is entitled to.

  37. Fractal says

    I wonder if there’s any research being done on ‘green’ air conditioners then? It sounds like it’d be an improvement.

  38. MoxyShock says

    You sound like a snob, sorry but you do. Not all Amish people are as evil as you make them out to be. Let them do what they do and keep your nose out of it. I think most have a better way of life than the majority of the world. Just look at what most of our house hold technology has done to the U.S. Lazy fat spoiled people have no idea how to fend for them selves if they where to lose there dear T.V or computer. I bet most would perish to small things, god forbid it get over 90 outside about half the pop would drop with out air conditioners. Its sad that we have became to smushy because of being pampered by out technology. About the child punishment, look at how most of them turn out when they are grown. Respectable and kind people, if anything we should take lessons from them. Sick of going into stores and hearing bratty kids screaming on the floor and hitting parents over not getting a sticker. Take that kid out side and spank and yell at it for gods sake then toss him or her in her room for an hour to think about how she was acting.

  39. Nicole says

    when i was younger, my parents had everything but electricity shut off so they could pay my horse’ s vet bill. i wasn’t very miserable even though it was my job to walk a whole mile to fetch water from the creek. my horse saved my life on more than one occasion though. totally worth the back- breaking work.

  40. Ohio1981 says

    Finally!!! Thank you @MoxyShock!!! First of all, I lived near a very large Amish community & have done a lot of research on the Amish & Mennonite culture. I don’t know if you realize this but abuse happens in every culture, religion and race. It has nothing to do with that group or community and everything to do with the abuser. There are just bad people who do bad things everywhere. Now if you are pointing this out because you think their religious beliefs should prevent this behavior, I invite you to take as close of a look at Catholic priests, those who practice radical Islam, and general citizens. It happens in every culture. As for the family structure and the children working, the children are not thrown into unsafe situations (ie. plowing a field) without first having years of instruction from their mother or father. As far as these commenters who have a superiority complex over anyone who does anything based on religious faith, I’ll remind you that the U.S. was built and founded on freedom of religious practices. Unless you yourself relocated here from another country, there’s a good chance someone in your lineage fought for that freedom…..so you could pass judgement on people you know little about or have stereotyped based on a few of the bad.

  41. Karen Atherstone says

    I am a South African and I feel that if more people had the Amish morals and values, there would be less problems in the world – divorce, abuse, drugs, alcoholism, war! I am all for the Amish ….

  42. rachel abrams says

    i life nere an aimsh comunity and the way they disaplen there kid is not as bad as you think. i am english and was wiped as a ponishment and i will wip my kids. the aimsh here drive black bugges with badery lights. back roads are were they drive the most. state road 3 they tend to stay away from. the have no ac as religion says. i read some of the comments at the top and religion and state are sepreat.

  43. Lizzy says

    This article is ridiculous. First, the Amish are some of the healthiest people in the US because the kids do work and don’t sit around all day watching television. They haven’t bought into conventional medicine because conventional medicine kills hundreds of thousands of people a year and the FDA is a complete joke. They are some of the nicest people I have ever met and to make them sound like uneducated vagrants is disgusting. They work hard and care about their families. They are family oriented. Our society in the US is sick and has morally degraded where most are divorced and live to make money and send their kids off to be raised by someone else. Are there bad Amish people? Sure…There are terrible people everywhere but as someone who has lived around them I can tell you they are nothing like this article portrayed.

    Also, whoever said we should get rid of the opting out for religious reason…Oh my dear Lord in heaven…In the United States of America we have freedom of religion. That is why the Amish came over here because they were being persecuted in Europe! Lets just burn our US Constitution too! Because Hey! We all need vaccines, listen to the FDA and look down on those who have deep set beliefs and moral values!

  44. Stephen Leonards says

    Rachel Abrams: I’m guessing by your illiterate post that you in fact are Amish. Although they say education stops at 8th grade, I have a feeling you dropped out much sooner. Good god, you have a computer or access to one. Hit spellcheck! I’m ashamed for you.
    On a side note. Here’s my problem with the Amish or any other group of conscientious objectors. You are able to live your choice of life in this country because others have sacrificed their lives fighting for that right.
    If you aren’t willing to fight for your freedoms then you aught not have any.
    Also, if they’re so against violence, how do you justify buggy whipping your daughter over unsold goods.

  45. says

    Stephen Leonards: you should be ashamed of yourself for such a discriminating arrogant, rude, obnoxious comment. You just bullied Rachel Abrams who apparently is dyslexic. Your parents should have taught you some manners instead of shoving a Nintendo Gameboy in your hands. Most on this blog need to remember if you want to be respected then show some respect for others regardless of color, race or religion.

  46. Russell Simmons says

    Thank you Lizzy and Thomas Edison! Different faithed peoples who will never see these posts sure do make easy targets for the simple minded. Seems almost like taking jabs at animals or the elderly to me. The bottom line is that the Amish don’t use your computers, don’t subscribe to all of your ideas, won’t see these posts, but do make an honest living. Do you really expect them to debate you on here, with arguments you learned in “English” school?? The mountain doesn’t come to Muhammad people…

  47. John Morales says

    [meta]

    @52:

    Seems almost like taking jabs at animals or the elderly to me.

    You’re not doing the Amish any favours there, Russell.

  48. says

    So what’s the claim here? That Amish rules and ways of treating each other shouldn’t be criticized because they don’t have computers?

    No, that won’t do.

  49. Adamsville Tn says

    We have a few hundred around here now. Some are the best people you could ask for. While some of them are sorry as can be. Will take advantage of people in a heart beat, but then again almost all of them here will do that. While they don’t want anything modern. Show me where a Band saw mill is not modern? Or that gas pump they use to pump there water into tanks that feed there homes with running water? How they can burn the leftovers from there sawmills! While the Tax paying people of our county can’t burn anything at there mills. That pays local sales tax, Road tax, Income tax.
    Now our car’s have to meet EPA standards, but there horse can leave crap all over the road. And that is ok?? As for there buggy’s, dark and nothing to let you know there in front of you until its almost the last second. Now If I run my tractor down the road even in daylight I have to have flashers on it or a Farm TRiangle or its breaking the law. But for them there’s no law?
    These double standards to me is about to blow the tops of a lot of people that has lived here for years. While the people move in and try to take over. we have over a dozen saw mills in our section of the county that they run. They have put over 40 people out of work. AS they can saw it cheaper, there no paying all the taxes our other sawmills have to pay. Plus the guys that pay them to saw the logs keeps one guy at each one to run his loader to unload and load the lumber back up. While they destroy our local roads and nothing is done about it. Other mills are shut down if its muddy and there tracking up the roads. But not the Amish!
    I can get along with anyone, but will not breath the smoke from there slabs burning every day of the week. it may come to Calling the EPA each day but I will do it. And please understand some of the Amish are good. But half of these will do about anything other then steal.

  50. Lola says

    I visited an Amish community and stayed at the home of one of the families for a week in Indiana, and I can say that most of these “facts” are untrue. In my 2 weeks there, I didn’t see a single child spanked (and I was around dozens of families). The family had incredible meals 3x a day and the young children did chores such as chopping strawberries or helping with dishes. The children bathed every day with running water fueled by a generator. I’ve never seen children that joyful and grateful for what they had, nothing like the many spoiled kids in the schools I’ve worked at. They were gracious, quiet families that said “Hello” to every person they passed and told me to come back anytime I’d like. I’ve never felt so at peace than the time I spent at their farm.

  51. Miguel says

    Incredible how you judge. The glass house you seemingly live in (and get a great Internet connection from) must have a beautiful view of those miserly otherfolk Amish.

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