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The Amish make me sick

I haven’t had much time to provide new content these last couple of days. For that I apologize. But it hasn’t been all work. In the background and during breaks the cable was tuned to the NatGeo channel and their specials on the Amish. Up til now they seemed a little weird, fairly harmless, and in some ways worthy of respect: for they truly live their beliefs. After learning more, though, I am appalled.

The Amish restrict their children to an eighth grade education. Men and women work from dawn to dusk, toiling endlessly. They take the Old Testament pretty damn literally, meaning they’re no doubt Young Earth Creationists and a bunch of other medieval shit. They arbitrarily set their technology at pre-industrial age levels. Pulleys and levels, OK, gears and hammers, fine, but anything with electricity or reciprocating engines are verboten.

I might be able to get past all that nonsense, live and let live, right?  This is after all America, where freedom of religion isn’t merely valued, it’s a Constitutional Right, enumerated in the very first amendment of the Bill of Rights. Freedom of religion or from religion may not always be observed — the tyranny of the majority is on full display here in every age. But we try, as a people, sometimes we even succeed. The Amish have that same right as anyone else. What they do is not illegal.

But some of it is frankly revolting.

I didn’t realize how it worked until NatGeo filled me in. It turns out if anyone in the those communities thirsts for more knowledge or freedom, and wants to go into the world to quench it, they’re shunned. Culturally exiled. Even their parents and siblings cannot have any contact with them.

They’re not the only religion that pulls this crap. There’s a long, long list of religious codas policed by control freaks that hand out similar torture. But it paints a big stripe of ugly down the back of people who pride themselves on non violence and love. They enforce unnecessary misery and a lifetime of suffering, typically inflicted on the most vulnerable, powerless members. The kind of practice that leaves a person emotionally hobbled for life. That’s Sick. That”s Pathological. That’s Evil. And the Amish sound proud of it.

Fuck the Amish. Fuck them, fuck their ignorant elders, and fuck whole sick, twisted miserable cult.

Comments

  1. den1s says

    ‘Shunning’ is quite common among religious xtian cults. The mormons and JWs certainly do that if one of their family members wants to leave the church. It’s most repulsive, and shows how they practice that true xtian love of family they talk so much about. Strange how their church/faith takes precedence over reality/family.

  2. brucegee1962 says

    While it’s true that Christians and Mormons talk about love of family as being one of the big pillars of their religion — to the extent of using it extensively in their advertising — if you look at what Jesus actually says in the Bible about families, most of it is pretty cold. It isn’t truth in advertising, that’s for sure.

  3. godlesspanther says

    The Amish are an interesting group historically. I would not want to be one any more than I would want to be sheep on a farm.

    The Amish is one of three major groups called the Anabaptists. The Mennonites and Hutterites are the other two. The Amish are the strictest of the three in terms of the rejection of modernity. The Hutterites do drive motorized vehicles, have electricity, and such but they do live in isolated communities and wear simple hand-made clothes. The Mennonites are pretty much assimilated into the larger society. All three groups are pacifists. Three members of the Hutterites were arrested, imprisoned, and tortured (one of them killed) during WWI for refusal of military service.

    Some of the ideology is much like the Society of Friends aka the Quakers — though the Quakers are from a different theological lineage.

    Oh– and those places that sell “Amish furniture” — don’t buy it — it’s some of the crappiest furniture in the world.

  4. dwb1957 says

    @machintelligence, there’s an apocryphal story that during a press conference Weird Al was asked if he didn’t think the video was a little insulting to the Amish. He replied that he wasn’t worried. “They’ll never see it.” He’d obviously forgotten about Rumspringa.

  5. says

    I live in a town that’s situated between 2 of the largest amish communities in the midwest. I went to grade school with lots of amish kids and have worked a few jobs with the men.
    Around here, they aren’t as afraid of technology as you might think. There are lots of amish business owners, practically everyone of them is construction related, who have cell phones. There are amish kids with cell phones and laptops and are even on facebook. I’m not just talking about those that are into their Rumspringa. If you don’t know what that is, it’s the time of an amish kids life I think it starts at the age of 16 until they turn 18 when they go out into the secular world to experience the “other side of life.” This is when they decide to stay within their community or enter the world. We call them “jerked over amish.”
    Tragically, this is also a time when a lot of them get into trouble with the law, drinking, (I’ve been to amish barn parties where they had 20 kegs) drugs, pregnancy and DUI fatalities. (See the movie Devils Playground. It was filmed here.)
    Above all these things, the worst thing about these people is the astonishingly high amount of sexual abuse both within the community and within the home. Because they are such a sheltered people, they don’t report these things to the authorities rather they just deal with them within their own communities. There are those women, though, who during their Rumspringa, will leave their abusive families and actually seek out help at a local mental health facility.
    I, too, fucking hate the amish.

  6. docsarvis says

    Don’t sugarcoat it Sundance, tell us how you really feel.

    I’ve known this about the Amish for about 20 years. And yeah, their furniture sucks. That’s what happens when you eschew CADCAM and build stuff by hand.

    Thanks for sharing this. More people need to know about the Amish and their demented beliefs.

  7. says

    What really got me about all those NatGeo specials was one moment where one of the girls who was sent to live with modern society for a month, I think it was, made the statement that women are inherently inferior to men. In context, she was talking about a group of female surfers that they met who dressed like and competed alongside the makes. I believe the word she used to describe it was “futile,” in that females shouldn’t be attempting to elevate themselves as equals to men. Scary, scary stuff.

  8. Crudely Wrott says

    SOP for the faithful.They cannot take comfort in their own humanity.

    Pity is all I feel when compassion and instruction and education have demonstrably failed.

    Like the captain that recently ran his ship aground while showing off, they have their reward.

  9. khms says

    The thing you should ponder about Christian “love your neighbor as yourself” …

    … what happens if you combine that with a religion of self-loathing (as in original sin and so on)?

  10. MikeMa says

    I live near the Amish communities surrounding Lancaster, PA. While their religious convictions and attitudes cause problems within their communities, the interface to the outside I’ve seen is friendly, welcoming and pleasant. They sell farm goods: eggs, cheese, fruit & vegetables out of hundreds of roadside stalls. Don’t know anything about the furniture, but they build decks and barns quite well I hear.

    An odd thing is that our local Amish can own a car but can not drive it and do not own power tools but can borrow and use them. A friend of mine would drive the Amish workers from their gathering place to and from the jobsite in their van. They paid well & in cash and he got a great deck.

  11. interrobang says

    The Mennonites are pretty much assimilated into the larger society.

    I don’t know whose Mennonites you’ve seen, but the ones who live nearish to here (roughly around Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario) certainly aren’t. They still use horses and buggies, shun electricity mostly, and do a lot of clandestine trafficking in child brides between communities, as they’ve become aware that living in small, isolated communities for generations is conducive to inbreeding.

    A friend of mine got to know a young woman who came from Quebec and who had basically been sold into marriage by her parents, to a wealthy 50-something man, at the age of fourteen. He at least waited until she was sixteen before he knocked her up. *spit*

    Our government seems spectacularly uninterested in prosecuting them, probably on the grounds that they think child rape is okay if you claim “freedom of religion,” same with the FLDS in BC.

  12. jamessweet says

    The mormons and JWs certainly do that if one of their family members wants to leave the church.

    In the case of Mormons, at least, it actually depends quite a bit on the community you’re involved in. I’ve heard some pretty terrifying horror stories, no doubt… But my experience, I certainly haven’t been shunned by my family, or the community. Heh, if anything, I’ve shunned the community because, well, frankly I just really don’t like most of those people.

    I’m pretty pissed off about having been raised Mormon, but I can’t really claim that they have been dicks about me leaving. Really, the worst of it is that about once every year or two a couple of delegates from the church (not missionaries, “home teachers” — they are there because I am still on a list and it is a PITA to get off of it, not because they are cold-calling) show up at my house, and I tell them to go the fuck away. (I’m usually kinda mean about it, much to my wife’s chagrin… oh well…)

    Anyway, I raise this point because I wonder if it’s that way with JW’s and Amish as well…? i.e., some communities/families are really vicious and nasty towards their apostates, while others are more reasonable? (Reasonable about the apostates, that is; all three of those religions are fuckin’ crazy) The community-to-community variation is certainly the case with Mormons…

  13. davidbrown says

    I also live in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. A friend of mine teaches a number of Old-Order Mennonites (only up to age 16, of course), and while teaching them history, asked them where their ancestors came from. The reply – “We’ve always been here.” They simply had no concept whatsoever that their ancestors immigrated from Europe. Nor did they want to believe that was the case. I have no idea if their elders know the facts, or they too have lost all knowledge of their past.
    I suggested that my friend bring in an aboriginal representative to discuss just who was in the area first. She pointed out that it was tough enough to keep the Old-Order children in school at all – seriously challenging their parents’ teachings and beliefs could cause these kids to ‘have the flu’ for months on end. It’s a tough line to walk.

  14. Skip White says

    @ MikeMa, #14 –

    I live in “Pennsylvania Dutch country” as well (Lebanon County), and I’ve had similar experiences in my interactions with the Amish and Mennonites, at least as far as buying produce from their roadside stands. I don’t know about other areas of the country, but at least in south-central PA, the Amish/Mennonite influence on the culture is undeniable, especially on the spoken accent in the area. I’m 30, and many people in my parents’ generation from around here still speak with the Penn. Dutch accent.

    I actually feel a bit bad for the Amish, especially around Lancaster County, insofar as the area is a big tourist trap, though I suppose by now, they might be used to it.

  15. MikeMa says

    @Skip White
    They have grown more used to the traffic and have taken increasing advantage of tourist ready cash (the farm stands used to be more of a bargain when I was younger) but the horse drawn buggies still get hit every year and as traffic increases that will as well.

    @Irreverend Bastard
    I forgot about the puppy mills but if you want a healthy dog, Lancaster is not a good source. Very sad.

  16. says

    The various sects of Mennonites vary a lot in what technology they do & do not use. Disagreements over technology seems to be what leads to many of the splits into different sects.

    davidbrown: That historical ignorance must be a peculiarity of that sub-sect. My father grew up in a Mennonite community on the Canadian Prairies (he never joined the church, & married outside the community). One of his relatives had a journal my great-great-grandfather wrote when he immigrated to Manitoba about 1870 & made copies, one of which (s?)he sent to my father. So at least those Mennonites knew where their ancestors came from.

  17. says

    It is not only intellectual and psychological abuse that is a problem in Amish communities. The sect’s secrecy also enables child abuse to go unreported. See the following link for a survivor’s story, and at the end of that report are links to several other news reports on Amish child abuse.

    “Memoir describes child abuse in Amish community and difficult but rewarding road to recovery”

    http://religiouschildabuse.blogspot.ca/2011/02/memoir-describes-child-abuse-in-amish.html

  18. geraldmcgrew says

    DS,

    Keep in mind that the view of the Amish you’re getting is from a NatGeo reality show that is specifically crafted to paint the Amish as “entertaining and interesting” as possible. IOW, like with many of their “documentaries” (e.g. Hogzilla, bigfoot, aliens, etc.), their interest is more geared towards infotainment than accuracy.

    My father’s side of the family is primarily Amish and my dad grew up on an Amish farm in west central Ohio. I still have many relatives who are either in the Amish church or are Mennonites. And contrary to what you see on NatGeo, people who elect to leave the church and get an education (e.g. my dad) are not shunned in most Amish communities. I’ve been attending family reunions, holiday get-togethers, and all sorts of general family functions with my Amish relatives since I was born, and not once have I ever seen anyone shunned simply for not being in the church.

    NatGeo has taken one of the more extreme conservative Amish groups, filmed them, selectively edited the footage, and broadcast it as a depiction of a typical Amish community. Unfortunately, NatGeo seems to be slipping into the infotainment industry along with the Discovery and History channels (as well as all their sub-channels). Last year NatGeo did a special on something I work on and they cocked it up so bad it was almost unwatchable.

    For the most part, the Amish are just like any other group of human beings. They have good people, bad people, and a mix of everything else in between. And it’s not that they eschew education because they don’t like knowledge, it’s because they view getting an education beyond what one needs to exist in their lifestyle as a sign of pride. After all, why do you need to learn about electronic engineering if you’re planning on what is essentially subsistence living?

    So when you say “Fuck the Amish” based on what you saw on NatGeo, that is akin to someone saying “Fuck scientists” based on a documentary they saw on Nazi scientists on the History Channel.

    Maybe that’s a bad analogy, but my point is, don’t spew hatred and anger towards an entire group of people based on nothing more than a sketchy reality show.

  19. jolo5309 says

    I don’t know whose Mennonites you’ve seen, but the ones who live nearish to here (roughly around Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario) certainly aren’t.

    I live in Saskatchewan and there is a large amount of Hutterites and Mennonites here.

    I think there is a huge variation in the Mennonite sects, there are some that are very modern, a friend of mine’s parents met in Mexico (the families moved there in the 30s because Canada was getting too technologically advanced). There are others that are YECs still, but many are OECs.

    The Hutterites are the ones around here that only send their kids to 8th grade around here (another friend teaches at a Hutterite school). Now while they may claim to eschew technology, far too many of them carry cell phones, drive pick ups, use the internet for work and use other modern conveniences that improve their quality of farming.

  20. says

    I don’t hate the amish because of something from the nat geo channel, I hate them for how they treat their animals, especially dogs in their horrible puppy mills. we have a rescue dog from an amish mill, poor little thing was in a cage first three years of her life and did nothing but have litter after litter. once she was used up (multiple c-sections, unable to breed any more) she was thrown out like a used styrofoam cup.

  21. says

    I had someone try to tell me that child abuse doesn’t happen in the mennonite and amish communities. I was tempted to write a post on my blog about the truth of what goes on and all that sort of stuff but it sounds really stupid to say but I am scared to do that. The last time I wrote about stuff like that memebers of my family heard about it and it was not good. plus topics like this almost give me panic attacks just thinking about some of the things that have happened.

    The funny thing is too that my aunt tried to write a book about things that happened and family members threatened to sue her for defamation. The funny thing is you would hear in these communities that it is wrong to sue but when someone was writing a book they threatened to sue if it was published.

    it is just sad

  22. Alex Zebballos says

    Please don’t consider Mormons to be christians. Mormons (LDS) are a cult.
    Another point to consider is that Christianity is a good religion overall, there are cults that masquerade as being christian. Then there are the extremely over zealous christians that want to shove their religion down everyone else’s throat.
    Religion isn’t bad but there are individuals/cults that give religion a bad name.

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