Monday, May 28, 2007

The dark side of Amish Pt. !

There is a dark side to the Amish faith, one that doesn’t correspond with the quant, peaceful reputation of the Amish themselves. And I shall explore that some here and in other posts I plan.

The thing that strikes me most about the Amish religion is how it is structured to give the church almost absolute control over the individual. It uses the same techniques that most cults use to control members but they go much, much further. The one major difference is that cults tend to be based on recruitment. The Amish don’t recruit they procreate -- often.

One of the most important control techniques of a cult is to alienate the individual from the world in general. Make them rely on the cult for everything. If they have no friends or support structure outside the cult they can be controlled.

The Amish go much further. If you are born into an Amish family the family and the church community surrounding you is almost all you know. Your education is intentionally stopped at 8th grade, sometimes sooner. Thus you have no education worth speaking of that limits your ability to leave the cult.

You are also unfamiliar with all modern conveniences. You most likely can’t drive. You don’t have computer skills nor are you familiar with any major technological advances except indirectly. This lack of education and skills makes you unfit for any decent job restricting you to farm life, which is the life of the Amish.

One reason for this restriction of technology is that technology is inherently individualistic and that doesn’t sit well with the church. They intentionally want people to have to rely on the community of fellow Amish in order to survive. By making life labor intensive they force individuals to kow-tow to the community as well as have large families to grow the church.

In addition the church actively works to alienate you from your neighbors and the world around you. You are intentionally dressed very differently from the rest of your peers. They know such actions causes some ridicule, especially among children. But then this serves the purpose of keeping the youths under control. Young people who might wish to challenge the authority of the church fear they would never be accepted outside the church. They feel no connection with their peers except those who are also under the same strict rules of dress and behavior.

In addition to this there is no life for the Amish outside the church. While there are two dozen Amish sects in the United States, with some variance in the rules, shunning is a common practice. Shunning can alienate an individual completely from every aspect of life as they know it.

If a member is shunned he is to be ignored by everyone in the community. Sometimes this is for short periods of time for non serious offenses, like rape! Sometimes it is for life. Individuals can be excommunicated and lose the entire existence they know.

With no farm equipment they need the community to help them. But the community refuses to do so. With excommunication they may find that their spouses and family leave them. Every aspect of life is strictly controlled by the church. There are explicit rules about what clothes one may wear, right down the width of the brim on the hat. Sex is regulated, or at least is supposed to be.

But given their extremist conservative views on morality there is a practice that many outsiders would find bizarre: bundling or “bed courtship”. Teens of the opposite sex are allowed, sometimes even encouraged, to spend the night together. Teenage boys are allowed to go to the room a girl and climb into bed with her. The rules say they are supposed to keep their clothes on but those are easily broken. And since the boys, in the strict sects, aren’t allowed to wear underwear the only thing they have to do is unbutton a couple of buttons. Now, why would the church seemingly have this “liberal” view of teenaged boys and girls spending the entire night together in the same bed (boys are only required to leave when it’s time to milk the cow)? One reason is that this encourages the youngsters to get married, or end up in a situation where they have to get married. The church found this makes it more likely that they will stay with the faith. It is another means of control. About 12% of all Amish first borns were conceived out of wedlock.

On one hand the Amish speak of the importance that each church member join of their own free will. But on the other hand their entire social system is built in such a way as to strip people of the ability to make any other choice.

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11 Comments:

Blogger Indioheathen said...

One thing I've always admired about the Amish is their resistance to Demopublican (Democrat & Republican) authoritarianism being imposed upon their communities, particularly when it comes to laws and policies that shouldn't (from a libertarian perspective) be on the books anywhere in the first place. Although their communities are not officially as autonomous from state government intrusions as Indian reservations are, they have nevertheless faced many similar intrusions.

A lot of Amish and their families come to Tijuana for Laetrile cancer treatment, being that they like alternative naturopathic medicine. One clinic in particular is near the beach where they can be found walking barefoot. They usually smile, nod, and say "hello," and I've occasionally struck up conversations with some of them. The conversation is usually friendly small talk.

I once remarked to one older gentlement from Iowa named Albert how I admired the Amish for their self-reliance and non-dependence on the state, and resistance to state instrusions. Albert replied that they try to conform with as much state law as they can that doesn't conflict with their community traditions and values.

I've also looked upon them as well as the hillbillies of Appalachia and the Cajuns of rural bayou Louisiana as America's consistent indigenous white people.

Although the Amish are not actually indigenous to America but of German origin, their lifestyle has always been semi-indigenous, and like with American Indian tribes in the old days and Indian reservations of today, those that don't like the communitarian rules and ways are free to leave.

A lot of young Amish people who do end up leaving the fold do have a diffult time initially adjusting to "outsider" life, but eventually become more educated and successful in the mainstream world both personally and professionally.

Amish religion of course is something less than to be desired.

May 28, 2007

 
Blogger ONJ said...

While I agree with some of your sentiment concerning the Amish you do paint with a broad brush. The Amish are not monolithic. There are many degrees to Amish life. For example, not all of the Amish Sects condone Bundling. Living fairly close to an Amish community my observation is that one can run but not hide. They too have trouble with the outside world in their own communities. They have problems with teenage and adult drug use, teenage pregnancy, incest, etc. We live in a fallen world my friend. The fact that 75% of those born into the Amish remain Amish, speaks volumes in this day and age. Some leave, most stay. The question we must ask ourselves in the end is their darkside any different then our own. I'd only conclude that most non Amish are just hypocritical about their sins.

July 21, 2009

 
Blogger Erin said...

I agree with the above statement. The Amish are not a cult. They are a community Christians in which each individual has made a personal commitment to live as closely to Jesus' example as possible and follow their family heritage. They do have strict rules to fallow, but if you look deeper you will find that many of these rules stem from the Bible itself. They believe that by following the Bible this closely, it drowns out all the static from the world and allows them to focus on the Lord Himself.
It is a sad day and age when having MORAL VALUES, FAITH, and FAMILY at the focal point of everyday living put you under such scrutiny. All I have to say is thank God for the Freedom of Religion.

August 21, 2009

 
Blogger GodlessZone said...

Erin: They don't live like Jesus. He did travel with a horse and buggy and wear old German clothes. And lots of people do lots of dumb things because they think they are following the Bible. In a free society scrutiny is important. And no has advocated removing religious freedom. The Amish have the right to live in any century they want provided they don't hurt anyone.

August 21, 2009

 
Blogger Karen said...

I respect the Amish but I disagree with the shunning. The bible teaches to forgive. Noone should be shunned from their family. We need to forgive and forget.

August 28, 2009

 
Blogger Erin said...

The purpose of the Shun is consequence. Before an Amish person joins the church they have a choice to join or not to join, and that if they do, they will have to abide by the Ordnung (Amish Religious handbook or rule book for living.)If they do not join they would not get shunned.
I agree they live by very strict rules. But the purpose is to present yourself as humbly and as purely as possible before god. (Not an easy thing to do. Which just makes me respect these people for the types of sacrifices they make everyday even more). These rules just help define their way of living. If a person does get put under the Ban (Shunned) then they can always come back and publicly apologise and be allowed into the community once again. I think if I had these types of consequences to pay for my actions then I would also think twice before I did something I shouldn't.

August 29, 2009

 
Blogger GodlessZone said...

Erin: What makes the crimes open to shunning doing something one shouldn't, as you imply? How is living in the 15th century "humble"?

What you imply is the something that shouldn't be done is all of modern life.

August 29, 2009

 
Blogger Erin said...

I am not saying there is anything wrong with modern life. I just simply commend the Amish for being able to shut out the stresses and distractions of the modern American society.
What I can't understand, GodlessZone,is why you have such an opposition to the Amish. What exactly are they doing that you have such a problem with, using an outhouse?
Anyway, when I said they try to live humbly and like Jesus I meant spiritually of coarse and also by not putting materialistic objects or clothing before God. With all the bad things going on in the world right now I guess this would be the worst, right?

August 29, 2009

 
Blogger Roger said...

Amish Snow is my just-released novel about one Amish teenager's escape from an abusive home life, and his awkward attempts to make his way in 1960's Philadelphia. Here is the blurb: At the tender age of sixteen, Amish kids can choose the world’s pleasures during their infamous Rumspringa, fast cars, drugs and wild sex. These kids recklessly fling themselves into this sanctioned wildness, but most give it up for the security of the rigid Amish life. The rest never look back.

I invite you to visit my website at http://www.rogerrheinheimer.com/

October 12, 2009

 
Blogger Sean said...

I have lived in Holmes county ohio since 2002 and I can say that the amish religion is indeed a cult. And in a community like Holmes county which is either the 1st or 2nd largest amish population in the world, the cult controls everything! They are not christian! A bishop who meets not far from me tells his church "stay away from people who say they know when they were born again. Those people are worse off than before!" The bishop's name is Joe Miller SR. And his church practices witchcraft and teach how to do it! Does his statement sound like a christian? Jesus said you MUST be born again to go to heaven! I have found animal skulls hanging from trees out here from what I assume are withcraft ceremonies! The amish control the law enforcement, the courts and pretty much everything else! It is extremely demonic! I have personally witnessed multiple paranormal events while living here! I have former amish who are now christians tell me that the amish religion is a religious cult and that they practice witchcraft. One person told me that some practice astral projection. They lie, steal, rape their kids, abuse their animals, commit incest on a regular basis, etc. That is why there is a high rate of genetic disorders in the amish. They commit incest a lot! There are people here not far from me that are so deformed from incest that they look like creatures from Lord of the Rings movies! And it is all hidden. They don't want the public to know because they make a fortune from tourism because the general public thinks they are humble, christian people. They are not!! There are some good amish people too. Not all are bad, but all are part of a religious cult. And if someone leaves the religion they are shunned. They are uneducated also which makes it difficult for them to leave!

December 15, 2009

 
Blogger GodlessZone said...

spam deleted

June 10, 2010

 

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