Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Why I am Not a Member of the Amish Fan Club

I had an esteemed colleague who believed that there was more than just stinginess at play when congregations underpaid their pastors.  

He believed that at some level, some church folk believe the financial sacrifices of their clergy rub off on them vicariously.  You know like extra merit points in the Medieval Catholic system. (Ok maybe not so medieval)  

I think he was on to something.  I also think that is what is at play with this silly love affair Americans seem to have with the "idea" of the Amish.  Nobody wants to live as they do but the idea that there are some people living off the land, unsullied by the evil of the world in the world, just makes us all a little bit more holy.

Well that's a lot of horsepoo.  There is nothing romantic or holy about the Amish.  The fact is the Amish have just as big a problem with sexual abuse and covering up as the more vilified Mormon cults.  Just google Amish sexual abuse and you'll see the problem.  

Sorry I just find nothing romantic about patriarchal closed communities.

And the Amish are the largest operators of puppy mills.  You know those places where dogs are kept in unspeakably cruel conditions and then sold sick and unsocialized to unsuspecting customers? 

 I was ranting about this to my son and he said,  "And you blame ALL the Amish for this?"  Yes.  Yes I do.  

A community that requires conformity and shuns those who don't comply must also bear responsibility for the behavior of their whole community.

So no, I don't want to read the latest book about how forgiving and loving the Amish are. 


  1. The Amish and Mennonite cultures view animals as something to donimate, and puppy mills and Amish work horses are two sad examples of this mentality. Don't like it? Don't support their services (cabinet-making, etc.), their communities (Amanas, Kalona, etc. which draw tourists) and their ag products (eggs, poultry, veggies, etc.) And tell their Convention and Visitors Bureaus they are not in your vacation plans!

  2. In the same vein, I have a colleague -- a former bishop, in fact -- who got very testy with me once when I said something that seemed to slight the Shakers. I love their furniture, but even a quick look at the their theological writing should have made this former Missourian's hair stand on end. But for whatever reason, he gave them a free pass.

    It's more than a little condescending to romanticize these marginal groups by skating lightly over the awkward realities.

  3. Amana and Amish are not the same group.

  4. Before I moved to WI, I did not expect to see the Amish in walmart buying Colgate, their toilet paper, their Round-up and their groceries. That disabused me of any notions of a 'living' off the land.

  5. Yea there is a van that takes them to Walmart around here.

  6. they're just forgiven sinners like everybody else. The 'closed system' gives them blind spots in particular areas that you talked about. 'course we have some blind spots, too...

    romanticizing ANY group seems just silly, and yet...

  7. You know I'm just a little tired of the excuse "Oh everybody is a sinner" I think the romanticizing of Amish is what allows people to look the other way, particularly with their abuse of animals.