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Fundies vs. Amish: Out of Order


YPestis
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We've talked about the Amish and how they are different from fundies we've come to know and love...that they tend to not evangelize and try to be truly self-sufficient without being pricks etc. However, watching this new show on National Geographics Channel has given me a new perspective on the Amish.

 

The show focuses on the lives of the ex-Amish, being told from the POV of a well known ex-Amish guy who tries to counsel and help those that just left the Amish community. The last few episodes showed how extremely prejudicial and cult-like some of the Amish community are.

 

In conservative Amish communities, if a person leaves, they are shunned to the extent that their families will no longer talk with them, will not allow any ex-Amish back for even a brief visit. One ex-Amish teenager was severely hurt in a car accident, yet only one brother showed up to see him. His parents only made a brief phone call. Had this teen not left the Amish, his entire community would have shown up. However, because he decided to strike out on his own, to live a different path, it's like the entire community has forsaken him. There seems to be no room for forgiveness, for coming together in a tragedy.

 

There was also a case of one nonAmish girl who wanted to be Amish but was told by the conservative Amish family she lived with that she would only be allowed one visit per year with her nonAmish family if she chooses that path. That isn't to say all Amish groups are like that. Among more liberal Amish groups, such as the Beachy Amish, the nonAmish girl found a family that welcomed her into their homes and told her her family was welcomed to visit her anytime.

 

However, the stance of many Amish groups towards their members who leave reminds me of the fundies we know. They circle the wagon when outsiders are involved, they ostracize those that leave the fold. They condemn anyone nonAmish as people who will go to Hell. When one of the ex-Amish kid (age 19) died, his old Amish community came together to bury him. His ex-Amish friends also came to the funeral but they were clearly ostracized, forced to wait outside while everyone went into the house after the burial for food. The bishop at the funeral hinted that the horrible car accident that took the ex-Amish kid's life was the result of leaving the Amish fold and that he is most likely in Hell now. Yikes! how horrible is that?

 

Anyone else see the show? It brings home the point that any closed group can act in a cult-like manner. Even in a pacifist religious group can be unyielding, unforgiving and particularly harsh to those that leave their group. Despite the Amish's reputation for forgiveness, it seems not all groups follow this idea and some seem to revel in the misfortune of those that leave their fold. What do others think?

Edited by OnceUponATime
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I've seen bits and pieces while at the gym. I caught most of one episode where Mose met with an fundie/evangelical preacher who was recruiting/poaching ex-Amish and Amish wanting to leave. Mose was very distressed to see young adults leaving one community he sees as oppressive and manipulative, just to be pulled into another. At the same time, he could see the appeal of modern fundamentalist Baptist communities that offer some familiarity for ex-Amish, but allow the modern conveniences of mainstream American life.

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I've seen bits and pieces while at the gym. I caught most of one episode where Mose met with an fundie/evangelical preacher who was recruiting/poaching ex-Amish and Amish wanting to leave. Mose was very distressed to see young adults leaving one community he sees as oppressive and manipulative, just to be pulled into another. At the same time, he could see the appeal of modern fundamentalist Baptist communities that offer some familiarity for ex-Amish, but allow the modern conveniences of mainstream American life.

I've seen about an episode and 1/2, including the one you mention. For the most part, it struck me as more "honest' than some other reality TV programming, but that could well be my bias. The weird thing is, I'm a little familiar with where he lives, and it is not surrounded by Amish communities, but seems to be a semi-centralized place where ex-Amish often end up when they leave. I had no idea.

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I watched this in it's entirety last winter. It was a bit 'scripted' but not overtly. The reality is these folks leave a very overt cult to become fundies of a different stripe.

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I watched this in it's entirety last winter. It was a bit 'scripted' but not overtly. The reality is these folks leave a very overt cult to become fundies of a different stripe.

That's the sad part - they're trading one patriarchal society for another. It would almost be better for them to remain Amish because at least the Amish are relatively peaceful and adhere to Jesus' teachings about helping the poor, etc. They also don't evangelize (I'm thinking of the Old Order Amish), which I consider a plus.

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I love that show. I liked the one where Mose went to the Amish in Lancaster, Pa., and was astonished at how open that community is. He met a woman who he thought was Amish and she said she was also ex-Amish, left when she was 53. Her husband's business is driving around Amish who are still Amish. She was surprised his community practiced shunning -- You don't get invited to Christmas dinner?=and he was surprised hers did not. I had an intern whose family was former Amish and her uncle, who had been baptized, was shunned by the grandparents--which meant when he came to dinner they put an extension on the table so that he was not technically eating with them. An Old Order Amish guy at the market near us told my son, "It's all in the interpretation." On the show, Esther has also left but stays in apparently close touch with her family.

The Amish run the gamut--five major groups and lots of offshoots. The Amish in the Lancaster area are seeing and have seen for some time a huge lifestyle change--most can't afford to work on farms, they have regular jobs or else businesses in which they come into contact with "english"(such as the market near me in Central Jersey). Women and kids make their own money; they use technology in their businesses, many have personal cell phones ("all in the interpretation) and if they practice shunning at all it is a mild version. Some send their kids to public schools and some are starting to allow high school and even college as that is needed for business.

Not to defend any closed culture, but one big difference I see between the Amish and fundies like the Duggars is that the Amish are a culture. They have a history and a language that they have shared for hundreds of years. And Amish kids do get to socialize and have Amish and Mennonite friends without parental supervision. In many communities teenagers after age 16 are permitted to explore the outside world to their little heart's content (which of course makes them sitting ducks for all sorts of things, but that's another story). Plenty of problems, but I can't see the Duggars or the Maxwells allowing any of their children, especially the daughters, to have a Rumspringa.

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I watched pretty much the entire season, and it was a real eye-opener. I couldn't believe for instance that when the kid who was in the car wreck went home to visit his family (you know, after he could've died), and they told him that unless he was there to come back to the Amish, he might as well get off the property. Oh, and I also remember the one guy's father was completely shunned just for not openly condemning his son's leaving the community-- I felt such pity for this guy because he didn't even choose/plan to leave the Amish, and so was an absolute fish-out-of-water concerning most everything about "English" life.

I did like that in this particular show it made a point to show that some more "liberal" Amish communities do exist. But yeah, it's odd to see groups like these that profess to love God/be good Christians/etc. etc. act so horribly to (even their own) people when they don't do what that religious group sees as Right. :?

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  • 2 years later...
  • 5 years later...
On 2/16/2015 at 5:21 AM, morri said:

Is it similar to the guy who went off Amish and became(a much more annoying) fundie instead?

Actually, that guy (If you're thinking of Joe Keim (sp?, and yeah, is he ever annoying) came up on that show. Also a Mennonite guy who wanted to get all the young apostates to become Mennonites. And IIRC, Mose Gingerich said pretty much that he didn't want to shove anything else down their throats.Esther did belong to some evangelical-type Christian thing.

Mose, the main guy in this story, is pretty much a live and let live guy as far as I can see; he wants to do what he can to help them adjust to the world safely. There wasa an episode where a young girl wanted to become Amish and he said he struggled with if he should help her, given his own feelings, but decided he should since it's her life.

Edited by patsymae
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On 6/29/2012 at 7:19 PM, mpheels said:

I've seen bits and pieces while at the gym. I caught most of one episode where Mose met with an fundie/evangelical preacher who was recruiting/poaching ex-Amish and Amish wanting to leave. Mose was very distressed to see young adults leaving one community he sees as oppressive and manipulative, just to be pulled into another. At the same time, he could see the appeal of modern fundamentalist Baptist communities that offer some familiarity for ex-Amish, but allow the modern conveniences of mainstream American life.

It is really appealing tomany, because the sense I get is that they still believe it all, just that they can't do it themselves (also came up in the movie "the Devil's Playground.") So they think they can't be good Amish but still believe in hell, and think they are probably going there. Then these groups (used to be non-Amish who targeted Amish who are leaving, but probably enough ex-Amish to be running them now) come along and say no, you don't have to go to hell, you can do what we do.
 

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