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Comment by Luara on December 20, 2013 at 10:09am

I've heard that the Amish, or maybe it's Mennonites, drive a very hard bargain and don't care if outsiders are ripped off. 

I had a landlord for a short time last summer who was like that.  It was quite ugly and his behavior could be interpreted as much worse than ugly - classical con artist tactics.  He was brought up Mennonite and associates with the Amish a lot. 

And people have such reverence for the Amish and Mennonites.  That reverence must help keep people in the religion - who would want to let go of being regarded with such awe and admiration?

Comment by Pat on February 22, 2013 at 3:35pm

Matthew, I can't say that I have a "magic bullet" solution to cure this. Part of the problem - and I've had personal experience with this - is that they are prohibited (either by custom or pressure) from testifying in Court. And, it's not just "swearing" that's prohibited.  It's getting on the witness stand. Violate it, and its ostracism.  Their entire culture is closed. With the Mennonites, they have their own schools on their property, so the children aren't even exposed to anyone on the outside. I agree that people should be free to practice their religion. No argument there - whatsoever. But, those same people should not be free, based on their cultish beliefs to cause harm to others, albeit whipping your wife for dropping a wheelbarrow, or haring a child.

Comment by Future on February 22, 2013 at 2:40pm

A co-worker of mine told me about an event that occurred before his eyes in an Amish community that opened my eyes to the reality that, while outsiders have this impressions of these folks as inherently good natured people, we aren't privileged to witnessing them in their routine daily lives and thus might be surprised to learn what that may entail.  This guy is fanatical about construction improvements on his home, and he seeks out the best wood he can find for his projects, so he went to some Pensylvania Amish to buy some lumber.  While there, he witnessed a man and woman walking around their complex, she with a fully loaded wheelbarrow, and he with nothing but a switch.  The load proved to be too much for her and she dumped the wheelbarrow, spilling its contents on the ground.  The man whipped her continuously with that switch until she had reloaded the wheelbarrow and got it moving again.  Based on the source, I'm certain that the story is true - but I can't think of any circumstances that such behavior could be considered moral.  Apparently, this was witnessed by several other Amish, and they all minded their own fucking business while it happened.

Comment by matthew greenberg on February 22, 2013 at 12:57pm

Pat, i don't disagree with anything you said.  i suppose it would be more constructive to ask you then, what's your solution?  ban being Amish?  make it illegal to be a Hasidic Jew or a Pentacostal?  regulate their strange faiths?  

i find it all deplorable.  i'm just not sure if there is a solution so long as we care about freedom.  but i'm open to suggestions.  

Comment by Pat on February 22, 2013 at 12:44pm

I can't agree at all with you Matthew. In addition to what Loren mentioned about the beard cutting incident, there are several other criticisms I have with this "petting zoo" of a culture. And, it primarily revolves around children. We often criticize the religious about threatening children with the concept of "hell." I've even heard it referred to as a form of child abuse. Here's another. Keeping your children ignorant of the modern world, education, science, literature, art, etc., and forcing them to live in an anachronistic world where communication with the outside world is virtually non-existent.

Yeah, they let 18 years old out of the compound for a few weeks to see if they want to abandoned the culture. Great preparation for that! After eighteen years of inculcation, here's a few bucks, and see how like a world you are completely unprepared for.  Oh, Yeah. And if you decide not to come back, you're cut off from everything and everyone you've ever known. Helen Keller could see through that set up.

I'm not a fan of child abuse in any form. I've worked in the criminal justice field for decades, and one of the many things I've learned is this. When you have a family, or group, that is closed off from society, and members are prohibited or restricted from interacting outside of the group, bet your bottom dollar that when you uncover that rock, it's not going to be flowers and sunshine underneath. Why do you think the Catholic clergy have been so secretive? It's certainly not because of their "good works."

P.S. I've live near a Mennonite Community - Amish who drive cars and tractors. I've spoken to a few who have escaped from that cult, and the stories of incest abound. How else do you keep the group going without outsiders coming in?

I don't see a lot of difference in the treatment of their children, than in Warren Jeff's polygamous Mormon cult.

http://legalaffairs.org/issues/January-February-2005/feature_labi_j...

Comment by Loren Miller on February 22, 2013 at 7:50am

BTW, in case you're curious, here is one of several news stories on the whole business.  I searched CNN here, but I'm sure any other major news outlet will have something on it.

Comment by Loren Miller on February 21, 2013 at 7:58pm

Matthew, I would have agreed with you right up to the point where the shit in Ohio with the Amish hit the fan.  I know how Sam Harris generally points to the Amish as a religion where one doesn't expect to have problems, but even there, we find an exception.  Whether something of the same stripe has happened in a Jainist community or not, I don't know ... but the fact remains that, for the large portion, Christopher Hitchens has been yet again demonstrated correct: religion does indeed poison EVERYTHING, and with damned few exceptions.

Comment by matthew greenberg on February 21, 2013 at 7:39pm

i had no idea the Amish touched such a nerve.  i think it's a perfectly fucked up religion/culture, but they do keep to themselves, no?  i know it could be considered a form of child abuse, and many of their societal norms are awful.  but i don't think we should try to stop them. i hate the slippery slope argument but i think it applies here.  freedom has consequences, and that includes allowing orthodox or peculiar religions to exist, even if we think they're a bunch of lunatics.  not only do they keep to themselves, they serve as a sort of human petting zoo where people from all around the world visit to see their ways.  a living museum to batshit crazyland.  now how can you be against that?

Comment by Pat on February 21, 2013 at 7:22pm

Yeah. They keep it to themselves. Like inbreeding, incest, rape without recourse for the women to go to law enforcement (face banishment). Swell group of "quaint" folks. 

Comment by Steph S. on February 21, 2013 at 5:54pm

I wish they would mind their own business.

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