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The Temptation of…the Amish

Posted by Rick · February 6th, 2004 · 1 Comment

If it wasn’t official before, it’s official now. America is a truly sick society. You’re all going to help me prove it “soon.”

Lloyd Garver writes,

You can no longer spoof “reality shows.” They’re spoofing themselves. If I made up a ridiculous-sounding premise, we’d probably see it on TV next week. I’m not exaggerating. Is television really above putting on outrageous things like “I Cheated With Your Mother” or “Let’s Tempt The Amish Kids,” or “Eat What Your Pet Eats?”

Actually, I just tricked you. The Amish reality show will be on the air soon.

Frankly, this is more than sick. It’s horrifying to see the depths of depravity that will be plumbed to entertain the average American.

Part of the most conservative element of the Mennonite Church, the Amish are descended from a group known as the Anabaptists, which grew out of the Reformation in Switzerland almost 500 years ago. So devoted are they to their religious beliefs that many people instantly know them as “the people who still use horses and buggies.” Many Americans — at least those I’ve talked to about the Amish — mistakenly think this is because they reject “modern conveniences.” This is not actually true. After all, they do use the horse and buggy and more modern farming and building implements like metal tools (although their plows are drawn by horses and they do not irrigate their fields) and milled wood.

Their rejection of the automobile, television and so many other modern contrivances is because of their sincere belief that these things have a corrupting impact on society. In fact, they will ride in automobiles; they just won’t own them. They feel they will set up harmful inequalities in their society as cars could become status symbols. They also fear (rightly) that it will speed up their lives and draw them away from the simple life they believe they should live. They do not reject modern ideas which do not have such a corrupting impact: they accept immunizations, surgery, dental work, blood transfusions, anesthesia and anything else that improves their health, even going to modern hospitals when necessary.

You might say the Amish are what many Americans pretend to be: truly Christian. Like the pseudo-religious Christians who are so busy forcing their own religious beliefs down the throats of the rest of America, the Amish believe:

  • The world was literally created in six days.
  • Adam was created out of the Earth (e.g., shaped out of it; not evolved out of it).
  • Eve was created from one of Adam’s ribs.
  • Adam and Eve sinned against G-d and this sin has been passed down to all humankind.
  • G-d sent his Son to Earth to redeem them.
  • He was born of the virgin, Mary.
  • He was crucified, died, buried and was resurrected on the third day.
  • To receive the gift of salvation, one must repent of one’s sins.

Here’s where they begin to diverge from “traditional” or “born-again” or “right-wing conservative” Christians. While they do believe that one cannot earn salvation from one’s sins, they believe that it’s impossible to repent and receive that gift without also finding one’s life changed. They don’t sport cop-out bumper stickers that say “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven!” as they blast past me at 80 miles per hour on the freeway. They don’t speak of their G-d’s love for mankind while pulverizing gays and wrapping them up in barbed wire fences.

While maintaining their distance from those who would corrupt them, they are tolerant of those with other beliefs. Many have friends among “the English” (non-Amish), visiting with them in their homes and otherwise maintaining friendly relations. And the Amish were one of the first groups to support the separation of Church and State; in fact, one of their practices was to forbid the attendance of a state-sponsored church. They do not believe government can make a person “religious.” They do not believe it is the job of government to try. They do keep to themselves and will excommunicate those who do not abide by the rules of their community, but they do not insist that those people must live by the rules of their community — they separate themselves from such people; they do not enforce their lifestyles upon them.

This is where they diverge from what I guess we should call “American Christianity.”

So strongly do the Amish believe that one must truly repent and choose to accept the gift of salvation that even those teenagers who were born into the Amish faith are required to live outside the Amish community for one year or so in what is called “Rumspringa,” or “running around.” The Amish truly believe that their children’s upbringing will give them the strength to overcome the temptations of the world, without enforcing their ways by melding the government of the “Englishmen” with church. This belief is grounded in Proverbs 22:6, which says,

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Instead of expending their energy on changing the world, they focus on teaching and raising their children. Something about it must work, because up to 90% of Amish children return from Rumspringa committed to the Amish way of life.

But the sickness and depravity of the average reality-show-loving American today will be working to change that. It’s one thing for the Amish to be “tried and tested” by “what passes for teenage American life outside the community” for a year or so before making the choice to adhere to the Amish ways. It’s another for you to exploit this rite of passage by turning it into reality TV. Normal American teenage life is temptation enough as it is.

I’m sure it’s hard enough to keep the Amish community and culture thriving without throwing the temptations of body piercings, silicone breasts, and interviews on the E Channel at their young people. The list of people and situations that could be mocked or debased by TV is a long one. Can’t television just leave the Amish alone?

Garver is wrong about how hard it is to keep the Amish thriving. About 85 to 90 percent of Amish teens currently return to their communities after Rumspringa. And it’s doubtful Amish teens would even cooperate with such a show.

But that doesn’t justify sick minds that contemplate exploiting them by putting them on reality TV — and those of you who provide the market for this sort of thing — you, the lowest forms of life on our planet next to those who would provide this “entertainment” for you — if only you were human — you would be deeply and sincerely ashamed.

Related Links

And one of my favorite’s in researching this story:

Categories: Social Issues


1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Nene // Mar 15, 2005 at 9:30 am

    Hullo there,
    I read your report with interest and especially on the Amish part, However I Feel that you judge Christians rather harshly as afterall they are only trying to serve God and lets face it todays society doesn’t exactly make things easy for them to practise their religion in does it? I mean its all very well you condeming them as just a bunch of Hypocrites but how would you feel if every where you went there was something against your religion or religious beleives which blasphemed your Beleives or your God. And they have to deal with all that and so much more, its a wonder you have any christians at all. Now like the American Indian saying don’t judge a person until you have walked 2 moons in his mocassens, I feel unless you have actually lived the christian live and actually gone through what they have to go through daily you needn’t judge them as you will never know exactly how tough it is for them and if you think they are Hypocrites, perhaps you should look to the society which does its best to try to turn them away from their God,Its obvious that they are not Hypocrites but they are just trying so despirately hard to follow their Religion in a world which is so despirately intolerant of them and against them, Perhaps you might wish to have a think about this, as of course they will always be people who get the wrong end of the stick but the majority of christians are only trying to serve God and to do whatever pleases him in a world totally against them and him. Think about this , I personally beleive its best to live and let live.So sorry no email given as email above has expired (just to let you know)

    [Editor’s Note: Unspun™ is not untouched by the suffering of Christians in the United States. We recognize that although they control the government and although it’s impossible to pass a street corner without seeing a new church and although the emblems and symbols of Christianity — albeit not the reality of Christianity’s message — are visible nearly to the exclusion of other religions throughout the United States, those who profess pretend to be Christians still are stuck with the remnants of a Constitution that won’t permit them turning courtrooms into shrines or elementary, middle and high schools into mini-seminaries. We weep for them. We do.]

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