Catch up on the 25 most recent comments at Amish America


Report Highlights 50+ Sexual Abuse Cases In Amish Communities Over Two Decades

Comment #665549 by Walter Boomsma on 23.01.20, 12:05

Thanks to you both (Don and Jim) and to others who attempted to bring reason and calm to the discussion and keep it thoughtful. I had the gas can in my hand a few times!

Don, I think we fundamentally agree on #5 and, in retrospect, might add a word to the effect that “punishment isn’t always an effective way to…” I recently talked with a mom who had quite an “aha” when we discussed the difference between punishment and consequences. Her daughter was very resentful of punishment but couldn’t argue much over consequences.

And I actually thought about adding a #8, but hoped it was covered in #2. Again, if I had it to write over I might have included the James Adams Quote, “There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it ill behooves any of us to find fault with the rest of us.”

That’s not to say there is no place in the world or on this forum for critical thinking. Most bias or prejudice comes from a lack of thinking and continues because we search for evidence that we’re correct in feeling the way we do. One of the things I’ve done at school with middle schoolers is to create debates wherein the teams have to represent the opposing side–they don’t know that until after they’ve picked their side. “If you think chocolate ice cream is better than vanilla, you must “argue” in favor of vanilla.

But not everything needs to be a debate. There’s also room for exploration.

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Report Highlights 50+ Sexual Abuse Cases In Amish Communities Over Two Decades

Comment #665547 by Don Burke on 23.01.20, 11:39

Walter, I heartily agree with (virtually) everything you said. (I would disagree with #5 in the general sense that punishment doesn’t change behavior — for if it is appropriately severe and administered consistently it will often prevent many new cases from even occurring — and we seldom have any way of knowing the degree of that impact. The problem is that more often it is too watered down, and not done consistently — and the nature of cases such as this, once the problem is started it is almost impossible to stop it with punishment alone.)

I would also add an 8th item: That patriarchal structure is not the demon that it has been presumed to be — in the original article and later slammed by what seemed to be emotionally-driven comments here. From what I can tell — and yeah, it is my job to be able to tell — that is the kind of system that God set up for humanity. Obviously some are brash enough to point a finger at God and tell Him that His way is wrong, but I’m not going to be that person.

I will also once again thank Jim for his comments as the discussion “heated up,” I think he put it. They helped me to understand a bit of the backstory behind the wildfire (and note, in my book there is a huge difference between explain (which Jim did) and justify), and thus stopped me from throwing more gasoline on the fire — which I was just short of doing.

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Report Highlights 50+ Sexual Abuse Cases In Amish Communities Over Two Decades

Comment #665546 by Jim Cates on 23.01.20, 11:35

Thank you, Walter, for this comment!

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Report Highlights 50+ Sexual Abuse Cases In Amish Communities Over Two Decades

Comment #665542 by thom on 23.01.20, 09:19

thank you so much for this post. This is not first that I have heard of the mental health facilities that are mostly not regulated. I’ve heard some really troubling stories… I think your concerns are more than valid and I hope you keep raising your voice for those who are often forgotten or over looked

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Nearly 40 Amish Youth Partygoers Arrested

Comment #665541 by Al in Ky on 23.01.20, 08:53

The link to the article in the Goshen News:

https://www.goshennews.com/news/police-news-two-drinking-party-busts-net-nearly-arrests-in/article_0bc981b6-363f-11ea-a097-77a4c02daebc.html

The article in The Connection about The Cove did not indicate how many youth participate in activities and programs at there. It did report that there are over 200 families who actively volunteer to assist in operation of The Cove.

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Report Highlights 50+ Sexual Abuse Cases In Amish Communities Over Two Decades

Comment #665535 by Walter Boomsma on 23.01.20, 06:34

I stopped commenting as this became more heated with polarized– and that included some commenters picking up some very wide paintbrushes. In some cases, I felt that I was being personally attacked. That I may not agree on certain points seemed to imply that I was unsupportive, not understanding, and not very compassionate and guilty of romanticizing the Amish. Much like any victim, I continued to suffer in silence. However, in attempt to achieve closure, I strongly feel the need to share a few final comments.

(I suspect a few will see what I did in the previous paragraph.)

1. Abuse (of any sort) is horrible, tragic, and not acceptable. To imply that those who were critical of the original article think differently is categorically unfair.

2. The Amish religion (which drives their culture) is not demonic nor does it cause abuse. On the contrary, there are some aspects of it that encourage and even require healthy living–physically and mentally. It makes no sense to throw out the baby with the bathwater. That is not equivalent of romanticizing the Amish. It’s called “common sense.”

3. There are differences between supporting victims and proactive prevention. (See #1.) While I do believe in the need and value of supporting victims, that alone will not solve this problem. Being aware people are hungry does not feed them.

4. “Modern psychology” is, in my opinion, greatly overrated–just as science has become a sacred cow. We non-Amish have enough mental health issues on the rise (including suicide rates) to cause us to wonder if we are even close to finding solutions.

5. Behaviorists pretty much agree that “punishment” is not very effective at changing behavior. While it is important for there to be consequences, the punishment of the abuser perhaps has more value to the victim than it does to prevention. A study of ethics supports this. Some obey the speed limit because they fear getting caught. Far more do not.

6. Given the direction of mass media, questioning the messenger and having an expectation of journalistic responsibility and ethics is more necessary than ever. That should be true whether we agree with the position the writer/reporter is taking or not. We aren’t “killing” the messenger by questioning motive and approach. We are attempting to encourage responsible reporting.

7. There is perhaps a fine line between challenging the Amish and abusing or bullying them. Whether it’s the lighting on their buggies (or the buggies themselves) or how they handle wastewater, there’s a trend toward arrogance on the part of non-Amish. There’s got to be at least one Amish person who is quietly thinking, “Instead of trying to fix our culture, go fix your own.” Make no mistake–we created that resistance because we didn’t focus on how to live together in harmony and mutual respect.

I will (finally) close with a rhetorical question. If an Amish person who was truly faithful to the Amish religion visited this forum because they were concerned about sexual abuse–perhaps even a very specific situation–how would he/she feel after reading this thread… and to whom (if anyone) might they turn for help?

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Michigan Amish

Comment #665534 by Diane on 23.01.20, 06:32

My opinion on this (as an Amish driver from Mio, Michigan) – they eat good on a daily basis so when they travel this is a treat for them. We have a hitching post even at our Dollar stores, banks etc.

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Mystery Of Sudden Cardiac Death In Amish Children Solved

Comment #665529 by Larry Michael on 23.01.20, 03:14

The Amish are generally far advanced of the rest of us today. Typically solar powered homes,immune to the grid failures predicted in the future by the get ready people at DHS. Cult-like? Amish have zero divorce and happy families. The shunning of those who leave usually involves eating at separate tables in the same house, no big deal. You will rarely find an Amish home without hot water and flush toilets (Schwartzentruber Amish). The state of Michigan uses outhouses at their state parks, so I maintain the right of the Lenawee County Schwartzentruber’s to do the same. But generally Amish are light years ahead. They are also the finest craftsmen, in demand for their skills. I think some people are jealous!

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Report Highlights 50+ Sexual Abuse Cases In Amish Communities Over Two Decades

Comment #665516 by Saloma Furlong on 22.01.20, 21:46

I will write my final comments to all, and then I will move on to other ventures.

I understand that for many of you, the stories Sarah McClure told in the Cosmo article come as a complete shock. The Amish culture has served for many as the model of a good society, and this shatters any ideal you may have had of a simple and wholesome Amish lifestyle. I imagine you are still in the shock phase of losing this ideal. I get that. Some of you have even asked what you can do to help. But I know that it is rare to shock someone into action. First our minds try to work around the truth and find a way to still hold on to what we’ve lost. Action normally comes when we have finally accepted the truth. Our conscience then becomes our guide as to how to be of the most help. This is fertile ground for creative ideas for new approaches.

Sarah McClure is right when she states that there is a perfect storm of factors to cause this widespread abuse. The Amish belief system is like modern psychology turned inside out.

It is human nature to lean toward freedom, the way a plant will lean toward light. But the Amish do not value freedom. They value obedience.

It is human nature to want to determine one’s life path through self-awareness and self-actualization. But the Amish do not value a strong sense of self. They value the collective. In every Communion service I attended, church members were asked by the bishop to give up their individuality for the sake of the community in the same way each grain of wheat gives up its individuality to become a loaf of bread.

It is natural to reach for one’s potential, and in modern society, that includes acquiring as much education as a person finds satisfying. The Amish deliberately end their children’s education at the eighth grade, as if ignorance is a virtue. Most youth are ill-equipped to defy their parents and leave home, which is what they would need to do to continue their education.

Modern psychology teaches us that self-awareness and self-reflection are positive aspects of becoming a healthy individual. But Amish children are taught that thinking about themselves too much will spawn pride instead of humility. Any injustices or abuse they endure are forced into the unconscious. Except it doesn’t stay there. When they are grown and have children of their own, there is nowhere for that pain to go except right down to the next generation. Despite all their declarations that they will treat their children differently, they find themselves treating their children the same way they were treated. Self-correction is impossible without self-awareness and self-reflection. To break the pattern, a person must face the pain they themselves endured.

In other words, even Amish people need modern psychology in order to break the intergenerational patterns. They cannot do this on their own.

One of the reasons I find the concept of the “culturally appropriate” mental health centers so chilling is because without schooling in modern psychology, these centers for controlling those who want to speak out. I was offered a “tour” through such a facility from a former employee. He wanted me to understand how wonderful the center is in taking care of the Amish with mental illness. But when the woman who took me through showed me the locked cabinet of drugs and informed me that all the patients are on medication, I got the heebie-jeebies. I realized the potential for these facilities to be used for people who are not “obedient” in the name of “mental illness.” This was years before I heard any of these stories.

Was I the only one who thought of the movie, “One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest” when Esther told the gut-wrenching story of how the patients at the center all had to take turns taking their medication?

I have a question for all of you who are trying so hard to hold onto the “positive” aspects of Amish culture. If you heard that these atrocities were happening in a Hassidic Jewish community, would you be looking for the good? If this was happening within the FLDS, would you be looking for the good in their culture? If the answer is no, then ask yourselves why is it so important to focus on the good in the Amish in the face of these horrific stories?

As I wrote on my own blog today, I honestly don’t know how to “fix” the Amish culture. With more freedom, education, sense of self, could they still maintain their culture? If not, does it deserve to survive? These are the fundamental questions that are brought up with the realization that the Amish have a systemic abuse problem.

And we haven’t even begun to address the physical abuse problems. I find that is equally as devastating.

The nature of Ms. McClure’s report is not the issue here. She is merely the messenger. Please don’t kill her.

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PA Township Won't Require Horse Diapers & Rubber Shoes After All

Comment #665515 by Maureen NY on 22.01.20, 20:25

Erik,

Everyone in the horse world knows rubber horse shoes [aka “rubbers”] are dangerous. Horses slip, especially in mud, and no one would receommend them for pulling on street roads or farm work. I do beleive they have been banned in competition for it’s danger to both horse and rider. Rubbers shouldn’t be a remedy at all. And no one complains about the damage vehicles – cars, trucks, tractor trailors, buses, campers, do.

Diapers? Another ridiculous solution and an insult to intelligence.

Our roads are abused by traffic every day. Salt and sand used to make roads safe are a determent and cause road damage. But in the case of horse manure, simply dispatch the street cleaning trucks weekly — every highway department has them!

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Report Highlights 50+ Sexual Abuse Cases In Amish Communities Over Two Decades

Comment #665514 by Saloma Furlong on 22.01.20, 20:25

No, Erik, I don’t know any more than you do on that. I do know that there are women gathering to share their stories of abuse in Old Order communities, including the Old Order Mennonites here in the Valley. One woman who left this community down here told me there were a whole group of women who gathered together and asked her to go to their bishop to tell their stories. Apparently they didn’t feel safe talking about what happened to them with the bishop themselves.

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PA Township Won't Require Horse Diapers & Rubber Shoes After All

Comment #665512 by Geo on 22.01.20, 18:22

And what about equine Pampers? There might be sponsorship opportunities.

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PA Township Won't Require Horse Diapers & Rubber Shoes After All

Comment #665511 by Geo on 22.01.20, 18:18

Equine Nikes? Seems to me like a pretty cool idea.

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What language do the Amish speak?

Comment #665510 by Larry Brashear on 22.01.20, 18:07

My first assignment in 1982 as an American military dependent teacher in Germany was to Augsburg. Unfortunately, I was transferred to Munich two weeks later. Two years later, my family was transferred to Nurnberg. We came back to the states in 1986. I really loved living in Bavaria. My spoken German has a Bavarian accent. I have recently become acquainted with Amish farmers nearby and can converse a bit with them. It is lots of fun and it brings back many fond memories of a special place and wonderful people.

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Michigan County Seeks Compromise With Amish In Sewage Conflict

Comment #665506 by carrie on 22.01.20, 16:24

When you use a service such as a grid service which requires a commitment even if that commitment is forced you are actually creating an idol so you are putting another God before your God. So I can see where are the Amish have a religious problem with the electrical grid with the sewage grid because by requiring a sewage service they’re having to work to pay for that service that makes that service and Idol. It’s basically the same with all things some people idolize food that’s where gluttony comes from some people idolize their shoes and they work for more than what they need putting it over God. It would be unrealistic to say don’t don’t use a service but it’s not unrealistic to say use a service only as needed and not just as wanted in all reality we need the electrical grid people want the electrical grid. You don’t need a service for sewage there are ways to handle sewage such as burning that don’t require you to contract into even if it’s not a contract don’t require you to use them regularly

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Report Highlights 50+ Sexual Abuse Cases In Amish Communities Over Two Decades

Comment #665505 by Jim Cates on 22.01.20, 15:45

I just finished at article in The New Yorker (1/20/2020) that epitomizes what I would have like to have seen in Ms. McClure’s article. Titled “A Violent Defense,” written by Elizabeth Flock, it uses the story of a woman accused of murder when she killed the man who raped her as a vehicle to address the inequity of women accused of assault when actually assaulted by men. The storyline occurred in an Alabama county, and there is more than a nod to the “good ole boy” law enforcement network that allowed this injustice to happen. But Flock does not then indict a) all law enforcement, b) all southerners, or c) all men. She balances the story, moving back and forth between the gripping and tragic reality of women suffering unjustly, and data and statistics drawn from research and criminal justice sources. I would hope this story will surface online in the near future. It is such a stark contrast to Ms. McClure’s report, and demonstrates how a report, such as the one done on sexual abuse among the Amish, could have been done with journalistic integrity.

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Report Highlights 50+ Sexual Abuse Cases In Amish Communities Over Two Decades

Comment #665504 by Erik/Amish America on 22.01.20, 15:36

Thank you for sharing these insights here, Saloma. I have an idea how important this issue is to you, and many others.

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Report Highlights 50+ Sexual Abuse Cases In Amish Communities Over Two Decades

Comment #665503 by Erik/Amish America on 22.01.20, 15:27

I don’t want to speak for Al but I don’t think he’s disregarding the importance of the abuse issue as a whole. I read the NPR interview with Sarah McClure…I wouldn’t have minded to see a bit more on the positive work done on the Amish side, especially from such an influential news outlet. McClure does bring it up at least briefly to her credit. I think it would have been an appropriate topic for the interviewer to ask a follow up question on.

That sort of thing could be taken as an encouraging sign by those Amish who are involved in such efforts. That kind of coverage shouldn’t be necessary to them continuing those efforts, but it seems like the sort of thing outsiders should be encouraging more of, if they are really concerned about solving this issue.

I think people are just concerned with the Amish as a whole getting trashed here, where I don’t think it’s appropriate to blame “Amish culture” as a whole here (and I think I can understand why people might feel the original article does that, starting from the article subtitle – “A year of reporting by Cosmo and Type Investigations reveals a culture of incest, rape, and abuse”…[“a culture”]).

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Report Highlights 50+ Sexual Abuse Cases In Amish Communities Over Two Decades

Comment #665501 by Erik/Amish America on 22.01.20, 15:01

Thank you Saloma. Do you know of any other efforts, formal or otherwise, where Amish and the appropriate authorities are cooperating on these issues (besides those mentioned here)?

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Amish Builders

Comment #665500 by Janice on 22.01.20, 14:51

Dear Amish America,
I am looking for someone from the Amish community to help me move a shed / small barn. It is 12’w x 18’l x 12′ high to beginning of gable roof. Gable roof is approximately 3′-0″ high. It has a loft. I understand the Amish are excellent at building barns, and would know how to take this small barn apart and rebuild it. It is located in Dorchester County, MD. Please respond to me via e-mail at yonder33@cox.net

thank you,
Janice

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Why Do Some Amish Ride Scooters (But Not Bicycles)?

Comment #665495 by Maureen NY on 22.01.20, 11:15

Erik,

It’s sometimes hard to distinguish a conservative Mennonite from the Amish in this region. In some counties Mennonites use both bikes and scooters.

Only one progressive group of Amish [I know of] their children ride scooters. However, many Amish use the red radio flyer wagons [second hand from thrift stores] for carting and playing. They use sleds and skis. too

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Report Highlights 50+ Sexual Abuse Cases In Amish Communities Over Two Decades

Comment #665493 by Stephanie Berkey on 22.01.20, 08:43

More focused on the authors motive? I don’t think so. It’s a concern because honesty is needed when first trying to grapple with such an shocking and horrible problem. An unbalanced view can also hurt the victims with their sense of identity.

Patience with that is needed with survivors, who can see and express these things passionately. They’ve been very hurt and are still healing, but publishers do not have that justification.

I’m not sure about the way it’s calculated and the reform there, but I can see how prison time is needful to: firstly protect the public, secondly serve to warn others against the crime, thirdly in reform because accepting natural consequences is part of the learning process as individuals and as a society. A man who rapes his own child should receive at least thirty years. That child will face handicaps, in the most cruel ways possible, all of his or her life. It would also be good for the offender to be permanently shunned by all Amish (and Mennonites, the equivalent) for the rest of his life. Maybe that’s how these crimes could be taken more seriously before the damage is done, and the good parts of their cultures preserved.

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Report Highlights 50+ Sexual Abuse Cases In Amish Communities Over Two Decades

Comment #665491 by Virgadean Richmond on 22.01.20, 08:35

I objected to the graphic nature of the article because I felt it was to sell magazines and not really to help the women. I think if it was in a Christian magazine without the graphic details there would be a boatload of folks ready to help and been vastly more constructive.

Is there anything else besides believing them and having compassion that we can do? Is there a more reputable place (than Cosmopolitan) that the story can be told so that people who are willing to help can? Are there resources near the communities that people who want to volunteer can help? Are there resources that people who do not live near the Amish can donate to? I don’t live near them now, what can people like me do?

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Report Highlights 50+ Sexual Abuse Cases In Amish Communities Over Two Decades

Comment #665489 by Stephanie Berkey on 22.01.20, 06:40

Thank you Saloma, your response is very helpful. I do believe them and have great sorrow over the challenges they face in healing. I’m concerned about their feelings of identity, and perhaps that is not the first issue to address normally, but online like this I felt to do so. Their heritage and people are much more than this, and I would encourage them there is much there to feel proud about too as they bravely confront the crippling shame they didn’t deserve.

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Report Highlights 50+ Sexual Abuse Cases In Amish Communities Over Two Decades

Comment #665474 by Don Burke on 21.01.20, 20:28

Thanks Jim.

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