Amish Bank Ads: Funny or Offensive?

Amish people are no longer just the subjects of television programs–now they’re beginning to fill in the commercial breaks.

A Colorado-based bank is running a series of three 15-second ads featuring an “Amish” spokesman promoting a smartphone app.

The point of the spots is that banking-by-phone is so easy, even the technology-fearing Amish could do it. As you can see in the clips below, they play off of a crude stereotype that doesn’t really hold water, of the Amish being technologically ignorant.

That aside, my layman’s take is that they are probably going to be effective ads. I also think they may be getting extra bang for their buck with this concept (intended or not) since the Amish are generally perceived as good with money.

This first ad is called “Elders”.  In it, the “magic box” makes checking easier. But if you’re Amish, you may have to cover your tracks.

This one is called “Rules”. Keep your distance from this sorcery.

And the last is “Manure Bill”. Is this the best of the lot, or just the silliest?

By the way, I probably don’t need to mention that Amish people have a sense of humor too. Some even poke a little fun at their own tech limitations.

What do you think – are these ads funny or offensive – or neither?

And that aside, do they “work”?

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    1. Robert Gschwind

      Amish Bank ads

      I consider them offensive, and bigoted!

    2. Mary Yoder

      Bank Ads

      I in all honesty don’t know. I am an open minded person and like clean jokes…..BUT, well, this could be just a bit much and making “sputt”, if you can decipher that one.

      1. Mary do you think you could share the translation of this bit of PA Dutch for those of us who can’t decipher? 🙂

        1. Eli Byler

          making fun...

          I’m not familiar with the phrase Mary Yoder used (making “sputt”), but it’s pretty close to a Pennsylvania Dutch phrase that does fit the situation (mach schposs); translated literally, it’s pretty much the same as you would say it in English: “Making Fun” (of).

          For what it’s worth, I think the ads are funny and not overly offensive, but I’d find it more accurate and amusing if they used a Pennsylvania Dutch accent and/or maybe a turn of phrase associated with the Amish.

        2. Henry Miller

          Spotte (spotten)

          The PA German word “spotte” means”to mock”. The pronunciation rhymes with “Calcutta”.

      2. Lorelei


        Can’t help but think they are poking fun at the Amish and what the world in general considers their primitive ways. Though it would be effective, it basically is saying how even a stupid person can use their banking app. That makes it rather degrading of the Amish, in my opinion.

    3. Brenda

      Amish Bank Ads

      Offensive and crude, portrays them as ignorant and you will never see an Amish man without his shirt on, much less, uncovered shoulders, and legs. I will never do usiness with this chain of banks

    4. Mark - Holmes Co.

      They are kind of stupid…

      1. Mark - Holmes Co.

        I should clarify — not offensive, just silly. I got people at work to look at them. Most rolled their eyes, but I don’t think anyone was offended.

        1. Agreed...

          Silly — yeah, I would agree; but like you I don’t see the silliness being an at-the-expense-of kind of slam at the Amish. The guy is not portrayed as a rube, but is in fact portrayed as someone quite likeable. After my earlier post I wished that I had used the word “silly.”

    5. Not as easily offended...

      Maybe I’m the black sheep here, but I don’t find it offensive. ‘Course, then again, I’m the one that got aced by an Amish man about 4 yrs ago who wanted to stay in contact with me so asked me if I texted, and in telling him that I did I had to acknowledge that the Amish man was more tech savvy that me. Ouch. (ha)

      So much of marketing is about putting an unexpected an memorable twist on something, and IMO that is all that these ads do. Are we offended by a talking lizard selling insurance? Do we take offense a the intentional-(wink-wink)-offense of something being so easy that even a caveman can do it? Of course not. IMO, this is nothing more than that. But then again, I take the view that our society is *far* to quick to take offense, so maybe I over-compensate — I don’t know. But for myself, no, I find nothing offensive here.

      1. Offensive

        Don’t forget that the lizard and the caveman aren’t here to defend themselves. 🙂

        1. Offensive?

          “Don’t forget that the lizard and the caveman aren’t here to defend themselves.” Oh, I didn’t realize that, unlike the lizard and caveman, the Amish would be viewing this in mass in order to be offended. 😉

        2. Jerry Lamie

          They are sort of funny but not offensive. Trust me the Amish I know are far more sophisticated than you think. Many teens have smart phones. Most off farm working men have them.
          They ads are just dumb and show just how little the English know about the Amish.
          Perhaps they want to keep it that way.

    6. Marilyn

      I must admit that when I first saw the advertisements, I thought they were funny. Buy, in stopping to think, I believe they are trying to make the Amish look dumb and I don’t like that.

      1. More about being isolated/ignorant than dumb

        I think they are tapping more into the perception of the Amish as isolated and fearful, and also ignorant, of society and technology.

        If you have spent time with Amish people, you know that perception is much less true than a lot might think and often downright incorrect. But it’s no doubt a strong enough perception that this still works. Also this is Colorado, where few Amish live. I wonder what would happen if a PA-based bank ran this ad.

    7. See Both Sides

      Same Ol' Same Ol'

      Stereotypes are rampant in American society. Targets of ridicule are typically those unable to adequately defend themselves. Southerners and farmers were notable examples in the not too distant past. There has also been the cycle of Polish jokes, Little Moron jokes, and blonde jokes.

      Nothing is sacred in advertising so long as it makes money and doesn’t offend too many customers. For example, come Presidents’ Day, various television advertisers around the country, e.g. car dealers, will feature caricatures of Washington and Lincoln in silly commercials. While some potential customs may find these offensive, most don’t. That’s why these actor portrayals and cartoons reappear every year.

      By the same token, few likely banking customers in Colorado will be offended by an Amish caricature peddling banking services. The bank in Colorado is using the stereotype because it can get away with it. Obviously, this would not be the case in Pennsylvania or other Amish strongholds! Nor would any banker in his right mind ridicule a member of a legally protected class such as a person of color in a Stepin Fetchit clone ad.

      By nature, Americans are not disposed to ask: Am I my bothers’ keeper? This is particularly true when there is money to be made from avoiding the Golden Rule. It truly is a sad commentary on society.

      1. Doubled your points

        Sorry See Both Sides, I see now I have duplicated a couple of your points. I didn’t read your comment until posting the previous two of my own.

        I agree that a key part of advertising is judging how many people will be offended/turned off versus intrigued/enticed/moved to buy. If the region were different this may be less effective or fall flat. But even in heavily-Amish areas there are a lot of people who don’t know their Amish neighbors or have odd or incorrect perceptions of them.

        I also wonder how it would do as an ad for a national chain.

        1. See Both Sides

          Not Offended

          I’m not offended in the least. ‘Tis better to be repeated than forgotten.

    8. Dianne Plourde

      Mixed Feelings

      For the most part, I have mixed feelings about these ads. But I have to admit that I laughed out loud and truly found them kind of cute. This is coming from a person who is very, very defensive of the Amish and their ways … I have deep respect for their culture and learn much from it. Appreciate this site! :o)

      1. Thanks Dianne! I appreciate you and everyone else who visits and shares their thoughts here. And I liked your take on these ads.

    9. Eugenia

      Thumbs Down

      I don’t like these at all!

    10. Terry Berger


      Offensive!! Nothing worse than being portrayed as ignorant and sulight deprived…..Another one for Hollywood….

    11. Debbie Halcomb

      They are stupid and insulting, but then again so are most commercials and TV shows. That is what we get in an anything goes society.

    12. Trying to be open-minded, it is funny and probably not meant to be offensive. Amish Mafia, on the other hand, is a different story. I wrote a strong disapproval letter to Discovery Channel explaining that by sending such a message to millions of people, many will believe there is some truth to their fable. It reminded me of a bully attacking someone that wouldn’t or couldn’t respond. Finally, I said that I expected higher intelligence from the Discovery Channel.

      1. Mark - Holmes Co.

        There is a website, I think it’s called RespectAmish that takes on those awful Amish shows. On the website is contact info for people at Discovery Channel both email & phone. I tried both several times explaining that I am Amish and would like to talk to someone about the shows. Strange enough — I get no calls back.
        You’re right, the banks ads are in whole different field.

    13. Katrina

      Amish Bank Ads

      Is the bank going to point out that these types of apps are vulnerable to hackers? Aren’t they alienating potential customers with these ads?

    14. FirstBank Amish Smartphone App Ads

      The humor here is sort of a recycled Weird Al Yankovic “Amish Paradise” portrayal of the Amish as mystified by puzzling devices like phones which surely must be the work of the devil or some sorcery.

      That noted there are different types of humor and I admit I have a weakness for a certain type of silly humor, like what is being attempted in these ads.

      I don’t think these are particularly clever, though the third one, “Manure Bills”, got the best response from me. The actor is pretty good in each of the ads, which raises the bar somewhat–good facial expressions (eg, the way he looks at the phone and raises his eyes at the end of “Rules”) and delivery of his lines. In “Manure Bills” I like how he throws in “blacksmith bill” at the end as if it just came to mind. Kinda funny.

      I also think that the average English person is more likely to be offended by these than the average Amish person (about like what Mark writes above, describing his and his co-workers’ reactions).

      In terms of an ad, I think it is a smart and probably effective one, additional reasons to what I wrote above including 1) I think they do a good job conveying the main message (“User-friendly–no matter who’s using it”), 2) the fact that the Amish are “hot” right now, and 3) since this is a Western regional bank, you probably have fewer people who know Amish personally and less risk of potential customers taking offense (though for the record I don’t find these offensive, just rehashed, though pretty well-executed).

      1. √ Like

        You know, Erik, sometimes it would be great to just have a “like” button — a post that is so on target you just gotta acknowledge agreement…, but don’t have a lot to add beyond that. 😉

        1. Liking the idea

          Thanks Don 🙂 We have been getting requests for the like button for some time. We just did a site theme upgrade here, most of the effects of which are behind the scenes and invisible to visitors (the big exception being the more-readable responsive version of the site now appearing on mobile phones)…I thought the “comment like” feature may have been part of this latest upgrade but looks like it is not.

          If I can find a plugin that achieves that and doesn’t slow down the site’s load time too much, we ought to at least test that feature out 🙂

    15. Naomi Wilson

      I dunno...

      It’s poking fun, but gently. Something the Amish folk I know are pretty good at themselves. Maybe it’s troublesome that non-Amish are yet again exploiting an image. But that is the way of the world. If you don’t approve, don’t participate. My husband and I met when we were both music majors in college. Musician stereotype jokes and clean music related pranks always get us laughing. We enjoy teasing each other in this way.

      Theses commercials made us chuckle.

    16. Iza

      Amish smartphone app ads

      I think they’re hilarious 😀 I know some of the Amish that would have plenty of lough watching those ads 🙂

    17. Dianne Plourde

      Not so sure ...

      I have to admit that I laughed out loud at these commercials! And I am one who is very defensive of the Amish, and who respects their culture greatly – and keeps learning from it, the more I know of it. But all of us truly need to learn to laugh at ourselves once in a while. I am sure the bright and humble Amish folk feel the same way. Taking advantage, stereotyping? Many businesess do it … buyer beware, always. But we are all grateful to live in such a free country. :o)

      1. Amy

        Had it been written by someone Amish, poking fun at themselves, then I could agree, but to me it’s the same as those ignorant movies that get written about Christians that are off the mark, such as “Easy A.” It portrays Christians as general as being “this way” when it is far from the truth.

    18. Leon Moyer

      a turn-off ad

      offensive and a mockery.

    19. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

      Hi All,
      In the thumb nail for the last spot “Manure Bill” Mr. Amishman looks a little like British comedy icon Michael Palin (Monty Python). Am I way off on this?

      I don’t think I’m offended, but really, it wasn’t the funniest thing I’ve ever seen, but neither was “Mennonite Girl” by the comedy band what redid a reasonably good Neil Young song.

    20. The first two got a grin out of me but I have to admit I didnt really care for the last one at all.. Not sure why.. just didnt amuse me.

    21. andrea

      what is offensive about it?……’s not like any Amish people are going to see it on the television

      1. Amy

        Really? Not a single Amish person is going to see this perhaps playing on a television at Walmart or Target, in some other area business, while on rumspringa, or at an English friend’s house?

      2. Henry Miller

        Not amused

        Being able to get away with it is one of the poorest reasons to do it. Sort of like Bill Clinton’s “I did it because I could”.

    22. OldKat


      I really don’t find these to be offensive TO ME. Though, obviously, it is not my cultural / religious affiliation that is being spoofed.

      I can see how some “English” people would find them offensive; I can also see how some Amish people could find them funny. I know what is funny to some is offensive to others. I also know that as surely as some see humor in nearly everything, others see something pffemsive in nearly everything.

      I get the points that the bank is trying to make, but I am not sure that these ads would convince me to change what I am doing in favor of these apps. So largely I would just label these ads as “ineffective” … to me.

    23. Juanita Cook

      I didn’t care for them. They make the Amish look very dumb and foolish

    24. Alice Mary

      In my 60+ years on this earth, I’ve seen/heard most ethnic groups ridiculed (remember all those Polish jokes back in the ’60’s? That’s my ethnicity, but many of them made me laugh, too). Is it any surprise this bank is hitching a ride on the popularity of those really dumb Amish cable TV shows? Like Andrea said, it’s not like the Amish are going to see them…and if they do, well, doesn’t that mean they’re likely to be disobeying their own Ordnung by doing so? (So, who has the last laugh?) 😉

      Alice Mary

    25. Marcus from Sweden

      Amish Bank Ads: Funny or Offensive?

      Ok, first comment on this webpage on my behalf! I’ve been quietly reading this site for a couple of months now, but things like these despicable commercials makes me unable to remain silent.

      Now, the two alternatives given for describing the commercials at hand – funny or offensive – are not two adequate choices in my opinion. The word I’m looking for to describe them is nothing less than downright deceptive. Let me explain why:

      In the first two ads the guy refers to his cell phone first as a “magic box”, and in the second one he refers to it simply as “sorcery”. Ok, so we got two words here that at least for me, as a bible believing christian, rings a gigantic alarm bell in my mind! And even more so when those words are used in a commercial that is trying to sell you something, or make you use or do something or whatever!

      By a fast lookup on on the word “magic” we find that it’s synonymous with both witchcraft and – sorcery! Here is their description of the noun magic (which I rather not even mention, but for the sake of clarity since the subject has already been brought up by the article itself):

      “1. The use of rituals or actions, especially based on supernatural or occult knowledge, to manipulate or obtain information about the natural world, especially when seen as falling outside the realm of religion; also the forces allegedly drawn on for such practices.
      2. A specific ritual or procedure associated with supernatural magic or with mysticism; a spell.
      3. Something producing remarkable results, especially when not fully understood; an enchanting quality; exceptional skill.
      4. A conjuring trick or illusion performed to give the appearance of supernatural phenomena or powers.”

      With that in mind I want to point out that these things are pretty much as far away from God as it possibly gets! STAY AWAY FROM THEM AT ALL TIMES!!! Since the Lord God is the one we trust on, let’s check and see what the Word tells us about it, in one of the many passages about the subject at hand (notice the last word in verse 10):

      Deuteronomy 18:10-15 (KJV)
      10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,
      11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
      12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
      13 Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.
      14 For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.
      15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;

      Now some of you might say that “Oh, come on, it’s just a silly commercial and they are just using those words in a comical sense!”. Yes, that might be. But what does God’s Word say about using expressions like that then?

      Ephesians 5:3, 6-7, 11-12 (KJV)
      3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
      6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
      7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
      11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
      12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

      So, this very thing is yet another reason why I think the Amish as a people under the Lord our God are doing just right by keeping themselves separated from all unnecessary contacts with the english society, where I suppose mainstream media (featuring abominations like these commercials) via high-tech devices represents a great portion of it. There is just an overwhelming amount of avoidable deceptions and unnecessary temptations waiting there, as it seems to me. These occult-themed commercials are a good example of that. And as children of God it’s completely right to keep separate from everything such! This long comment will be my reproval of these deceitful and ungodly commercials for the First Bank mobile app.

      2 Kor 6:14-18 (KJV)
      14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
      15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
      16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
      17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
      18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

      Marcus från Sverige

      1. Don't overthink it...

        Marcus, since you don’t know me I will mention that I am a Baptist pastor. I agree with you that in the real world the things that deal with actual sorcery, etc. are of grave danger.

        But what we have in the commercials is (1) not the real world (AKA, marketing); and (2) it’s a spoof (humor) made by way grossly-exaggerating a characteristic (much like a characterture does — and no one assumes such exaggeration in a drawing is real).

        So, while as a minister I am also concerned about this type of activity, from a realistic point of view I am certain that no one in the commercial is engaged in the practice, and furthermore I am highly confident that no one watching the commercial will be drawn into the practice either.

        On a quick tangent: Where in Sweden are you? My great-grandparents (?) were Swedish immigrants, and I would love to go there one day.

        1. Marcus from Sweden

          Hi, pastor Burke!

          I see what you’re saying. What I am reacting to is their subtle way of trying to slip things like these into the minds of the public, via their terminology. Slowly the enemy is trying to reach recognition and acceptance for things such as these, that we should have nothing to do with. The procedure of using these words in a comical sense, like they are no big deal, to try and take away the seriousness of them, is just so deeply distasteful in my opinion. Because of what they represent. I say this because I care! I just can’t keep shut when something like this comes around. So I try to expose it for what it is, then others may judge for themselves about it.

          1 Thessalonias 5:6 (KJV)
          Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

          1 Peter 5:8 (KJV)
          Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

          To answer your question, I rather remain anonymous as to my whereabouts. Nice however, to speak with a swedish descendant! Someone from my own people! Yes, you should go visit Sweden! There are still many places left with habitations from the 17-1800’s (and some even earlier than that) with the old timber buildings and all that still preserved. You will see how our forefathers lived, which is quite different to the modern day soceity I can tell you. Conditions where at times very harsh!

          Marcus från Sverige

          1. Understood...

            Marcus, I understand what you’re saying, and in many situations would agree with you. However, in this particular one I highly doubt that there will be any additional numbing people toward wrong.

            If you’re ever interested in conversing on your home country, feel free to email me at dburkeCAT60CAT@yahooCAT.comCAT — and be sure to throw the CAT’s out when you do. 😉 This is a seldom-checked old clearing house email address, and I will send you my regular one if/when I hear from you.

        2. Erik, a techno-glitch?

          Erik, there may be a tech-glitch here. The post I’m replying to (mine from 11:01 on July 17) has “Don’t overthink it…” in the subject line (as it should), but it also has the same think in the “Comment on …” field above that. I would guess that the latter should have the subject line from the post that this was given in reply to, right? Not that it matters to me, but thought I’d mention it to you.

          1. The biggest reason I love descriptive comment titles :)

            Thanks Don, I’ve meant to address that–it’s actually not a glitch, that’s actually part of the updated commenting system, though it doesn’t make perfect sense the way it is worded.

            The comment system creates a link back to the page the comment is on, based on the title the comment is given; if no title is given by the commenter, it uses the post title as default.

            This feature is actually helpful for the site being found in Google & other search engines, so I *LOVE* when people give their comments original, descriptive titles, ideally related to the topic (hint, hint, anyone reading this) 🙂

            That’s why I usually try to do so myself, though I don’t always follow that guideline to a T (and the bottom line is I like seeing just about any comments, titled or not).

            I’ve removed that “Comment on” text until I can come up with a better way to describe it (or maybe I’ll just leave it off, since it’s not really necessary).

            So there you have more fascinating, behind-the-scenes of this site 🙂

            1. Note to self: Remember to use Comment Titles ;-)

              Gotcha. And yes, I’m techno nerd enough to enjoying knowing the behind-the-scenes why of things.

              Not that it matters to me, but as I look at your reply, I see Title not only on the regular line, but at the top and at the bottom of the post as well. So, Google giving bonus points for stuttering?

              1. No, not that I’m aware of! 🙂

    26. Marcus from Sweden

      Amish Bank Ads: Funny or Offensive?

      Oh, and one more thing I want to make clear. It’s one of my deep wishes that the english society and of course the rest of us who are neither englishers nor Amish would follow the Amish example and dedicate ourselves and our lives to God and his wonderful Word! So that we would not get entangled in anything like that mentioned above, but believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and live in the hope of God’s tremendous grace that we might be saved and have eternal life in heaven! In which we will never ever be separated from our Lord!

      1. Hinds Feet from Alabama

        Marcus from Sweden

        Marcus from Sweden, are you still there? Reading all of your comments was a huge blessing for me, as you spoke directly from the Bible and a Biblical perspective. And the Bible you spoke from was the correct Bible. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” Praise to God!

    27. Tom Geist

      I liked it!

      I found these commercials to be funny and not evil, hurtful, obscene or anything else. This is not a documentary of Amish people, it’s a little fun. The reputation of Amish are not called into question except by those that read too much into everything.

      Tom in Lincoln….

    28. Jessie Cochran

      Funny or Offensive? I say, offensive.

      I think these ads are offensive because, 1. Amish would never do commercials for “the world” and their electronics. 2. An Amish man would never allow himself to be caught with no shirt on or bare shoulders, and 3. It’s just offensive to the Amish. Yes, it was a good idea on FirstBank’s part to get people to get the app but, really, I think it’s offensive. I would be offended if I were Amish and saw or heard about these ads.

      1. Jessie Cochran

        Another point.

        4. The actors aren’t even Amish or ex-Amish!

    29. See Both Sides

      English Finally Coming to Amish Defense?

      According to recent media reports linked below, even non-Amish in Pennsylvania are growing weary of Amish stereotyping.–End-Amish-Mafia-Series-271287861.html

      1. Thoughts on the Respect Amish movement

        I see the Respect Amish movement in two ways.

        < cynical mode ON >

        The skeptical or cynical side of me wonders why it took until the third season of Amish Mafia, in addition to all the other “Amish-sploitation” shows, for a “movement” to arise.

        I think a lot of people like to feel like heroes nowadays, and backing this is an easy way to feel like one with minimal personal sacrifice, and also to get publicity for the people involved.

        I also wonder how much the Amish *really* care about how they are portrayed in the media of “the world”. Maybe some Lancaster Amish are annoyed. I might be too, if I had to deal with ignorant questions all the time. But that’s not a new thing.

        I think we have been over all the faults of these shows, but how do they tangibly affect Amish lives? There is a lot of ignorance about the Amish and it will continue to be that way with or without these programs. I think people who believe what they see on a program like Amish Mafia might not be worth the effort to try to convince otherwise. They’re going to believe whatever the last person told them or last TV show they watched.

        Also, the money side. I see that local business interests have gotten on board with this, criticizing the producers of these shows for exploitation of the Amish. Interesting move. I’m sure those business interests have indirectly reaped economic benefits from the shows in the form of increased interest in the Amish and Lancaster County.

        Also, tourism benefits accrue for Amish vendors and businesses as well as English ones. So if these shows have boosted tourism to Lancaster County, Amish have financially benefited as well.

        There are two sides to Amish tourism and I think you’ll find both supporters, neutrals, and those against it among the Amish. Looking at the Amish at the whole, tourism really isn’t that big an issue in terms of affecting Amish daily lives.

        It most affects those in the big settlements and really if you’re not living in the heart of those communities or off the main highways your increase in traffic due to tourists is going to be negligible. Amish in the hundreds of small settlements across North America rarely see “tourists” in the traditional sense of the word, if at all.

        However the economic impact of tourism can be pretty big for the Amish as well as non-Amish businesses, and that trickles down to Amish well beyond those living on Route 340 in Lancaster County.

        As for politicians backing this, I’ve become so cynical about anything politicians do in public that I am not impressed (for the record I don’t know what party this particular politician belongs to; used to keep up with politics but no longer do).

        For a politician, this just sounds like an obvious cause that it’s easy to jump on board with because there is no downside and really only upside with a chance for free positive publicity.

        < /cynical mode OFF >

        If I just take this at face value that these people are 100% motivated solely by the idea of defending the Amish, then I respect their good intentions. However I still wonder about how much the Amish need or want to be “defended”.

        None of this should be taken as support for or defense of the Amish reality shows, which I’ve been critical of on many occasions.

    30. See Both Sides

      Politics = Deceit

      Because few things in politics can be taken at face value, primarily because politicians tend to be pathological liars, it is quite possible that the governor is more interested in the image of his state than he is in protecting the Amish. After all, what does it say about the governor’s capacity of governance if a clandestine group of self-appointed vigilantes are running loose dispensing their brand of justice at will? In the governor’s mind, such circumstances may make Pennsylvania look like Mississippi!

      Meanwhile, over time, the tourist trade is likely to change Amish communities participating therein. Giving a paying audience what they want, so that they’ll keeping coming back, usually involves some level of compromise. Sadly, if this happens, late 21st century vacation guides may refer to Amish tourist traps.

      In this regard, it could be that even the existence of an Amish Mafia could be one of those proverbial canary-in-the-mine warnings of Amish secularization. Most certainly, if nothing else, one would be hard pressed to justify many of their tactics based on a careful reading of Scripture. The closest one might come would be loosely based on Jesus’ running roughshod over moneychangers in the Temple. Then, even that becomes an isolated event rather than a lifestyle.

      1. Tom Geist

        I would assume that if the Governor really thought this “Amish Mafia Show” was for real he could send in special law enforcement people or request Federal assistance.

        This show is not a documentary, it’s a mockumentary and there are no laws that say people can’t make such things up. Even if you show that the Amish have been slandered or defamed you have to prove damages in a court of law.

        People are allowed to behave badly.

        Tom in Lincoln

    31. See Both Sides

      In politics, appearances are more important than reality. Besides, in this case, inspiring a merchant boycott is cheaper than diverting state resources to deal with the problem.

    32. jeff


      So much junk on TV these days. Shows are bad, commercials are bad. 99% has some kind of sexual undertones. Would rather watch American Pickers and the weather channel.

    33. Portraying any group as stupid or ignorant has dangers

      I have to say that I cannot view the actual videos (they are marked private) and I don’t know what I might have had to say if I could. For instance, if they are sufficiently surreal such that they truly cannot be taken seriously, some of this may not apply. However, the comments don’t really suggest that. I’m going on the descriptions of them in the article and the comments. I also am aware that this is an old post, but if I’m reading it and the comments, perhaps other people are too!

      Anyway, what I wanted to mention was that there is a risk of harm from certain types of portrayal.

      In cultures where hierarchies of power and control rest on claims of knowledge, portraying any group as stupid or ignorant lays them very open to abuses of human rights down the road. Real people, who may end up with real power, are influenced to regard a group as “not really competent,” and then come to regard themselves as justified in claiming authority over members of that particular group in much the way Aristotle justified people claiming authority over their slaves (i.e. arguing that they are better off if a rational agent – meaning someone who thinks like “me” – imposes their will on them).

      When questions come up regarding people’s capacity to decide how they live, from electricity to medical autonomy, an underlying assumption on the part of elected officials or other powerful people that this group is, “Too stupid to make their own decisions,” will matter. At worst, such attitudes will actually end with abuses of human rights, the most likely one being taking children from their parents to force mainstream culture on them instead (stolen generation stuff – it happens over and over again, and no-one ever seems to learn from history).

      The whole, “We put flashing lights on things we love,” thing over the buggies, as if trying to reconcile a three-year-old who looks likely to have a random meltdown (rather than trying appropriately to understand how these intelligent adults with a totally different world view see the matter and find a solution that meets the needs of both sides), and some of the other controversies, seems to me to suggest that this problem is not just theoretical, but a real issue (though of course, this does not demonstrate an actual link between such controversies and this sort of thing. “Influence,” is a very complicated psychological question).

      Ultimately, I personally think the solution lies in a fuller realisation that knowing better, or thinking you know better – as a medical professional, as a social worker, as a politician – DOESN’T give you an inherent right to take personal choices away from others. However, until then, being very careful about how members of any minority group are portrayed, is (sadly) very important.

      It would be really wonderful if laughing at the oddities of any distinct culture or people was merely mutual fun without implications that mattered, but I don’t think we’ve got there yet, not at least with regard to anything public that doesn’t come from the group itself.

      Saying this, I realise that if this was about people of African descent, or Jews, or really just about anyone else, it would seem to me these points and risks would be instantly obvious. Which is interesting.