“I don’t remember ever having joy growing up.”
Emma Gingerich, who grew up in a Swartzentruber Amish community, recently appeared on the Megyn Kelly Today show to discuss her background and departure from Amish life.
In this interview Emma describes her dissatisfaction with everyday routine and the rules of life as a girl and young woman living in a Swartzentruber home.
Emma discusses the deficiencies of education in a Swartzentruber school (not knowing the number of states, not using English in school), dating (bed courtship), and a few other topics. Emma did have a love for school, but as is customary, that experience concluded at age 14.
She describes how she woke up one day, wrote a note, and left her home for good. She wrote a book about her experience called Runaway Amish Girl: The Great Escape.
Unsurprisingly, this interview is pretty surface level, and focuses on the more sensational or shocking aspects of Swartzentruber Amish culture.
It’s mentioned that this is “one of the most strict Amish communities” but doesn’t get into a lot more nuance about how the Swartzentruber Amish are not exactly representative of all Amish in their cultural practices, schooling, etc.
Emma seems content with her decision and has found her place in English life, so good for her. She has not only gotten her GED and college degree, but also an MBA.
Being Amish is not for everyone and just looking at it as an outsider, leaving the Swartzentruber Amish must be more difficult than deciding you don’t want to be a member of a more mainstream Old Order church.
Emma says her family has no contact with her. No doubt it took a lot of courage to make this move.