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Leaving the Amish

“It’s like standing on the edge of a cliff with nothing but darkness…you don’t know what’s down there.  But you just know you’re gonna jump.”

National Geographic is currently airing “Amish: Out of the Order”, a program about leaving the Amish.  I’ve posted a clip below.  Curious to hear your comments.

I’ll make two of my own:  it’s not made clear, at least in this clip, whether the folks in this piece left before or after baptism.  I suspect it’s a mix of situations.

And: Amish choose non-Amish lives for various reasons, and come from a variety of backgrounds and situations.  Here we are getting a story viewed mainly through the lens of one person’s experience, a gentleman named Mose Gingerich.  Mose is formerly of a Wisconsin Amish community and appeared on the “Amish in the City” program a few years ago.

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    126 Comments

    1. I was born and raised Amish. Most Amish would not say that one goes to hell if they leave. Some of the more conservative groups might say it just to warn those contemplating leaving, but they themselves are not sure it is true.
      Glenda is concerned whether those leaving can make a living without receiving higher education. I have heard of very few, if any, depend on government handouts after leaving. Most of them are hard workers and will find a job doing manual labor rather then living on handouts.
      Their poor English is because English is their 2nd or 3rd language. Most people in America speak only one language. (I left the Amish 33 yrs. ago because of religious reasons.)

    2. Lucy

      Alice- that’s alright. 🙂

      Erik- the Two by Twos were at the start evangalical in a hell and damnation manner; standing in town centres slandering all other churches but they quickly stopped this.They condemn all other churches in their meetings but not publicly.There is a belief that if someone truly wants to follow Jesus that they will find their group so generally people don’t bother evangalising unless they spot a victim whom they will then target.They are known for targeting the Hutterites and the Amish; what they do is decide on someone who is religious, get them to meet the preachers, get them to go to a meeting, then conventions and lovebomb them until they join.If the person isn’t interested they get quite spiteful and say that he/she rejected “the truth” because they was too interested in “the world”.This would be their only evangalism.

      They used to be quite “simple living” but within the last 10 years they have become very modern.They have been described as Ireland’s Amish on the occasion and I do have Amish like Two by Two relations.

    3. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      I wonder is there a large number of people who leave the Amish and related faiths for reasons of health, medical issues, and such?

    4. Cleone

      Seems like they really are unhappy with their religion..

    5. Shom, I don’t think health is really a big factor in this, and you do see allowances made sometimes, ie technologies that ill or infirm might need, like motorized scooters for instance.

    6. Lucy, certain churches have been known to go after Amish and ex-Amish, just had not heard of this one. Any idea on how large they are? And have to admit, first time I’ve heard the term “lovebomb”.

    7. Lucy

      Erik, it’s hard to know how many of this group exist. There are no real numbers; They have no official name so it makes it difficult to track them.In censuses they put themselves down as “non-demoninational” and “other” so no real numbers can be guessed.

      They have been targeting Hutterites since the early 1970’s so they must have started on the Amish around that time period too.In 1994 they converted 8 Hutterite families from the Valley View Colony leaving it bankrupt. There are cases of Amish families converting and of a few ex-Amish and ex-Hutterite workers(preachers/leaders).One worker believed God sent him to “save the Amish” and converted quite a lot of Amish in Indiana.One Amish family in Ohio converted and 3 of the children went on to become workers.

      The problem is that they deny the trinity, believe themselves to be the only true church, lie about the origins of the group and believe in a works based doctrine.Here’s a good site on their beliefs:

      http://www.apologeticsindex.org/t17.html

    8. Forest Hazel

      I see that a new movie is being made, filming in Winston-Salem, NC about the Amish, called “The Shunning”. The title make me wonder if it might be an Amish version of “The Shining” No word yet on whether Jack Nicholson will don a black hat and grow a beard to star in the film.

      Seriously, the film is in production. Why they picked Winston-Salem I couldn’t tell you; they may be using Old Salem or Bethebara Park for sets, but I’m still skeptical about authenticity.

    9. Glenda

      Iam wondering if this is the movie version of the Beverly Lewis fiction book by that name.

    10. Douglas Urantia

      Mose Gingerich is a real hero. His work in helping young people to begin a new life is wonderful.

      If his biography is ever written, it should be called, “The Chain of Love” for his work truly is a chain of love.

      Douglas………los angeles, CA

    11. Ezra Hostetler

      God Bless You All, Mose Gingerich is a man we could all learn from, he is there for all those kids when they really need someone, My hats off to you my friend.Gott ist de leibe….

    12. Suzanna Laitinen

      Forest and Glenda, The movie you are referring to, The Shunning, Is a movie adaptation of Beverly Lewis’ best selling fiction book. It’s suppose to premiere on the Hallmark channel I believe, in late april. Hope that helps!

    13. Holly Graves

      The show will be shown again next Wed. Dec. 15th at 4PM ET.
      Erik, the term “love-bombing” came out of the cult scene of the 60’s and 70’s. It may have originated in the Children of God cult, if I remember correctly (they’re now known as “The Family” I believe). This refers to the practice of surrounding the potential convert with (seemingly) unconditional love and understanding, creating a new family for the person to feel an important part of. Unfortunately, after the conversion is complete, the fear and the rules come into effect, but the person by this time is trapped and afraid to have any independent thoughts (“doubts”, which are of the devil, according to the group). The honeymoon is over!

    14. Douglas Urantia

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_bombing

      Here is a link about Love Bombing.

      Even the Amish practice a type of L.B. when they want a certain member to remain in the sect.

      Also, corporations use it to retain staff members they like.

      I do notice that Mose Gingerich, Mr. Chain of Love, appears to treat the new ex-Amish rather even handedly. If they want to stay out, that’s fine with him but if they want to return to their family, he lets them go peacefully.

    15. Jay

      I watched this very interesting program and am glad that these kids have found a way to make a choice of the kind of life they want. Thank you Mose Gingerich for being there to fill the transition gap for them. And thank you for not being judgemental if they do decide to go back. All they know is what they have been taught to believe all of their lives and they had security. As we all know, starting out young on your own is very tough whether you are ex-Amish or not. I hope more groups start up to help them.
      I did notice something in the film that bothered me, these teenagers smoking and drinking beer. I hope that they don’t see these bad habits as a symbol of their liberation. Either or both of these can make them a slave to their addiction. Beer, maybe. Cigarettes, guaranteed! Being free to make yourself a slave is not freedom. It’s a nonreligious damnation of your own choosing. These great kids deserve more than that. Life on the outside has so many healthy choices. Drinking and smoking don’t show the world that you have “made it”. It shows the world that you’ve made some bad choices. I believe that most smokers will tell you that they wish that they had never started, because the cigarettes now control them and they can’t quit. I hope they make a good life for themselves.

    16. Douglas Urantia

      I agree Jay, the smoking bothered me too. These young people probably consider smoking as a sign of their new found freedom with a dash of teenage rebellion thrown into the mix. Plus peer pressure.

      These kids truly deserve a good life, free of bad habits. You state it well in your post above.

    17. Glenda

      I also found the smoking and drinking as troublesome. But as I said earlier, this program seemed sad to me at times. I realize that these kids are not prepared to live in the “world” possibly intentionally by their family. But I am still concerned that they need more education. Not that they could possibly be a burden to society, but that they are not safe and are loosing an opporturnity to fulfill their deams. I am slightly bothered by the interest in “leaving” the Amish. I guess up until reading these comments I had not considered being “Amish” a negative thing. I became interested in the Amish due to an interset in quilting and the art of the furniture then came the interest in their religion. I had family members who lived in Kalona (Mennonites) so have spent time there so maybe my view of them has been somewhat naive.

    18. Douglas Urantia

      One of the sad things encountered by these teenagers who desire to leave the Order is that they are shunned by their families which is the very institution of civilization that is designed to support youth in their quest to live a normal life.

      As for being Amish, many youth have figured out, is not normal. It’s like living in the year 1500.

      I used to have many romantic notions about the Amish life but my eyes have been opened up.

      The whole Amish sect is rife with intolerance on many levels. Being shunned by their families is unconscionable. As Mose Gingerich stated, “How can you just turn off the love switch?”

      At least Mose is trying to provide a degree of support in a generally uncertain outside world.

      “Chain of Love”.

    19. Kate

      Actually Douglas,
      If you are not baptized (which to the Amish is also when you make a PROMISE to the church & God) then you are not shunned if you choose to leave. Also the Amish life is highly Biblical and yes, Shunning is too. Most Amish do not practice the extreme shunning anymore anyways. The Amish youth are not shunned (in the majority of churches anyway) if they leave and are un-baptized members.
      Kate

    20. Douglas Urantia

      According to my understanding Kate, you are shunned whether or not you are baptized if you leave.

      I do not know of instances where ex-Amish are welcomed back if they do not plan to stay within the Order.

      I supposed there are exceptions in certain congregations. I have not done a complete survey.

    21. Reading these posts, I see there is a lot of speculation about the Amish. It is not true that all who leave the Amish are shunned, and not welcomed home unless they come back under the order. (Tho some are.) My family & relatives are always glad to see me and welcome me to their homes.
      I am ex-Amish and know the inside and outside of Amish life and practices!

    22. Douglas Urantia

      That being the case Mary, then I do truly admire your family and I appreciate your expertise. Thanks for the clarification.

    23. Kate

      Douglas,
      I have been attending Amish church for 5 years and plan on joining them in the next year. I have seen first hand that the majority are NOT shunned if they do become baptized. Also, the “strict” shunning is not as common. When I told my Amish “mom” about what people understand the shunning to be she was shocked. The shunning in my community is basically that you don’t eat at the same table or exchange money or take rides from them. They still talk to them. A boy left the church a few years ago and he will randomly stop by his friends house…they talk to him and don’t just ignore him. I think you’d find this true for a lot more churches than just the few MI ones I know.
      Kate

      1. sue

        interesting..because on the show..abes’ mother refused to speak to him while he ate away from the table..even when he asked her to..she then told him to leave

    24. Douglas Urantia

      Kate:
      Concerning your desire to join with the Amish. Religion does need new leaders, spiritual men and women who will dare to depend solely on Jesus and his incomparable teachings. May your love of God be a bright light to all who know you.

    25. Angela

      Thanks so much for your courage in discussing the impact that leaving the Amish community on your life. A couple things that I wanted to share as a point of discussion. I hope that on some levels you remain true to preserving your heritage. In other words, the impact that ‘leaving’ has long term implications beyond your life, but also on your children’s lives and beyond.
      My family left Lancaster PA to initiate a community (Old Order)in Canada. Most of the family has become modernized except for some relatives that continue to live Lancaster, but as they are getting older, so is the disconnect the community.
      Although I knew for a very long time this was part of our heritage, there was something that was always ‘missing’. As a result, there is very little known about our heritage, or culture which is unfortunate since the ‘shunning’ in a sense has an impact that you can eventually never go back.

      As Mr. Yoder had stated that emotions could be passed through the ‘blood’ — I also feel that somehow the farmer in me was always there. I had lived in major cities, but as a fish out of water,I always felt drawn to the country.
      Finally, life has taken me full circle in this journey and it is no surprise I own a farm, with my horses, and critters, — content…..yes.
      It was a leap of faith lets say :).

    26. Does Moses have a website or an email address?

    27. jim knapp avoca mi.

      i read alot of the thinks that were wrote here, but you know alot of young people on different stories want to be amish, but it would be very hard to live the life style of the amish. if they let them become amish it more and likele it would not last for out siders because of the ways of amish. they just want to be popular like the amish, but to live that way, there is no way they could do it. (jim Knapp avoca mi. )

    28. Alice Aber

      George, do a google search for Mose Gingerich, (sp) I believe he has a web site for his construction business and might have other links on there as well. I saw it some place but can’t remember where or the exact addy.

      Jim, I believe different people have different reasons for wanting to become Amish. There are those who have really researched it and truly want to join the Amish because they feel called to live in that type of community and with the religious practices. However, I think being raised up outside of the life would make it difficult at best to join and be able to stick with it. We outsiders are just to spoiled and used to this life.

      It takes a tremendous amount of disipline and also I am sure some changes in core beliefs to change over. I am not saying it is impossible though.

      I have often wondered if I could adapt to Amish life. I admire a lot of their lifestyle and beliefs. But there are some core beliefs that I simply do not agree with and could not change. However, I do take the things that I agree with and try to apply them to my life.

      There are a few that have joined and have been quite successful. But not many. I wish anyone well who wants to try.

      Blessings, Alice

    29. Patty Ann Stanley

      After viewing 3 hours of “Outside the Amish” I was both taken aback and illuninated only to realize what a difficult decison is must be to leave the Amish Community. Some of the Amich beliefs (old school) are abhorent! Seems to be that there are Amish Communities about “half way between”. Mose Gingerich seems to me to be an absolute generous soul akin to Jesus doing what he is to support the young people deciding to leave the Amish Community!!!

    30. DouglasUrantia

      As an outsider I used to look at the Amish life and wonder what it would be like to live it. Since seeing the many recent TV programs about Amish life I seriously doubt I could ever live it.

      It’s like stepping back into the year 1500. Besides that drawback, it’t also like being in a rigid retrograde cult. No wonder many young people want out. Moe is doing a great work to help the young ones that desire to leave.

    31. Kate

      I feel the need to point out that *All Amish Communities are DIFFERENT*. The ones that they show on TV normally are the extreme, why? To get viewers of course! You cannot judge the Amish by what a few say. I would say that about half (or less) are this rigid as shown in those programs and the other half are loving, Saved by Grace and shun in the Biblical way (out of love). Just wanted to stick up for the Amish here in saying that not all are like those tv shows.

    32. DouglasUrantia

      You are so sweet Kate. I thought you might say that. I agree….not all Amish communities are the same. Some of much more liberal and easier to live with.

    33. Osiah Horst

      Some liberal groups can be just as rigid and unloving as some of the more conservative groups. It is not the extend of liberalism that makes the difference but the abilities and understanding and wisdom of the leadership. Leaders that understand the “shepherd” concept of leading; leaders that are confident enough to allow questions and dialogue; leaders that understand love and practise all discipline in a loving manner; such leaders lead congregations that do not make the TV shows, and there are many of them. It is only through wise leadership that the plain Amish and Mennonite churches can grow at the rate they do.

    34. Gina Wholehan

      My home is open to any that need a place to stay while trying to decide. I am in the Toledo Ohio area.

    35. Michele

      I have read a number of the comments that have been made and would just like to add my grandmother’s experience. She was Amish and left to experience the world when she was 16, over a century ago. She met my grandfather and decided not to return to her faith. She WAS shunned and never saw her family again. She always told my older sister – never leave your family for another man. She regretted her decision, not because she did not love her husband or children, but because she felt a huge loss not being with her parents and siblings. I know that not all Amish practice shunning, but I do know it used to happen.

    36. Johannes Schlabach

      I left the Amish 30 years ago after i was baptized into the church. I left because after reading the Bible i realized that what i was being taught was not really from the Bible but rather from a long tradition that turned into a religion. The Bible is very clear about God’s love for us and anyone who accepts the sacrifice that Christ made for us now belongs to God’s family. Once i understood that simple fact my decision was easily made. I disagree that we go from the Amish, “into the world” but rather from the Amish “into God’s family”. My thought is, which family is more important, the one here and now or God’s family who you will spend eternity with. My thought is that if the decision to leave is really dificult for an Amish person then they are leaving for the wrong reason. This may be a vivid comparison, but if someone handed you every good thing you can think of, love, life, happiness, good food, money on a silver platter or a little bowl of dog ****, which would you choose? In Christ you have everything good you can or can’t imagine. If you are simply “in the world” you don’t have what Christ affords.

    37. Johannes Schlabach

      I will also say that my family did not like my decision to leave but accepted it. I did not leave and harbor bitter feelings and stayed away from them, i made an effort to see them as much as possible, showed love to them and also talked to them about God’s love.

    38. Johannes Schlabach

      Douglas, you made a comment about Mose Gingerich being a hero. I am not sure how you figure that. He may have good intentions but you’re talking about a guy who thinks he is going to hell; i sure as heck wouldn’t want to be getting advise and instructions from him. Another kid in the video mentioned that leaving the Amish is like standing on a cliff and jumping into nothing but darkness. That is where they need someone more enlightened then Mose Gingerich to lead them. I am certain that the video used the worst case scenarios. I remember 20/20 doing a show in my area many years ago, and i called in wanting to give them my story, they wouldn’t let me because not everything i was going to say was negative. They were clear that they only wanted the bad experiences for their tv show.

    39. DouglasUrantia

      Hi J.S…I spoke with Mo about that comment. He does not take it all that seriously. The God of this universe has a great love for all his sons….you, me and very much for Mose. Mose is a brave and very enlightened fellow. And like all of us, he has his doubtful moments. Yeah, the media usually has a very negative agenda. You, me and Mose….we have to keep our minds focused and positive. Sounds like you have a good attitude about your family. Peace.

    40. Johannes Schlabach

      Thanks for your response Douglas. I made that comment about Mose based on his response to the reporter’s question. I have not talked to Mose so i am sure you know him better but it sure didn’t sound like he was Christian from that comment. I completely agree with you that God loves you, me and Mose. I think where WE (people)are prone to miss out is in how we should and need to respond to the love God has for us. I know growing up Amish we are ingrained to believe a certain way and it is really difficult to change our minds after 20 years of, should i say, bombarding our minds with real strict teachings. I had to read the whole Bible a number of times and the New Testament over and over before my mind started renewing to God’s way of thinking, I struggled to believe the fact that we can know with certainty that we are “born again” when we accept the sacrifice of Christ. We are taught that we can not know that we are saved, but the Bible contradicted what i was taught and i finally decided that God was not the one lying about it… I certainly understand the difficulty these kids face.

    41. DouglasUrantia

      this is what I believe:
      When once you grasp the idea of God as a true and loving Father, the only concept which Jesus ever taught, you must forthwith, in all consistency, utterly abandon all those primitive notions about God as an offended monarch, a stern and all-powerful ruler whose chief delight is to detect his subjects in wrongdoing and to see that they are adequately punished, unless some being almost equal to himself should volunteer to suffer for them, to die as a substitute and in their stead. The whole idea of ransom and atonement is incompatible with the concept of God as it was taught and exemplified by Jesus of Nazareth. The infinite love of God is not secondary to anything in the divine nature.

      1. Lisa King

        Loving God?

        Douglas, there are plenty of verses in the New Testament, like Isaiah) about God being angry with man for being sinful. He hates sin and will punish in many different ways. The Bible says He will spit you out of His mouth if you are a lukewarm believer. If you deny Him before man, He will deny you before the Father. I know some of these verses, but all I did was Google “verses for angry God” and got a lot of answers. I am a parent. I love my children and most of the time I am a loving, affectionate mother, but if one of my children were to misbehave, I would become angry and stern and would punish him accordingly. God is the same way. He loves us so much that He first tries to discipline (teach) us sinfulness of our ways and if we don’t listen or change He must punish us. We’ve been forwarned in the Bible. No use getting upset when it happens to you. Just like parents – “I told you to behave or there would be consequences”. As for ransom and atonement, that’s in the Bible also. You need only to read it to know that it is necessary. I wonder if you believe the Bible is error-proof and inspired by the Holy Spirit (God)? If not, there is your answer to all of your questions. You have to believe ALL of the Bible in order to know and believe what God requires of us. I pray that you will find your answers through the Bible, prayer and Divine intervention.

        1. DouglasUrantia

          Lisa, thank you for your reply and comment. One slight correction. Lisa, the Book of Isaiah is in the Old Testament.

          The idea that God is a righteous Punisher is totally false and an affront to the loving nature of God.

          No loving father would ever sacrifice his son for another’s sin. The Atonement Doctrine is a major mistake of the New Testament writer Paul. In fact, its an insult to common sense and human decency.

          The God of this universe is a God of love. Lisa, as a parent you would be best served to love your children unconditionally. Yes, children need discipline but not harsh and punitive discipline. That only creates anger and resentment.

    42. Dawn

      Mose Gingerich

      I was so glad to see the show, it was a little sad at times. I watched “Amish in the City” way back when and wondered what ever became of Mose. when I saw “Amish out of order” tonight it was nice to see what a good person he is still. God Bless you Mose, you are a kind and wonderful person.

    43. kera

      interesting

      Hello all….i jus watched this peace and i loved it!!! it makes me wonder wat hapnd to the ppl on here…Mose has such a beautiful spirit!!! it showed even on camera…im a black female and ive often wonderd are there any black amish…?? ther iz a certain age were i blive evry1 shld b alowed 2 make ther own choices and part of me understnd why they live the way they do n this crazy world but you should at least be givin the tools to b able 2 live if you decide tht life aint for you!!! and shunning harsh very harsh mayb they could hav lik a once a month meetn wer the 1s who lef get 2 come bak and see ther family!!! hope to learn more…;

      1. Johannes Schlabach

        Hi Kera ….. i have never known any black Amish people but the Mennonites have adopted black kids on occasion. I have known Amish guys who have let the Amish and dated black girls.

    44. fritz Moore

      how can I help

      Hi, My name is Tony, I have been watching the amish leaving,
      there order, I would like to help foster any amish or
      meneite’s(check spelling) who need a place to stay, but be true to there beliefs…….

      Thanks for your time

      Tony

    45. fritz Moore

      Gay

      can I ask a question?

      What if a person is gay, do the amish except this?
      What does a guy do?

      1. Johannes Schlabach

        Hi Fritz …. that is a fair question but i have never met or known an Amish gay man, they simply don’t choose that lifestyle. I have never read anywhere that God is gay and we are made in his image.

    46. DouglasUrantia

      Gay Amish & other Anabaptists

      Amish do not condone gay behavior.

      Of course there have been and are gay Amish men. One young gay Amish man was so distraught that he killed himself by hanging in the barn. His family found him. Believe me, their hearts were broken, especially his mother. This was very sad and should never happen.

      God loves all His children without favorites. Many gay men usually have to leave the Order and live in the city. I am not an expert on this topic but I have known several gay ex-Amish men. I have known them to be wonderful, hardworking gentle souls.

      Let us all find our way with God’s grace and understanding as we travel the many hills and valleys of life.

      1. Valerie

        There was a young man I was concerned about-was this man in the Akron Oh area? like about 18 years old? We were praying for one that seemed to be struggling with perhaps this problem. Don’t know what happened to him.

    47. Nelson

      Hello Everyone,,,,, Reading these posts and comments,,, from different people is very intersting…
      I am living in eastern Holmes County, Ohio,,, and my e-mail is followjesusonly@gmail.com
      Have been to a lot of different areas, in the Amish circles,am presently going to a Mennonite Church,, but have a lot of Amish friends, and am working with 3-4 different catagories of Amish,,
      LAST WEEK AN EX AMISH SINGLE BOY SHARED WITH ME THAT HIS PARENTS TOLD HIM THAT THEY WILL GIVE HIM THE HOME FARM,WHICH CONSISTS OF A HUNDRED ACRES PRIME CENTRAL HOLMES COUNTY FARM , LOCK, STOCK, AND BARREL IF HE RETURNS TO THE AMISH AND PROMISE TO STAY, AND HE IS STRUGGLING WITH THAT , BECAUSE HE SAYS THAT HE DOES NOT BELIEVE, AND AGREE WITH THE AMISH PREACHING.
      He has time till next spring to decide.

      1. Johannes Schlabach

        Most of the Amish use the inheritance issue to try to entice their kids to stay Amish. They are basically offering their son between 1 and 2 million dollars to go against what he really believes. Personally i don’t think any amount of money is worth going against doing what is right. If someone offered me 10 million dollars to denounce Christ and go back to believing the way the Amish do, i wouldn’t even think about. No amount of money will buy you salvation and i do not know anything more important in life then the salvation Christ provided for each and everyone of us… it is up to us whether we choose Christ or money. If we choose money over Christ we have made a sad and bad choice, however; if we choose Christ there is no limit to how much he might bless us with money or whatever else he chooses to bless us with.

    48. Barbara Paul

      Question

      I learn alot & understanding Amish world. I preferred modern world that help people with disabilities but Im not sure if Amish accept their children or older adult who have disabiilites. Also need w Im not sure if Amish allow wearing glasses or hearing aids. I can understand why young amish people or any ages left Amish world for many reasons.

      I do not know what I will do without modern world all of those wonderful thing very helpful computer is very helpful too it make my life so easier. It also make our life easier people with disaabilites what we need the most.

    49. Barbara Paul

      Of Course of all american favorite meal that is Pepperoni pizza w/extra cheese mmm Yummy!!!! I cannot live without pizza on Friday night either.