This is a disheartening story (no longer online) which I’ve meant to address, about child abuse in one Amish community.

Four bishops in a Missouri Amish community have been charged with failing to report sexual abuse inflicted by an adult member of the community upon two children.  Clearly there is no moral question that abuse of any kind is a criminal matter, and not one meant to be handled within the bounds of a local Ordnung.  Yet that is apparently how this matter was “resolved”, and authorities are charging the bishops, as people with “responsibility for the care of children”, with neglecting their duty towards the abuse victims.

Occasionally you hear of similar cases of unreported crime in Amish communities.  Yet I’d hardly call covering up crimes standard operating procedure among Amish.  Amish subscribe to a ‘two kingdoms’ theology, seeing a distinction between the spiritual kingdom, and the worldly kingdom of secular government.

Yet, Amish readily submit to the law of the land in areas where the worldly kingdom does not impose itself on the spiritual one.  While Amish have refused to adhere to certain laws which clash with religious beliefs, such as schooling past the 8th grade, or in some instances, on slow-moving-vehicle triangle requirement for carriages, this Missouri case obviously has nothing to do with religious matters.

That true crimes may go unreported in some communities I feel is a reflection on local congregations and not upon Amish society as a whole.  For further reading, this was not long ago addressed on the blog, in a post examining Amish cooperation with law enforcement.


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