New York Amish Bishop: Casino a Threat

“Gambling goes against the teaching of the Bible,” Bishop Schwartz said, “and the fruits of gambling are all bad.”

“Bishop Schwartz” is 43-year-old Daniel Schwartz, who sat down with the New York Times to discuss plans for a casino in his western NY community.

We first heard about this back in May, when over a dozen Amish appeared in court to protest against the proposed $350 million investment.

Schwartz suggests that the casino could lead to drastic measures:

He is talking about pulling up stakes and leaving the region if the project becomes a reality. And he and some of the hundreds of other local Amish have mounted a primitive but potent public relations campaign, appearing silently in court, traveling to state hearings, stating their views in handwriting.

Gambling Dice
Amish and others fear the moral implications of gambling in their community

Town authorities are squarely on the other side of the issue:

Backed by regional leaders and deeply desirous of the jobs, tourism and municipal improvements that a casino could bring, the town supervisor and others have accused the Amish of allowing themselves to be used as sympathetic props to drum up opposition, exaggerating how threatening the plan would be to their way of life, and overstating their population in Tyre — as well as their importance to it.

Supervisor Ronald F. McGreevy says that there are actually only a few Amish families in the town itself.

Schwartz cites 44 community members living in Tyre, and nearly 350 total in his two districts.

Are those numbers great enough to matter?

Jobs and faith

The conflict is just one of a number across New York state, which could see up to four new casinos at various locations vying for the economy-boosting businesses.

In the case of Tyre, the casino developer promises 1,800 new jobs, nearly twice the town’s population.

The Amish also have English partners, in the form of a group called Casino Free Tyre.

It seems this group views having Amish around as bringing spiritual benefit beyond any economic pluses they represent. “They are a protective barrier because of their faith,” says one English backer.

McGreevy contends the Amish “are being used” by the anti-casino faction.

Shoo-fly meet Snake eyes

The conflict has led to bad feelings among the townsfolk. Some are trying to patch things up. I found the following offer amusing, as did, apparently, Bishop Schwartz:

There have been attempts at peacemaking. Thomas C. Wilmot Sr., the chairman of Wilmorite, a company based in Rochester that is spearheading the Lago project, said he had offered to meet with Bishop Schwartz and allow the Amish to do business at the casino, in an area called Savor New York, where farmers, artisans and merchants could sell their wares, just off the gambling floor.

“We’ve allocated the space at no charge,” Mr. Wilmot said.

But Bishop Schwartz seemed unmoved. “No, I don’t think so,” he said, with a small laugh.

Casino Neon Sign
Not the natural Amish habitat

Could you imagine Amish peddling quilts and pies next to roulette wheels and craps tables?

I didn’t think so. That the (albeit well-intentioned) deal was even suggested reveals a lack of understanding of the Amish.

That said, I’m not sure how realistic Bishop Schwartz’s fears are, either:

“People that are spending this money in the casino are not going to have money to make payments to pay their taxes and to eat, and that’s going to make people — they’re going to get desperate for money,” Bishop Schwartz said.

His people are pacifists, he said. “And we don’t look forward to having thieves in the middle of the night or people come knocking at the door.”

I understand the moral objections against casinos, but the scenario Schwartz paints seems a bit far-fetched.

What do you think?

photo credit: dice- davidgsteadman/flickr; casino sign- Roadsidepicture/flickr

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    44 Comments

    1. Allison

      I agree with Bishop Schwartz. If I lived there I wouldn’t want a casino being built. It wouldn’t attract the best people to the area. I’m all for new jobs but I don’t think a casino would be the best way to get them.

      1. Paula

        Tyre Casino

        I could not agree more. We grew up in NJ before moving to join a conservative Mennonite church. The developers campaigned for years to bring casinos to the deteriorating Atlantic City, making great promises of how it would create a renaissance in the city. It did create some low end job, but people who were already in the industry got many of the jobs, and it brought drugs and and more crime, only making the area worse. The promised development of more hotels and attractions never materialized and the case of the city was worse in the end. Twenty years or so later, once casinos opened in neighboring states, now the Atlantic City casinos are shutting down because people no longer need to travel to gamble. The city will be left with deteriorating structures nobody wants instead of beaches and homes by the water.

    2. Derek J

      The Bishop is spot on

      Having been to a casino on a few occasions I can attest that the vast majority of the folks who inhabit the tables and slots are folks who least need to be there. The casino will slowly degrade the area, crime may or may not increase, that depends on many other factors. But the Amish are easy pickings due to there pacifists beliefs.

    3. Osiah Horst

      Casino

      It is easy to play down the effects the casino might have when you are not closely involved. However, I would warn Bishop Schwartz to continue in his non-resistant life, not getting too involved with the opposition. His non-resistance is also endangered at this point. My guess is that for Tyre, the casino may bring greater financial benefits than the Amish do. If the casino were to come to Cobden, I would probably not be too different from the Amish, except I don’t think we would want to become involved at all in either side. We can always move farther away. Besides, the majority of people going to the casino do so with a limited budget. The addicts are in the minority, even thugh there are too many.

      1. Casino Negative Effects

        Osiah point well taken on distance making it easier to play down effects. I wouldn’t want a casino in my backyard either.

        I don’t have any where I live, but just drove past one in Cherokee, NC yesterday. It dominates the town, it is almost comical how large this one building complex/hotel is in relation to the rest of the mountainous setting. I’m assuming it plays a large economic role there as well. It is a Cherokee Indian-owned casino.

        I had assumed that casinos outside of places like Las Vegas and Atlantic City were going to be primarily either Native American businesses or riverboat casinos. This chart however suggests that various forms of gambling are allowed in one degree or another in nearly every states, with Utah and Hawaii being the two exceptions with none of the 6 forms (charitable, commercial, tribal, lotteries, etc) listed allowed: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gambling_in_the_United_States#Legal_issues

        I was surprised by that. New York permits 5 of the 6 categories.

      2. Anabaptist non-resistance and gambling

        Whenever an Amish leader takes a prominent stand in the media on a controversial issue like this, I also wonder about this non-resistance question – where does an Amish bishop, or any Amish person, draw the line? Is it okay to use your influence behind the scenes, and if so when does behind the scenes become in front of the scenes (or whatever the opposite of that phrase is)?

        I sympathize with Schwartz, he feels himself in a leadership role facing a potentially very disruptive local change and is acting on behalf of his community. But I wonder how many bishops would take the same tack, versus biding their time and quietly preparing themselves and their communities for Plan B (move to another location).

    4. Margaret

      I believe the bishop is right. I’ve seen what gambling brings into small towns as well as big cities. It has ruined the mountain towns here for families. There is always the dark side the casino owners don’t want to address. The increased traffic alone destroys safety and quiet.

    5. Theodora

      Casino and Amish-Mennonite Community

      When I traveled to the city of Harrington fairgrounds (I think it is) in southern Delaware, I always thought it curious how the casino was sort of near where the Amish Mennonite community lives. And then they would have events animal auctions and things and I’m sure the Amish Mennonites attended. I guess they just stayed over on the fairgrounds and didn’t go anywhere in the casino.

    6. If Bishop Schwartz is the Schwartz I know, he lives just north of I 90 from the proposed building sight. He will be able to see the casino from his farm. A visit to local Amish shops will have the owner ask if you would like to sign the NO petition. For almost of the Amish in this area I 90 serves as a buffer between the casino and their quiet rural setting. There are many Mennonites to the south of I 90 that will be impacted to a greater degree. Greed will rule the day. Tom The Backroads Traveller

      1. Tom did I understand correctly that local Amish business owners are asking patrons to sign the No petition against the casino? If so that is very interesting.

        1. Erik,
          Some Amish business owners are collecting signatures on a NO PETITION. Tom The Backroads Traveller

    7. Central New York Casino

      During the time I worked for the Buffalo Catholic Diocese, we campaigned against the Seneca-Niagara Casinos (there is one in Niagara Falls and one near Salamanca in the Southern Tier). Obviously, we lost. I moved to Maryland and, lo and behold, they built a casino down the street from me!

      I side with the Bishop on this; I have seen no good come to communities when casinos are built. The City of Niagara Falls was struggling *before* the big casino was built – now its crime rate and need for police has increased and many smaller business and restaurants have closed because the casino takes business away from local businesses.

      I don’t think he needs to be too concerned about people coming out to rob his community members, mostly because they won’t be seen. Casino patrons will come and go on the Thruway and be no where near their community. And (having been a cops reporters) “bad guys” tend to be afraid of the dark because it never gets actually dark in cities. They don’t like to drive too far out at night into the countryside to cause trouble. The likelihood of danger coming out to them is low, though I won’t pretend it doesn’t exist.

      I’ve been in casinos and in slots at the race track. I have never seen anyone happy there or even looking excited. Just desperate. And sad. What angers me, as someone from New York, is it is against our state constitution to have gambling casinos! But the member nations of the Iroquois Confederacy can build casinos on national territories. The Nations are hoping that these casinos will bring much needed money to the reservations and provide much needed jobs. But it has not happened! It just seems like businessmen from the state and businessmen from the Nations are taking advantage of a loophole, saying pretty words, and no good comes of it. People get hurt. Poverty remains. Joblessness is still high.

      Bishop Schwartz is a good man, but if a coalition of religious organizations that included Catholic, Episcopal and Lutheran dioceses cannot stop them, I doubt an Amish church district could.

      1. Crime and local business impact of casinos

        Karen thanks for your insight on both the casino impact and crime element. Since it’s fresh in my mind I’ll mention my passing observation from a drive through Cherokee, NC yesterday. There is a large Harrah’s casino complex there, I understand it is very important economically to the area, though it was obvious that the new hotel had knocked out at least one or two of the smaller motels right in the area, which sat empty. I wouldn’t bemoan one business eventually falling to the other as that’s the way things work over time, but no doubt there must be some sort of competitive impact on smaller existing businesses, a la Wal-Mart and the downtown retailer.

        I think you’ve provided an explanation to what I was wondering – how these casinos are legally being built, so it sounds like a loophole coming into play.

        On the crime impact, my impression given the description of the investment was that much if not most of the patronage would be “resort vacationers” rather than the seedier crime element. However I admit I don’t really know the dynamics concerning casinos and crime, maybe the two come hand-in-hand, even with a $350 million business.

        1. Forest In NC

          Hi Erik,

          Yes, until the casino was built, they pretty much shut down in Cherokee from the end of the leaf season until late spring. Many of the shops and businesses were shut down, as tourism was the main economic force in the area. The casino has enabled more of the businesses to stay open year round, and has provided jobs for many of the people on the reservation who would have otherwise been unemployed or have to leave the community. But as it is written, what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his soul? The area is changing, and not always for the better. We have visited up there many times, but we avoid the casino; nothing for us there…

    8. Carol

      Greed

      Hi Erik, I agree with Tom in that greed is the foundation+may ultimately prevail in this issue. I do believe the Bishop is correct and he stands on God’s word. Man might have their way on this earth for the moment, but in long run there will be nothing but bitter rotten fruit in the lives of those who build+patronize gambling establishments, and there is nothing good about that at all! Thank you, Bishop, for standing in the gap for all of us. Carol

      1. What's so great about winning money in a casino?

        Well put Carol. Personally casinos are depressing to me as is gambling in general. I don’t even like lotteries. I don’t understand how someone would feel great about winning a large amount of money in a game of chance. Sure, on face value it would be great to have a windfall of a large chunk of cash, but it’s not like you can look at that money and say “I earned that.”

        So I sympathize with Bishop Schwartz, even while I consider the larger non-resistance question Osiah raised above.

        1. Mark - Holmes Co.

          You said it well, Erik. I feel for the local community who are worried about a casino being built in their area, but I’d feel uneasy about asking customers to sign a petition or have our bishop working to stop it. It really is a sticky situation all around. It seems to me it would be one thing to answer how you feel if someone asked about the casino, another thing altogether to make a petition or actively work against it.
          A few years ago, a so-called “Amish Country Theater” opened within walking distance of our home. We and our Amish friends, family, & neighbors were very disappointed to see it come and offended & hurt to see what kind of mockery or silliness is being produced as “Amish entertainment,” but I don’t know of anyone who put out a petition or tried to protest it. I’m not sure I’d consider moving just because of it, but I would not feel comfortable protesting it. It’s just something to ignore, I guess…

          1. I like your categorization “something to ignore” Mark. I personally have a lot of items in that category but unfortunately occasionally some escape 🙂

    9. Bonnie Reece

      California Casinos

      If the town law makers were able to visit CA towns that have “Indian” casinos, they perhaps would see the whole picture. The jobs produced by the casinos that are given to the locals are the minimum-wage jobs. The higher paying jobs go to the casino people.

      The patrons are mostly one step above bag ladies. They spend money but at the casino not in town. They are gambling addicts that gamble away their money instead of buying groceries & paying rent.

      The “Indian” casinos have not enhanced the lives of either the Indian tribes or the towns where they are built. Instead they have sucked the money & life out of them. The casinos are very profitable for the owners but that doesn’t extend to the community.

    10. Robert Gschwind

      Only God can stop it. The local government sure won’t. But look at Atlantic City. Got to have money to gamble. Not much extra cash out there any more.

    11. Terry Berger

      My two cents

      Erik,
      I can tell you that they built a casino two miles from I used to live in Bethlehem. That actually propelled us to move and settle on a small farmstead in a more rural section of Pennsylvania. I have a longer commute now to work but the rewards of being back in farm country and the rural life far outweigh the drawbacks of the commute.

      Terry

      1. I’ve never lived near one but this gigantic casino in the middle of beautiful mountain country seemed out of place, so I can see why you’d move even just going by the eyesore factor Terry.

        The area of Cherokee is naturally beautiful but does have a lot of tacky tourist trap businesses on the landscape already, so maybe it’s not as much of a factor as a casino plopped down in a random rural area.

    12. Leon Moyer

      the mind of God

      Interesting to note the Amish bishop is only concerned about the physical and carnal aspect of gamblers–not their soul or eternal destination! He doesn’t quote scripture condemning the spirit of gambling, which is the spirit of getting something for nothing, without working for it. That is a lust of the flesh, and the Amish lifestyle tends to deny the human lusts of easy money and an easy life. Instead, he comes across as only caring about the safety of the Amish in not being robbed! How selfish.

      1. The bishop's intentions

        I would say you’re being harsh on the bishop Leon. We don’t know everything that was said in that interview, or everything that he has in mind here.

        That noted I realize I forgot to link the original NYT article here. Fixed that above, you can follow the link for the full story.

        There is also this excerpt from the story:

        ‘But Bishop Schwartz said he decided to speak out because of his profound worries about what a casino could bring: traffic, noise, bright lights and threats to what he called “the moral of the people.”’

        He is also quoted saying that “gambling goes against the teachings of the Bible”. And again, no one knows all that is in his heart or what he’s expressed before.

    13. Mark - Holmes Co.

      Ah… A very good reason for a bishop to NOT speak out in public. He might come across in a way that causes offense. You make a good point about the eternal destinations of the gamblers’ souls, though, Leon. A very good point. Not knowing the man, I cannot make assumptions about where he stands on that, but it is a good reminder.

    14. Wondercat

      My understanding is that casinos in European cities require those who seek entry to present their identification — and that persons whose identification marks them as living within a certain radius of the casino are denied entry.

      You couldn’t illustrate better the perception that casinos damage those who go there. The municipality says, in effect, “If you’re from away / Then you can play. But our local folks? We don’t want them harmed.”

      Gamble away your grocery, rent, utility money? Steal something, sell it, get cash that way. I believe that the Bishop has sized things up well, that crime will increase near the casino, and that to sell the town to the gambling interests will be cause for regret.

      1. If true that is an interesting solution Wondercat…it does seem “European” to me. I see your point about what that policy implies–we want the money the business brings in, but want to protect our people from this destructive influence, and the problems and burdens that might arise on a local level.

        I would have mixed feelings about the albeit small restriction on individual freedom though. I think we have to be permitted to make wrong choices.

    15. An Indian casino was built within 10 miles of the town I spent my teens & young adult life in.. and for them.. the casino has been a lifesaver.. It is a huge complex and provided jobs for hundreds upon hundreds of local folks who had no employment otherwise. My daughter, my son in law, my x sister in law & a few cousins also have or do work there now. For them, its been a good thing. If you work in the casino, you are not permitted to enjoy it as recreation. That keeps them safe..
      On the other hand… one of my mothers cousins gambled his entire inheritance as well as his lively-hood away..and he was quite well off to start with.
      The sad truth is that gambling destroys families and people.. Whos to say who will be struck by the bug or not. I personally wouldnt want a casino built anywhere near my peaceful natural country if I were an Amishman… or even if I werent..

      1. Preventing casino employees from also being customers sounds like a similar dynamic to what Wondercat describes above. Thanks for sharing this positive/negative perspective Kim. If someone has a family and there are few other options for work and a casino comes to town bringing lots of jobs, I can see the temptation.

    16. Alice Mary

      The quiet protest mentioned here reminds me of the Civil Rights movement (I “grew up” in and around it, living in Chicago at the time). I am on the Bishop’s side, and don’t believe the Amish are being “played” one way or the other. Let their numbers (and the English who feel the same way) demonstrate to the public and their “officials” that not everyone agrees with their money-making schemes.

      Casinos here are closing left & right and not meeting the $$$ expectations of those who were so sure they’d be such as boon to the local or state economy. Having a distant relative who is a gambling addict and seeing how it’s affected him and his life (always begging family for handouts) just makes me dig in my heels even more, siding with the Bishop.

      Please keep us informed of the eventual outcome, Erik, ans it seems there are many people here interested.

      Alice Mary

    17. Naomi Wilson

      Tyre.. interesting name

      Sadly, this probably won’t help advance the case against a casino, but it’s worth posting here:

      The word of the Lord came to me again saying, Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, Thus says the Lord GOD, Because your heart is lifted up, and you say “I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods, in the midst of the seas, yet you are a man and not a god, though you set your heart as the heart of god, (behold, you are wiser than Daniel! There is no secret that can be hidden from you! With your wisdom and understanding you have gained riches for yourself, and gathered gold and silver into your treasuries; by your great wisdom in trade you have increased your riches, and your heart is lifted up because of your riches). Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have set your heart as the heart of a god, behold, therefore I will bring strangers against you, the most terrible of the nations; and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom, and defile your splendor. They shall throw you down into the Pit, and you shall die the death of the slain in the midst of the seas. Ezekiel 28:1-8

    18. Mark - Holmes Co.

      I am going to have to admit I really don’t understand exactly what a casino does other than gambling, and my understanding of “how to gamble” is pretty sketchy. (And I’d prefer to keep it so.) I was talking with coworkers and got a better idea what casinos do, but the one thing that really stands out to me is people becoming addicted to gambling and losing money they can’t afford. I feel gambling is wrong on several different levels, but I’m amazed it’s even legal. Obviously the casino is making a lot of money or they wouldn’t stay in business, but I just can’t get my mind around the fact it seems like it’s stealing from the people who gamble there.
      Anyhow, I wanted to share something a coworker told me and he says he read it in a magazine so I can’t say it’s 100% true or not. A woman was traveling in a city where there was a lot of gambling that was legal and in the waiting area of the airport there were gambling machines. Her children were fascinated and the mother wanted to prove how useless those machines are, so she explained to her children she was going to put a dollar in to try. She expected to lose her dollar and teach a lesson, but she won the prize and all kinds of money came pouring out — a jackpot. Now I’m left wondering how the mother explained that and what effect it had on the children!

      1. I would call that an honest attempt to teach backfiring in a major way!

    19. Ed from NY

      I (grudgingly) support this casino. New York State already has Indian casinos, and racetrack casinos. So now there will be another casino.

      I understand that lots of folks are opposed to gambling – they will avoid the casino. Sometimes banning an undesirable activity can bring about even bigger problems than the undesired activity itself. The prohibition of alcohol, and the “war on drugs” are attempts to legislate morality run amok.

      That said, having traveled quite a bit, I don’t understand why American casinos tend to be huge places built in largely rural areas in the middle of nowhere. In other countries, such as Australia, casinos are located right in the downtown areas of big cities. That way they tend to attract those who are already out for a “night on the town” and perhaps visiting bars, night clubs, etc. The casino is just another entertainment venue.

      In small Nevada towns, they have smaller casinos, and also slot machines in bars and other places. For locals, these gambling devices are mostly ignored, except by those who want to gamble. In the rest of the U.S., going to a casino tends to be a huge outing. I’ll bet that some people wind up gambling and losing more than they intended just because it was such a big deal to get out to the casino itself.

      It was nice of the casino in question to offer the Amish space to sell items. I do agree, this would hardly be an “Amish” experience. It is too bad that, due to the vagaries of the laws involved, that this casino can’t locate itself right in a city.

    20. Ed from NY

      Sad Quotes from Newspaper Article

      “At a town board meeting in May, as several Amish people looked on, one supporter of the casino, Michael Davis, turned to them and asked why they had chosen this issue to break their long abstention from civic involvement.”

      “Excuse me, Amish, I think you’re wonderful neighbors, and I think you’re great people,” said Mr. Davis, president of the Finger Lakes Building and Trades Council, which could benefit from the construction jobs that a casino would bring. “But I heard how you can’t come to these things — and yet you’re here. I heard how you can’t go to court — and yet you were there.”

      Although I disagree with the Amish on the casino issue, I was really saddened and appalled to read this in the article. Who is this person to tell the Amish that they “can’t” come to a town meeting, and “can’t” observe a court hearing? Why does he take it upon himself to interpret Amish doctrine? And who is he to upbraid individual Amish who chose on their own to participate in a civic process? Imagine someone standing up and telling Jews how they are “supposed to” act? Or should we admonish Mr. Davis for not adhering fully to the tenants of whatever faith he belongs to?

      This quote also got to me:
      “The Amish stopped attending town board meetings after Mr. Davis’s speech. But a group of them traveled to a public hearing on the Tyre casino proposal in Ithaca last month — raising questions, again, about how they had gotten there.”

      Again, who the heck are we to judge or even ask how someone got to a public meeting??? Would this even be an issue with any other group? I can’t imagine facing such judgement from my fellow citizens. If we’re going to ask everyone how they arrived at a meeting, why not berate those who came in gas-guzzling cars, or who should be home with their kids, or out earning more money.

      Although I disagree with the Amish on this particular issue, I will strongly support their right to participate in any public meeting they choose to attend. It is shocking that some people feel so entitled that they would single out the Amish for attending an open public meeting.

      1. Judging Amish civic participation

        I’m really glad you pointed this out Ed. I found Davis’ quote condescending. It does sound like he is passing judgment on their presence.

        It is either ignorant of how Amish participate in civic matters, or a clumsy attempt at guilting/bullying. He uses “I heard” twice in his scold. Doesn’t sound like he is speaking from any authority on the Amish. Basically, it sounds like he doesn’t know what he is talking about.

        But that’s really even besides the point–as you put well above, what right does he have to even comment on their presence at a public hearing–on anyone’s presence at a public event.

        Also, something about that opening, “Excuse me, Amish” just rubbed me the wrong way. Seemed a disrespectful way to address somebody.

        1. Leon Moyer

          Erik: know thee the Amish?

          Erik: I disagree with your assessment of the situation about Amish and their doctrine and beliefs–Mr. Davis was pointing out their hypocrisy. Two Sunday’s ago I attended the Amish church here in Pinecraft Florida, I usually attend Beachy Amish church in Sarasota, I was born and raised in a Mennonite Family but I never joined. I have lived with Amish in various districts around the country, so I know their beliefs and doctrines, AND THEIR LIVES! Most Amish not only believe, but practice, separation of church and state–they believe God sets up rulers whom He will have in office, and it is not, they believe, up to God’s people to get involved in government other than to quietly pay their taxes and obey all laws that do not conflict with God’s commands (Acts 5: 28, 29, and others). So for this Amish bishop to speak out, and to raise secular concerns such as traffic issues, crime concerns, etc. shows a departure from Amish belief and practice by trying to influence government officers. This is why I spoke against his actions in my above comment, he fails to show concern for the souls of sinning gamblers, but wants government to protect “HIS” people from the bad elements of society! HOW SELFISH IS THAT?? As to your charitable explanation that we do not know all of his concerns as they may not have been included in the article, that is not relevant–we know he spoke of and tried to use government to his own benefit–same as those who want to build casinos are doing!! He is just as worldly as those who desire the casino!!

          1. I think it’s very possible he is concerned about both the effects on his own people and the spiritual effects on people in general. That is how I interpreted his worries about “threats to what he called “the moral of the people.””

            But I’m uneasy even making that interpretation — my point is I think it may be going a little far to try to discern all of his concerns from quotes from an interview, and then conclude he is selfish or not selfish based on selected bits of an interview that could have lasted 5 minutes or ten times as long.

            But it seems to me the main issue you have is that he shouldn’t be involved in the civic side of this in any form or fashion. That is fair enough and a lot would agree with that in theory, and many even illustrate it in practice.

            As far as criticism of their appearing in court: I know what Davis was trying to do, in theory Amish adhere to a Two Kingdoms doctrine but in practice how many times have we seen Amish involved in civic society and government to varying degrees: whether it’s the dozen-plus Amish who wrote letters to the US Attorney asking for a harsh punishment for Sam Mullet, or the 100-plus who attended a rally in the PA state capital in support of a midwife, or those appearing in city hall to argue against sanitation requirements, or the family cooperating with authorities to help find kidnapped children, etc, etc.

            I think it is up to Amish to decide and have those discussions and disagreements as to how they interpret that belief and where they draw their own lines. And obviously different Amish come to different conclusions as to how much worldly involvement they are comfortable with…some Amish will feel that this is going too far, others won’t. Davis may know more than I gave him credit for, but I don’t think it is his place to use his understanding of Amish belief to try to guilt them out of making an appearance.

            1. Oldkat

              Amish civic involvement

              Was not the situation where many individual Amish people, in various communities, stating their beliefs about (and objections to) consolidated schools … along with some convictions (and even some prison sentences served) an example of the Amish being involved in the civic/process? So it CAN happen. I think the commonality of these two cases, schools and the casino, may be that in both cases the change in question impacts the ENTIRE Amish community; not to mention the broader community.

              I think you are right Erik, this Mr. Davis was simply using that as a straw man to bully the Amish into silence. What a shameful way to conduct business.

              I am VERY PRO BUSINESS; that said I would NOT do business with someone that conducts themselves in that manner. His behavior is not only disgraceful, it is distasteful. The Finger Lakes Building and Trades Council would probably do well to replace this guy.

            2. Mark - Holmes Co.

              Well said, Erik. I agree with your comments that many would find it questionable to get involved in politics. I know I’d be very uneasy if our bishop took that approach. I see it differently when we are asked how we feel, though. Let’s keep in mind that not all Amish communities or churches have the same convictions or interpretations and within each group, there may be a range of opinions. If I’m not wrong, you could find that is some other groups, too. I mean not all Baptists or Catholics have the same opinions, right? I appreciated your response to Leon Moyer, too. Not knowing the man personally or being there for the conversation, it really is risky to assume we know just what was said or what the man had in his heart & mind, let alone on his tongue.

            3. Leon Moyer

              best understanding

              Thanks for that much more detailed explanation, Erik, as it allows us to more completely understand both the Amish and Mr. Davis’s remark, which you no doubt correctly perceived as being one of intimidation toward those Amish in attendance. You have a very compassionate and understanding attitude toward people with your open mind, which the Amish surely appreciate when you are in their midst!

              1. Sure thing Leon, I appreciate the kind comments. I understand this question about how much one should be involved in worldly matters is on the minds of not only Amish but other Christians. I’m glad you raised the issue.

    21. Dave

      The State has the law, resources, and will behind them. I doubt the property values will increase much. They will have to try and coexist.

      If over time the problems are realized, they will have to move.

      It would not be the first time the good were displaced in the name of progress.

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