The “Amish” of Greece?

A rather bizarre story has been making the rounds, from all the way over in Greece. A family has been discovered living in very basic conditions, and subsequently compared to the Amish in the media. But is that a good comparison? From Greek Reporter:

Police recently arrested the father of a family living an “early Christian” community lifestyle in a basic hut on the Peloponnese in a case dubbed the “Amish” of Greece.

The father of the family himself made the Amish comparison:

The family’s father told MEGA TV that they do not send their children to school because they disagree with Greek education.

He stated, “We are a community of early Christians, following the examples of ancient Russia or the Amish in America, rejecting technological progress and living traditionally, like the first Christians.”

But many things about this do not sound “Amish”. For one, their home:

The extended family was living in a semi-underground structure with a mud roof, resembling a cave complete with a 30-meter (98-feet) tunnel, and arrested the 45-year-old father for not sending their children to school.

The home of the Greek “Amish” family. Photo: Kathimerini.gr

There’s also the living conditions:

The family had three other underage children, one of whom was a one-year-old infant all living amidst the mud, in what was described as “deplorable conditions”.

So Amish children, in the plainest groups in particular, may run around with dirty bare feet, and not bathe as often as you or I, but I don’t think I’d call that anything like “deplorable conditions” living amidst mud.

Typical home of the plainest Amish group (Swartzentruber). Photo: Don Burke

Not to mention, the family was found with a sizeable-sounding cache of weaponry, including a military-style rifle. And when they were approached, they resorted to violence:

When the family members saw the police, they attacked them, with the daughter of the family even hitting a police officer with a wooden bat, causing injury.

The Amish are a nonresistant people. Attacking the police is unheard of. There are reportedly members of this group living in several other locations in Greece.

Amish-like – or something else entirely?

The word “Amish” often serves as shorthand for “low tech”, “off grid”, or even “primitive” as it looks to be used in this case. The father used it in describing his family, and for outsiders who don’t know a ton about the Amish, they can go with that.

But when you look at all the above – no schooling, living underground in a mud dwelling, a cache of weaponry, and attacking the police – the comparison fails. All that sounds a lot more like a primitive cavemanesque situation than an “Amish” one.

Inside an Amish schoolhouse. Amish children attend eight grades of formal schooling. Photo: Don Burke

So I would say this might be low-tech and “off grid” lifestyle, but hardly sounds like an Amish living environment (even for the plainest groups).

But…I suspect the father here may very well know what he is doing, media-wise. Is the Amish comparison he makes meant to elicit sympathy from outsiders, as the Amish are a generally well-regarded group?

Maybe that’s the case, and it might help them. But whatever Christian beliefs the two may hold in common aside, by their lifestyle and behavior, this family very little resembles the Amish.

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    3 Comments

    1. kim hansen

      Amish of greece

      Doesn’t sound anything amish. Sounds more like living off the grid and armed to the teeth sounds more like preppers or survivalists. Nothing christian about the way the story reads. Now preppers and survivalists don’t send there kids to school and live in a remote area from what I have read.

    2. Central Virginian

      Like the Amish

      Sounds like when the man interviewed referenced the similarity to the early Christian or Amish communities, he was only referring to the concept of living separately from the mainstream culture, particularly as it relates to not sending their children to mainstream schools. He likely didn’t intend other detailed lifestyle similarities.

      Most European nations are much stricter in requiring children to attend public schools; and do not allow or are much more restrictive of home schooling. Also many schools have mandatory class instruction on Saturday, which creates problems for Sabbatarians. Reminiscent of the early history of the US, when Sabbath keepers, Puritans, and other groups came to the New World seeking religious freedom.

    3. Catherine A Hazur

      AI WRITTEN?

      Sounds like something A I would have written……