THOUGHTS About The Amish

Breaking Amish is the best reality show I have ever seen.

I was so curious about their lifestyle decades ago that I chose to write a paper about them when I was in college.

Nothing has changed. Some sects were, and are, a little different from each other in regard to what activities will land them in hell. The Mennonites, and in this group there is one, are slightly more liberal than the Amish, who still travel in horse-drawn buggies and still use primitive out-houses built over a hole-in-the-ground.

Their clothing is from the 1800s, from the women’s small white bonnets to their blue cotton hand-made full-skirted dresses, to black socks and sensible black shoes. Men wear black trousers with suspenders, and plop straw hats on their heads.

Their days are filled with farm work, no machinery, just horses doing the heavy work.

Women take care of the chickens and other livestock, cook, clean, wash clothes and do needlework. And they take care of the children.

There is no electricity and little joy. One young man who was determined to leave the Amish way of life said, “I haven’t had fun in two years.” The misery shows on his face.

Some of the young people want to leave the community, but their parents threaten them with shunning. They ignore them after they tell them that they will go to hell. That’s a heavy burden to someone who believes in eternal suffering.

The plight of five young Amish young men and women, even the bishop’s daughter, is explored on the TLC cable channel on Sunday evenings, with repeats at other times.

The decisions of these five weigh heavily on their collective consciousness. They are troubled as they stand on a busy New York City street surrounded by hectic traffic and masses of people hurrying to wherever it is that they want to go.

Someone pauses long enough to say derisively, “The pilgrims are here. The pilgrims are here.”

The sad thing is that these young people are overwhelmed. They had only eighth-grade educations. They are in no way prepared to live in such a foreign-to-them situation.

I have no idea who taught the bishop’s daughter to drink and drive, but she ended up spending a night in jail and a DUI charge. She had her day in court, but the sadness in her face said it all.

A few viewers have called the series fake. I don’t believe it is. The people may not have understood the problems they would encounter, but were willing to take the chances. They are photographed in real situations, and their reactions are real. They may often be overwhelmed by the choices they have to make, and they suffer the consequences.

Breaking Amish certainly brings their problems to the forefront, and offers insight into their lives.

I believe that former Amish people need more mentors outside of their religion than they currently have. What do YOU think?

— — — — by Gene K. Garrison is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a blog at

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