Social Question

Charles's avatar

Do you accept the deliberate backwardness of the Amish?

Asked by Charles (4815points) May 4th, 2012

Are they a cult?

And what is the deal with the technology? I mean what is the limit? Using a horse and metal tools is using a form of technology, albeit an old non-electronic one – it is as if they accept technology to a (historical advanced) point and then stop. Is everything they use hand-made or is some stuff ok to have been manufactured (like the buggies and hand tools they use)?

They consider themselves a peaceful people, living an easy life, but aren’t there holes and contradictions in their philosophy? Why do they shun and excommunicate rather than give their members the freedom to “drop in” when they want? Why do they raise children to be Amish? Shouldn’t the Amish lifestyle is meant to be chosen by adults who voluntarily choose it? “Members” aren’t baptized until young adulthood, if they don’t like rumspringa, which is their time to live in the real world. Because of that tradition, the Amish claim their members have a choice to be Amish or be “English”, but the children don’t get to make any choices for themselves about what kind of childhood they want. That is not good for a healthy mind. Even for much of their teens they don’t really have a choice. And if a young adult at the conclusion of their rumspringa chooses to not stay Amish, their decision is not respected by their family. They are then shunned.

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34 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

They are basically living in the Garden of Eden, in the sense that they are living a life of ignorance, with the tree of knowledge (the modern world) around them. Once they eat the fruit, they get kicked out, lest they threaten the ignorance the the rest of them live in.
In my infallible opinion, they are a cult.

Coloma's avatar

And once again, who is anybody to decide if anothers lifestyle choices are good/bad, right/wrong? As long as they are not harming anyone, it’s nobodies biz. how they choose to live.
Just because most of the world is obsessed with modern living standards means nothing.
I shun cell phones, don’t watch TV and live a rather unconventional lifestyle.
Everyone raises their children according to their own value systems, none of us escape this, and the kids are free to make their own choices as they mature.

Live and let live, and judge not.

jca's avatar

Someone could not say they can’t accept it, in my opinion. It’s not up to us to accept. It’s their choice and it is what it is. Simple as that.

thorninmud's avatar

As I understand it, they drew the technological line not as a way of saying, “Everything on this side of the line is good, and everything beyond is bad”, but as a way of saying, “This is good enough”. In other words, it was a renunciation of the endless pursuit of material ease. I can understand that. There’s something to be said for formally rejecting the “never enough” mindset, and learning to be satisfied with what you already have.

The isolationist nature of the culture certainly cuts against the grain of our liberal sensibilities. But it is remarkable—and unique among such closed societies as far as I know—that they do allow their youth to step outside of the community for awhile without paying a social penalty for it. That’s more than I can say for the denomination I was raised in.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I think it is wrong to call it deliberate backwardness. It is deliberate carrying out of what they see as the precepts of their religion. Calling it backward is somewhat disrespectful. They believe in these values and rules, even if they don’t agree with your more modern outlook on life.

I personally disagree with most of their outlook towards modernism, but it’s their religion and lifestyle. Not my place do criticize their religious practices, any more than it is for them to criticize mine.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

They’re just asking for a good pillaging and plundering.

Blackberry's avatar

Yes. Because they’re highly religious, yet still seem to stay the hell out of everyone’s life, unlike some other religious factions (coughBig Threecough).

tranquilsea's avatar

To each their own. Who knows when we may need to know some of those “backward” technologies lol.

Charles's avatar

“ho knows when we may need to know some of those “backward” technologies”

I know. I know we needed them about 150 years ago.

chyna's avatar

Who are we to accept or not accept someone else’s way of life. It wouldn’t hurt all of us to live a simpler, slower lifestyle.

tom_g's avatar

@Charles: “the Amish claim their members have a choice to be Amish or be “English”, but the children don’t get to make any choices for themselves about what kind of childhood they want.”

I’m curious – how is this different from say…a child raised in the suburbs of Boston? What kind of choices do those children get to make?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

We have a lot of Amish and Mennonites moving into this area. They make great neighbors and a lot of them are very skilled craftsmen. They don’t bother anyone.

jca's avatar

@Charles: And to piggyback onto what @tom_g said, how is that different than Jewish parents bringing their children to temple, or Protestant or Catholic parents bringing their children to church?

OpryLeigh's avatar

It’s not up to me to accept their lifestyle but I am not offended by it. I would always feel sorry for someone who had been shunned by there loved ones simply for their lifestyle choices that are not harming anyone. I am fascinated by the Amish.

ucme's avatar

Couldn’t care less what anyone chooses to do with their lives, so long as they’re not harming anyone in any way. Although I do feel they could lose those silly beards & that’s just the women folk.

john65pennington's avatar

I say, leave the Amish alone.

I have talked to several Amish people and I have yet to hear an off-color comment, about the rest of us with tattoos and silver junk all over our face.

They are a kind people and should not be critized, if you do not know what you are talking about. jp

flutherother's avatar

I have more trouble accepting our modern lifestyle which is unsustainable.

rooeytoo's avatar

I think they’re prisoners of their religion, but so are muslims and any others who have every minute of their day dictated by their religion. I think any god who sentences you to eternal damnation for using an internal combustion engine or rewards you for killing people who don’t believe as you do, is a bit of a nut case. There are other extremist religions as well but fluther doesn’t haven’t enough band width to catalogue them all.

That said I don’t care, if it makes them happy so be it.

What I do think is appalling about the amish is the way they treat their animals. I have seen them beat the bejesus out of horses who don’t perform well. They pick up a lot of standardbreds who don’t make it on the track and run them into the ground on hard roads. Their farm horses aren’t treated much better. And they are the masters of puppy mills. It is not unusual for a good godfearing amish “farmer” to have hundreds of female dogs in wire cages with wire bottoms in their barns. They stack them 10 high so the ones on top crap all over the ones below. Their feet are ruined from standing on wire. They breed them relentlessly, every heat cycle until they die. When you buy a pure bred (yeah right) at a pet shop the chances are very good, this is the background they have come from. It is factory farming at its worst and they are smart enough to fly under the radar and avoid detection by the dog enforcement people. And dog enforcement was always understaffed to add to the problem.

So I don’t think they are backward, they are sly and crafty and not always nice human beings. Guess that makes them the same as everyone else.

Coloma's avatar

@rooeytoo Yeah, I have read about their less than caring abuse of many of their horses. I didn’t know about the puppy mill side. Well..I guess it is still best to err on the side of caution and say that some of them may mistreat their animals. Of course, all religions see animals as being “created” for our use, some care more than others for “Gods” creatures.

rooeytoo's avatar

Could be why I find all religions a waste. I don’t need a middle man in my relationship with my higher power. I like to deal directly.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Of course I do. Live and let live.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Coloma They are simply a microcosm of our whole society. Some of them abuse horses. They’re the kind of people who’d abuse animals whether they were Amish or not.

jca's avatar

I didn’t know about them being in the puppy mill business. I am totally against that. Will google it.

Coloma's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yes, I was careful to use the word some. I agree, abuse of any kind is not contingent on any one factor.

rooeytoo's avatar

@jca – Lancaster county in Pa is a particularly bad area for them. Google “puppy mills in lancaster county” and you will see. However that is not the only area, it is bad anywhere there is an amish community. They manage to fool the AKC into giving papers for multiple litters by putting them in the names of all their relatives. Or they simply forge the papers. It is a sad damned situation and hard to imagine that any religion could condone that sort of treatment. Of course the same is true of the way cattle is killed according to muslim law, that is also abominable. So bad in fact that Australia actually stopped live export of cattle for several weeks until the situation was, I won’t say corrected but at least made somewhat more humane, at least while the inspectors are watching.

jca's avatar

@rooeytoo: How are cattle killed according to Muslim law?

rooeytoo's avatar

@jca – watch this if you can stand it. Youtube is full of similarly disturbing videos. There was a show on Australian television when the moratorium on live exports was announced and these idiots were laughing and chasing a half dead bleeding from the slit throat cow. It was bawling and screaming and they were grabbing its tail and tormenting it as it suffered. It still gives me nightmares.

cazzie's avatar

@rooeytoo I never heard of Amish doing that. If one group of farmers in Pennsylvania do it, it doesn’t mean they all do it throughout Ohio and Wisconsin. I think making sweeping statements like @rooeytoo breeds ignorance and prejudice.

cazzie's avatar

The reason for stopping the live exports is because of the conditions on the ships, not how they are killed at the end. I worked with farmers in New Zealand who raised sheep for the Arab market and helped load those ships for live export. If there wasn’t such a horrible loss of numbers on board in transit they would still do it.

rooeytoo's avatar

@cazzie – google amish and puppy mills, it is not just one group, it is universal. They consider dogs livestock and do not have any empathy for livestock. Their god finds the use of internal combustion engines sinful but not cruelty to livestock.

The moratorium on live exports which occurred in Australia several months ago was INDEED due to the abysmal abattoir conditions and methods of killing. The shipping has now begun again because conditions have supposedly improved. There are losses in transit but that was not the reason for the moratorium on shipping. The industry most affected was cattle. I felt sorry for the farmers but they knew of the conditions and did nothing for years then cried and whined when they were caught out. Check your facts.

cazzie's avatar

In New Zealand, it was the condition of the ships that made them want to stop the live export. We had quite a bit to do with the loading of the ships and dealing with the RSPCA observers.

I don’t know what shows on TV in Australia to bend their attitudes toward anti-muslim. Facts or emotive film clips?

rooeytoo's avatar

@cazzie let me get this straight, you are an american living in norway who is an expert on nz and australia?

Check your facts.

Ron_C's avatar

I live in Pennsylvania and encounter the Amish quite often. The children certainly don’t look abused and the teen agers get in trouble but usually for speeding with buckboards instead of cars. I have also worked with them in a paper mill, they do excellent machine work.

I say live and let live. There is nothing wrong with them and they don’t send missionaries to attempt to convert me.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What goes “clip clop, clip clop, bang! bang!, clipclop! clipclop! clipclop!”?...A drive by shooting in Yoder. :)

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