thoughts, whims, and delusions of a middle aged mama

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

FLDS and the Amish, So Similar, So Different

I live in Pa. Home of the Eagles and the Steelers and the "Pennsylvania Dutch" and the Amish community in Lancaster County.
Often in the discussions about the FLDS community, I see parallels drawn to the Old Order Amish Communities across the country. And, there are many legitimate parallels to be drawn.
They are both relatively closed communities. They both have a dress code that stands out. They have both shunned many of the typical amenities of modern life. Both groups are known for being hard working, industrious people. Both groups have very strong patriarchal cultures. Both groups have very strict religious tenets and expectations of their followers. Both groups work toward self sufficiency.
The similarities go on and on....

I want to talk about one stark difference that came to my attention recently.

Lancaster County, and the surrounding area, is a hub of tourism. Particularly in the nicer weather months. It is rolling hills and family farms and small hamlets and towns. It is green and lush and dotted with old covered bridges. Horses and buggies from the Amish Community are regularly seen on the roads and in parking lots. Tourists are often family groups, full of happy children and smiling adults, out for a day in the country. There are many Amish and Mennonite run businesses, and Amish farms are easy to spot with their big windmills, and absence of electrical wires and cables going to their homes and barns.
At the big 'farmers market' and large flea markets, there are many Amish vendors and the tourists flock to them, happy to say hello and stare in a mix of curiosity and friendliness at the old fashioned clothing. They ask questions, full of admiration, about the 'simpler way of life'. There is no animosity.
There is a working replica of an Amish farm that tourists flock to and love. They treat the rooms and property with a great deal of respect. There is a waiting list to be allowed to be a volunteer helping with the care and maintenance of the farm.

Yesterday I had a note from a friend of mine who lives in the twin towns. In "Shortcreek". She was telling me how nice the spring weather they are having is. How all of the children have "Spring Fever". She was telling me about the big, tall, beautiful, but prickly, flowers she is planting all along the front of her yard. She told me they will help hide the fence and give better cover for her children from the staring eyes of the angry, hostile strangers that drive through their hometown.

It struck me square between the eyes and deep into my heart, that the comparison to the Amish had a very stark ending.


Headmistress, zookeeper said...

I've known a few Amish. Those I have known would have been amused rather than insulted, and somewhat sympathetic about the hostility.

Has the outside world always been so friendly toward the Amish? There were those years when the state tried to force them into state schools, and it took a court battle to get the state to butt out. In Nebraska they ended up leaving the state because of court cases over education (late 70s, early 80s).

Lucille said...

Hmm... and what might that "something" be?

Dale Kemp said...

That is exactly what the comments section has become on Brooke's blog,angry hostile strangers. I don't think I'll be going back there. I'm not even going to read the comments anymore.

I used work in a bus station when I was a teenager. For some reason we would get a lot of Amish that would pass through. They were some of the nicest people. And believe me it's hard to be nice to the Greyhound staff after sitting on a bus for 3 days.

I suppose that is a natural side effect of really trying to follow the foot steps of your faith, a pleasant attitude. I have encountered the same attitude in the members of the FLDS faith that I have come across here on the blogs.

It is quite a contrast to the scowling class of characters found on Brooke's blog these days.

duaneh1 said...

Ron is wrong!
According to this article on the FLDS in Westcliffe Colorado, it seems the Amish are one of the few friends the FLDS have.

For a small county, Custer has a remarkable religious diversity. There are at least 10 different denominations in Westcliffe, including a Mennonite community and a growing Amish presence that includes a new furniture store on Main Street.

"We're thrilled to have them," said Burtt of the Amish.

Actually this makes sense, there have been some rumbling against the Amish in the blogosphere accusing them of covering up child sex abuse, mistreating animals, and abusing women. Perhaps they fear they may be next if the FLDS folks are wiped out.

duaneh1 said...

Did anyone read this wonderful article about the FLDS?

Google "wet mountain tribune +not to be confused" and click on the cached version of the first result that google returns.

Some choice excerpts:

"Since learning of the suspected FLDS presence in the Valley, the county commissioners and sheriff’s office have been monitoring the situation to make sure no laws are being violated...Members of the FLDS should not be confused with the Amish and Mennonite families living here."

Yeah, lets make sure we direct our bigotry and hatred toward the "right" ones!
Remember everyone, even though they dress very similiar

2:53 PM

rericson said...

I don't know about the Amish communities outside of Pa. Here, especially in Lancaster Co., there is a wonderful relationship....
The point I was trying to make is how sad the have to plant flowers to protect your children from angry looky-loos!!!!
That made me want to cry.....that cars just drive through, staring...saying things...andgy...and parents have to erect fences to protect their children.....
I'm's been a long day....I souldn't post when I'm this tired, I get too emotional...
See y'all tomorrow!

rericson said...

Here's a post from mhojho that I edited...*smile*

mhojho said...

I have met a few mennonites and they are always curious about our religion, and very friendly.

Anonymous said...

thanks rericson
I'll behave :))

cheese said...

Regina, I wish we weren't a whole continent away. I'd love to sit and have a cup of coffee with you in the morning! Maybe someday.

cheese said...

Now I'm curious mhojho!

rericson said...

Cheese, soon we'll have that coffee!!!!!

Anonymous said...

FLDS and Amish are so different? Then why was a local Amishman who is an elder in the Amish community recently arrested in 6/2011 off a sheriff warrant for sexual assault on a child and sexual assault on a person with at least a 10 year age diffference and two counts of witness intimidation? (in Custer County, CO where the same Amish person sold property to the FLDS).

Why do Amish say their dogs don't bark? Look up puppy mills run by Amish and see what they do to dogs?

Common practice within the Amish?

Anonymous said...

There is a HUGE ENORMOUS differences in the Amish/Mennonite communities and the FLDS. Wow, so many it's impossible to have a good starting place. My family is Mennonite btw, in a semi-conservative church that allows some things like the internet (filtered). Amish / Mennonites are also called "Anabaptists" and the conservative varies.

FLDS - Has Prophets
Anabaptist - No prophets

FLDS - Has book of Mormon
Anabaptists- Adhere strictly to the bible.

Anabaptist - NO POLYGAMY, hands off biblical courtship (first kiss usually in private after marriage), and marriage is for life between one man and one woman.

FLDS - Believes in exalted God like status men.
Anabaptist - Believes in the humbling of man, that Jesus is God, and generally live simply as a form of asceticism.

FLDS - Does not like photos because when they marry their children off to adult men, it can be found out. They are literally hiding.
Anabaptist (especially old order Amish) - do not like photos because they consider them a graven image (in the Bible it says in the 10 commandments do not make an image in the likeness of anything in heaven or on the earth or in the sea below). they take it literally.

FLDS - Do not embrace technology for the purpose of repression of their people and to keep them pinned down.
Anabaptists - Embrace technology as needed, but generally shy away from it because the bible states "Do not be of this world". Consider that in 2011, almost all divorces filed (with reasons attached) contained the word "facebook". Anabaptists consider technologies, but also the dangers of sins that can come with them. Internet pornography for instance.

I unfortunately just ran across something and learned what a "twerk" was. Why do we need such mind rot for wholesomeness? Seriously!

These are not the only things. Theologically they are as different as cookies and lawnmowers. It's two completely different worlds. Anabaptists will ALLOW you to come to their church and events. You are welcome there (please respect too). FLDS has a wall.

So if you want to see very oppressed people, with multiple wives, walled up society, and abuse, that's more towards FLDS.

Anabaptists while you'll see very large families, it will be between a husband and wife who married as adults (and found each other on their own accord) and have a long stable marriage. It's an open door policy and they love to share their faith and religion with you. While stuck what may be "in the past", there are so many reasons for what they do. For instance, the women may not wear make up or jewelry and seem "oppressed"... But consider who is really oppressed every morning when many women look in the mirror not feeling pretty enough slopping on make up, dyeing their hair, and feeling the need to conform to fashion.

It's really how you look at it. I'm not saying there are no problems with some Anabaptists, people are people, but it is not a theology or system anything like FLDS.

About Me

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First I am a mother, and grandmother....that is probably the single most important aspect of my life. Then I am a family advocate for a large, national advocacy organization. I work primarily in "systems advocay", helping to identify needs and change policies in children's behavioral health. And I love my dogs, my garden, my pond and fish, and trashy murder mysteries and the occasional shot of good scotch.... Fell free to post a note in whatever the most recent entry is...I love meeting new people!

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