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.
10 months ago