"Amish in The City"

Letter to the Editor

A couple months ago, plans were announced for a new reality TV show entitled "Amish in the City." The idea was to place Amish teens in a house in the big city and see what happened as they "discovered" the modern world. The idea immediately caused controversy and protests from local Congressmen, the Lancaster Chamber, and the Visitors Bureau, not to mention the Amish population. Following are the comments of a local Amishman concerning the proposed show...

This recent plan that CBS-UPN has to make an Amish-related TV show raises a lot of concern among us Amish folk in America and Canada. With grieving hearts we wish it wouldn't be. Many of us say, "What's the world doing now?" If CBS produces this show, "Amish in the City," it will no doubt lead to more frivolous productions.

We can gather from the recent news media writings that there are many wrong accounts of us plain folk. Hopefully, here I can explain that:

1) We are just ordinary American citizens. Many of us vote.

2) We pay taxes (local, county, real estate and income taxes) and also finance our own schools.

3) As conscientious objectors, we are opposed to war and serving in the military. However, in draft times our youth have served in alternate service, hospitals, national parks, etc. And our farm products help feed the armies.

Our Amish faith was started in 1693 by Jacob Ammon. Back then our clothing styles were established. Out of respect for our elders and to be a separate folk, we maintain these clothing styles. The world's styles change and we try to stay behind. We make these committments to keep the faith.

Thankfully, the government allows us to operate our own schools. We feel the 1930 school code is all we need --- eight grades. Then and now, our youth were needed on farms and at home. Today over 60% of the nation's plain folk are in manufacturing pursuits. Learning by doing is still practiced. Remember the Colonial apprentice system? This still works for us.

The horse and buggy, farming with horse or mules, and not allowing outside electricity, computers, and creature comforts also keep us separate. But here some modern technology is put to use --- engines on horse-drawn equipment to save the horses, modern hydraulics and air powered motors to replace electricity in our shops. As a neccessity, to stay competitive in the modern world, this is permitted.

In the past, there have been too many films and TV series made about the Amish, such as the movie WITNESS, all of which we didn't appreciate. Of course, we realize CBS is in business to make a profit, and has done a lot of good work in the past. But this show, "Amish in the City," is really a serious mockery of the plain folk's religion. We are grateful for local leaders, politicians, and local businesses rallying around the plain sect and attempting to stop this TV show.

If this show goes on the air, consider the damage and wrong example this could be for our youth. There are over 2,500 youth in the Lancaster settlement in over 30 groups at various levels of liberal and conservative. As in all societies, some parents are more lenient and some youth don't honor their parents' desires and faith. There are approxoimately 12% that are in this liberal category, and of course the media exploits that 12%, as CBS plans to do. Thankfully, the other 88% are left alone and can lead proper plain sect lives.

As we all know, the youth of today will be tomorrow's churches. By attacking our youth, CBS could undermine the very foundation of our faith. So please think again, CBS, and do consider another subject for your shows.

Sam Stoltzfus Gordonville,


PA Amish Country News Publisher's Message (2004)


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