Archive for category Amish In The News

Horses Ticketed for pooping

This is a crazy story.  In Russellville Kentucky there are several Amish that have been ticketed for letting their horses poop where ever they wish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/kentucky/articles/2017-05-25/trial-set-for-amish-over-horse-poop-catching-bag-violations

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Amish Farmer Sam Girod Is In Jail For Making Salve

This is a terrible story of FDA over reach. Sam Girod, a simple Amish farmer was making a wholesome natural salve and got cross with the FDA on labeling. The FDA ended up charging him with felony drug distribution and interstate drug distribution. This is entirely crazy.

I am not going to write a lot about this because I think that the Family Cow Blog pretty much covered the story. Here is a link to that article:

http://www.icontact-archive.com/NGPZGNZ0MsM61WcVJ3rpFviZsxzbA9ul

Other links for more research
http://www.davidgumpert.com/2783-2
http://www.wkyt.com/content/news/WKYT-Investigation-Amish-farmer-in-jail…
http://www.kyfreepress.com/2017/01/fda-girod-indictment/

Please go sign the whitehouse petition to pardon this man.
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/free-ky-amish-farmer-samuel-girod

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Amish Buggy Tech

Found this interesting article today on Popular Mechanics online about the technology behind Amish Buggies. The buggies being built today are far superior to the ones built even 50 years ago. Some buggies are fully enclosed, have torsion suspension, disk brakes, windshield wipers, and propane cab heaters. These are all built to custom order out of fiberglass, aluminum, oak, fabric, etc… Cool stuff.

Check out the article here:
http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/technology/a24666.c0oSld/how-the-amish-build-a-buggy/?click=mvtest

Would the Amish Use This Hand-Cranked Laptop?

OLPC-Amish.jpg

The non-profit One Laptop Per Child has engineered laptops for the world’s computerless masses. Given that billions of people don’t have electricity, OLPC has designed laptops that can operate off-the-grid, perfect for Rwandan cities, aboriginal Canadian settlements — and Amish colonies.

The Amish live in a constellation of agrarian spots in the northern United States and they’re famous for their opposition to some modern technologies, specifically high-voltage electricity. But like many religious close-knit religious communities, they tend to pick and choose which specific products to adopt. If the Amish could have the computer without the electricity, would they use them?

The answer, basically, is yes.

For the Amish, the bigger issue relates to connecting to the outside world. “Not being on the grid continues to be universal in Amish life,” explains professor David L. Weaver-Zercher, author of The Amish Way. “There is kind of a symbolic thing with the grid, that the wires themselves are physically connecting your house. That is a clear connection to worldly ways of doing things that we want to avoid.”

But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been demand for electronics. Back in 2008, a Lancaster man marketed a stripped down computer he called the Classic Word Processor to his brethren, noted Amish expert Donald Kraybill of Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. It was “made specifically for the plain people by the plain people,” a coded reference designed to appeal to decidedly agrarian people.

Donald_Kraybill_20101028_125201_001.jpg

The flyer’s creator knew his audience. Unlike ads for the new Apple product of the moment, this downplays the computer’s tech touting it as “just a workhorse for your business.” It would provide “unequaled safety” because it had “no modem, no phone port or Internet connection, no outside programs, no sound, no pictures, no games or gimmicks.”

As new technologies emerge, the Amish weigh their utility against their danger. Certain technologies threaten the Amish ideology. As Donald Kraybill describes in The Riddle of Amish Culture, “The Amish are suspicious that beneath the glitter of modernity lurks a divisive force that in time might fragment and obliterate their close-knit community.”

Ultimately, an individual congregation’s bishops decide if an innovation might benefit the community. After passing their judgment, the community votes: If they believe using a computer might improve life, then they might approve its use. Since the process depends on the community, certain Amish people have adopted more new tech than others. Some approve bicycles, while others find those too technologically advanced, instead permitting only scooters.

After a technology gets approved, it doesn’t mean people won’t use it inappropriately. The Classic Word Processor’s whole pitch is that it can’t be used to connect to any unauthorized networks, lacking even a modem.

But what about when communication is built into the product itself? While the bishops certainly don’t sanction Internet usage, a precedent has already been set approving cell phones. But as phones evolve to contain other technologies — like the not-Amish-approved Internet — users gain access to the mobile web. But hey, if the Amish have been able to come to compromises on chemical fertilizer, tractor, car, and electricity use, they can probably figure out how to deal with smartphones.

It’s complex, but one thing you have to give the Amish is that they have values outside of base consumer instincts. Unlike most of us, they at least attempt to consider the consequences of new technology in their lives.

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Amish Farming Draws Rare Government Scrutiny

Amish Plowing

Matthew Stoltzfus, left, on his farm in Lancaster, Pa., where a government program is working with Amish farmers to try to instill more environmentally sound methods for handling runoff.

By SINDYA N. BHANOO
Published: June 8, 2010

LANCASTER, Pa. — With simplicity as their credo, Amish farmers consume so little that some might consider them model environmental citizens.

“We are supposed to be stewards of the land,” said Matthew Stoltzfus, a 34-year-old dairy farmer and father of seven whose family, like many other Amish, shuns cars in favor of horse and buggy and lives without electricity. “It is our Christian duty.”

But farmers like Mr. Stoltzfus are facing growing scrutiny for agricultural practices that the federal government sees as environmentally destructive. Their cows generate heaps of manure that easily washes into streams and flows onward into the Chesapeake Bay.

And the Environmental Protection Agency, charged by President Obama with restoring the bay to health, is determined to crack down. The farmers have a choice: change the way they farm or face stiff penalties.

“There’s much, much work that needs to be done, and I don’t think the full community understands,” said David McGuigan, the E.P.A. official leading an effort by the agency to change farming practices here in Lancaster County.

Runoff from manure and synthetic fertilizers has polluted the Chesapeake Bay for years, reducing oxygen rates, killing fish and creating a dead zone that has persisted since the 1970s despite off-and-on cleanup efforts. But of the dozens of counties that contribute to the deadly runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus, Lancaster ranks at the top. According to E.P.A. data from 2007, the most recent available, the county generates more than 61 million pounds of manure a year. That is 20 million pounds more than the next highest county on the list of bay polluters, and more than six times that of most other counties.

The challenge for the environmental agency is to steer the farmers toward new practices without stirring resentment that might cause a backlash. The so-called plain-sect families — Amish and Old Order Mennonites, descended from persecuted Anabaptists who fled Germany and Switzerland in the 1700s — are notoriously wary of outsiders and of the government in particular.

“They are very resistant to government interference, and they object to government subsidies,” said Donald Kraybill, a professor at Elizabethtown College who studies the Amish. “They feel they should take care of their own.”

But the focus on the plain-sect dairy farmers is unavoidable: they own more than 50 percent of Lancaster County’s 5,000-plus farms.

“It’s been an issue over the last 30 years,” Dr. Kraybill said. “We have too many animals here per square acre — too many cows for too few acres.”

For now, the environmental agency’s strategy is to approach each farmer individually in collaboration with state and local conservation officials and suggest improvements like fences to prevent livestock from drifting toward streams, buffers that reduce runoff and pits to keep manure stored safely.

“These are real people with their own histories and their own needs and their own culture,” said John Hanger, the secretary of environmental protection in Pennsylvania. “It’s about treating people right, and in order to treat people right, you’ve got to be able to start where they are at.”

But if that does not work, the government will have to resort to fines and penalties.

Last September, Mr. McGuigan and his colleagues visited 24 farms in a pocket of Lancaster County known as Watson’s Run to assess their practices. Twenty-three of the farms were plain sect; 17 were found to be managing their manure inadequately. The abundance of manure was also affecting water quality. Six of the 19 wells sampled contained E. coli bacteria, and 16 had nitrate levels exceeding those allowed by the E.P.A.

Persuading plain-sect farmers to install fences and buffers underwritten by federal grants has been challenging because of their tendency to shy from government programs, including subsidies. Members neither pay Social Security nor receive its benefits, for example.

Word of the E.P.A.’s farm visits last September traveled rapidly through Amish country, Mr. Stoltzfus said, even though most plain-sect farmers do not have their own phones.

The farmers whom the agency visited declined to be interviewed. But Mr. Stoltzfus, whose brother-in-law was among them, said that as the news circulated, some farmers decided on their own to make changes in anticipation of intervention by the agency.

“I had never heard of the E.P.A. coming out to do inspections,” he said. “I think these practices are going to be required more.”

With help from the Lancaster County Conservation District, Mr. Stoltzfus applied for a government grant to help finance construction of a heifer barn with a manure pit. He expects the grant to cover about 70 percent of the cost.

But some Amish farmers were angered by the agency’s intrusion and its requirements.

“It’s certainly generated controversy,” said Sam Riehl, a farmer in the area. “We wonder whether we are being told what to do, and whether the E.P.A. will make it so that we can’t even maintain our farms.”

Mr. Riehl said he had vowed never to accept a government grant. He does have a manure management plan and a manure pit, he said, although several of his neighbors do not.

Last year the federal Fish and Wildlife Service awarded $500,000 to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to work with the farmers on switching to barnyard runoff controls, streamside forest buffers, no-till farming and cover crops. The money has been lucrative for local agricultural companies like Red Barn Consulting, which has used some of it to hold milk-and-doughnut sessions in barns for Amish farmers and drop off fliers door to door.

The firm’s owner, Peter Hughes, and his employees instruct the farmers on manure management and do free walkthroughs to offer suggestions. In the last six months, Mr. Hughes said, his plain-sect clientele has soared from several dozen farmers to about 200.

Working with the plain sect presents challenges, Mr. Hughes said. For one thing, the group is deeply averse to salesmanship. Then there is the technological communication problem: most of the farmers share a phone booth along a road with several neighbors.

“I had one client who would call me at 5:15 every morning,” he said. “That was his allotted time to use the phone, and that was the only way for us to talk.”

Most days Mr. Hughes is on the road in his pickup visiting farmers. As he drives, he said, he is often struck by the dichotomy between a would-be pastoral ideal and the environmental reality.

“You see those cows and the fields, and it’s beautiful,” he said. “But then there’s that big pile of manure sitting back there.”

Mr. Stoltzfus hopes he is ahead of the game. By adopting new practices and building the manure pit, he thinks he can both help the environment and steer clear of E.P.A. interference.

At midday, Mr. Stoltzfus was placing a bowl of cut fruit into a propane-powered cooler in his backyard, one of the family’s few concessions to technology. Hand-washed black pants and plain cotton dresses fluttered on a clothesline behind him. He offered a taciturn reflection on how quickly things had changed — his willingness to accept the grant, for example.

“A while back, Old Order Amish would not participate in programs like this,” he said, “but farming is getting expensive.”

And then he ended the conversation.

“Is that all?” he said politely but coolly. “I have work to do.”

It was milking time.

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FDA Raids Amish Farmer Dan Allgyer

FDA Raids Amish Farmer Dan Allgyer
Please take action (see ACTION at end of notice)

Kinzers, PA-At 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday April 20, Amish farmer Dan Allgyer went outside to begin milking his small herd of dairy cows.  On the normally quiet Kinzer Road in front of his farm, just a few miles from the Nickel Mines Amish massacre of 2006, several unfamiliar vehicles drove slowly past.  Two months prior, on February 4, FDA agents had trespassed on Allgyer’s farm, claiming to be conducting an “investigation.”  Allgyer had suspected they would be back at some point, because many other small dairy farms around the country have been similarly treated by the FDA. Following is Dan’s account of Tuesday morning’s events:

I became aware of the cars as soon as I walked out on the sidewalk as part of my morning routine around 4:30 a.m. and immediately said to myself something is going on, there is too much traffic on Kinzer Road.  I was watching and noticed three cars were cruising down Kinzer Road right behind each other, and immediately thought, hey, that looks like trouble. I watched and pretty soon one car came back and parked on my neighbor’s farm, on private property, just as the FDA agents had when they came on my property in February; it was exactly the same place.

A couple minutes later, the other two cars pulled up and joined the first on my neighbor’s property, where the occupants appeared to be in conference with one another. Shortly after that, they turned their headlights on and drove in my lane – this would have been at about 5:00.

I stood back in the dark barn to see what they were going to do. They drove past my two Private Property signs, up to where my coolers were, with their headlights shining right on them. They all got out of their vehicles – five men all together – with big bright flashlights they were shining all around. My wife and family were still asleep. When they couldn’t find anybody, they prepared to knock on the door of my darkened house. Just before they got to the house I stepped out of the barn and hollered at them, then they came up to me and introduced themselves. Two were from the FDA, agent Joshua C. Schafer who had been there in February and another. They showed me identification, but I was too flustered to ask for their cards. I remember being told that two were deputy U.S. Marshals and one a state trooper. They started asking me questions right away.  They handed me a paper and I didn’t realize what it was. Agent Joshua C. Schafer told me they were there to do a “routine inspection.” At 5:00 in the morning, I wondered to myself? “Do you have a warrant?” I asked, and one of them, a marshal or the state policeman, said, “You’ve got in your hand buddy.” I asked, “What is the warrant about?” Schafer responded, “We have credible evidence that you are involved in interstate commerce.”

They wanted me to answer some questions, my name, middle initial, last name, wanted to know how many cows we have on the farm. I answered those questions and some more. Finally, I got over my initial shock and said I would not be answering any more questions. They said O.K., we’ll get on with the “inspection.”

I went to go talk to my wife. As I walked away, they held a quick excited conversation and I heard one of them say, “I’ll take care of him.” At that point, apparently, they had designated one of the marshals to stick close to me and dog my footsteps. He followed me as I walked toward the house. I went in the house quickly and told my wife a few words to let her know the situation, then immediately came back out of the house before the marshal had time to follow me in. When I came back out, they were inspecting all the coolers sitting out. They spent about a half hour digging through the packed coolers filled with milk and other food – all private property – taking pictures.

At one point during the cooler inspection the state trooper said to me, “You have a nice farm.” I responded, “We’re trying to be sustainable, but they don’t want to let us.”

While they inspected the coolers, I read the warrant. Among other things it said that any search was to be conducted “at reasonable times during ordinary business hours.” When I exclaimed, “Ordinary business hours!” and pointed this out to the marshal who was dogging me, he said, “Ordinary business hours for agriculture start at 5:00 a.m.” I challenged him that the warrant does not say agriculture hours, it said ordinary hours. He replied, “That’s what the government told us.”

Then they started looking around, as though in search of something in particular. They went up to one door that had a clear No Trespassing sign on it, specifically including government agents, and they did not go in the room, though they shone their flashlights around in it. Then they asked me, “What is on the other side of the door in that [same] room?” Agent Joshua Schafer asked this. I looked him in the eye and did not answer. When they saw I was not going to answer, the other FDA agent said, “Okay, come on,” to agent Schafer, and they went into the room and through the closed door on the opposite side. I had another one of those signs on my walk-in cooler adjacent to my freezer, so they went through that door also. They spent probably another half hour rooting around, like a couple of pigs, in the freezer and cooler area and took many pictures.

When they came out, they asked me where I keep my containers and jugs for milk, and I refused to tell them. I figured they could look for themselves. Then they were walking all over the farm, checking everything out, everything except the house. Agent Joshua Schafer even opened my dumpster and inspected inside it, as though he thought I was hiding something in it. At that point I went and started milking my cows – it was way past milking time.

When I was just about done milking, Schafer and the other agent came in the barn and wanted me to answer some more questions. I told them I would not. The second agent said, “Are you gong to deliver those coolers to Bethesda and Bowie Maryland?” I just looked at him. Then Schafer made a gesture and said, “The stickers with those towns names are on the coolers,” as through to say, you might as well tell me.

I replied, “I told you I won’t answer any questions.” After that they said, “We are done for today. You’ll be hearing back from headquarters.”

Then they got in their car and left. The state trooper and the marshals had left already.

They came in the dark, shining bright flashlights while my family was asleep, keeping me from milking my cows, from my family, from breakfast with my family and from our morning devotions, and alarming my children enough so that they first question they asked my wife was, “Is Daddy going to jail?”

THE NEXT MORNING Allgyer received an overnight, extremely urgent Letter of Warning from the FDA stating that “Failure to make prompt corrections could result in regulatory action without further notice. Possible actions include seizure and/or injunction.”

ACTION: Please call and write the number and address below. Express yourself. Tell them that you support Dan Allgyer. If you drink fresh, unpastuerized milk tell them that. Tell them that more people every day are drinking fresh milk and this is going to increase. It’s not going to stop no matter how many farmers they persecute. Tell them the government has no place between individuals and the farmers from whom they get their food.

Philadelphia District Office
Serves Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Food and Drug Administration
U.S. Customhouse
Second and Chestnut Streets, Room 900
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 597-4390 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Eastern time)

Yours for real food freedom,
Deborah Stockton, Executive Director
National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (NICFA)
nicfa@earthlink.net
http://www.nicfa.com

Our purpose is to promote and preserve unregulated direct farmer-to-consumer trade
that fosters availability of locally grown or home-produced food products.
NICFA opposes any government funded or managed National Animal Identification System.

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Libertarian Farmers Lobby Against S. 510

by Helena Bottemiller | Mar 13, 2010

It is not every day you find Amish farmers serving raw milk in the U.S. Senate. But this week a group of libertarian, small, sustainable, organic farmers were serving up the unpasteurized milk–which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deems dangerous–to Senate staff and local food advocates as part of an effort to push back against pending federal food safety regulations.

Raw Jersey Cow Milk from Amish Farms, Pennsylvania being served in the Dirksen Senate office building.

Raw Jersey Cow Milk from Amish Farms, Pennsylvania being served in the Dirksen Senate office building.

The National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (NICFA), whose mission is to “promote and preserve unregulated direct farmer-to-consumer trade,” organized a lobby day Wednesday to rally opposition to the Senate FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510), a bill that would increase FDA inspections of food facilities and give the agency mandatory recall authority.

It is unclear exactly how or where NICFA fits into the lobbying scene. Most food policy experts inside the beltway know very little about the organization, and many characterize NICFA as a fringe group. The National Sustainable Agriculture Association (NSAC), an active force for sustainable agriculture in DC, doesn’t work with NICFA.

“We’re not working with them on anything, including food safety,” NSAC spokeswoman Aimee Witteman told Food Safety News in an email. “I don’t know much about them other than their opposition to National Animal ID. My sense is that they’re fundamentally opposed to any new food safety legislation–aren’t interested in trying to improve the food safety regime while also making it more targeted on the riskiest practices.”

It is also unclear how any members NICFA has or who exactly funds the organization. Many food policy insiders suspect the Weston A. Price foundation, a non-profit proponent of raw milk and whole foods, gives the group financial support. A spokesperson for NICFA said the group is funded exclusively through private donations but declined to provide any details.

Curious as NICFA may be, their reception on Wednesday had some libertarian star power. Former presidential candidate and small government hero Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) kicked off the reception with his usual stump speech and Joel Salatin, a farmer-turned-celebrity, for his appearance in best-selling Omnivore’s Dilemma and Oscar-nominated Food, Inc., emceed the event.

Joel Salatin, of Polyface Farms (seated), and Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX). Photos by Helena Bottemiller.

Salatin, a self-described “Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-lunatic farmer,” fired off a number of clever sound bites to his audience, which appeared to be mostly NICFA members.

“When the government gets between my lips and my food, I call that invasion of privacy,” said Salatin. “By what science is feeding your kids Twinkies, Ho-ho cakes, and Mountain Dew safe–but raw milk, homemade pickles, and compost-grown tomatoes are dangerous?”

“Our nation has the lowest per capita food expenditure, but the highest per capita health care expenditure of any developed nation,” he said. “Welcome to safe, deadly food.”

Though the event piqued the curiosity of many food policy wonks, no one seems concerned NICFA’s efforts could derail S. 510, a bill that enjoys broad, bipartisan support, but has yet to be scheduled for a vote.

David Gumpert, a health blogger and author of The Raw Milk Revolution who also spoke at the reception, indicated on his blog this week that the response to NICFA’s message was hard to gauge.

“My meetings with congressional aides were pleasant, but difficult to assess,” wrote Gumpert. “This seemed a fairly common reaction among other citizen lobbyists. Maybe the most encouraging thing about the aides I met was that they seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say.”

“Most discouraging was that the aides seemed not to know very much about key problems in the food safety legislation–the absence of significant exemptions for the smallest food producers and farms, the huge financial burden imposed by the requirement for HACCP (hazard analysis critical control point) plans, and the imposition of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) standards on farmers,” he added.

Consumer and public health advocates have been insisting for months that though they are open to “scale-appropriate” food safety regulations, no food grower or processor should be exempt from the food safety system.

“We do have issues with anything that provides any blanket exemptions,” Sandra Eskin, director of the food safety campaign with The Pew Charitable Trusts, recently told Food Safety News. Pew is a key member of the Make Our Food Safe coalition (MOFS), a broad coalition of consumer, public health, and industry groups pushing for the passage of S. 510.

“Food should be safe regardless of its source — big processor, small farm, conventional operation or organic grower,” said Eskin.

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Judge dismisses registration case against Amish farmer

By Jake MillerMarshfield News-Herald • March 11, 2010

The state is expected to appeal a Clark County judge’s ruling that allows an Amish man to continue to operate his farm without registering livestock in accordance to law, state assistant veterinarian Paul McGraw said.

Judge Jon Counsell issued a nine-page ruling Tuesday afternoon ordering the court to dismiss the charge filed against Emanuel Miller, 29, of Loyal in October 2008 for failing to comply with the state’s 2005 mandatory livestock registration law. It was the first case involving an Amish farmer challenging the state’s registration law.

The Amish believe the registration’s use of numbers is the first step in moving closer to the “Mark of the Beast,” referenced in the Bible’s book of Revelations and believed to be associated with Satan.

Proponents of the law say the registration allows officials to quickly track animals that could be impacted by a disease outbreak, McGraw said. Wisconsin’s department of agriculture continues to stand behind its belief that mandatory registration is beneficial to tracking disease, despite the court’s ruling, he said.

“I’m not sure there will be a huge impact at this point,” McGraw said of the ruling. “The department is likely to appeal. Everyone still needs to register their livestock.”

Miller testified that if he participated in the registration, he would risk eternal damnation, a statement supported by his community’s leader, Bishop Noah Schwartz.

In a brief filed Dec. 22, the state argued that a premises registration number is no different from other numbers, such as addresses. Only three states have mandatory registration, while 47 have voluntary registration, McGraw said.

However, Counsell wrote in his ruling that the number is just one part of Miller’s concern. It also requires him to put his faith in government, not God, which goes against Amish beliefs.

Registration is an “impermissible burden upon Miller’s religious beliefs,” Counsell wrote.

Counsell cited several flaws in the law, including that it will never reach 100 percent compliance and does not require the registered farmers to have a telephone, requiring state officials to still go door to door at some farms.

There is “no concrete evidence that premises registration serves the interest of promoting health and food safety better than other alternatives, which it must do to withstand this challenge,” Counsell noted.

Counsell wrote that Miller complies with other regulations, including providing his name and address when buying and selling livestock, which provides sufficient information for locating his animals.

Bill Herr, a Greenwood dairy farmer who owns about 165 cattle, said the premises registration is a benefit for tracking disease, as well as for the industry’s image. All of his animals are registered.

“Our livelihood is pretty dependent on how people view our product, how safe it is,” Herr said. “If there was a health issue, it would be very valuable information to know where these animals are being raised.”

Miller’s conviction, the court said, is supported by his statement that he “would accept government punishment or leave the state before violating his religious beliefs.”

Herr, despite his support of registration, said someone with serious religious convictions should not be subject to something that would infringe upon beliefs.

“I can respect religious beliefs, though. I have my own,” he said. “Just because they’re different from someone else’s doesn’t mean they’re wrong.”

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‘Amish Grace’ is exploitation film that has no redeeming value

By Patriot-News Editorial Board
March 11, 2010, 7:32AM

Is there such a thing as “must-miss” TV?

If so, put “Amish Grace” on your list. The Lifetime Movie Network film, which airs March 28, purports to recount the shooting of 10 Amish girls in a Nickel Mines schoolhouse by Charles Carl Roberts IV on Oct. 2, 2006.

CHRIS KNIGHT, The Patriot-News Movie about the Amish is shameful.

CHRIS KNIGHT, The Patriot-News Movie about the Amish is shameful.

There has always been a fundamental contradiction in the fact that the “English” — as the Amish call non-Amish — make money off an intensely private people who reject the values of modern society.

Lancaster County has spawned an entire industry of Amish tourism, with busloads who ogle at horse-drawn buggies and men in straw hats.

It’s true that the Amish supplement their farming by selling handmade crafts and foods to tourists. But selling a few quilts and shoofly pie at a local craft store is light years from the crass exploitation that is “Amish Grace.”

Few who know the Amish wanted a piece of this horror show. The fictional film is based on the nonfiction book “Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy,” by Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt and David L. Weaver-Zercher. Kraybill is an Elizabethtown College professor and senior fellow at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies.

“Out of respect to our friends in the Amish community, and especially those related to the Nickel Mines tragedy, we declined the producer’s requests to consult and assist in the development of a film,” the authors said in a written statement.

It is easy to see why.

This film has about as much to do with understanding the Amish as “Avatar” has to do with understanding the Masai.

As Patriot-News writer Ivey DeJesus described it, in the world of “Amish Grace,” the men all wear squeaky clean boots with no trace of farm mud and the women all sport manicured fingernails.

More importantly, the film distorts what happened.

“I can’t stand this place anymore,” says a character who lost her daughter in the shooting and lashes out at her husband.

In reality, the Nickel Mines tragedy only caused the Amish to affirm the bedrock values of their community.

“The media descend on the town and criticize its Amish leaders for their notion of unconditional forgiveness of the shooter,” trumpets the movie’s Web site (right next to a promo for “Kim Kardashian’s Most Memorable Hairstyles.”)

In reality, the public — including this newspaper — marveled at the Amish for truly living their deep faith.

It is inevitable that Hollywood tries to idealize and romanticize just about any hardship, from slavery to poverty to cancer.

But there is a special irony in glamorizing a people whose entire life is dedicated to eschewing individual attention.

You cannot see a shadow by shining a light on it. You cannot capture smoke by grabbing it with your hands. And you cannot celebrate the humility of the Amish by making them the stars of their own Lifetime movie.

If the film’s producers really wanted to honor the Amish, they would have said a prayer for them and let them be.

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12th Amish man faces Morristown permit violation

By DAVID WINTERS
TIMES STAFF WRITER
THURSDAY, MARCH 11, 2010

MORRISTOWN — Morristown is continuing to cite the Amish for building homes without permits while a federal lawsuit accusing the town of religious discrimination is pending.

Moise L. Swartzentruber, of 151 Stowe Road, was charged in late February. He’s the 12th Amish man since 2006 to be charged with failure to comply with building codes in Morristown.

Code Enforcement Officer Lanetta Kay Davis cited Mr. Swartzentruber over an addition made to his Stowe Road home last year. He is accused of not submitting a building plan to the town for the addition.

Mr. Swartzentruber is scheduled for arraignment March 18 before Town Judge James T. Phillips Jr., court officials said Wednesday. Ms. Davis declined to comment Wednesday

According to court documents, Ms. Davis in May noticed the addition being built. She sent a letter to Mr. Swartzentruber informing him of the building code violation, which had to be corrected by June 22.

Both parties met July 1 to discuss the matter. Ms. Davis provided Mr. Swartzentruber with an extension to Aug. 13, allowing him time to talk with his group.

On July 28, he informed the town that he wouldn’t submit a building plan. Both parties met again on Aug. 13, with no agreement reached because “the defendant stated that no inspections would be allowed.”

Eleven Amish families sued the town of Morristown in January 2009 over alleged religious discrimination.

“We’re sorry to see that Morristown is continuing its crusade against the Amish,” said Lori H. Windham, an attorney for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Washington, D.C., who is representing the Amish families in the federal lawsuit.

The Amish say the town refuses to issue permits that allow them to build homes according to their beliefs. The Amish, members of the Old Order Swartzentruber sect, say their religious beliefs will be violated if the town forces them to install smoke detectors in their homes, submit engineering plans and allow home inspections.

The lawsuit says the Amish will be forced to leave the town if they cannot build their homes and farms.

The cases against the 11 Amish men have been delayed for more than a year for various reasons, including a lengthy search for an interpreter.

The lawsuit says the town is selectively enforcing the law against the Amish to effectively force them from the community.

Morristown Town Council members said previously that they must enforce building codes because turning a blind eye to the Amish will create unfair enforcement. Building codes are set by state law but enforced by municipalities.

The lawsuit also contends that Ms. Davis has made several postings on a Web site devoted to criticism of the Swartzentruber Amish religion, culture and practices. She also reportedly asked “nearby jurisdictions to take a hard line on code enforcement and issue citations to the Amish in their towns.”

Swartzentruber Amish also have encountered building code disputes in Hammond, Western New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The 11 Amish men do not deny the charges, but say code requirements violate their right to freely exercise their religion.

An attempt to reach an out-of-court settlement failed in December. The case before U.S. District Court in Albany will be scheduled for trial, likely late this year or in early 2011.

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