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Hi, my name is Kevin Williams and I am owner of Oasis Newsfeatures and editor of The Amish Cook newspaper column.

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  1. Mrs. A. Yoder

    I feel that the statements regarding the “squirrely” Mose Miller and his unkempt home and children was a very derogatory depiction and I would go so far as to say that this is such a far cry from the Amish I know that it strains all credibility. My guess is the reporter couldn’t find someone willing to speak with him for his piece so he fabricated a meeting with an Amish man and described him based on his own pre-conceived notions.

    I am very torn as to whether or not the Swartentruber Amish of upstate New York should be required to use smoke detectors. I understand that, as conservative a sect as they are, this would seem to be against all they believe in. However, especially in homes with children, it would be so much more wise to have this extra precautionary measure. I’m sure Lovina and Joe were very grateful for their alarms, as they still have a home to live in at this time, and their children are all unharmed. It’s such a gray area when you are trying to legislate morality in any way, which is precisely what is happening with the attempts to “modernize” the Amish.

    I do feel very strongly however that, in this country that was founded on the principle of freedom of religion, it is not up to the courts to decide what one religious group should or should not do. My grandfather on my father’s side was a pastor in a backwoods Indiana Church of the Nazarene and before I was born (I’m now 41), they routinely engaged in snake handling during services. This is not a practice that I think is wise; however, I would defend their right to do so if they still chose to perform this act. I should note that they voluntarily gave up this practice on a command from God (according to my Grandfather); the law did not make them stop.

    1. Kevin

      Well said, Mrs. Yoder, on all counts. You captured my ambivalence on this issue too. On one hand, I hate to see religious rights trampled upon in any way. Interestingly, as “Anabaptists” (adult baptizers) the Amish historically have believed that children are not mature enough to choose their faith, so baptism is held off until adulthood. That being the case, you’d almost think the Swartzentrubers would make the smoke alarm exception for their children’s sake until they’re old enough to decide such safety measures for themselves. It’s a tough issue, I think!


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