Tags: amish | mafia | dispute | reality | show

Experts Dispute Existence of "Amish Mafia" as Reality Show Debuts

Tuesday, 11 Dec 2012 10:51 AM

By Michael Mullins

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The legitimacy of the Discovery Channel’s latest reality show, “Amish Mafia,” is being questioned by Amish experts after the very existence of the vigilante group was denied by the Amish Church.

In the show, four men who claim to be members of the Amish community, exact justice on individuals within the closed-off Pennsylvania community who do not follow the strict rules set forth by their church.

The supposed real-life happenings captured on the series are all reenactments conducted by the quartet, whose members admit to having never been baptized by the Amish Church. They carry guns, drive cars, have tattoos and gamble, all of which are prohibited in the Amish community.

In an interview with Pennlive.com, two Amish Experts, Messiah College Professor David Weaver-Zercher and Elizabethtown College Professor Donald Kraybill challenge just how real the reality show is considering the men’s failure to abide by the very teachings they attempt to enforce.

“When I first saw the (show’s) trailer, I thought maybe it was a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit on reality television because it was so far-fetched,” said Weaver-Zercher.

The sentient was shared by Kraybill, who having spent two decades researching the Amish, said, “When I’ve spoken about this program with Amish friends they’ve just kind of laughed and said they never heard of this kind of thing . . . It’s just sort of an example of the foolishness and stupidity and lies — misrepresentations I should say — that are promoted [about the Amish] in television . . . These production crews should be ashamed of trying to say that represents Amish life.”

“Amish Mafia,” follows two other recent reality-based shows that challenge traditional perceptions of Amish by the mainstream public, National Geographic’s “Amish: Out of Order” is a 10-part series that followed people who had left the church. TLC’s “Breaking Amish,” chronicles Amish young adults who relocated to New York City where they engaged in drinking, drugs and seemingly promiscuous behavior.

The Amish community, a subgroup of the Mennonites, is a traditional Christian church whose members mostly immigrated to the United States in the early 18th century from Switzerland and Germany settling primarily in the Midwest, particularly in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana.

“Amish Mafia” is scheduled to premiere on The Discovery Channel on Wednesday at 9 p.m.

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