What “Amish Mafia” Teaches Us

John, Alvin, Levi, & Jolin -the Amish Mafia
John, Alvin, Levi, & Jolin -the Amish Mafia

I know, it’s a crazy title isn’t it, “Amish Mafia,” really? It’s the one that the Discovery Channel folks gave to their new shocking reality series about the inner workings of a gang of thugs who protect the interests of a group of Amish in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It was promoted well enough, that I had to watch!

I’ve watched two episodes of the show, and I have to admit, the title that Discovery gave it, fits well.
Every episode chronicles this gang, led by “Lebanon Levi” as they investigate accusations of wrongdoing, dole out vigilante justice, and profit handsomely for the protections they provide to their Pennsylvania-Dutch community.

Like a lot of the Discovery Channel and History Channel “reality shows” this one is based upon real people and the real things that they do. One of the compelling aspects of these shows, is that the viewer (or rubbernecker), learns about people and cultures of which they might otherwise be unaware. Just as shows like “Deadliest Catch” have given us a deeper appreciation for king crab, and an understanding of why it’s costlier than gold, Amish Mafia shows us a world heretofore unimagined.

When I think Amish, perhaps like you, I think of a quiet, reserved, people living out a faith in a cloistered yet idyllic environment belonging to a bygone era. I think of hardworking people, who typify the Pauline exhortation to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands –1 Thess 4:11 (NASB)

Man, was I ever wrong.

What Amish Mafia shows us, is the ugly underbelly of a religious community trapped in a cultural heritage that has an appearance of propriety but practices that are no different than what they refer to as the “English” world.
In the two episodes that I watched, I saw gun-toting, redneck cussing, and greedy gang members behaving similarly to inner city street gangs. I saw the non-gang members engaged in acts of collusion, secrecy, adultery, gossip, slander, and more, -even secret parties where licentiousness was condoned with profit, and inner lusts were given temporary sanction.

What can we learn from watching? Something very significant I think. What the Amish, and specifically this shock Discovery offering shows us, is the utter impotence of religion. (gasp)
The Amish have all the trappings of religion, but it’s merely a form having no substance.
They have restrictions on dress, conduct, ethics, and all kinds of moral trappings -all based on isolated and un-contextulaized scriptures. They go to church faithfully, and have a high regard for church authority, and supposedly, for God Himself.

The lifestyle illustrated vividly by the Amish, or any religious cult, show us the inability of religion to transform the human soul, let alone temper sin. Rather, religion only casts a shroud on it.
And the following verses are proven:

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit –Romans 8:2-4 (NASB)

The only thing that can truly transform the human soul is the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God does not work in the efforts of human religion. The transformative, empowering, work of the Spirit of God, is imparted to those who, by faith in the person and work of Jesus, yield themselves to His magnificent grace in love.

Did you watch the show? If so, what was your takeaway?



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