Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Minister, A Priest, and A Rabbi...?

by Ken Houghton

The last time I had internet access, the issue here was husbandry. I go away for a few days, and this has turned into beliefnet (or perhaps, pace Drek, nonbeliefnet).

The "vacation" (shepherding children, reading Borges when possible) was spent in Lancaster County, PA, which proudly declares itself "Pennsylvania Dutch Country." Non-locals tend to refer to it as "Amish country." So, inevitably, we left the playground, pools, and duck ponds of Willow Valley and visited "the Amish Farm and House."

The background was recounted by our "knowledgeable guide," who was old enough to have gone to grade school with Amish children (in the same one-room schoolhouse). As she noted, the Amish came to "Penn's Woods" in search of religious freedom: based in large part on their belief that the Mennonites were not strict enough.

While we are fond of talking about how people came to "the New World" in search of "religious freedom," we all too often neglect that many of those people were in search of less freedom. Should it surprise anyone that their descendants would continue the tradition of restriction?
Hallo Ken
Funny enough I just finished reading about the amish, and I think the woman told you an edited version of why they seperated from the mennonites. The reason as I have understod it is that the amish wanted to use shunning and exclusion of people who did'nt follow the church rules. Maybe it also were a bit of powerstruggle, who knowes. At the same time both amish and the mennonites were killed because of their faith. So when they were told they would be free in america ofcouse the left europe.
I don't mean--thank you, Karen--to imply that they were not being persecuted, or that being persecuted was not a good reason to leave.

I'm just noting that the early Protestant settlers tended to look for the freedom to be more restrictive in their religious practices. And William Penn--who was persecuted in England for his Quaker beliefs--deliberately cultivated a state where sects that were persecuted could settle.
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