2 Updates
'Amish Mafia' Bending Rules in Centuries-Old Amish Lifestyle
Photo Credit: ABC News Radio

'Amish Mafia' Bending Rules in Centuries-Old Amish Lifestyle

Aug 28 2013, 12:18am CDT | by ABC News Radio

Jason Elias/Discovery Channel(LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa.) -- Lancaster County, Pa., is home to the nation's oldest Amish settlement, dating back more than 300 years. Some 50,000 Amish live there, simply...

Filed under: news

YouTube Videos Tweets

 
 
 

1 year ago

'Amish Mafia' Bending Rules in Centuries-Old Amish Lifestyle

Aug 28 2013, 12:18am CDT | by ABC News Radio

Jason Elias/Discovery Channel(LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa.) -- Lancaster County, Pa., is home to the nation's oldest Amish settlement, dating back more than 300 years. Some 50,000 Amish live there, simply and humbly.

But behind the horse-drawn buggies and rolling hills there is said to be an American sub-culture, often brimming with intrigue and controversy, centered around the infamous, so-called "Amish mafia."

Amish Mafia is a reality TV series on Discovery Channel that tries to pull back the curtain on what is portrayed as the darker side of this traditional Christian culture and the roughly 250,000 people living in Amish communities across the United States.

The series, now in its second season, follows a man called "Lebanon Levi" and his assistants, who purportedly look after the Amish community in Lancaster County and claim to do the dirty work the church can't.

Where the church deals with moral issues, Levi and his band are said to work as an internal police system that takes care of other matters. They provide financial aid, essentially insurance for buggy accidents, personal injury or property damage. They also keep an eye on the teenagers who take time off to experience the outside world before committing their lives to the sect.

Levi calls himself "The Enforcer."

"I make sure the peace is being kept and everybody is obeying the rules," he said.

The Amish, as a whole, deny the existence of the Amish mafia. Much of the show's content has been strongly criticized by Amish scholars. Questions have even been raised about whether some of the cast members are actors.

So Nightline traveled to Lancaster County to get a better understanding of the Discovery Channel show and its characters in the context of the Amish environment./>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>

Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames.

Breaking News | Celebrity News | More ABC News Videos

 

The series producers say the main cast members, including Levi, aren't actors -- though they haven't been baptized into the Amish church so, technically, the same rules don't apply to them.

"As the time goes on, you choose to have more," Levi said. "I would rather have a computer and watch TV, maybe, drive a car -- and not drive a horse. I would rather have a little bit of air condition instead of sweating all the time."

The Amish have the reputation of being a peaceful, soft-spoken community with reluctance to adopt many conveniences of modern technology, including cars and electricity. Kids in the community are schooled until the eighth grade, and then join their parents working in the fields or inside the home.

But a subculture within the Amish community is extensively shown on the show -- which includes "barn fights" and "pimp my buggy" competitions.

When asked if he would ever get baptized in the Amish church, Levi said, "It can always happen."

One reason it would is if he decided to marry an Amish woman. Baptism is a requirement for marriage.

Throughout the show, Levi has had a crush on Esther, who often leads him on to help her brother John gain more power in the so-called Amish mafia.

In describing what it was like to grow up Amish, Esther said, "We never had electricity growing up. I never grew up watching movies, television, computers, anything like that. I grew up without electricity, without running water. Those are a lot of things that we did without."

"As I got older, you know, you're exposed more," she added. "Once I started Rumschpringa, and that's when I learned of everything that's out there. And then I wanted more."

In the Amish community, Rumschpringa is a time of freedom from the Amish lifestyle "to experience another side of life," Esther said.

When an Amish person turns 16, he or she is granted an opportunity to give up Amish traditions and do things they have never done before, such as travel, wear modern-day clothes and even go to parties with friends.

Esther's "other side" is well-documented on Amish Mafia -- a show she and her family don't watch because they don't own a TV -- though, she says, with every generation, the rules are beginning to bend.

"The outside world looks at an Amish community as a whole and that we're all the same, and that we are these humble people who don't have anything," she said. "We would never dress in jeans. We would never have cell phones. We would never have Internet access ... when, in reality, 90 percent of Amish kids have all those things."

That was the case in one Amish home Nightline visited, where a teenager named Allen, who goes by his nickname, "Flip," had electricity, a Playstation, a laptop and air conditioning in his bedroom -- items his parents allow him to have during their son's Rumschpringa. The rest of the house kept strict Amish tradition -- a bed, dresser and a Bible were all that adorned his parents' bedroom.

Much of Amish Mafia's content, depictions and characters are strongly criticized by Amish scholars who say it simply isn't true. But not everyone sees it that way.

"It's not contrived. It's not made up," said Steve Breit, a criminal defense attorney in Lancaster County. "The individuals on the show that I've represented have committed some serious criminal activity."

Another character on Amish Mafia is Merlin, portrayed as being from a more traditional and old order community of Amish in Ohio, where he, too, has the same role as Levi. On the show, Merlin spends his days trying to oust Levi from power.

Some in the community accused Merlin of setting Levi's office on fire -- something he denied. But he did say he had been indicted on felony drug trafficking charges, although he was reluctant to give further details.

"I'm not trafficking," he said. "I'm living a clean life, a happy life and helping the community."

Breit said the bulk of his practice is representing Amish youth who are in trouble.

"Every year, I'll see an increase of several Amish clients a year, and whether it's for mainstream criminal activity, such as the alcohol use ... the marijuana abuse, and it's other crimes such as theft and things of that nature, as well," he said. "By numbers, they're doing the same amount of this type of activity that mainstream American kids are doing today."

So perhaps, if this show is really reality TV, the centuries-old "plain" lifestyle is a far cry from what it used to be.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>

Source: ABC News Radio

 
Update
2

Tweets

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

IPad Air Giveaway 2014 is Online
IPad Air Giveaway 2014 is Online
Our sister site I4U News is giving away a brand new iPad Air or if you can wait an iPad Air 2. This is an $499 value.
 
 
Most Popular TV Series of 2014
Most Popular TV Series of 2014
The most popular TV series released in 2014 include such incredible shows as True Detective and Fargo.
 
 
True Blood Arrives in its Wacky, Sexy Final Season
True Blood Arrives in its Wacky, Sexy Final Season
The vampire series True Blood has arrived in its wacky final season. Director Stephen Moyer and his wife Anna Paquin, who played Sookie, also pose 'Nude' for the cover of Entertainment Weekly.
 
 
Game of Thrones: Maisie Williams Discusses Last-Minute Changes in Season 4 Finale
Game of Thrones: Maisie Williams Discusses Last-Minute Changes in Season 4 Finale
Maisie Williams, who plays Arya in The Game of Thrones recently discussed some last-minute changes in the popular series.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Bush shoe-tossing painting hits record at Doha auction
Doha, Oct 15 (IANS/EFE) A controversial painting by Iranian artist Mahmud Obaidi, depicting an Iraqi journalist throwing shoe in 2008 at then US president George W. Bush, was sold for $62,500 at a Sotheby's auction in...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
US offers $45 mn bounty for eight terror leaders
Washington, Oct 15 (IANS) The US said Tuesday it is offering rewards totalling up to 45 million dollars for information on eight key leaders of the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terrorist organisation. The...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
UNSC extends peacekeeping mission's term in Abyei
United Nations, Oct 15 (IANS) The UN Security Council (UNSC) has renewed the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Abyei border region between Sudan and South Sudan. In an unanimously adopted resolution, the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Ebola cases in West Africa could reach 10,000 per week: WHO
Geneva, Oct 15 (IANS) The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa could reach 5,000 to 10,000 cases per week by the first week of December. "Quite frankly, ladies and...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Turkey, Singapore sign strategic partnership agreement
Ankara, Oct 15 (IANS) Turkey and Singapore have signed a strategic partnership agreement to boost economic, political and cultural cooperation, as well as security collaboration, during the official visit of...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Christina Aguilera is returning to 'The Voice' USA
Christina Aguilera will return to 'The Voice' USA next year. The 'Your Body' hitmaker, who previously shared a rotating spot on the judging panel with Shakira, has been replaced by Gwen Stefani this season as she is...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Kesha's music producer hits back
Kesha is being countersued by her record company boss, Dr. Luke. The 41-year-old music producer, who runs Kemosabe Records, claims the 27-year-old 'Tik Tok' singer is a liar and is trying to extort him after she accused...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Jason Derulo won't get back together with Jordin Sparks
Jason Derulo insists his split from Jordin Sparks is permanent. The 'Talk Dirty' hitmaker, who recently ended his relationship with the 'No Air' singer after three years of dating, has ruled out getting back together...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Josh Groban feels 'very lucky' to be dating Kat Dennings
Josh Groban feels ''very lucky'' to be dating Kat Dennings. The 'Brave' hitmaker was very nervous before singing in front of the '2 Broke Girls' actress for the first time at the Carousel of Hope Ball in Beverly Hills,...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Australian Richard Flanagan wins 2014 Man Booker prize
London, Oct 15 (IANS) The first Man Booker prize to allow American nominees was Tuesday night won by an Australian, with Richard Flanagan triumphing for a novel of love and war that tells the harrowing stories of...
Read more on Celebrity Balla