1 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

 
 
 

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

 

Don't miss ...

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

The Black Friday 2014 Sales You can Shop Today 11/26
The Black Friday 2014 Sales You can Shop Today 11/26
Over 20 Black Friday 2014 sales are already launched. Get the deals early to get your head free for the hard to get Black Friday deals to be released on Thanksgiving Day.
 
 
The Best TV Deals on Black Friday
The Best TV Deals on Black Friday
Check out the Top 10 TV Deals to get on Black Friday 2014.
 
 
Will Bill Cosby Sanctions Give Rape Accusers Their Day In Court?
Will Bill Cosby Sanctions Give Rape Accusers Their Day In Court?
What will happen if civil lawsuits emerge?
 
 
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.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Apple Black Friday Sale Released
The Apple Black Friday 2014 Sale has launched online at the Apple Store. Apple has announced a huge charity promotion to fight AIDS for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Apple will donate a portion of the sales the company...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
A look at Black Friday video game deals
All major retailers will be getting in the video game Black Friday spirit. PS4 and XBox One will certainly be two consoles that should garner huge sales but actual games should do good as well. One thing that is for...
Read more on Black Friday Countdown
 
Comics looking for event filled Black Friday
While video games and other electronic gadgets look to be the big draw on deals during Black Friday, comic book readers and fans will be able to find their fair share of deals as well. It has been announced that two...
Read more on Black Friday Countdown
 
Anna Kendrick positive after nude photo leak
Anna Kendrick is looking at the positives following the recent hacking of her nude photos. The 'Pitch Perfect' star - whose naked pictures were posted online by hackers earlier this year alongside other stars like...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Benedict Cumberbatch hates selfies
Benedict Cumberbatch hates selfies. The 'Imitation Game' actor - who recently announced his engagement to Sophie Hunter - won't be personally taking any photos of him and his bride on their wedding day and instead would...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
James Franco filmed threesome with Zachary Quinto
James Franco and Zachary Quinto filmed a threesome for their new film 'Michael'. The actors took part in the sexy scene alongside the former 'Desperate Housewives' star Charlie Carver for the upcoming drama, according...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
UN condemns attack on British embassy vehicle
United Nations, Nov 28 (IANS) The UN Security Council (UNSC) has condemned the attack on a British embassy vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan. "The members of the UNSC expressed their deep sympathy and condolences to the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Not all mosquitoes can transmit malaria
New York, Nov 28 (IANS) A genetic study has revealed that certain species of mosquitoes have evolved to better transmit malaria than even some of their close cousins. The study may advance understanding about the...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Rio judge ends Olympic golf course impasse
Rio de Janeiro, Nov 28 (IANS) A Rio de Janeiro judge has rejected a request by public prosecutors to suspend an environmental permit for work on the 2016 Olympic golf course. Judge Eduardo Antonio Klausner said there...
Read more on Sport Balla