Forces Changing the Amish from within

The word “bizarre” has been used many times in describing the hair-cutting attacks that were allegedly orchestrated by Sam Mullet from Bergholz, Ohio. And for good reason — it is pretty bizarre. From what I’ve heard of Sam Mullet, and the little I’ve seen from videos such as this one, I’d say he is one scary dude. I first heard about him back in 2007 when his community was raided because of allegations of child sexual abuse.

Sam Mullet is behind bars now, which I found out on Wednesday night through an article in the New York Times. I hope that this opens an opportunity for people in that community who feel trapped or are concerned for their children to make their escape while they can. There is a lot of debate about whether Sam Mullet is or is not a cult leader. I don’t know the answer to this question — it probably has a lot to do with one’s definition of what a cult leader is. For me, this is not really the issue — the issues of his abuse of power in all their different forms are far more important.

The other debate is about whether Sam Mullet is or is not Amish. I’ve heard declarations from Amish people that he is absolutely not Amish. This brings up a whole debate about what makes a person Amish. Until this issue about Sam Mullet appeared, I think if people identify themselves as Amish, they are Amish. He was certainly born Amish. He was Amish when he was ordained minister and then bishop. So when did he cease to be Amish? Obviously, he still wants to claim he is Amish (possibly to hide behind the label to carry out his abuses). Either way, the mainstream Amish were rejecting him as an acceptable Amish person, or taking away his Amishness. So the symbol of the beard and haircutting is important in understanding the way he thinks. He must have thought he is evening the score by depriving his Amish enemies of their Amishness by cutting the very thing that distinguishes them as such.

What I find the most interesting is that the men in the Amish communities had to be attacked for some of them to be willing to use the laws in the “outside” world to put a stop to the abuses. And the claims from several of the victims — that he would rather have been beaten black and blue, or that he’d rather be dead — are melodramatic and taking that Amish martyrdom just a little too far. Their hair will grow back. I don’t doubt that they were concerned for their well-being and locking their doors or buying pepper spray and shotguns. They should not have to live in fear of violence.

The allegations of the abuse within the Bergholz community is also important. If people were being made to sleep in a chicken coop and beating on one another and if Sam Mullet was indeed taking sexual advantage of the women in the community, it is not a safe environment in which to raise children, whether or not they are being abused directly.

I have never heard anything about Sam Mullet’s wife. I find it interesting that she has never been mentioned in all of this. I have no idea whether she is still alive or with him, but I just find it odd that she has never been mentioned in all of the articles I’ve read.

Perhaps this is an example of how it is getting harder for the Amish to live their lives separate from the world. Other examples are: the Amish in Kentucky who have gone to court about not having the orange triangles on their buggies; the alleged sexual abuse by Chester Mast; and the money fraud case of Monroe Beachy. It may be that the Amish communities cannot continue to be so sheltered as they have been. In all these issues, except for the one about the triangles, it is because of deviant behavior by members of their own communities that they are having to fall back on the laws in mainstream culture. The Amish are not equipped to deal with sociopathic behavior because they don’t recognize that there is often a psychological basis for them. These examples demonstrate how the Amish will be forced to change the way they deal with deviant behavior or else succumb to the laws in mainstream society.

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9 thoughts on “Forces Changing the Amish from within”

  1. I would say that he is ex-Amish and not in the church. And it seems that im reading about these events more than id like to admit to, and im not sure really what is behind all of it. If you leave the Amish church then leave, dont take your hate on anyone else who still wants to be a part of it. Thats my 2 cents anyway. Richard

  2. I was told his wife left him about the same time of the first beard cutting and she started talking. This is only what I have been told by a Geauga Amish man down here.

    Where do the two murder cases among the Amish in Holmes County within a six months time fit in?

  3. admittedly I know very little about this case. I wish the Amish community would see how destructive it is to keep this and worse yet child abuse in the community under wraps. My heart breaks for all those children that feel they have no choice but to accept abuse.
    Blessings, Joanne

  4. Therein lies the million dollar question. if Amishness is not something that is visible, what is it? There may then be many imposters out there. How will you prove you are Amish yourself? Mullet could certainly prove his Amishness at the international border as well as anyone else. Plus receive all the exemptions that anyone else would. Pay no SS, have military exemption and so on. So anyone that states they(Mullets) are not Amish will have to come up with criteria how they know this. Otherwise they are simply a badly misguided Amish group. But still Amish.

  5. You bring up some very interesting points. I’ve often thought how strange that the Amish do not seem to be bound by the law of the land. Every society has deviants and sociopaths. They have to be dealt with. That is why there are laws.

    Something that often bothers me as I follow a buggy with young children in it is the danger modern society poses to them. The roads are no longer the seldom traveled dirt or gravel roads of 100 years ago. They aren’t even the country black tops. The roads we encounter the buggies on are two lane, 55 mph roads. So often when we travel home from our son’s home on a Sunday evening around dusk we will encounter a buggy as we top a hill… no lights, nothing to protect those children and the entire family from a speeding automobile. One that is well within the speed limit of the law and yet… what horror I would feel if just once we were not able to slow down fast enough.

    I know I’ve gone way off topic, but I find myself praying as we travel these roads that no harm comes to any of these families.

    Deanna

  6. I think it is good and proper that the Amish community comes under scrutiny. As a Roman Catholic, I am in favor of religious figures being examined for evidence of improprieties. No man should be considered as perfect, because that is when abuses can occur.

  7. It seems like every group – EVery group – has radicals and spinoffs that don’t reflect the practices of the main body. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that they’re all just people. Sinners. No matter what group we’re talking about.

    How frightening, though, for those who are under this kind of person’s bondage or grip. I pray freedom will come to many of them.

  8. Dear Lady, have you ever considered becoming a Civil Rights Lawyer? You are so very intelligent and make excellent arguments and observation. Yes, who indeed is speaking for Amish children?
    Wow! I didn’t know the full story of Sam Mullet. Those poor Amish people at the hands of this maniac.
    I would consider Sam Mullet a sick Amish man. I would consider a pedophile priest a sick Catholic. I would consider Jim Jones a sick Christian. The Bible addresses this issue when Jesus rejects those claiming to be His followers. “I never knew you.” He said.

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