The article is titled Analysis: Women Leaving Extreme Faiths. Here are several phrases that anyone leaving the Amish can relate to, I’m sure:
“…there is only us vs. them, chosen vs. unenlightened, saved vs. sinners. To leave is to forgo community, structure, kin and perhaps one’s eternal soul.”
This story is centered around Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper who left the infamous Westboro Baptist Church founded by their grandfather. Here is something a current member of the church said about the two girls:
Those two girls were kind of straddling the idea that they wanted to be of the world but that they would also miss their family, the only thing they ever knew. If they continue with the position that they have, those two girls, yeah, they’re going to hell. (Feb. 7, Kansas City Star)
This sounds like a pronouncement from an Amish person who knows someone who has just left.
Here is another poignant statement:
Women raised in restricted sects can be “pounded down,” says Moore-Emmett. “It’s beyond even what we see in a domestic violence shelter.”
[…] “They just have some resiliency that is just beyond what you would imagine—what they could ever imagine—that they have in themselves,” Moore-Emmett says. “They find it in themselves to start questioning, to start finding that there might be another way to live.”
[…] Defections are also rare because such closed faiths provide a sense of community for women and fulfill women’s relational goals, says Patricia Millar, who studied cultic groups. “They felt a strong sense of belonging and mattering, more important than themselves…”
[…] Whether you were born into it or came to it later in life, breaking faith and dismantling community ties can be traumatic. “The fallout and repercussions are very scary and very overwhelming,” says “Beyond Belief” co-author Susan Tive.
[…] Moore-Emmett says someone on the outside has to be there to help, especially for those who have been shut away from society, raised in an us-versus-them paradigm. “It’s very difficult to make a new life when you don’t have any job skills, when your education is very limited, you don’t have any family,” she says. Besides experiencing culture shock, apostates can live in fear that the leaders will reach out and strike them dead and, for years, they constantly question their own thinking.
It reminds me of the day that I pulled up the song, “She’s Got her Ticket” by Tracy Chapman for Anna to hear on YouTube. She followed along with the lyrics and then she asked in disbelief, “You mean someone wrote that song who wasn’t even Amish?”
There is a new book coming out about women leaving extreme faiths called Beyond Belief. I will be reading it, that is for sure.
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On a different note: I am going to be speaking at the Milanof-Schock Library in Mt. Joy, Pennsylvania this Wednesday at 6:00. There is still space, so if you and someone you know would like to come to the talk, I would love to see you there. The library is charging a $5 fee. If you are interested in buying an autographed copy of my book, I will be giving you $5 off to offset the fee (my book normally costs $20 — I will be charging $15 at this venue.) I hope to see you there!