“There is a much greater skepticism toward the memories of those who claim abuse than toward the memories of those who deny it.” ― Sue Campbell, link
<Trigger alert: This post will describe instances of child sex abuse in the Amish community.>
Josh and Anna Duggar are about to be parents again.
Recently, People Magazine published Josh and Anna Duggar: How They Overcame Scandal & Infidelity — and Are 'Rebuilding a Life Together. Josh and Anna Duggar made the following announcement:
“As we continue our journey as a family and rebuild our lives, we are delighted to share with you that we are expecting a new baby boy later this year. Beauty comes from ashes and we cannot wait to see and kiss the face of this sweet new boy!” Josh and Anna signed the post.
The article also reviewed the past scandals involving Josh Duggar.
In mid-May 2015, Josh apologized for his “wrongdoing” after a 2006 police report revealed that he had been investigated as a teen for inappropriately touching five underage girls. His sisters Jill, 25, and Jessa, 24, subsequently stepped forward as two of the victims.
Months later, in August 2015, Gawker reported that the oldest Duggar son appeared to have had active accounts on Ashley Madison, a website created to facilitate cheating on your spouse.
Josh ultimately confessed to having a pornography addiction and cheating on his wife
The Duggars made a fortune showing off their 19 children. Well, actually they demonstrated how they were raising their children to avoid the pitfalls of sexual immorality. The girls were always dressed modestly- long jean skirts and polo shirts. The boys were told to look to the ground whenever the parents saw shapely women pass near their line of vision. The children were never allowed to go to the beaches where they might happen upon *revealing* swimsuits. They were supposedly always supervised while on the Internet and they were homeschooled. They live in rural America and attend a very conservative house type church. We have written about this before and so have many others.
I remember cracking a joke about how the girls were forced to dress and got my head bit off by people telling me to leave them alone since they were building a godly family who would not fall victim to *the world.* Except, as we would learn, at least one of them did. While touting their godly parenting style, Jim Bob and Michelle forgot to mention that it didn't work out as they had planned. They preened in front of the cameras-showing a perfectly clean kitchen, never showing us the second kitchen. They would refilm scenes so the whole family looked good. They were good at hiding the reality of their situation.
I now have some questions.
- Did the Duggars show us only what they wanted us to see so they could make money and pretend they somehow had it all together?
- Was part of the problem their isolation from the *world?*
- Did the isolation assist them to hide the sins of their family?
- Were their kids any better than other kids who are not isolated?
- What else are they hiding?
Sadly, I believe that Josh Duggar's children are at risk for abuse. We already know that their father had no qualms in touching his sisters without their approval. Is it possible that Josh could be tempted by his own children as they approach puberty? I sure hope someone is keeping an eye on that…except it is pretty hard to keep an eye on those who isolate themselves from the greater community. The family also believes that he has repented so all should be well…right?
It is important to stress that molesters and pedophiles rarely lose their compulsions. They can usually learn to control them but it takes a lot of work over the course of a lifetime. We have written extensively on this issue. For now, here is a quote to keep in mind from an article FACING DISTURBING TRUTHS ABOUT PEDOPHILIA COULD HELP US KEEP KIDS SAFER.
“One cannot choose to not be a pedophile, but one can choose to not be a child molester,” Dr. James Cantor, a professor at the University of Toronto medical school and a leading expert on pedophilia, wrote in a CNN op-ed in 2012. He also said that pedophiles are most likely to abuse when they are most desperate and feel they have nothing to lose.
Also, I really want to emphasize the following. Your church or group is not bad because a pedophile chose to target the organization. Pedophiles go anywhere where there are children,especially if the enivronment is filled with trusting people. However, once a pedophile is exposed, your church MUST report this immediately to the authorities. The vitcims will need lots of help.
What really goes on in the Amish community
It is my contention that isolated communities which are suspicious of *the world* are prime targets for pedophiles. One of those groups are the Amish. I also plan to do a post on another isolated group, the Hasidic Lubavitcher communities of New York.
My husband's first cousins live in Lancaster which is Ground Zero for Amish communities. When were first met, I excitedly visited Lancaster because I had this romantic view of the Amish. They seemed to live a bucolic life: beautiful farms, cute families gathered around dinner tables with great food, horses and buggies, cute little girls in their sweet bonnets, etc. Isn't it great how they help each other to build barns, etc.?
I like this description of the Gentle People.
To the hordes of tourists who travel to Pennsylvania Dutch country each year to go to quilting bees and shop for crafts, the Gentle People, as the Amish are known, represent innocence. They are a people apart, removed in place and arrested in time. They reject the corruptions of modernity-the cars that have splintered American communities and the televisions that have riveted the country's youth. The Amish way of life is grounded in agriculture, hard work, and community. Its deliberate simplicity takes the form of horse-drawn buggies, clothes that could have come from a Vermeer painting, and a native German dialect infused with English words.
What do the Amish believe?
There is a helpful website called Amish America which attempts to faithfully convey their beliefs, lifestyles, etc. Here are some of their faith statements which, on the surface, fall in line with many evangelical churches. The article lists 20 so be sure to read them all.
1. We believe in one sovereign, holy, gracious, and living God, eternally existing in the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, the Creator and Sustainer of all things that exist. (Ex.34:6, Deut.6:4, Col.1:16&17)
2. We believe that the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God, revealing God and His will, both in the Old and the New Testaments. (Luke 1:70, II Tim.3:16, II Peter 1:20&21)
4. We believe that man, through unbelief and disobedience, fell into sin bringing death and trouble upon the human race: that man as a sinner is self-centered and self-willed and needs Christ to redeem him. (Rom.3:10-18,23,5:12)
5. We believe that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, fully human and fully divine, and perfectly His Father’s will both in life and in death. offering himself as a ransom to all who will receive Him. (John 1:14, Matt.20:18, Col.2:9, Gal.4:4-6)
6. We believe there is one mediator between God and man, Jesus, who shed His blood and died on Calvary, was resurrected and ascended into heaven and is sitting at the Father’s right hand. (John 3:16, Heb.9:12-14, Col1:20-22)
7. We believe salvation is by grace through faith in Christ-a free gift bestowed by God to all who are repentant of their sins, are born again, and walk in newness of life. (Eph.2:8&9, John 3:3-5, Rom.6:1-7, Rom.10:9&10)
12. We believe that discipleship can thrive both in prosperous and difficult times for those who exercise faith, the fruits of the spirit, surrender to the divine will,love, and nonresistance to evil. (Heb.11, Gal.5:22-25, I Peter 2:21&22, 1 Cor.13)
Here are some of the faith statements that are slightly different than most evangelical churches.
14. We believe that the personal appearance and lifestyle of Christian men and women should be modest and free of worldly fashion and adornment, maintaining simplicity in all areas of life, living as strangers and pilgrims in this world, seeking a heavenly city not made with hands. (Rom.12:1&2, James 4:4, 1 John 2:15-17)
16. We believe the promotion of Christian values requires us to shun evil which includes the values of contemporary media, urban culture, and modernism. (John 17:13-21, Rom.12:1&2,1 Cor.15:33, 1 John 2:15-17)
17. We believe Christians should not take part in destruction of life, born or unborn, nor in any acts of retaliation. Instead, living a non-resistant lifestyle, demonstrating the love of Christ in daily life. (Matt.5:39-46, John 18:36,Rom.12:19-21)
Here are a couple of beliefs that are worth looking at more closely.
15. We believe God has established special roles for the man and the woman, therefore it is the man’s responsibility to be the spiritual leader in the home and the church and the man’s head should be uncovered in praying or prophesying, while the woman’s head is to be veiled signifying their acceptance of Christ’s order. (1 Cor.11:1-16)
18. We believe the church and state are ordained of God as separate entities in His plan and that believers should honor rulers and be subject to them and pray for them. (Rom.13:1-7,1 Peter 2:13-17)
US law and the Amish
In general, the US legal system has granted the Amish some remarkable freedoms, citing their law-abiding life style. In effect, these laws have allowed the Amish to insulate themselves from the eyes of the law. This is set up for pedophiles.
The Amish want to be left alone by the state-and to a remarkable extent, they are. They don't fight America's wars or, for the most part, contribute to Social Security. In 1972, noting their "excellent record as law-abiding and generally self-sufficient members of society," the Supreme Court allowed the Amish to take their children out of school after eighth grade.
The Amish believe in *repent and release*
Enforcement of the law supposedly rests with the Amish bishops and other church leaders. But, they, like some churches, believe that once a person has *repented,* a that person should be allowed to function freely.
The Amish shy away from sending people to prison and the system of punishment of "the English," as the Amish call other Americans. Once a sinner has confessed, and his repentance has been deemed genuine, every member of the Amish community must forgive him.
Unfortunately, this could allow a pedophile to continue to offend. Never forget this statistic:
Male offenders who abused girls have an average of 52 victims each. Men who molested boys had an average of 150 victims each.
The reality of child sex abuse problems within Amish communities.
I first became aware of this issue a few years ago when I read Mary DeMuth's excellent post, Bonnets, Buggies and Sexual Abuse. Mary began to hear reports of child sex abuse from Amish folks who attended her speaking engagements in which she discussed her own abuse. She spoke with Pastor Larry Kaufman, pastor of Grace Mennonite Church, who offered insight into the issue.
Kaufman believes the why involves legalism. “At the most basic level, it is the depravity of human beings (Rom. 3:23). More specifically, I feel like the strict rules and regulations within Amish culture sometimes unintentionally creates an environment where sexual abuse can flourish. Many Amish men have faulty views of a women’s role in the home, and place in society. Sometimes the guilt and the external pressure to conform to the Amish way is so strong that it causes rebellion in people and results in deviant behavior.”
Kaufman realized the deep pain of the problem when his congregants sought counsel. “We would trace their wounds back to a form of sexual abuse. These were people that were currently Amish, or grew up Amish and left the Amish group.”
I believe that this statement on secrecy is key to understanding the issue.
I asked him to explain the extent of the problem. He said, “It is difficult to quantify it because of the secrecy within the Amish community. Many times, no one ever finds out, or at least not until years later. My hunch is that it is happening more than we realize.
…Unfortunately because of the nature of the separateness of the Amish culture, truth tellers about the existence of sexual abuse find little help inside their community. To heal, they must leave. They need to find a safe community to share their pain and find healing.
Mary Byler's story.
ABC News reported on Sexual Abuse in the Amish Community which covered the Mary Byler story. This brave young woman, a victim of sex abuse, has opened a window into the abuse in the Amish community.
Mary says she'd use fantasies as an emotional escape from what she says was her horrible reality — a childhood and adolescence of sexual assault and rape.
"If somebody was raping me, I'd look up to the ceiling, count the blocks or count the cracks in the wall, or just I was completely not there emotionally. I would have committed suicide many times over if I wouldn't be strong," she said.
Through the years, by Mary's account, she was raped by several different attackers. But one abused her more often than the others — her brother Johnny. Johnny, one of Mary's eight brothers, began assaulting her when he was 12 and she was 6. The assaults continued into her teen years, she said.
"I couldn't go to the outhouse because there was always somebody waiting there. I couldn't go anywhere alone. There was just no place I could be alone," she said.
As time passed, another brother, Eli, followed suit.
Mary's family were upset with her for pressing charges against her brother because he had *repented.*
In another article, Mary reported:
Mary managed to escape the community and her abuse. She then proceeded to press charges against her brother, Johnny. Johnny couldn’t understand why Mary was taking the matter to court because he had been forgiven by the Amish community in confession.
According to ABC News, Mary assisted the authorities in obtaining information to use in convicting her brother.
So, Mary did something that drew more shock from her community than the sins of her brothers. She called authorities outside the Amish community, and she let them use her to gather evidence against her own brothers. She visited her brother Johnny wearing a wire and he admitted freely that he had sexually abused her.
Don Henry from the Vernon County, Wis., Sheriff's Department said he had enough evidence to make an arrest in the case. When he spoke with Johnny, he freely admitted to raping her. The only question was how many times, according to Henry.
Henry said, "He wanted to know how many times she had said, and with him alone she said it happened between 100 and 150 times. He thought it was too many and that he thought it was between 50 and 75 times."
Guess who the Amish people supported during the trial? Her three brothers who received jail terms. Also both her her mother and father received jail time for refusing to protect her. Once again, since the family members confessed and repented, they were considered forgiven and should never have been brought to trial according to the beliefs within the Amish faith community.
Johnny Byler's sentencing brought out the largest crowd — and the most tears — not in support of Mary, but in support of the confessed rapist.
The community's reaction did not go unnoticed by the judge in the case, Michael Rosbrough. "The thought occurred to me," he said, "How many of you have ever cried for Mary Byler? … You may have prayed for her, I don't doubt you have, but how many of you cried for her? For the loss of her childhood."
The rest of Mary's story reminds me so much of many of our readers. She left her community but is now helping others who have been abused.
And she's on a mission to help other abuse victims, in and out of the Amish community.
Torah Bontrager's story
The Huffington Post reported another instance of abuse in Survivor Speaks Out Against Amish Rape Culture Ahead Of Sentencing.
…her ordeal started with severe parental physical and verbal abuse followed by uncles’ serial rapes. At 15, Torah fled to the false safety of a divorced paternal uncle in Montana who, shortly after her arrival, raped her more times than she could remember over the course of 7 months.
Torah emphasized that children are raised to always obey adults and were admonished to never say *no.*
The biblical commandment “honor your parents” is interpreted as a literal “obey your parents no matter what” and is constantly enforced. It’s one of the first things I learned as a child—before I could probably even talk. You’re not ever supposed to say “no” to your parents or “no” to adults, certainly not adults in positions of authority such as aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers and preachers.
If you say “no”, you get reprimanded and shamed at best and usually physically punished. Spanked, hit, beaten, whipped—depending on the perceived severity of the crime and disposition of the adult.
The Amish refuse to educate their children about even the basics of sex, so you’re also not taught to recognize the signs of sexual advances and predatory characteristics. They won’t even warn their children of known child molesters and rapists within the community. They pretend that the rampant sexual assault found in almost every community doesn’t exist.
Sadly, Amish women who are raped are blamed and told to seek forgiveness from the rapist.
The Amish attitude toward sexual assault is so bad that when a female is raped, she is punished for “being too tempting” to the male and is required to ask the male attacker’s forgiveness for having tempted him.
Some Amish leaders do not think child sex abuse is *bad.*
An Amish bishop in Dauphin County has been charged with failing to report two cases of child sexual abuse.
Christ M. Stoltzfus, 69, of Roller Road in Mifflin Township, told investigators that he was informed that one of the incidents "wasn't really that bad" during an interview in February, according to state police.
State police said that under the law clergymen are required to inform law enforcement about cases of child sexual abuse.
In January, a member of Stoltzfus' church told troopers he informed the bishop of the cases of child sexual abuse that occurred in 2011.
…During their interview with Stoltzfus in February, troopers told him it appeared as though he was covering up the cases of sexual abuse, police said.
Unfortunately there seems to be no end to reports of child sex abuse cases coming out of the Amish community. Try Googling the issue.
- Amish Elders Plead Guilty to Failing to Report Sex Abuse in Ozark Community
- Amish in crisis as father faces trial for 'decade of sex abuse'
- Sexual Abuse among the Amish
- Pedophiles seek out communities which are isolated from the outside world.
- Pedophiles seek out communities with children.
- Pedophiles seek out communities with easy "repent and forget about it" theology.
- It is both illegal and dangerous when churches try to deal with child sex abuse *internally.*
- Few church leaders are trained in how to deal with pedophilia.
- Churches are not to blame when a pedophile shows up in a church.
- Churches are to blame when they attempt to cover up child sex abuse.
- Pedophiles can repent but are never fully cured of their feelings. It is a life long struggle.
- Repentant pedophiles should be willing to have the church notify its members of their presence as well as to always have an escort while on church premises. If they do not agree to this, then they are still in a hiding mode and are dangerous.
- There are no idyllic communities or churches which are exempt from the pain of child sex abuse, rape, domestic violence, etc. Wherever there are people, there are sinners.
- No matter how hard you try (and the Duggars sure tried) you cannot guarantee freedom from these issues.
- Isolationism is no panacea for pedophilia or other forms of sin.
- Churches should learn to trust the police and other authorities who are trained to deal with this problem/crime.
- Churches must prioritze the victims and their healing. They should never make a convicted pedophile a church hero as Steven Furtick and Elevation Church did.
For those of you still interested in the Amish, this is Part 1 of what happened when a couple of Amish men begin to question what they are being taught. It is quite long but reveals some *insider information* into that community. The vidoe is shot in Amish country.