We've moved!

Social Icons

twitterfacebooklinkedinrss feed

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Amish Invade South Dakota, Challenge Civic Religion

The South Dakota blogosphere hosts a couple threads of discussion of the Islamic Center developers want to build in an old Burlington Coat Factory rendered "hallowed" by 9/11 landing gear. While some worry about Muslims in our midst, South Dakota is experiencing another religious infiltration that challenges our civic religion: the Amish are coming!

Tom Lawrence discusses this new influx in the Tripp neighborhood in today's Mitchell Daily Republic:

More than 50 Amish people have come to the area this year. So far, six families have bought 720 acres of land and planted crops and roots in southeast South Dakota [Tom Lawrence, "The Amish Arrive in Southeast South Dakota," Mitchell Daily Republic, 2010.09.04].

120 acres per family? What kind of farmers are these folks? How can any farmer support a family on less than a whole section or two? Don't they pray the mantra of Saint Butz, Get big or get out? If these weren't Amish, I'd think they were getting their farm advice from some liberal hippie blog on the Interwebs.*

They are a traditional people who eschew most modern conveniences. They rely on old-fashioned horsepower — horses — for their field work and travel.

...The Amish use traditional farming methods, including putting their corn up in shocks, instead of combining [Lawrence, 2010].

What? These folks won't come in to the blessed showrooms of Jim River Equipment to buy a big combine, or Prostrollo's to buy a big F-350? Blasphemy! South Dakotans have a sacred duty to shop and boost those sales tax revenues! If we let the Amish in, they'll start converting people to their ways and drive this state into deficit and decline.

The Amish don’t believe in confrontation or fights and have declined to serve in the military. Borntreger said his wife’s grandfather was drafted into the military during World War I and when he refused to serve, he was held as a prisoner of war.

They are conscientious objectors, he said, and are now treated that way by the American government [Lawrence, 2010].

The Amish won't serve alongside our best and bravest? They don't even believe in using guns for personal protection. More blasphemy!

Big farms, big business, big technology, big patriotism and guns—these are the central tenets of our culture. The Amish clearly challenge these tenets. Ought not we be alarmed at the presence of this challenge to our civic religion in our midst?
*Cultural note: The Gracevale Hutterites brought their kids in to the library one day last week. Some of the kids were checking their Facebook pages.


  1. FYI the Amish and Hutterites are sub-sets of the larger (and not in cultural time-warp) Anabaptist movement of which most Evangelicals can trace their base theology - but have forgotten.

    Anabaptist are a very large group with many independent churches and denominations. Mercy Church is Anabaptist.

    If anyone wants to learn more about the basics of Anabaptism a great new book is out:

    The Naked Anabaptist - Stuart Murray

    "Anabaptist Christians have been around for almost 500 years. But what does Anabaptism look like when not clothed in Mennonite or Amish traditions (Shel: or get involved at Mercy Church in Sioux Falls!)? Writing from Great Britain, Stuart Murray peels back the layers to reveal the core components of Anabaptism and what they mean for faith in his context and ours. It's a way of following Jesus that challenges, disturbs, and inspires us, summoning us to wholehearted discipleship and worship. Read this book, and catch a vision for living a life of radical faith! Available April 1, 2010."


    Again most Anabaptists throughout history (radical reformers 1525 CE and forward) chose to not do the "time-warped", separatistic or communal way of living. Instead we live in world and yet maintains a very strong view of being "dual-citizens" once you become a follower of Jesus Christ.

    -Shel shel@mercy-church.org

  2. While the economic threats of the Amish are most likely overstated (and probably a bit tongue in cheek :-) ), The refusal to take up arms, makes one wonder if the idea of not fighting back against the terrorists is as dangerous as the terrorism itself.

  3. That's a puzzler, Barry. After 9/11, I was a big advocate of a forceful response. I initially supported carpet-bombing Afghanistand and Iraq. But there is an Amish/Zen/judo argument to be made that responding to the Islamic threat with Christian cheek-turning denies jihad the energy it needs to recruit and expand. What's more dangerous: violent resistance, or non-violent resistance?


Comments are closed, as this portion of the Madville Times is in archive mode. You can join the discussion of current issues at MadvilleTimes.com.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.