Skip to main content

How growing up in an isolated religious community primed me for abuse and exploitation

I grew up in an Amish/Mennonite hybrid religious community part of Charity Christian Fellowship in Pennsylvania. My parents left when I was 10 years old and proceeded to home church with other families from the church for a few years until becoming Baptists.  Yet, my parents still retained heavy control over all of us children remaining at home and enforced sexist double standards. For example, I was not allowed to attend public high school. However, my older brother was allowed although he didn’t want to attend and chose to continue working full-time for a local carpenter.  The only friends I was allowed to have attended our small church in a rural little town with a population of 207 people. 5 other teenagers attended the church and only one was within two years of my age. Further complicating matters was the fact I had nothing in common with these other teenagers and no social skills. I grew up never hearing recorded music or television and isolated from mainstream society. I couldn

What do Amish kids learn in school?

 Children in Amish and plain religious communities like the Mennonites or Charity receive a very different education compared to children growing up in mainstream society. It is common for children in Amish and Mennonite communities to either be homeschooled or attend a 1st - 8th-grade religious school run within the local church community. 

In my case, we didn’t have enough congregants to have a school and we were homeschooled. Students in these communities are only taught a few subjects: reading/English and math. There is no history, science, geography, music, or art education. 

Children are taught to read and do basic math i.e enough to do the basic measuring for building or cooking. No writing beyond the 1st-grade level while learning your letters. No critical thinking or analysis. No creativity or divergence, only replication. 

Growing up "school” was at most only two or three hours a day between the morning and afternoon chores. Once I got to the 4th/5th grade, I was no longer checked in about doing my “school”. It was my responsibility. If I wanted to (as I was supposed to), the books were available and my mother would ask about them yet never verify or review. 

Everything within this isolated plain religious community was separated from mainstream society. The curriculum taught came from an old-order Amish publishing house called Pathway Publishers. Everything depicted people in similar isolated religious communities with women wearing veils and no discussion of further academic learning. Instead, these “textbooks” promoted learning to silence your voice and marry the man of your father’s choosing upon adulthood. 




What are your questions on what school was like growing up in a plain religious community? 


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Can Amish or Mennonite girls play with toy trucks and tractors?

Growing up girls were not allowed to play with toy trucks or tractors. In fact, this played out into quite the funny little story growing up. I was a thumb sucker and very oppositional at times. It was not the easiest task in the world for my parents to “ break my spirit ” as instructed by the church in early childhood.  My parents tried everything to get me to stop sucking my thumb but I couldn't have cared less. It comforted me and I knew it embarrassed my parents that I couldn’t pretend to be the perfect child they desired.  They didn’t have my heart or my mind. But, I did have a plan. I wanted a toy tractor set from the “farm store” like my brothers.  My mother would have me sleep with socks tied over my hands and dip my hands in vinegar and bitter-tasting herbal solutions. I’d be spanked for great amounts of time in attempts to stop the embarrassing habit, but to no effect. They took away my favorite security blanket I slept with every night and carried around in hopes I’d qu

What is it like to grow up Amish?

  I grew up in a religious community similar to the Amish and Mennonite communities called “Charity”. This name came from the main church located in Pennsylvania called Charity Christian Fellowship. Our church was located in Michigan and called Marilla Christian Fellowship.     I'm the one wearing brown in the center Church members had no contact with the outside world and kept members isolated.  Men were the head of the church and the home with women being homemakers and having children. Inside this world, there was no such thing as science or musical instruments. The police were only a vague group described as evil people who served Satan and would hurt us if they came in contact. I first learned that there were people in this world who didn't believe in beating women and children at a doctor's office by chance due to having serious health issues. I used the laddies' room alone and saw a poster depicting domestic violence with big Xs.  I now work in forensic psycholo

Do Amish women and children have rights?

The term "Amish" is frequently used as a cute branding tool for rural areas and groceries ranging from chicken to baked goods. I grew up in one of these “plain” religious communities. Women and children were treated horrifically. As such, it is hard to see depictions in the media or newspapers that romanticize the “Amish” culture and ways. Below is a letter recently written to the editor of the local paper in response to featuring a section romanticizing the Amish for clickbait.   To Whom It May Concern,  I love reading the news and greatly appreciate the service you provide our local community. I was surprised, however, one day to see a Lifestyle Section titled “Amish Kitchen” as a regularly featured column on your social media pages. I found this greatly troubling. I grew up in a hybrid Amish/Mennonite Community in Copemish called Charity Christian Fellowship and knew many people who I frequently interacted with from Amish, Mennonite, and other communities.  These were not