To the shock of the audience and to the host herself, Megyn Kelly, Emma Gingerich said that she had no idea of who the President was in 2006, what a President was, or even that the world was round—she was taught that it is flat. Emma grew up in one of the stricter Amish communities, the Swartzentruber order of Ohio, where she was taught the basics in school and little more. Despite having an education, Emma had little knowledge of the world outside. As a teenager, she decided one day to run away from her family and the community she had known all her life to live in the world outside.
Since then, Emma has gotten her high school diploma, a college degree, and even an M.B.A. She wrote a book about her experience and appeared on the Megyn Kelly Today show to talk about it. Some might say she escaped from the darkness, but others might say that a pure girl got pulled into the world. There are something bad happened on this girl after she left Amish, she even experienced rape…
People watching the show heard from one who had “escaped” the Amish lifestyle, but have we heard what the Amish have to say? The Amish have been a separate community of Christians living in the U.S. since approximately the early 1700s when a large group settled in Pennsylvania. They are one of the oldest religious groups and are in direct line with the Anabaptists who were severely persecuted in Europe during the 1600s. The Amish are typically closed communities and primitive in style of living by our modern standards. However, they are a peaceful people. They may be teaching antiquated ideas in their schools, but is their way of life evil? Is it evil to want a society free from the influences and trappings of the world—the typical modern American lifestyle?
The cover of Runaway Amish Girl: The Great Escape
Like all societies, there are elements of good and bad. It would not be fair to categorize all Amish as having the mindset of the group that Emma came out from. In fact, the movie ‘Amish Grace’ (2010) is an example of graciousness from the Amish who suffered greatly at the hands of someone from the outside world. Perhaps Emma noticed the bad but failed to appreciate the good. A community that teaches Christian values, propriety, forgiveness, manners, contentment, biblical manhood and womanhood, unity, working together and helping one another cannot be all that bad.
Though some may be shocked by what Emma experienced and recounted on the show, her life was not threatened in such an existence. She simply wanted to see the world as many young people do to their own detriment. It was her choice to leave the Amish community, while others seek the peace that the Amish life offers. It is Emma’s story, but should not be the only story.
From a Christian perspective, we are told not to love the world and to be separate from the world though we live in it. At the same time, we are also told to go into the world and proclaim the Gospel. Perhaps that is where the Amish can improve. Though the Amish may be a separated, traditional, closed community of people, they offer a ray of light in the world that demonstrates how Christian brethren can work together for the common good of their neighbors, their communities, and society.