An article in an Anabaptist newspaper has been circulating on social media recently for its claims that the Discovery Channel show Amish Mafia is nothing more than a bigoted attack on Amish people.
The article was written in January and first appeared in the Mennonite World Review, an independent newspaper that has served Mennonites and the global Anabaptist movement since 1923. Writer David George blasts the show for not only exploiting tragedies that have affected the Amish community, but for also embarrassing those who identify themselves as Amish.
"In an episode of the show in which they 'speak out' against claims of the show being fake-that there is no Amish mafia-the actors use as evidence the presence of their names in the genealogy book Descendants of Christian Fisher (the 'Fisher book' as it's commonly known to many Amish and Mennonites interested in their ancestry)," George wrote.
"If nothing else this scene makes clear that the show is a bigoted attack on Amish identity-one that has the audacity to use recent tragic episodes of Amish victimization while making its Amish participants look like buffoons."
George, a native of Lancaster County, referred to the recent Nickel Mines school massacre as well as attacks on Amish families by an Ohio cult, according to Lancaster Online.
The Ohio case involved a series of targetings in 2011 through Amish communities in eastern Ohio where a dissident sect broke into homes, restrained men and women, and forcibly cut their hair. The leader of the group was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his crimes earlier this year. The attacks were considered federal hate crimes because a woman's long hair and a man's long beard symbolize signs of submission to God to those who are Amish, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In 2006, a 32-year-old truck driver bent on revenge entered a one-room schoolhouse in Lancaster County, killing himself and four young Amish girls in the process.
Amish Mafia is not the only show focused on Amish culture that has made it onto television screens in recent year. TLC premiered Breaking Amish in 2012 and Breaking Amish: LA this year.
Watch a video about how the Amish community feels about Amish Mafia.
The returns for a special episode Tuesday at 9 p.m. on Discovery.