By Michelle Durham
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — TLC has developed a new reality show called “Breaking Amish.” It’s the story of several Amish and Mennonite young adults who have decided to break away from their strict religious lifestyle to try life in New York City. But, this decision is not as unusual as you would think.
Professor of Religion at La Salle University Maggie McGuinness says in the Amish faith, you aren’t baptized into the church until adulthood.
“They want their children to make sure that they are very prepared to be a full-fledged member of the church. And if that means living in ways that we don’t think of when we think of an Amish lifestyle, then so be it,” McGuinness explained.
This Mennonite man, who declined to be identified, took issue with this one aspect of the show.
“How they are not welcome back to the Church after they leave? That’s all false. They are welcome to come back.”
Do their young people sometimes leave?
“They’ll go out and experiment. It’s youth.”
The TV production company released a statement that reads:
“Everyone’s relationship with their family is different, each of the stories on the show are personal. We never say they would be permanently shunned on the show, and the Mennonites do not practice shunning the way the Amish do anyway. But that doesn’t mean that their families do not strongly disagree with the decisions they are making or that their relationships with their families will ever be the same. The cast can always go back and recommit to the church if they do their penance and go through the process, but they all say that it’s their families that will be very unhappy with their decisions. They’ve all said it will never be the same though, with their families and their respective communities.”
“And although all Amish churches are different, we have not heard of one that would not allow any one back into the fold if they weren’t willing to take the proper steps to earn their way back.”