Mary Byler: Abuse and Incest Among The Amish

January 24, 2005

Impressed by their piety, courts have permitted the Amish to live outside the law. But in some places, the group's ethic of forgive and forget has produced a plague of incest—and let many perpetrators go unpunished.

When she wrote the letter that she hoped would protect her sister, Mary Byler was lying on a twin bed, surrounded by rainbow-colored walls and a sky-blue ceiling decorated with bright white clouds. A stereo sat on the floor beside her. There were no signs of the Amish upbringing she had left behind—no plain wood furniture or chamber pot. Nothing except a stuffed doll that had belonged to her 6-year-old sister. The little girl had put the doll's bonnet on backward.

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"Before you came to speak, I mistakenly assumed that the Amish had a good sense of the Bible and how important it is to be saved. Because of my assumption, I didnít worry about them and did not include them in my prayers. I didnít think I needed to. Now, I know differently. Thank you for opening my eyes to their plight. I will be praying for you and your family and your mission. "

- Ravenna, OH Read More »