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TLC’s Breaking Amish: Episode 2 Brings us More Lies

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Last night I watched episode 2 of TLC’s Breaking Amish. I didn’t like it anymore than the first one.

The first lie occurs just seconds into the show as the following words display on the screen; “They’ll leave their community for the first time”. It has already been firmly established that that is just not true. Why does TLC keep lying to us? Do they think we’re just going to take it?

One of the biggest differences between this episode and the first one, is the soundtrack. You might not even notice it unless you consciously think about it while watching, but there’s a big difference between the two episodes. During the first episode, the cast members were leaving the sinister (that’s what they’d have you think) Amish, and the soundtrack was laden with ominous music as fast-moving clouds raced across the screen. In contrast, the second episode has an upbeat and exciting soundtrack, completing the illusion that these kids have grasped onto an exciting and life-changing opportunity.

Something else that I noticed was the cast’s language. I’ve heard many people (that aren’t all that familiar with the Amish) claim that the excessive use of the words “like” and “freaking” and the one occurrence of “skank” are proof that these kids haven’t been Amish for a long time. That’s not necessarily true. Many Amish kids pick up these terms during their occasional interactions with “English” kids and it spreads throughout Amish youth culture. It is nothing new to hear real Amish kids use words like that. There is, however, another aspect of their language use that indicates that Pennsylvania Dutch hasn’t been their primary spoken language for quite some time–and that is fluency. These cast members speak English fluently and comfortably, and that’s just not something that a fresh-off-the-farm Amish kid is able to do. One exception to this is when the Amish parents encourage English language use at home. It’s not common but it does happen.

When the cast first reaches New York, I get the feeling that they’re acting a little too much like fish out of the water. They react more strongly to these “new” sights and experiences than the typical emotionally-reserved Amish person does. Perhaps it is because they are overcompensating for having to act like they just left the Amish. There’s a recent interview on Time.com in which an ex-Old Order Mennonite man, Tim Sauder, explains the true reactions of Amish and Old Order Mennonite upon visiting the Big Apple for the first time. Read that interview here.

In this episode, Abe and Rebecca begin to like each other. Or do they? In real life they’ve been a non-Amish couple for years and even have a kid. Rebecca says she’s never lived with electricity. You mean, not even after leaving the Amish years ago? Abe claims to have never experienced a shower and doesn’t know for sure what a microwave is. You mean to say he’s so stupid that after leaving the Amish years ago, he still hasn’t encountered a microwave?

Rebecca is used to an outhouse for a bathroom, and is supposedly just off the farm. She sure doesn’t have any trouble figuring out how to get a cot into their room. She claims to have never slept in the same bed with anyone else and yet evidence suggests that she gave birth to Abe’s child.

Abe says he’s never really partied before. This mugshot and arrest record says otherwise. This arrest record shows that Abe was arrested in Kentucky in April 2008 for alcohol intoxication in a public place. Source

Abe's 2008 Arrest in Kentucky for Public Intoxication

Abe’s 2008 Arrest in Kentucky for Public Intoxication

All three girls appear to have had their eyebrows plucked before leaving the Amish. Wouldn’t that have been vain? Kate and Jeremiah appear to have pierced ears. That’s definitely not allowed in the Amish. Click on the images to enlarge them:

Jeremiah's Pierced Ears

Jeremiah’s Pierced Ears

Kate's Pierced Ears

Kate’s Pierced Ears

Kate carries a pink, striped, Victoria’s Secret bag that is probably not allowed by the Amish.

Sabrina claims Mennonites aren’t allowed to stay in hotels because they have bars. I know several Beachy Mennonite (very conservative) and they have no problem with hotels. Sabrina also wears a lot of makeup. How is that not vain?

One of the cast claims that Amish guys don’t shop. Jeremiah, in a blatant show of sexism, wonders which of the girls is going to cook the food for them. I know plenty of Amish men who cook and go grocery shopping.

Jeremiah implies that he’s never driven a vehicle before. So in all the years he hasn’t been Amish, he’s never driven? I know from personal experience with Jeremiah that he has driven plenty.

Last but not least, the cast was incredibly mean to each other. Abe and Jeremiah insult each other behind each others backs. Rebecca is a complete bi***, and then the other girls steal her teeth. Real Amish wouldn’t fight like this, especially when put in a new environment such as New York City. Rather than fighting, they would band together and form a clique to protect each other even if they’re from different communities.

One young lady on Facebook had this to say; “Those amish are mean and bullies. I thougt the amish were all about kindness and helping each other, boy I was wrong…” No! No! No! The Amish are not like this. It only happens when a few bad apples do it for the money. This show is spinning off misconceptions about the Amish left and right and that’s why I will continue spending hours and hours of my time, proving that Breaking Amish is fake.

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Update on Breaking Amish: The Scandal

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Over the last several days I have found more reasons to believe that Breaking Amish isn’t being upfront and is actually outright deceptive.

Two Facebook pages have popped up recently, dedicated to revealing Breaking Amish’s deceptions:

Breaking Amish the Truth
Breaking Amish the Exposè

Crushable has finally come out with an article that questions the authenticity of the show. Hopefully the lies will be revealed by mainstream media before too many people get false impressions about the Amish.

Below I have some specific information on Abe, Rebecca, Andy, and the two Bens.

Abe and Rebecca

Abe and Rebecca are allegedly a couple, have been for quite some time, and apparently have a child together. The picture below seems to support that allegation (source: https://www.facebook.com/BreakingAmishTheTruth). Click on the image to see the full-size version.

Abe and Rebecca with Child

Abe and Rebecca with Child

This picture of Abe and Rebecca was apparently on his brother Andy’s Facebook profile and it was taken sometime in 2011.

Abe’s Brother Andy

This Facebook profile appears to be Abe’s brother Andy. Below is a screenshot of his public photos as shown on Sept. 11, 2012. Click on the thumbnail to view the full size.

On Breaking Amish, Andy is portrayed as being Amish, he’s not one of the five leaving for New York. In his Facebook photos, however, he doesn’t appear to be Amish (assuming it really is his profile). Some of the photos were uploaded in 2011.

Andy from Breaking Amish?

Andy from Breaking Amish?

The two Bens (Rebeccas Cousins)

On Breaking Amish, two men, both named Ben, are portrayed as Rebecca’s Amish cousins.

I found a Facebook profile for someone that looks like one of the Bens. He also looks like the creepy relative who hid behind the curtains in an upstairs window after Rebecca spoke with the person portraying her grandfather. Here is a screen shot of that guy’s public pictures, taken on Sept. 11, 2012, before he hid or deleted his profile. In these pictures he does not appear to be Amish. Click on the thumbnail to see a full-size version.

Ben from Breaking Amish episode 1?

Ben from Breaking Amish episode 1?

I found a Facebook profile for a guy who appears to be the other Ben. He doesn’t look Amish either. For a quick look, check out the image below:

Ben from Breaking Amish episode 1?

Ben from Breaking Amish episode 1?

We Demand an Apology, TLC

On TLC’s description of Breaking Amish, they say the following;

“Breaking Amish, premiering Sunday, Sept. 9 at 10|9c, provides a never-before-seen look inside the lives of young men and women as they, for the first time, trade horse and buggy with taxi cabs to break out from their respective Amish/Mennonite communities in their pursuit to chase big dreams in the Big Apple. The groundbreaking series features nine hour-long episodes.

Breaking Amish will shed light on many firsts for the cast members. From flying in a plane and wearing jeans, to using a cell phone and electricity, the show will highlight their transition into city culture and the basic amenities that come with it.”

I have bolded and underlined the part which is definitely not true. The rest of it is suspect. Come on TLC! Just admit that you made a mistake. Revise the description on your website, make a public apology, and preface each showing of Breaking Amish with the disclaimer that it is staged and scripted and that it is played by actors who left the Amish some time ago.

Check out my other posts on Breaking Amish:

TLC’s Breaking Amish: The Scandal of Jeremiah Raber
TLC’s Breaking Amish: An Analysis of Episode 1 by a Former Amish
Ex-Amish Unite in Vicious Protests Against TLC’s Breaking Amish

The last couple days this blog has received 3000 to 4000 views per day which is significantly higher than normal. Of course, WordPress promptly puts advertisements on my page. Sorry about having to put up with those. I just wish I’d be the one making money with them.

Ex-Amish Unite in Vicious Protests Against TLC’s “Breaking Amish”

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World War III has broken out on Facebook and it’s between the ex-Amish and fans of TLC’s Breaking Amish. Almost every time a fan comments on the Breaking Amish Facebook page, one or more members of the large ex-Amish community on Facebook retorts with a vicious comment about the show or one of the cast members.

Why? It’s because Breaking Amish appears to be largely staged and scripted and its cast members left the Amish a long time ago. This would be fine if the show was promoted as such but most people have the false assumption that it is real and that these kids are leaving the Amish for the first time.

Here are some comments by ex-Amish people on the Breaking Amish Facebook page: (UPDATE: The Official Breaking Amish fanpage appears to be gone as of Sept. 12, 2012)

“This show is seriously messed up!!! It’s fake as it could ever get!! I helped Abe get out of a rut when he left the Amish got him a job even Andy worked with me a couple days and I helped Andy out with a car…”

“how cute. your show is so damn fake. they havent been amish for years. and yeah i know them and i know when you filmed its not a block from my house. FYI this is rebecca abe and their kid. Rebecca and Abe got together when Rebecca was married to Rufus who both left the amish years ago. Mystery solved, lies exposed fake freaking show. And if you are so shunned why do I see you at your parents house all the time?!”

“I agree with <person above>! I had to dvr the show. Plan on watching it tonight. But after seeing bits and pieces last week on the today show I figured it would be fake. My husband used to be amish and I knew that Abe and Rebecca had not been amish for some time and on the today show they made it sound as if they were just now leaving the amish.”

“That the truth alot of the stuff thay said was not the truth”

“jeremiah is like 32. if he was really living the amish life before this show he would have joined the amish church way back when he was 18 to 20 not 32 and divorced. these shows p**s me off because the only reason they can get away with the lies about the amish and the way they portray them is because true amish ppl wont be watching the show. my husband comes from the amish community and has a wonderful family that I consider my own. I am very protective of the Amish because they have accepted me the way I am and have helped make my life so much better. Every Amish community is diff but the one my husband comes from only shuns u if u join church and then leave. They do this because they feel when u join church u are making a commitment to God to live ur life this way and when u leave after doing this it is like breaking ur promise and lying to God”

“jolene, u dont have 2 feel sorry at all. these adults left on their own. I know some of these youth personally & the whole show is a big fib. its all about the $$$$”

“yea, very hard. but, bahaha, fake as crap..” <referring to Jeremiah separating from his “girlfriend”>

“sorry guys but I think the only thing hard for him in this scene is keeping a straight face. he does have a gf but this is def not her. his gf is english and always has been.” <referring to Jeremiah separating from his “girlfriend”>

“Well guys i hate to BREAK IT to you this is his payed movie girlfriend it is staged .I grew up neighbors to him he left the Amish back in like 04 might have been before even i know his parents and siblings.They are nice and caring people.I grew up Amish to i left when i was 18 my dad is a pastor and i can go and visit then when i please so not all Amish are like what they say they are.”

“And iva isn’t Amish either anymore she left awhile back…
And I don’t miss it myself….”

“Fake! He’s divorced with 3 kids. Hasn’t been Amish for at least 10 yrs!”

“I’ve known him since before he left and the whole thing is scripted. The HYSTERICAL part is people believing Reality TV is real!!!”

“Breaking Amish what a joke Jeremiah has not been Amish for at least 14 years I know this because he was my roommate for a year and a half he has 3 children that he don’t take care of and he claims all he left was a girlfriend. If you want to know who Jeremiah raber really is search public records for Holmes and tuscarawas county Ohio…

“By the way he hasn’t been Amish for 20 yrs. he was English and married… You ppl are stupid for watching this crap!”

I can’t attest to the accuracy of all the comments above but the ones I’ve listed are just a small portion of the emotionally-laden comments you can find on Facebook and other sites by ex-Amish. There are few things that will cause a lot of ex-Amish to come out of the woodwork, but lying about the Amish is one of them.

UPDATE (Sept. 12, 2012): A new moderated Facebook community page has gone up where people familiar with the show or its cast are posting proof of the show’s deception. See Breaking Amish the Truth

Here’s a recap of what we do know:

Jeremiah is divorced, has 3 kids, and hasn’t been Amish for years.

I also have reason to believe that Abe and Rebecca are dating or married, have a child together, and have not been Amish for a long time. As soon as I can dig up proof of these allegations, I will post it. So far, I’ve found Facebook pages for Andy (Abe’s brother) and the two Bens (cousins of Rebecca). On those pages are pictures which indicate that these guys haven’t been Amish for some time.

Since posting about Breaking Amish, the views for my blog have jumped about 5000% so I guess these revelations are getting out to people. I see no reason to stop digging…

Blogs by Amish and ex-Amish Writers

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If you really want to learn about the Amish and what it’s like to leave the Amish, a great place to start is reading blogs by Amish (some progressive communities allow computers) and ex-Amish writers. On this page I will show a list of some of these blogs. Be sure to favorite the page as I will be adding to the list as time goes on. If you know of a relevant blog that is not listed, please leave a comment with the link and I will add it to the list.

Please be respectful of these writers. Many of them are not atheist like I am and some of them are beginning writers.

Here they are, not in any particular order:

TLC’s Breaking Amish: The Scandal of Jeremiah Raber

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Jeremiah Raber is one of the main characters on TLC’s new drama show Breaking Amish. On the show Jeremiah is portrayed as being Amish and experiencing life outside of the Amish for the first time. That is not true.

Jeremiah Hasn’t Been Amish for Years:

By some accounts, Jeremiah hasn’t been Amish for up to 14 years. Link

Jeremiah’s Myspace page has been deleted but by using Google’s page cache, we can still see it here, and here. Notice the picture thumbnails dating back to March 5, 2007 in which he isn’t dressed Amish.

If the links provided above don’t work for you, open the images below to see the cached Myspace pages I’m referring too. After clicking on a thumbnail, click “View full Size” and then click the picture and you should see the full-sized version.

Luckily for us, Jeremiah hadn’t set his Myspace profile to ‘private’. Note the children in several of the images are they his? Update: At the request of the mother, I have censored the pictures of the children. My deepest apologies go to her if I caused her any distress. I also censored the pictures of other people, since this page isn’t about them and there’s no reason to cause stress for them.

Divorce Records for Jeremiah Raber:

On February 10, 2011, Jeremiah’s wife filed for divorce against him, charging extreme cruelty and gross neglect of duty in Tuscarawas County, Ohio. They had been married since February 27, 2005 and have three children. To see the court documents for yourself, go here and do a search for Last Name: Raber, and First Name: Jeremiah.

The Amish generally don’t accept back into the fold those that are divorced. So the scene in the first episode of Breaking Amish where Jeremiah tells his “girlfriend” that he’s leaving for New York, must be staged. If the girlfriend really was Amish, she would not be allowed to date Jeremiah. I’m just speculating here but possibly she is ex-Amish and an aspiring actress.

Even before the divorce case, Jeremiah was embroiled in custody and child support issues. Those court records can be found here by doing a search for Last Name: Raber, and First Name: Jeremiah.

Given all the above, is it any wonder that TLC didn’t reveal Jeremiah’s last name? Or that he had to delete his MySpace and Facebook profiles? His Facebook name used to be “Rebel Amish”. Now that page can’t be found. Update Sept. 21, 2012: It looks like the Facebook page is back online but using a different name.

TLC’s Breaking Amish: An Analysis of Episode 1 by a Former Amish

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Okay, so I watched the first episode of TLC’s Breaking Amish last night. I was not impressed and here’s the main reason why; These kids are being portrayed as leaving the Amish for the first time and experiencing the “English” and city life for the first time, and that’s not true. Here’s how I know; I met Jeremiah (one of the main characters on the show) several times about four or five years ago. He was not Amish at the time and hadn’t been for years. He has been driving motor vehicles for years. He seemed like a nice guy the several times I spoke with him but the way he is being portrayed on Breaking Amish, is just not true.

I’ve never met any of the other cast of Breaking Amish so I can’t tell you whether they’re prior life is being accurately portrayed or not.

So, on to the content of the episode… Most members of the cast come off as extremely disrespectful. Jeremiah who was adopted, talks about being “thrown into this Amish crap and it’s not cool.” You’d think he would have some respect and love for his adoptive parents. Abe tells his sister very rudely, to get into the house and help Mom with dinner. The one girl, Rebecca I believe, takes the camera crew right up to her grandfather’s home and then feigns surprise when he’s not happy about it. From my perspective as an ex-Amish person, that was incredibly rude and disrespectful. I live with a handful of other ex-Amish kids, and none of us are ***holes like the kids on that show. All of us left the Amish and live in a fairly large city but none of us would disrespect our friends and family like that. Could it be that these kids were purposely disrespectful in order to anger their Amish friends and family and thereby increase the drama of the show? Either that, or they’re just naturally ***holes.

Not far into the episode, Jeremiah talks about having driven a horse and buggy all his life. Bull****! See my first paragraph.

One of the cast tells us that Amish men fear doing  dishes. That’s not even funny. I know a lot of Amish men who help in the kitchen and the home. Then Rebecca fixes a meal for two of her somewhat demanding male cousins. The Amish may be sexist but these two scenes were obviously staged to point that out in a dramatic manner.

The kids are shown doing chores and working in their “good” clothing. In reality the Amish would wear “everyday” clothing to do those things. In fact, we would get reprimanded if we did chores in our Sunday clothing. Soiling them would force Mom to make new ones.

At one point, one of the male cast members claims that the Amish aren’t allowed to show love. Ridiculous! The Amish may be a little more emotionally reserved than most cultures but there are no rules against showing love.

I saved the best for last: Jeremiah is shown to be living in Holmes County, Ohio, and for the most part, his attire seems to support that (different Amish communities wear different styles of clothing and it’s often easy to tell which area an Amish person is from). As Jeremiah is there on what’s portrayed as his home place in Ohio, the “Bishop’s wife” goes past on a scooter. Now we have a big problem with the show. The “Bishop’s wife is dressed as Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Amish (with the distinctive heart-shaped head covering). Lancaster is where Kate is from and the “Bishop’s wife” looks suspiciously like Kate. There is no sensible explanation for this incongruous scene other than that it was completely staged.

TLC’s Breaking Amish is a lie. If you want to learn about kids leaving the Amish, watch NatGeo’s Amish out of Order. If you don’t want to learn anything, if you want to see made up crap, and if you want to see ridiculous drama, then watch Breaking Amish. But please, please, keep in mind that most of this show is staged and scripted, else you too will be guilty of propagating these falsehoods about Amish culture.

The Fears of Death

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The fear of death is a primal and natural fear. Intellectually, I understand this as being the natural inclination of self-aware agents in a survival-of-the-fittest environment. This primal fear is not necessarily a conscious one. I’m talking about the reflexive behavior that we engage in when faced with danger. Reflexive behavior such as fight or flight.

Even religious people, those who believe in an afterlife for their personal essence, have this primal fear. Animals also have this primal tendency to avoid death. Without this inclination, life wouldn’t have survived in this hostile universe.

There is, however, a second fear of death that afflicts certain animals with high-functioning self-awareness. I’m talking about the existential angst that follows the realization that that which is I will at some point cease to exist. Many religions suppress this fear with the idea of an afterlife in which the essence of a person will never cease to exist. For the agnostic or atheist who has just left religion, this fear of death may have something to do with why life suddenly seems more pointless.

What exactly causes this existential angst, this second fear of death, and how might we suppress it as individuals without deluding ourselves with religion?

The Bible is Ambiguous – No Informative Value

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The Bible is ambiguous and most Christians, I believe, can accept that. Given almost any passage, different people give different interpretations of the passage. Even a person who interprets a passage one way may interpret it another way years later. The Bible is an ambiguous text.

My argument is that the Bible, at least all the parts that are ambiguous, does not have informative value. If the authors wanted to convey information, to provide a text with informative value, they would have written clearly, and not in metaphors and parables. Like poetry, most of the Bible is of no informative value. Like poetry, I would argue that religious texts don’t serve to convey information as much as they serve to tease out our own feelings and beliefs. That is how different people interpret the Bible and poetry differently and how a person might interpret a passage one way and then interpret it differently a year later.

One argument that I’ve had to defend against is that the writers of the Bible didn’t intend for their text to be ambiguous. That’s just how they wrote things back then and if we find it ambiguous it’s a failure on our part. I disagree. We can point to any number of earlier writers, Aristotle for instance, who wrote unambiguous text that clearly conveys what the writer meant.

All religious texts that I have encountered are ambiguous, and they must be so to survive. An unambiguous text has informative value that can be compared with reality and tested. A religion based on an unambiguous text that made specific predictions (including dates and times) would either become a part of the body of scientific knowledge or it would be discredited.

There is definitely an allure to ambiguous texts. We don’t completely understand them and so we tend to assume that what they’re trying to say must be wise indeed. Ambiguity is not so much a technique for accurately conveying information as it is a technique for teasing out what you already believe. For that reason, there is some kind of value there–just not informative value.

Natural Law: The Foundation of Morality?

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The other day I asked an Amish friend of mine whether he thinks abortion is morally acceptable. His adamant answer was an unequivocal; No. When asked why, he says it’s unnatural; it doesn’t conform to natural law.

My friend is not the typical close-minded Amish person and his idea is that natural law is based on the physical laws; the laws of nature. He agrees with me that evolution is a natural outcome of biological agents living in a universe with our physical laws. He goes on to assert that the characteristics of evolution, such as the tendency to survive as an individual and to reproduce as a species; is natural law. Abortion, he says, is morally wrong because it does not conform to this natural law. It opposes the natural law of reproduction. He claims that morality is objective and it can be derived from the physical laws in the aforementioned way.

My first response to his argument was that abortion isn’t found in the animal world (and is unnatural in that regard) because it requires advanced technology which non-human animals don’t have. My second criticism was that we engage in a lot of activities which aren’t “natural” but he considers to be moral. Marriage and monogamy, for instance, do not conform to his idea of natural law.

My friend admitted that he would have to rethink his position but he refuses to accept my position; that there is no inherent or objective morality, there is only behavior that we don’t put up with.

What do you think? Is morality a set of objective, non-changing, ultimate-truth, ideals or does it evolve with society?

The Hypocrisy of School Prayer

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I don’t know if it’s as much of an issue today or not but I know that several years ago Christians were making a big deal about prayer in public schools. Many Christians wanted school-led prayer allowed in public schools while secular groups pointed out that it would violate the First Amendment.

Well, I want to point out something else. Public prayer is a hypocrisy. Christians are informed very unambiguously that public prayer is done by hypocrites.

Matthew 6: 5-6 (KJV)

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

It is clear that those people that pray in churches, out on the street, or anywhere in public, are not succeeding as Christians. It is clear, according to Christian gospel, that anybody advocating prayer in school is doing so in blatant opposition to the teachings of Jesus. So just shut up you hypocrites, you have defeated yourselves!