Alert: 12:40 p.m., Doors Being Padlocked

SIGH.  This story bothers me on many levels. First of all - Arrrrrgggh - I even had a friendly email exchange with the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat paper about this. For the love of God, the name of this Amish sect is SWARTZENTRUBER, not SWARTZENTRUVER.   Sheesh!!!!  Second of all, as of 12:40 p.m. today sheriff's deputies were evicting two Amish families and padlocking their homes for non-compliance with local sewage ordinances.  Now I don't want anyone thinking that I am "pro-raw sewage". I am not.  I think it's gross and the issue needs to be resolved in a way that solves the problem.  I don't think religion gives one the right to put others health in danger.  That said, does sending armed deputies out to evict pacificist Amish families from their homes really make any sense?   Couldn't those deputies been put to better use going out an busting a meth lab or something?  I do not pretend to know what the solution is in this case other than that I am sure there is one or was one.  Click here to read the latest.  I'm a firm believer in the power of negotiation.  Lock both sides in a room, give them food and water, and don't let them come out until the issues is resolved, but don't kick them out of their homes.

TomK's picture

Re: Alert: 12:40 p.m., Doors Being Padlocked

Sorry, I just can't back them (amish) here, and I hate government involvement in anything more than anybody. After over 25 years of reglious study I REALLY believe with all my heart, the Creator couldn't give a hoots owl whether us puny little humans put in a septic field or not.

This is the part about the Amish that just completely baffles me, they say they're Christians and it's against their religion to put in a septic field and tank or whatever, but yet as others have pointed out,  no where does it says in the Tanakh or Christian scriptures or even in the Martyrs Mirror that you'll go to h**l if you use proper waste disposal systems. I just can't buy into it anymore. 

 I said it before and I'll say it again, just go rent some porta-pottys with weekly or bi-weekly cleaning...

Re: Alert: 12:40 p.m., Doors Being Padlocked

Yeah, Tom ,I agree with you..in most aspects. However, being a PA resident, I can fully attest to some really ridiculous laws that this state has. I have a neighbor thaat lives in a converted school bus and has a "privy". He has it pumped on a regular basis, it does not smell, does not bother anyone...and yet the township is always harrassing him. It is legal, and no codes are being broken...He just didn't have the sewer permit that the county wanted so as to collect tax$$$. It would be my guess that the Amish families in question have met with same ignorant PA laws, There are so many here that it would make your head spin, and I live in a remote part of PA!!!!

Re: Alert: 12:40 p.m., Doors Being Padlocked

I really think that the message here is pretty clear - comply with the law of the land or else!  The Jesus says that we are to "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's" Matthew 22:21.  These folks are setting a bad example for the rest of Christians, we all have to follow the laws of the land - I feel They are being a big eccentric and stubborn. 

There is nothing in the Bible to back these folks up.  Something like the Wisconsin vs. Yoder battle was totally different, the Bible is clear that parents are to educate their children, and in order to do that, there does need to be a separation from the state.            

VeryFineWhine's picture

Re: Alert: 12:40 p.m., Doors Being Padlocked

Much as I usually defend the Amish on most issues, one thing stuck out at me when reading the story.  A judge gave them a 60 day warning to fix the situation in JANUARY.  So clearly these Amish families were well aware of the violation and chose to disregard the situation.  So I'm thinking this isn't as black and white as it sounds, and it's definately not like these Amish families out of the blue had their homes padlocked.  The authorities waited double the granted time to take action.  Wonder if us "English" would have gotten that long a grace period?!

I'd be curious to know more facts & details, something that newspaper story was very short on.  But, what can we expect when they can't even get the name of the Amish group correct.  One other thing I'd point out.  Almost every really negative comment I've heard from former Amish have been those raised in the Swartzentruber sect, and they are known for being the most, hmmm hard to phrase this.  I want to say "set in their ways" but that's not quite it.  "Uncompromisingly set in their ways often behaving in what many would view as harsh treatment of their own" sort of says it.  I wouldn't mention this out of the blue, but I think it could possibly apply since I wonder if the other side of the story here is that the Amish simply wouldn't listen to or consider doing anything but what they wanted.  I'd also be curious to know if this raw sewarage was creating a health risk for the neighborhood or other families, and what the solutions/compromises might have been?

Also, what I'm reading in that short but poor written article is that they are being told they are locked out UNTIL the fix they situation, so it's not like they are throwing them out period.  So I could be wrong, but my gut is saying in this instance the judge/state might be doing the only thing they can to actually get this hazard corrected.  Again, I've made a lot of assumptions here, but given how much additional time they were given since the January deadline and I find I'm being more sympathetic then I might be otherwise.

And Kevin, ITA in theory with your power of negotiation concept.  My only question is were the Amish in question willing to do that?  But like I said, if there is any group of Amish folks I have less sympathy for it's by far this bunch.  I've just heard and read too many severely harsh things about how they treat each other, abuse cases and a laundry list of pretty negative stuff.  I just have a feeling there is a lot more not being said then what is.  I just hope the families make the necessary changes and stop this before it gets worse.

VeryFineWhine's picture

Re: Alert: 12:40 p.m., Doors Being Padlocked

WOWOW there is WAY more to this story.  It seems it has been going on for years, with the men in question at one point choosing to go to jail rather than pay a fine or do community service.  If you go to that paper's website and use the search words "Amish Outhouse" you'll get an eyeful.  If I do say so myself, it seems most of my earlier assumptions hit the nail on the head.

There is SO much info I couldn't repeat it all, but I must quote what I found to be the crux of the situation here, and why I now don't feel even slightly badly for the Amish involved.  It also seems to answer my question of why there's such a fuss over this case, although to be honest I didn't read every article but this truly jumped out from the 6/12/08 article;

"They had been convicted of illegally dumping sewage from two outhouses at the Amish sect’s schoolhouse and not having a permitted sewage disposal system."

To me that opens an entire new window of EWWW and concerns.  I'm sorry, that is just wrong.  And repeatedly they said this is based on their religious principles and IMHO hid behind that and used it as an excuse.  Show me ANY religion that condones dumping human waste near a school/any public gathering place esp with children??!!  That is VILE imho!  Another thing I didn't care for (and I'm not sure if it was the same article or another one, as I made it through over half of them, was that the Amish did say they would welcome any help with resolving the problem from outside people.  So they are morally opposed to fixing their own sewage problems based on religious principles BUT would welcome anyone else coming to take care of it for them??  Does that strike anyone else as amazingly wrong not to mention illogical and quite possibly hypocritical??

My concern here is something like this is what can give people the wrong impression of all Amish, and how they actually live.  There's SO much misinformation out there, and when a true story like this comes to light I really feel it can do harm to the entire Amish community.  JMHO FWIW of course.

Re: Alert: 12:40 p.m., Doors Being Padlocked

Veryfine, I will concede that you make some fair points....I think there is a blame to go around to all, but, yes, it isn't like deputies just showed up without warning...and you're right, they just padlocked the homes (believe me, those Amish are bright enough to figure a way around that), they didn't permanently kick them out....

VeryFineWhine's picture

Re: Alert: 12:40 p.m., Doors Being Padlocked

lol Kevin go read my newest additonal post (that I was busy writing when you replied to my 1st one).  I now honestly feel this blame falls squarely on the Amish, dumping their waste at the school house and insisting it's done on religious principles.  Did I mention EWWWWWWWwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I wonder if other Amish families who have kids in that school support what they are doing, though I'm sure no one would talk to the press about how they feel.  But hard to believe any parent, be they Amish or English, would not have concerns about that.

Seems to me the authorities were desperate for a way to stop that gross behavior and simply ran out of options.  I'm sure you are right though and doubt these stubborn men will let a padlock stop them.  I hope this doesn't get any uglier!

ETA....just read a few more articles (BOY this is a complicated mess).  Seems at one point they also padlocked the school where the waste was being dumped.  The Amish apparently ignored that, as officials could see smoke from the chimney and footprints in the snow.  Sorry at this point the Amish now have totally lost any support from me!  It's one thing to respect their lifestyle, but this group seems unwilling to compromise on any issue, even when their own children's welfare is involved and there can be reasonable compromises that wouldn't appear to violate their faith.

Re: Alert: 12:40 p.m., Doors Being Padlocked

Some more of our wonderful PA laws..no humanity or compassion allowed. Just send them our hard earned tax $$$$$!!!! Ebensburg is a rather small place, by the way...

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