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Odd Case In New York

An interesting story out of New York state.  Two Amish parents are being accused of child neglect for not taking care of a heart ailment suffered by their toddler.  The news story incorrectly states that: "Amish culture sees medical treatment and hospitals as against religious beliefs."  This just isn't true.  I've known PLENTY of conservative Amish who's kids have had heart and other problems and have taken them in for major medical treatment.   Now I have also known Amish parents who simply didn't have the medical information needed to make important decisions, but that is a different issue altogether.  The Amish view on modern medicine is very "individual."  Some Amish readily embrace modern medicine, while others are suspicious of it.  But to make a blanket statement like this article does is just incorrect.  Click here to read more.

Re: Odd Case In New York

By way of follow up, here's the note I sent my newsroom:
All - I was off for most of our reporting on the Amish couple charged with neglecting their child, and I have an issue with part of what we did with it.
To wit, on our web site we wrote: "The problem is that Amish culture sees medical treatment and hospitals as against religious beliefs."
I'm guessing we got that from our air copy.
While it may be true for this particular couple (I don't know) or for some group of Amish (I don't know) it is a bridge too far to say Amish in general see medical treatment And hospitals as 'against religious beliefs.'
A simple check of the Googles reveals lots of reliable information on this topic, most of which boils down to - Amish tend to be careful consumers of modern medicine. There are no absolute prohibitions against medicine or medical treatment or hospitals.
Methinks this is a case of - we don't know much about these people so we made it real, real simple. Unfortunately, we made it too simple, missed the nuance and haven't done the story justice (so far).

LuvMaerz's picture
Re: Odd Case In New York

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift... that's why they call it the present."

Scott, there is something to be said with your diligence on this matter.  For the most part, we are a group of people who enjoy "The Amish Cook" column and discussing the wonderfully interesting lifestyle that Anabaptists lead.  The news, both written and broadcast, often make uninformed generalizations and stereotypes of the Plain folks... so it is definitely a breath of fresh air that you have investigated into this matter!  Kudos!!

Re: Odd Case In New York

Folks -

I was off for a few days when we started on this story. At first blush, I agree - we were way too general in our description of Amish practice.

I want to talk to the reporter who filed the first piece, and he's off this week so it'll be a few more days. 

That said, I'm also going to issue an advisory against such sweeping generalizations and for common sense.



Scott Atkinson

News Director


Watertown NY

(315) 788-3800 




Re: Odd Case In New York

What an obnoxious article.

I just wrote to the news channel under their leave a comment about their news coverage section. It was poorly researched and written and I let them know it. I also left my name and phone number for their sorry reporters. They probably will never call or write back but oh well.

Re: Odd Case In New York

It is odd, I also tried to leave a comment, but the section on the bottom of the page said "comments closed." There was also no date for the article, which means, I guess, that it is an old one. I agree, it is poorly researched. Susan

Re: Odd Case In New York

Yes, it is true that the Amish like the Mennonites are not hesitant to utilize all the modern technology available when it comes to medical purposes, so I do not understand why the article makes it sound as if the AMish were like the Christian Scientists or Jehovah Witness cults who avoid modern medical practices. The Amish do seem to make use of a lot of alternative medicine though and are often suckers for new age Mexican health centers, so maybe since the child did not display any symptons of the disease now, the parents were reluctant to have such an invasive surgery performed before they checked other avenues. My O.O. Mennonite friend's daughter has juvenile diabetes and although she is on insulin , the parents did not hesitate to take her by train to Mexico for this "alternative" therapy which is medically unproven. I know that many medical doctors get annoyed when this happens, and complain to the dept. of social services if the parents do not immediately opt for the traditional approach. Another strange story.. Susan

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