The Amish Cook from Oasis Newsfeatures

"He Had A Cell Phone...."


PHOTO: Barbara Raber hears her sentencing in court yesterday. (Photo by Joe Troyer/Wooster Daily Record)

Holy smokes, the misunderstandings and misconceptions people have about the Amish are so numerous.  But I'll get to that in a second.  First of all, we've been following all summer the "love triangle" case involving Barbara Weaver, her husband Eli Weaver, and Barbara Raber.  Raber, who is Mennonite, was having an affair with Eli for six years  Raber, in the pre-dawn hours earlier this year, sneaked into the Weaver home and shot Barbara to death while she slept.  Eli was away fishing at the time but it was later proved at trial that he helped in planning his wife's murder.  All of this occurred while the five Weaver children were home asleep.  Awful story.  Yesterday, the story reached its conclusion with Raber being sentenced to 23 years in prison. Lets run-down the reasons why this story is so unusual:

1)  Homicides in the Amish community are extraordinarily rare.  The Nickel Mines school shooting several years ago was an anomoly.  Murder of a domestic sort are even more rare.  You could probably count the occurrences on your hands over the past century.

2)  In my opinion (because who publicizes affairs?), adulterous men (or women) in the Amish are rare.  This, in my view, has less to do with the Amish being more pious or devout than others and more to do with the lack of opportunity.  Without easy access to phones, cars, computers - the "tools of the trade" - and occupations and lives that are very structured, I just think affairs are probably much more rare inside the Amish settlements than among the English.  But, of course, the Amish are human, so they probably happen more than we might think....

3) Another oddity in the Raber-Weaver case was the local newspaper's - The Wooster Daily Record - seemingly steadfast refusal to ever utter the word "Amish" in conjunction with this case.  As I've pointed out before so many media cram  the "Amish angle" in to stories in which the Amish presence is silly and irrelevant.  But in THIS case the fact that the victim was Amish was VERY newsworthy because such occurences are so rare.  Not sure why the local paper was so eager to tiptoe around the issue.

4)  This goes back to the beginning of my post.  So many people think the Amish have some deep aversion to technology.  They don't.  It's not that simple.  The problems they have are less with technology and more with the "baggage" it can bring with it.  A toaster or a blender, for instance, aren't viewed as inherently wrong by the Amish, it's the electricity that powers those devices that can be used to bring in TV, radio, internet, and the "whole package" of distractions brought with it that are the "problem" in their view.  So they are constantly adapting, embracing, compromising, and curtailing to achieve "balance."  Cell phones are a very complicated, very intensely debated issue within the church. On one hand, they present the opportunity to communicate "with control."  You can turn off a cell phone, put away a cell phone, and exercise much more control - in theory - over it than a "wall mounted phone" of old.  But  the cell phone also can bring with it the internet and all of its problems and that seems to be the contentious issue.     So out of all the ways in which Eli Weaver violated the rules of his faith:  1) Having an affair...2)  Murdering his wife....3) Leaving his children motherless...4) the secrecy and lies surrounding the six year affair..I could go on and on...and all Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Edna Boyle can say is this:

"Eli Weaver was obviously not faithful to his faith and the Amish community. He did have a cell phone"

In my view such a quote underscores the oversimplification that many outsiders have of Amish society....Cell phones are perfectly acceptable in some Amish settlements...Click here to read a short article about the Barbara Raber sentencing.  Unlike the Wooster Daily Record, Cleveland's Fox News does bring in the "Amish angle."

Re: "He Had A Cell Phone...."

After my posts I was looking at her facial expression, to me it says, please feel sorry for me...   

Re: "He Had A Cell Phone...."

You always do have a keen eye, because on second look at the photo, I see that too...good eye!:)

Re: "He Had A Cell Phone...."

By the way a friend of mine who lives in Holmes County told me that Barbara Raber was actually raised Amish.  My friend went on a singles trip with her about 20 years ago when she was still Amish.  At some point she left and joined the Mennonites.  I really could not believe how little this story has been in the news.

Re: "He Had A Cell Phone...."

A gazillion way more serious and important reasons!!  You are right on this one, Kevin!

Re: "He Had A Cell Phone...."

So, adultery is not an offense to the "faith" but having a cell phone is? Well, it sure don't make the prosecutor sound to smart!

Re: "He Had A Cell Phone...."

Yea, exactly, that was my point.....I don't think you can point to "having a cell phone" as not being true to the's more complicated than that....The prosecutor was right, he was NOT true to his faith, but for a gazillion other reasons more serious than having a cell phone....

Re: "He Had A Cell Phone...."

having a cell phone does not make or break anyone.....WHOOPS!!!  i have one of those myselfLaughing

Re: "He Had A Cell Phone...."

I agree! Although I don't have a cell phone, hubby and all 3 kids do. They are all in the transportation business, so it helps  in case of an emergency. However, I MAY be getting one, on Tues. I start a new job. It is 8 plus miles from home, and there are several hills to winter it gets very slippery. My little cavalier goes great, but if I wind up in a ditch it would be nice to be able to get help!!! We will see......