Saturday, December 17, 2016

Anabaptists, Homestead's Professed "Spiritual Roots," Admit A Sexual Abuse Problem

My article on sexual abuse in Anabaptist communities remains one of the top viewed  posts on this blog. Since Homestead Heritage claims to find their spiritual roots in this faith community, I wrote about this topic to disprove their suggestion that Anabaptists have lower rates of sexual abuse. Since then, a few more items have come to my attention that further corroborate the sexual abuse problems among these faith traditions.
During the 11th Anabaptist Identity Conference held in March of 2016, speaker Chester Weaver talked about "'the darker side' of Amish communities, including sexual abuse, illegal drug use and drunkenness."
He said this negative publicity is causing some to call for an overturning of the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court case Wisconsin v. Yoder, which granted the Amish an exemption from the state's compulsory education requirement to attend public schools until age 16.
"We'd better get real with this, because if we're not doing our job, the state will step in and help us, and when that happens, we will lose our freedom," he said. . .
Weaver, a Beachy Amish Mennonite from LaGrange County, Ind., who grew up in Lancaster Mennonite Conference, directed his message primarily toward the Old Order Amish because of their role in gaining the Wisconsin v. Yoder ruling but acknowledged sexual abuse was a problem in other plain communities as well. . .
Weaver said some Amish listeners told him afterward how much his message was appreciated and needed. (Source)
So even the Anabaptists themselves acknowledge a sexual abuse problem that Homestead wants its readers to believe  doesn't exist. I suggest that Homestead leaders are the ones who need a "reality check."

Recently some former Anabaptists have formed their own chapter of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests). The Anabaptist Mennonite Chapter of SNAP
seeks to serve survivors of abuse who come out of an Anabaptist or Mennonite tradition. We resolve to do all within our power to prevent abuse by church officials, employees or lay workers from within Anabaptist or Mennonite families, communities, agencies or institutions. (Source)
The fact that an Anabaptist Mennonite Chapter of SNAP is necessary exposes that there is indeed a problem. It's encouraging that members and former members of these faith communities are beginning to address the problem and organize support.

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