Politics

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett Wants 'Amish Mafia' TV Show to End

| by Michael Allen

Lancaster County, Pa., is where the largest Amish community in the U.S. lives.

Amish people in Lancaster County have been featured on several reality TV series, from "Breaking Amish" to "Return to Amish."

The shows center around Amish people who are "shunned," folks who quit being Amish (going "English") and other residents trying to live the Amish life of horse-drawn buggies and no electricity.

However, many Amish claim the reality series don't depict them accurately even though the programs are unscripted and shot documentary style.

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“This is a false portrayal," filmmaker Mary Haverstick recently told Reuters. "I’ve lived here for 50 years and know many Amish folks, They are exceptionally vulnerable to this type of exploitation.”

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett (R) and U.S. Congressmen Joe Pitts (R) and Patrick Meehan (R), and other politicians recently signed a statement calling on the Discovery Channel to drop the reality series "Amish Mafia."

"Amish Mafia" features Amish men who enforce the rules of the Amish community.

According to the Associated Press, the politicians' statement claims that "Amish Mafia" is a "bigoted portrayal" that misrepresents the Amish in Lancaster County as a "crime-ridden culture."

However, the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention and Visitors Bureau television ads feature the Amish as unpaid extras in their ads. Tourism in Lancaster County brings in $363 million in tax revenue for the state, which seems to be the main concern.

Amish people who are featured in reality TV shows must voluntarily sign consent forms. They have also appeared on follow-up talk shows about their real experiences.

Hot Snake Media, the production company for the Amish shows on the Discovery Channel, did not comment on the controversy.

The Discovery Channel would only say that the Amish in its series are indeed real-life Amish people living their real lives.

Local businesses don't mind positive fictional portrayals (some would say stereotypes) of Amish people in the 1985 film "Witness," starring Harrison Ford.

Sources: Associated Press, Reuters