Stark State College In the Amiss community, there are two ways to get shunned or excommunicated (Amiss America). The first way to be shunned or excommunicated is voluntary. Voluntary could consist of deciding to leave the Amiss lifestyle. Amiss make vows to never leave the lifestyle; so when an Amiss person does leave he/she automatically get shunned or excommunicated. The second way to be shunned or excommunicated is involuntary. Involuntary could happen when an Amiss person breaks his/her vows of baptism by disobeying the rules of the church or refusing to confess one’s sin.
If either of these happen to an Amiss person, that person would be considered an ex-Amiss and would be subject to shunning. Excommunication is only done as a last resort. Amiss practice shunning as a means of enforcing an individual’s commitment to God, made along with the Amiss congregation. Amiss see a Biblical basis for shunning. Amiss practice shunning out of “tough love” in order to get a deviant person to see the error in his ways, change behavior, and re-affirm his commitment to the church (Furlong). Without rules and hunting, the integrity of the Amiss church would rapidly disintegrate (Amiss America).
Excommunication can be avoided by not owning a vehicle or computer. One could get excommunicated by drinking alcohol, refusing to kneel during a religious gathering, or even marrying outside of their community (Furlong). Usually the member up for excommunication is given a few months to reform the choices he/she has made. Shunning of the Amiss is a big deal in their community. Amiss members Of the church may no longer eat with a former member. During gatherings or deeding, the Amiss person is required to sit apart from the church members when the food is being served (“Amiss Shunning”).
Additionally, members may not ride in a car or buggy driven by a former member. Lastly, Amiss members cannot do business with the person “considered to be shunned,” (Furlong). Additionally, members of the Amiss community will not be able to receive anything from the shunned Amiss. Members are also not allowed to give the shunned Amiss things like money. The rules of being shunned vary from different churches, but overall these are the most important rules that most Amiss communities follow. Shunning can affect the family in many ways.
It puts a strain on each family member and their church family. If an Amiss is shunned and the family does not follow the proper rules, the family can risk being excommunicated as well (“Amiss Shunning”). Expulsion from the church can lead to a lifetime of separation to family and friends (“Amiss Shunning”). Shunning does not mean total avoidance; it is just limited. Shunning can gradually destroy marriages; break up families, and separate children from their parents. Shunning can be a dramatic and overwhelming process. However, Amiss always leave a backdoor open.
This means that if the shunned Amiss See the errors he/she has made and repents, that Amiss can spiritually and socially be accepted back into the church. Don Yoder, an ex-Amiss, tells about his experience on Youths. Don says that he is known as the outcast of the family. His brother Joe decided to leave with him. They have fourteen other siblings and haven’t been invited to any of their weddings or celebrations. Don says it is impossible to describe the feeling of being shunned and excommunicated. After Don and Joe left they moved miles away from their family.
Their parents then traveled all those miles just to harass Don and Joe to tell them how wrong they are for leaving the Amiss lifestyle behind (Yoder). The Amiss believe that if an Amiss leaves, he/she is forever living in sin and could risk going to hell. Amiss will not tolerate any outside beliefs. Joe explains that he feels sad for the Amiss community because they are living with a burden that is weighing down on them. He says he cannot control their feelings or emotions, so he must be happy and content with himself. Joe also says you can heal from the hurt of shunning.
It’s perfectly normal to feel sadness, anger, and total bewilderment at this unkind and unloving treatment. He explains that he eventually got over the pain and torture that his family and community put him through and continued to move on with his life and lives in the word of God (Yoder). Amiss shunning or excommunication is looked down upon by outside viewers, such as the English. To Amiss it is believed to be an act of love to help the person who did wrong. English believe shunning is a form of emotional abuse (Amiss America). Shunning is believed to be the most powerful and damaging to one’s emotions.
It eats away at the person’s self-esteem and their ability to tolerate attack. To survive as humans, it’s almost necessary to have a support system. Shunning kills the support barrier between the family and the victim that is being shunned. It kills that barrier because it is a bond shared with the family that is slowly deteriorating because of the lack of communication. Without that barrier, it makes it hard to stay humane. The longer a person is shunned, it makes it tough to break the silence and create a sense of peace. Shunning often has an opposite effect on what was intended.
Anxiety, depression and lack of self-esteem can be negative effects of being shunned by the ones you love (Yoder). Victims will often feel powerless and begin to believe that they deserve the treatment they are getting. Constant stress is also hard on the immune system, making a victim is more prone to illness. Despite that, any religion that practices shunning is not a person of God. These people make their own rules and try to get their followers to believe that shunning is okay and is a good learning experience in the Amiss lifestyle.