"All English people are going to hell."

Wow! The stories former Amish tell me.

Over the past year, I’ve become acquainted with John, from an Old Order community. He and I had an email conversation where I asked him some questions. Then I requested permission to share his answers with you. What a precious young man. John not only agreed to let you in on his life, he sent some pictures! Want to know what he emailed?

Keep on reading to discover some amazing—perhaps disturbing—truths about the Amish. 

John, what's one thing you'd like outsiders [English] to know about your culture?
The Amish are usually very honest in their everyday liand trustworthy in trade and work. There are some "sour apples."
(Tweet this)
     The leaders themselves are under the same bondage as the Church they lead. If a leader loosens up too much, he will get shunned by other leaders and their churches, the same way we are shunned.

What’s your home state?

I was born and raised near Tomah, WI on a dairy farm. Dad also had a repair shop and sawmill. I learned to weld, make machinery parts, fix buggy wheels, etc

What fond memory do you have of growing up Amish?

The sound of singing in gatherings. No instruments were used. Just loud voices

Tell me about your spiritual experience growing up?
   Dad would have us sit in a circle & read two chapters out of the German Bible every in-between Sunday  [Church—Gma—is every other Sunday].
We didn't understand much, but didn't dare ask questions or were answered with, "that's not a question you should ask" from Dad, or maybe,"you mean to say you don't know THAT?" from one of the siblings. Mostly, my "spiritual" life consisted of obeying parents and attending church regularly. They taught us to never listen to any person who says he has the Holy Spirit or says he's born again, because those are things nobody can know.

So how old were you when you decided to leave?
32 years old.

And why did you leave?
I had received a ton of spiritual insights of God's word by that time through a series of events,

prayers, and studying. The Amish leaders did not like my conversation at all. It was too spiritually inclined all week. I decided we would stay and be a “light.” They came to the point where they felt like they had no control over me, even though I was obeying all the rules I could. I didn't obey the one that said I need to shun my ex-Amish neighbor.
    The leaders decided there is a good chance we will leave the Amish, so they came talking to my wife about splitting up. They wanted to make sure she felt welcome to stay with them if I leave. I wouldn't, for a moment, have considered leaving without my family.
Talking to my wife was the real turning point of deciding to leave. I was responsible for protecting my wife, especially in marriage. To sum it up, we left so we can serve The Lord together as a family without Amish interfering.

You once said that the Amish consider it important "not tell any outsiders many details about the Amish, especially church matters such as who got ordained preacher or who is in trouble, or any other details." Can you explain your understanding for that teaching?
      My opinion about the Amish not telling outsiders details, is that Amish truly believe they are God's Church. All English people are going to hell. Well, some of them might go to heaven, because they weren't taught the way we were, thus they're innocent. 

Did your family shun or excommunicate you?
     Yes. 100%. They still do. [5 years later] 

Many English with a cursory knowledge of the Amish believe they’re conservative Christians. What do you think of that image?
They have many actions that mimic a Christian, but they act out of fear and rules instead of love, which is the whole idea of Christianity. Therefore, I say they’re walking directly against Christianity in a way.
(Tweet that) This will vary from one community to the next. 

What's your spiritual experience now?
Growing in the Lord. Having the feeling if being connected to God, through Jesus Christ, who paid for all the sins and hypocrisy of my past. He's now in control of every moment of my life. Whenever I get an evil spree, I feel disconnected. I always feel the deep need to get back in connection with God. I am experiencing love in a whole new realm. A love that joyfully serves without wanting pay.

I don’t know about you, dear blog reader, but John’s answers confirmed what I’ve come to know about some of the Amish. Swartzentruber and conservative Old Orders—where I have the most experiences—have taught me more than any book or TV show. And my heart breaks at the stories of condemnation and rejection.

If you want to know John better, watch this 10-minute YouTube video from 2010, two years after leaving the Amish. A Texas newspaper reporter interviewed John and his brother. 

John later emailed me, I love my Amish family more now than ever. They just don't know it. 

©Copyright 2013, Brenda Nixon.

9/17/14 Update - Thanks for reading. What's 2,124? The number of readers of this post.
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YES! I travel to speak on the Amish. With a suitcase of Swartzentruber Amish clothes, I share their stories/customs/behaviors. Let's talk - speaker2parents [at] juno.com - put "speaking" in the subject line.


  1. what does john do now to support his family? have they found a community to live in that supports them and encourages their family lifestyle? although shunned by their family, do they still live as amish with the grace and love of knowing the Lord?

    1. John lives in Texas with his family and is in the construction industry. They no longer live as Amish, though he has said, if the family and the church would accept him with his new-found faith, trusting in Jesus and Jesus alone, he would gladly live the Amish lifestyle.

  2. oh, and good article! very informative . . .

  3. Thanks for your questions Anonymous. John works construction, I believe more specifically roofing. The business name is 1st Choice Industrial Coatings
    http://www.conklin.com/site/1stchoiceindustrialcoatings. Yes, they have a support community & a church family.
    They do not live as Amish - they're 100% shunned - but do dress conservative & live simply. John has a wonderful testimony & strong faith in the Lord now.

  4. Great insight into the way the Holy Spirit does lead us to truth. Even in the midst of denial by his family the Holy Spirit is leading him with his family. Amazing story of courage and righteousness. John you will be blessed because you have allowed God to lead you.

    1. Excellent insight & encouragement for John. Thanks for posting.

  5. I left the Amish when I turned 18 (43 years ago) and I agree with the description of the Amish. I will say that varies a lot in different communities. I was not shunned because I did not join the church.

    1. Thanks for that clarification. If an Amish person joins the Church (usually between 18 and 21-years-old) and then leaves he/she is shunned in these conservative orders. His/her name goes on a list. Amish name names. All new members must then shun those whose name is on the list.

  6. Having been raised in strict legalism, I feel I have a sense of understanding 0f some of the Amish views of "religion" and beliefs. Pretty much lived being taught similar beliefs of who will get to heaven and how to get there, which was mostly based on following the rules. Lots and lots of rules. Like John, I too have walked away from that belief, although some of my ways still reflect how I was raised, not because I think it's the only or right way, or because I feel condemned, but because of personal choice, which for me is a simpler way of life.
    What inspires me most about John's story is the reason he left: for a closer, spirit filled walk with God, & a walk that follows the road map we call the Bible. To know God's love, mercy, and grace is the most beautiful thing of all, and enjoying those things God's offers, without the umbrella of "legalism" allows for a wonderful relationship with the Father, and a true desire to live like He shows us, instead of a relationship based on constant fear and condemnation.
    It is my prayer that the true message will reach not just more Amish, but any others that live under the same type of bondage that keeps them from experiencing God to the max.

  7. By the way, I know I've said this before, but I wasn't shunned by my family. However, church members stopped talking to me the moment I left the church. Many even had to see me every day at work, because I taught in the school where some of their children attended, but they made sure to avoid me or flat out not acknowledge me if they couldn't avoid me.

    1. Now this is interesting Dali. Shunning in the Amish is confusing to outsiders because there's a family shunning and a community (or Church) shunning. As with the case of Mosie, he was not a member of the Amish Church so his name wasn't put on a list of those to officially shun. Yet, his parents shunned him for a few years.

    2. My fiancé is shunned. I myself was not raised Amish but was close with his family before him and I met. I am too shunned by the church in the same manner. Just a little insight into the differences in communities.

  8. Interesting that Mosie's family shunned him even though he was never baptized. While I don't comprehend everything and can't relate to everything, I often understand where they are coming from. Many similarities that I can connect with.

  9. This gives me chills, Brenda. I am so happy for John, yet so sad for the general Amish community. I grew up in the belief that being good/following rules would send me to heaven. I went to church every Sunday but never saw how God or the Bible could make a difference in my daily life. Perhaps I wasn't so different from the Amish after all!

    1. Thanks for your comments Marti. As one of our AWSA sisters said, "It takes a lot of courage for one to turn from the Church to Jesus Christ." Now isn't that a paradox?

  10. Good luck to John and his family!! As an engaged women to an ex Old Order Amish it has been an amazing journey....also heartbreaking. I was friends with many in the church before we were together and now those friendships no longer exist. Yet we wouldn't trade it for the world! Great interview!


    1. Hi Anonymous, it'd be helpful to me if you shared a bit of your background. Are you currently Amish, ex-Amish, Mennonite, or a reader overseas in another culture? Anyway, I'm glad you've discovered that God is love.
      Remember this is one man's experience. I believe there are higher - more progressive - Amish orders that teach & live the love of God. Some orders send out missionaries to help others.