Stories of Shunning

It doesn't just happen in the Amish culture.

Religions around the world shun those who leave the faith, the "infidels," the "wayward" ones. I've known parents who shun a child for a behavior or decision against them.

But since there's tremendous curiosity - and misunderstanding - about Amish shunning - which is not practiced in all orders - here are a few stories from those who've personally experienced it since leaving the Amish world behind:

Esther shared:
Here's my story.... We left 13 years ago and are still being shunned by our families. I went through a grieving period for them. At this point in time they talk to us, but don't eat with us or drive with us or do business with us. Some of our family are more like a distant relative than close family. Our kids don't know most of their cousins and my parents have no relationship with our kids.

Regina added that she has experienced the same treatment.

Left 15 years ago, still being shunned by two out of five siblings.This last year things have really changed with my family, I have one brother said enough is enough! At this point at least we can be civil to each other.

Margaret told her story:
We left 16 years ago because we had to make a choice whether to follow God or follow the Amish. My husband and I counted the cost before we made the move and knew we would lose most of our family. I have nieces and nephews that I do not even know. My youngest son does not know most of his aunts and uncles. I do regret that the grandparents missed out on knowing, really knowing some wonderful grandchildren!smile emoticon

My one son has said that he doesn't have any grandparents. Through the years God has been so faithful in bringing great people into our lives who have become like family to us.
We are never invited to the family gatherings or to their weddings on my side of the family. But it is okay, we knew it was the way it was going to be. Would I go back? No!

Ryan added:
It can be so hard sometimes, especially when my siblings are all getting married and I haven't been invited to one wedding, one of my brothers got married today.

Emma had this to say:
My Dad stopped the hardcover shunning when my older brother Joe got killed in an auto accident. My Dad said that shunning didn't bring him back and now it's too late, I will never shun like that again.

Perry shared:
We left 16 years ago from a more liberal Amish Church, and we do get some mild shunning from some of those relatives, but I had come from one of the strictest sects to this community and I got shunned harsh for doing that, but it actually gave me freedom, because now I did not have to be fearful in anyway how I was following Christ! I don't see that any one can blame some one else for emotional harm in 1 of these cases, because you already know what is going to happen! When you are a Christian, you shake off all the old dirt, and let the Lord lead you, God gives you all the Grace and power you need! I was surprised myself but I never got any homesickness or any desire to go back!

Daniel gave his experience:
It has made me Hate the division of religion, We were very close as a family, we have been extremely shunned, I know my parents love me as I love my children, but their eyes are blinded from YEARS of religion. They even refused to come to the funeral of my son, I know it hurts them as much or more than me, And it tears my heart up. This type of religion is soooo deceptive. It is a trap that only catches the most sincerer of people. So yes it hurts, It hurts all the time , but it hurts in a way that is understandable because we know the brain washing, they really believe they are doing the right thing. we left in 2008 , but have been shunned since 2004 by family because of our faith. We have only been placed in the Bann by the bishop about 2 1/2 years ago but not by complete church agreement. They could not get agreed to put us in the Bann in 2008, in 2008 they had agreed to not as they had decided they did not want to be found striving against the Holy Spirit. I still love the Amish probably more than any people group, But I hate the religion part very much..........It may not make sense to anyone that is not born again in love with Christ that had to leave for that reason, an no identifies as ex Amish.

Why? Why do some Amish feel compelled to practice shunning?

They've been taught to literally practice the Biblical commands in I Cor. 5:9-11 and II Thess. 3:14. To wrap your brain around their mindset, read Of Shunning the Separated in The Dordrecht Confession. The Dordrecht Confession details the Anabaptist (the Amish heritage) tenets.

In a previous post, I explained the complex concept in Amish Shunning: What's it all about? As with many Amish practices, it is not simple.

Your turn. What do you think of these stories?


  1. I always believed that the Amish were such loving people who worshipped a loving God. They seem to practice "conditional love." Very heart-wrenching to read about the strong practice of shunning. Memories never made and regrets on both sides. No one is guaranteed tomorrow...we must live a life of no regrets. Prayers for everyone both Amish and ex-Amish for the struggles they have endured.

    1. Thank you Anonymous for reading/leaving your thoughts. You're beginning to see some of the cultural practices that have broken my heart as I've met and helped ex-Amish transition to our English world.
      Remember not ALL Amish vigorously practice shunning but it's pretty common. These stories ^ above are from those who left a variety of orders.

  2. I've read many stories about the Amish but one point of view on shunning I can't understand is how deeply it effects people. Obviously Amish people try hard to keep people Amish but when they don't leave and are shunned, I thought, big deal, you can't eat at the same table for a few weeks, and I read about it happening for serious offenses and minor ones. I'm sure for minor offenses it is disturbing, but there must be something I'm missing because the shun seems to be a bigger deal than I can imagine. Maybe people are cruel, and I've read stories about Amish being very gossipy, just waiting for someone to step out of line. Some of the letters I've read by Amish to those who have left are so deep and religious, so obviously reflective of the culture, that I find most Amish stories lacking information that links to the depths of those letters, the aspect of Amish life that resembles a simpler time of the past, a cloistered culture that receives teachings that aren't explained by the descriptions of long German church services. Usually I think of them as very similar to us, living side by side, but in ways they aren't. I have a strange obsession with the Amish. I'm not completely sure why.

    1. Thanks for reading and leaving your thoughts.
      You said, "I think of them as very similar to us, living side by side, but in ways they aren't." And that's quite accurate, in many ways they're people just like us yet it's a complex culture that's a challenge to understand.