HARRISBURG, Pa. (CNS) – Pennsylvania religious leaders from a wide range of faiths and denominations have issued a joint statement criticizing the Discovery Channel for its reality-TV series “Amish Mafia,” calling it a “negative, inaccurate and potentially damaging portrayal of Amish religion and culture.”
“At (its) core, this television series engages in religious bigotry,” the leaders said. “‘Amish Mafia’ is no more acceptable than ‘Jewish Mafia,’ ‘Catholic Mafia’ or ‘Evangelical Mafia.’ The show is an affront to all people of faith.”
Discovery Channel in materials on its website says the cable show is about “the men who protect and maintain peace and order within the Amish community” in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and claims it is “a side of Amish society that exists under the radar.”
But the faith leaders in their Aug. 5 statement said the show misrepresents the Amish “as a crime-ridden culture” and “gives, by association, the same impression of Lancaster city and county. It changes the image of the county from one of pastoral beauty, where people are devoted to faith, family and friends, to one of banal ugliness.”
Discovery Channel’s media department did not respond immediately to a Catholic News Service request for comment.
Lancaster has the oldest and largest Amish community in Pennsylvania. The state has the nation’s second-largest population of Amish, numbering about 58,000; Ohio is first with about 59,000 Amish, according to 2012 census data. Eighteen states have a significant Amish population.