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Implications Of A Faith


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The other night I saw this thing on 60 minutes Wednesday about the serious genetic problems faced by Amish (and to a lesser extent Mennonites). Anyway the problem is that Amish are extremely inbred and most of them are now related in some way. For this reason they are passing along exceptional rare (maybe 10-100 cases in the world), extremely debilitating genetic diseases, actually end up being severe and multiple disabilities. They have had to accommodate in some ways--for example, they have hired a doctor (who must work without electricity) to care for these kids (btw, all medical care, they don't seem to do anything to try and remediate any of these. Saw a kid who looked severely autistic, didn't seem to be doing anything "educational" at all.) Also in some rare cases they have allowed solar power (not sure about solar power in Amish country?) but this was to hook up various life support machines. Some have left the Amish community and are totally shunned, even given the circumstances.


Mennonites have gone in for genetic counseling which can find some of these disorders, but this is totally against the Amish way.


Due to the extremity of the situation a couple men agreed to talk with one of the journalists.

They seemed to understand the genetics involved, if vaguely. ( I have heard that there is a very high incidence of bipolar disorder, they say it is "in der blute"sp?-- in the blood.) But they would never consent to genetic tests. In fact there was nothing at all they could do about it. They can also not take a spouse outside their faith (even one willing to convert, say).



This all reminded me of the Book TV thing I saw on "The End of Faith". This guy believes faith is essentially damaging. Well I did not buy all what the guy said, now or then. But one thing he said is that there is a "conversational tolerance" to dangerous beliefs and even respect for them when this would not be required in any other endeavor. (We wouldn't "tolerate or respect" beliefs in a flat earth or that the holocaust never happened.) And I used to have this sort of conversational tolerance towards the Amish, even admiration for them as people fo faith, even though I did not share their values.


But now I have heard there is almost an epidemic of spousal abuse and no where for women to turn. And if they leave their spouse or the community they are shunned forever. NICE. (I agree spousal abuse is too high in our own society. But there is one major difference. Society doesn't really tolerate it-- even though they are not as concerned, aware or active as they should be. It is illegal in our society, even if the laws aren't always enforced) And now this. They are killing and injuring their next generation thru medical/genetic neglect.


I honestly don't respect it so much.




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This all makes a great deal of sense. BTW, I understand that the leadership of the Mormon Church (Latter Day Saints) and their related splinter groups have some similar genetic problems due to inbreeding; esp. mental health matters (manic depression, etc.).

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"Under the Banner of Heaven" goes into the LDS church in detail. Jon Kraukauer (Into Thin Air) seems to have done quite a bit of research and discusses the tolerance issues and perceptions of the world (as it relates to the Mormon church in particular). It's a really interesting book. Not at all what I expected when I looked at it.

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The guy who wrote End of Faith (can't think of his name) is very clear about what kind of intolerance I am talking, we are talking about here. Not that we want to get rid of Amish off the planet (they seem to be doing a good job of that on their own, btw). It is basically the refusual to talk about them as if there wasn't a genuine problem and that these are just sincere people of faith (which they are).


I think there is something of a problem in even conversational intolerance among progress. Not that we don't practice it (I think most of us have will say what we will on fundamentalism, but only basically as it threatens US). Amish, say, are not too threatening. And unless your family is still trying to convert you back (from CS, JW, etc), I think these faiths aren't too threatening.


Indeed progress. have a value towards tolerance. So striking a balance and saying this belief is "fatal" well that's a leap, in some ways.



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