Children are human beings, not property owned by adults who gave birth to them. We need a movement that acknowledges and enforces the Constitutional rights of Amish and other children, such as Ultra-Orthodox Jewish, fundamentalist Christian, Jehovah’s Witness, and Native/Indigenous.
The educational and economic fates of Amish children don’t enter the public consciousness. Amish children aren’t part of the equation in the economic future of the United States.
The very first law about education in what is now the United States was all about making people literate enough to read the Christian Bible.
For the Amish, the 1972 US Supreme Court case Wisconsin v. Yoder disputes were about retaining the ability to force a child to work for free and to keep the child ignorant of their rights as a US citizen. Making it about religion was a convenient cover. But for the National Committee for Amish Religious Freedom, a non-Amish special interest group that hired the attorneys and paid the legal bills for the Amish, Yoder was about using the Amish as a guinea pig to see how far they could push religious freedom provisions for the benefit of the Committee’s non-Amish purposes.
The 1972 US Supreme Court case Wisconsin v. Yoder is hailed as a landmark victory for religious liberty. But it actually strips children of their Constitutional rights, in the name of religious freedom for adults. Among other things, the right to not educate enables child abuse among the Amish. Here’s my response to the crisis (and how you can help).