Gov. Tom Corbett and other Pennsylvania politicians have signed a statement calling on the Discovery Channel to drop “Amish Mafia,” a show they called “a bigoted portrayal” that grossly misrepresents the religious sect known for its plain ways.
“The show is an affront to all people of faith and all secular people with moral principles,” the statement said. “We call for an end to production and broadcast of the ‘Amish Mafia’ series and respectfully ask the Discovery Channel and its sponsors to drop support for the bigoted series and other Amish-themed knockoff productions.”
It was signed by 18 elected officials, including congressmen, state senators, state representatives and Lancaster’s mayor. Pennsylvania’s two U.S. senators, Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, signed a similar statement denouncing the show, though they didn’t demand that production cease.
“Amish Mafia,” which debuted in 2012, purports to follow a group of Amish men in Lancaster County who enforce law and order within the community. Questions have persisted about its veracity, with experts on Amish culture calling it fiction.
“Amish Mafia” and similar shows “vilify the Amish religious way of life, suggesting that a peaceful people devoted to non-violence are vengeful, violent and criminal,” the statement signed by Corbett said.
The campaign against “Amish Mafia” is being organized by a Lancaster-based group called Respect Amish. The group has quickly gained steam only two months after launching a Facebook page.
Discovery Channel spokeswoman Laurie Goldberg declined comment on the letter. She has said the characters on the show are, in fact, real-life Amish. The network notes the Amish church denies the existence of an “Amish Mafia” and adds that “some scenes on the show have been re-enacted.”