S3E12 Kenneth Copp: The Amish Atheist, Amish Fashion + Crafting Furniture Powered by Workhorses

[Music]hi everyone thanks so much for comingback to the Amish entrepreneurs showthis is me Torah Bontrager and today'sguest is Kenneth cop he is a formerconvert into the Amish church so hedidn't grow up Amish but he convertedinto the Amish and then he resigned fromthe church and is now an atheist so hisstory is very unusual and unique forthose of us from the Amish and I willjust let you maybe explain to us Kennethwhat attracted you to the amish in thebeginning like how old were you and whenyou decided to start looking into thechurch and why did you join well firstwe should probably mention that i didn'tstart with the Amish i started more withMennonites although my whole influencewould have probably been with what wecall the BT Amish okay and where wasthis so just I'm just gonna insert someinformation as we go for audience so theMennonites are what I call religiouscousins of the Amish we have the samehistory origin and the Amish actuallybroke away from the Mennonites and thebeech Amish are one late what's thedifference between the Amish and thebeachy Amish I'll let you explain thatkenneth well that was a also a split1920s a man by the name of Moses beachythe county pennsylvania broke away fromthe amish there because he did notbelieve in what we call this three mytongue or the strict shunning and thatthen morphed into a group that is moreliberal they have amish roots but theylook very it depends sometimes it can beso liberal as to not look much differentthan man and another man in the streetperson in the street or they can be veryplainly dressed but generally speakingthey have modern meaning is just likecars electric telephone but theythe Amish culture and other other meansand methods okay so they're in arethey're often more eventually than themany Amish are okay so select like rightthere they're there their men would wearbeards small trimmed beards and theirwomen would wear some sort of a headcovering usually much smaller and moretransparent than the Amish would okay soI have a little bit of an internetconnection issue like there were acouple words that I lost that evil andyou were talking so I just want to goback up the person who split from theAmish was called Moses beachy or Mosebeachy and it was in LancasterPennsylvania okay Pennsylvania SomersetCounty and so County Pennsylvaniaokay and what year was this around whatyear in the 1920s 1920s okay okay sothen the beachy Amish in terms of lightwhat they allow like how how strict orhow modern or what kind of modernconveniences they allow it ranges fromwhat from horse driving horses andbuggies all the way to looking like youand I and like no different from theoutside you know mainstream America knowthat the BT Amish would not use horseand buggy at all they would becompletely car have cars but some ofthem would have black cars specify blackcars and others would not have anyrestrictions on car color okaysome would have the the people like withlike the it would be more extreme themen would have longer beards they wouldalmost look like Amish in many ways butthey still have the the the telephonethe electric and the automobilewhereas anytime you you get theautomobile you're no longer Amish as faras old order or new order once you'vegotten the automobile you've left bothcamps and you're in either the BG Amishcamp or the fellowship or Mennonitefellowship type of type of church andnow some BT Amish won some BT Amishdon't want to be called BT Amish anylonger because they they have a sort ofa self hatred towards the Amish word sothey likehome sales Mennonites but their rootsare actually Amish okay okay so theythey have they have different names oftheir churches they'll be like Biblenames like Maranatha fellowship or orRock of Ages fellowship or somethinglike that the real nice sounding namesand they'd like to drop off theMennonite or Amish name if they cannames I had no idea that's actually BTAmish okayand where do you where are the BT Amishlike typically in Pennsylvania Ohioelsewhere they're scattered all over thethey would be probably almost in anyarea that the Amish themselves would bein because you generally see Amishbeasts any older Amish settlement you'vehad different splits and divisions thathave sort of divided the people that aremore liberal and the people that aremore conservative and so you're fine andbut then there'll be other places toobecause the BT Amish have been more sortof mission minded and they they theythey make settlements in different partsof the country and in different parts ofthe world like Central America I thinkthey might go as far as South Americadown in Paraguay okay but there's sothere's they're quite wide and broad brain thereso when you say mission minded II meanthey're they they're they actively tryto convert people into their brand ofreligionyes definitely okay okay and that'sdifferent from the arm is just for youknow whoever's new to this show orhasn't picked up on this yet the AmishOld Order Amish do not proselytize atall like they they do not allow goingaround and trying to convert people intothe Amish church the new order Amish doyou know what they do or I think wouldwould probably be a little more Angelasztyc but sort of halfway in betweenyeah yeah so that's kind of like becausekenneth mention old order and new orderso now i want to cover those definitionsto a little bit so the new order aremoreliberal version of the old ordertraditional Amish so when when I speakof Amish in general when anybody talksabout the Amish it's we're referencingthe old order amish that's thetraditional you know amish but the neworder a little bit more liberal theyallow cameras and electricity I believeright Kenneth right so I'm doing somedon't like you know in Ohio I thinkinstead of electricity and they'll havemore gas and propane more more liverbroadly allowed in their home for forlighting or for gas ovens or for suchlike things but in other places likethere's one one in Kentucky I know and Ican't remember the name of settlementbut they have four years had electricityso it's very common for them to haveelectricity and but they still drivehorse and buggy yeah but that's that'sthat's the demarcation mean the Amishnewer I mean between oh sorry the oldand new order Amishall of them use the horses buggy onceyou get the car you're no longer part ofeither the old or new but the differencebetween the old and new is that the newhave more modern technology along with ahorse and buggy and they also tend to bemore open-minded to reaching out andtrying to people to their number okay sothey're a little bit more like setthey're a little bit more active intrying to recruit converts the new ordersome extend yes much more ok so there'susually more of an emphasis an orderalso on the new birth experience andthat's one that one big varianceexplained that's sort of an evangelicalChristian term meaning that you are haveyou heard the term born againyeah and John three used to said excepta man be born again he cannot enter thekingdom of heaven and so thereforethere's a big he a doctrine built aroundthatamongst the more evangelical churchesthat you have to have this morning andexperience where you see yourself as asinner you come to Christ at the foot ofthe cross sort of figuratively andrepent of all your sins and ask Jesus tocome into your heart and then you havethis warm feeling a sensation offorgiveness and and euphoria and you'reborn again you know and you can done momand you can go to your your church andyou say I had this experience and Iusually have you give a testimony andthen they'll they'll you know they'llstart it start the process of bringingyou into the church and being a memberin the church yeah but that's nottraditionally Amish that's has nothingto do with with with the older Amish ortraditional Amish heritage at all that'sa very modern Christianity kind ofthings which I actually want to get intobecause there's this trend for Amishfamilies who leave or just Amishindividuals to get recruited byevangelicals or to convert toevangelical Christianity which I calllike fundamentalist born-again like youyou have to you know believe that you'reborn again whatever that means you knowthe end and then you're automaticallypromised to get into heaven I believethat that's the end result basically ifthe idea is that you are assured ofgetting into heaven when you die whereasin the Amish religion we are not assuredat that our version of the religion saysthat no matter how much you follow therules or how how good you are you're notguaranteed a spot in heaven after youdie so that's that's the difference andI think my theory is is that we grow upas Amish kids so afraid of death thisconstant fear of going to hell after wedie that it's easy for us to like getco-opted by the religious right by theborn-again promise of heaven whatyou feel about that Kenneth I you bringup some interesting things and back tomy memory and now as I think about itactually I think that is the differencebetween the new and the old order neworder and old order and that the the neworder would give more of an assurance offaith as they would call it in otherwords that you can know and have anassurance that if you're if you had anexperience with God and you have feltforgiveness for your sins that you'veconfessed to God personally and to youwhoever else you think you may have aoffended which is also sometimes calledrestitution then then you can have thatfaith and assurance that that you willget to heaven and that's that can be areal division between the old and neworder Amish if you understand yeah and Ithink I will correct myself and I don'tthink that the I think that the when youhave to get into the beat Giambi'sbefore you get into the real strength ofthe evangelical push of being born againand having that that you know thatpublic testimony yeah felis hardcorepushing yeah yeah yeah okay so I want togo back to where we started which wasthat you got interested in the BT Amishnow how old were you and where was thislike what state or you know well I wasbreaking I was raised in NorthernVirginia and my father employed severalBG Amish carpenters to work for him inhis in his business that he had ofbusiness rental buildings in ViennaVirginia and they did a lot of carpenterwork to remodel and get ready fordifferent businesses coming into justhis place and we got to know them quitewell I was in my mid-teens when Iyounger teens when I got to know themactually I knew them they knew me as alittle boy I would sometimes walk aroundand talk with Simon schrock and Noahtheatre Shimon and they were greatpeople they'd have a lot of fun with mebecause I was a little boy and Iremember a time Noah was working on sometrim work and I was just watching himand I don't know if I was bugging him orwhat but he said cat hang on and there'ssomething I need to fix with your shoeand before I knew what was happening hehad nailed my shoe down to the floor itwas a tall pair of sneakers though heknew he could get away with it but andthen of course all I'm in just bark withlaughter they were really kind of funnyguys but they were very honest and theythey were they were my dad was reallyimpressed with them he he often saidthat that they're the type of Christiansthat he definitely respects because theywere a bad language of monks and Corstenin traditional Christianity bad languageor I could say curse words areconsidered not acceptable and and theywere very honest they'd always you knowput in their hours properly not chargewhen they took off for lunch and justeverything was just up right and so wesort of built a relationship with themand also it was intertwined with mybrother who was quite a bit older 14years actually than I and he was born inthe 40s so he was he was coming of ageduring the 60s when the draft was forthe Vietnam War and he did not want tobe a part of the draft he was he wasmore of the hippie movement and actuallythought of flee into Canada but insteadhe took the religious route and joinedwith the with the BG Amish and orsomething similar to them and assignmentand who was a minister he actually wentto court with my brother to testify formy brother so he could get his 1w statuscan you explain to us what's the w1status what does that meanwell I tend to call it the 1w oh yeahsure there's a difference but one w1wstatus isn't status that the USgovernment had gave it has given toreligious conscientious objectors andactually that's been tested in the courtof law there can be people that are alsonon-religious but still hold theconscientious objection to warfare thatcan actually be exempt from that ofgoing into service and they would thenbe asked to do other public service worklike working in a mental hospitalor working for the National the ForestService or something of that natureRandee need the aamna shariff generallyaccepted that as an alternatewell of course we know that the draftersno longer around at this point but whenthe draft was around they had acceptedthat for their sons to do that insteadof going to war right yeah except forthe more conservative there are somemore conservative groups I canespecially among the old orderMennonites that were so strict that theywouldn't even allow them their boys todo that oh I didn't know that so whathappened with in those cases did theyget sent to jail sometimes they weresent to jail but the government againfound it just wasn't a very it didn't itdidn't it didn't work for them becausewhat must they be I'm so entrenched intheir belief teaching these young menwere just rather be in jail and theywould serve their time and I thinkfinally the government just gave up andjust let them go because they found theyjust couldn't force in any way shape orform to do any sort of service thethought concept behind that was that anysort of service under the command of thegovernment even if it is alternateservice was still part of the war effortin the war machine and therefore theywould be totally they want to be totallyfree from that your brother Simon fellin the camp of of not wanting to do anyservice for the government like even thenonviolent service because he felt itwas still part of the war machineyes his name is Barry by the way mybrother's name is Barry and yes he getserved some time as a alternate servicedown in a in a home for mentallychallenged children down in southernVirginia that was run by the BG Amishchurches but then at one point he becamevery radical and decided that still toomuch under the eye of the government andhe quit altogether and he went and wasin a in his home there in West Virginiaand he was not working in a governmentcar pulled up and the Secret Service mencame out and they arrested him and tookhim away to prison and he served in thepenitentiary there in Luce LewisburgPennsylvania for some years oh I wasjust saying he was pretty radical at onepoint he was you know coming from thenot Amish background he had a lot ofthinking to do and at one point he evenwore a robe because he felt like that'sthe that's the most original way that'ssweet Jesus dressed he was confused cuzwith all the different regulations upbroad fall pants and suspenders or beltsor or this or that and he finally justthrew his handsome and said one I'lljust go back to the way Jesus dressedany wore a robe for a while so but thatwas almost before my time and I don'tremember that too much I was still alittle boyand being 14 years older than I so sowith that senior brother convert intoyou know the beachy Amish with that aninfluence on your like what was youryour parents religious background yeahI'm glad you asked that because I thinkas I pondered over this I think this ispivotal as to why I morphed into theMennonites and then later Amish myparents had first been Lutheran to startwith and that's what my brother wasraised as a Lutheran boy and then aftermy brother left home and it was just mysister and I they got involved into theAcosta luqman my mother especially shegot involved in these speaking intongues phenomenon and the Lutheran'sdidn't like that and they they politelykicked them out and so my my parentsdidn't know what to do for time at onepoint they were searching churches and Iremember my father saying well he'stired of going tosearching that church he feels like juststaying at home but my mother was verydeeply religious and she wasn'tinterested in that so we kept going todifferent churches and ended up gottalean on the Assembly of God churchesthere's one there in Arlington Virginiait was there quite the dynamic church itwas very lively and my sister and I havereflected on that since we both havediscontinued that and we're where me isat the amount of intensity that thosechurches provide I mean you have Sundaymorning Sunday evening services you haveWednesday evening prayer meeting youhave choir practice you have youthgroups royal Rangers which is thereplacement of Boy Scouts and it wasjust so so intense and so so with thatmy brother then coming to me and havebeen that magical thrust from the BGAmish and then later here's anothertwist to the story he later joined withthe Holdeman Mennonites have you everheard of the hold amendment ice Iremember off-camera you explained theHolderman Mennonites for me a little bitcan you just go into they were areformed church back in 1800s from theMennonites the old order Mennonites inOhio and John Haldeman who they're namedaftercame out and took this doctrine thatthere was only one troopers only onechurch that had the candlestick that hadthe right to baptize and no otherchurches no other Amish no other minimumscience were really had God's blessingsand so they they built this up throughthe years and they had this sort ofcharisma this sort of cult-likementality and for myself because I wasso energized by the Pentecostals and Iwas a deeply sincere young man I mean Iwas a hundred and ten percent wanting toserve the LordI would spend hours up at the altarpraying and crying to get to speak intongues and so when my brother came tome and talked to me about the Mennonitesand how that they had suffered muchthrough the centuries and many martyrsand that they had the true faith I wassort of intrigued and then he helped meget this large book called the martyrsmirror and when I got that I beganreading that and that sort of connectedme to the past and I was one that lovedhistory I just ate up history and sowhen I saw that in a the connection forme and I felt like I'd found a truepeople that were that wanted to servethe Lord and I also wasn't attracted bytheir austerity because they didn't useany musical instruments they dressedplainly they didn't have television or avideo at first I had a few issues as faras musical instruments I said why nothave a guitar what's wrong with that butmy brother was very how can I say he hereally was an influence to me and hehelped me to see that when God's peopledecide on something then it's much moreof a blessing just to submit to that andthere's and there's I guess that's how Iwould put it and so and I saw that calmand I saw that calm quiet peaceful faithit seemed to be much more Sun but thenthe estatic Holy Roller type approach ofspeaking in tongues and I had seen somehypocrisy amongst the Pentecostals aswell and that sort of was beginning torub me the wrong way and so I looked atwhat my brother had is something thatwas desirable was that does that thatwas more you said as I apologize so howold were you at this point because Iwant to so when you when your brothertold you about the Holderman Mennoniteshow old were you and and was he becauseearlier earlier we were talking abouthow he had converted into the BT Amishso had he then left the BT Amish andfound the holder months and then toldyou about it isokay how old were used at the time whenyou learned about the Holdeman men and Isays the one and I was searched and Iwas sampledgo ahead I was around 14 years old okayoh wow yeah so you were very youngokay and with that when you saw themartyr's mirror reddit that was at age14 I think so I could actually look inmy copy because I wrote it down in thecoverI usually sign my books that I got youmm-hmm and I think that it was somethinglike a 1974-75 but when when that when Idid that yes Wowyou don't happen to have the martyr'smirror with you right now do you becauseI mentioned the martyrs near severaltimes in other episodes that I don'thave a copy so I think it'd be great tosee it now I don't know if you canthat's it that's the martyrs mirror andyou've had it since you were 14 yearsold that copy actually I was 15 it was Isigned it received on June 1st 1976 frombury cop my brother yeah so I was 15going on 16 I got this here and so seehow thick of it yeah yeah extremelythick and it's very it's heavy Iremember when I was a kid around 8 yearsold was when I first saw a copy of themartyr smear I believe that was maybewhen my parents got their own copy orwhen it just registered that that waswhat it was for me right and you willlit up yet weren't sure which what isthis scene about 14 persons burned atOrleans France they were burned theywere burned to death yeah I guess theyburned it the stake and then there'ssome other more clear pictures if I canfindthere's one picture that shows a womanwith some sort of a head covering andshe was going to be burned at the stakethis is a picture of Jacob Deever orconfess in the faithokay and to choose some fryers and mocksand and whatnotthat's sort of later in the book wellthis is a public execution and I believein Amsterdam it was in 1570what's that 72 1872 okay so this was inresponse of the martyrs that the martyrsmere reference this are the areAnabaptist forefathers the amish andmennonite predecessors they broke awayfrom from the protestant in 1525 therewas a Protestant revolution in Europeand those Martin Luther it cetera theybroke away from the Catholic Church andthen out of that Protestant Reformationthe Mennonites and Hutterites and Amishcame about so that is basically the twosentence history of the Amish and whatthe martyrs mirror is referencing isthose people who wanted to practice adifferent type of Christianity from theroom and from the Roman Catholic Churchright and then they were literallyburned at the stakewell there's a few new nuances thereactually Martin Luther nailed his 95theses to the Catholic door church doorin the late 1400sand it wasn't in 1525 and there'dSwitzerland at the brethren beganbaptizing each other as adults andcreated what we now call the Anabaptistfaith which was a church that was builtupon free adult baptism or voluntarymembership I should say that's theoriginal plan a voluntary membershipwhich was very radical in that timebecause they only had state churchZurich was actually the Reformed Churchthey had alreadyaway from the Catholic Church a littledifferent than Martin Luther but stillsimilar but they still required infantbaptism of all citizens of their countryoh and 1525 my dear for the churchAnabaptist forefathers son by the nameof Conrad but Abel and Felix monthsGeorg Laura for George Florrick theygathered together and number them menand women and decided that it's time toto not pussyfoot around with the Biblewe went we're gonna follow thescriptures and only the scriptures andno more traditions of men and so theybegan what they call the free church andin a sense we could call them freethinkers in their own right it's a soundamazing very true when you think aboutyou know splitting ways from theCatholic Church which was the onlyauthorized you know form of religion atthe time I mean that did take a lot ofguts unfortunately it led to you knowcertain factions today like weeds butyeah yeah what was the Oh actually Iwant to back up because before I we wego continue the conversation can youhold up the cover of the martyr smearagain because the the words martyrsmirror when you hold it upI wouldn't know that that was what itwas saying cuz it faded so I just wantto point it out okay so that's being ofthe martyr smear the bloody Theodore sor martyr smear of the defenselessChristians that's the entire title ofthe martyrs mirror and can you show usthe cover again because I would like theaudience to see where it typically saysmartyrs mirror on the cover it's the tophalf of it but it's faded because you'vehad it for so many years mine is verymine is very faded yeah so usually itwould be on the top you can see it nowif you knowlook where the word smarter schmear hasfaded so that's that's pretty prettythat that's definitely an heirloom bookthey're an heirloom copy dedicated and Igave a copy to each one of my childrenoh wow how many kids do you haveso did you do the Amish thing of havinglike 14 kids not quiet we had teneverybody knows who has a you knowlisten to my episodes or knows my storyI'm the oldest of 11 so that's what Imeant by the Amish no scripture befruitful and multiply populated theworld is you know God's Word is alwaystrue so be fruitful and multiplyI read that - their one true people andGod's Word can we go back to theHolderman Mennonites is that how youactually you started off with them yesagain okay so how old were you when youofficially joined the HoldermanMennonites okay I didn't actually jointhem there's the difference mm-hmm Ileft home when I was not quite 18 myfather wanted me to stay and finish highschool and get my diploma and I was atat one point not sure if I should runrun away from home home and be a realkind of quote martyr or persecuted forChrist because the Bible is actuallypretty radical it says if you forsakenot father mother brother sister andeven your own life for Jesus sake youcannot be his disciple and I was readyto do it all and I actually called andtalked with some of the Holdemanministers and they were a little slow totell me to leave home so they mostlyencouraged me and my brother and crazywould just stay until you do dadwishes and then you know prayed to theLord and Lord will make a way for you soit was a really hard trial for mebecause I was just I was really ready togo you know how it is when you're atthat age we're ready to propel and goaway from home so but I finished myschooling I didn't finish high school asfar as school I took a course fun ofcourse because I felt like the highschool was too much too much worldlinessthere the high school prom the seniorstuff and I didn't want to have anythingto do with it so my dad found acorrespondence course that I could takeand I finished early because it was veryI was simple for me and I got my diplomaand then at that point I asked dad if Icould go go move to be with my brotherwho at that time lived in Wisconsin andhad a dairy farm and my dad my dad saidand he thought I could go heat my momwas against it she wanted me to stay Iwas the youngest of the children and shehad much hope that I would stay with thefaith and marry some good Pentecostalgirl and have a family but I just was mydad saw my heart wasn't in it and he andthey felt like me leaving and going tolive with my brother at least it was asafe place mmm to go yeah so he's likeyou can go and I remember that but itwas very hard because I packed up mypickup truck and my parents werestanding out there by the house and andas I was leaving I just it was reallyhard I just I just broke down and criedI could hardly Drive I was the tearswere just streaming down my face becauseI really hurt me to have to leave dadand mom but I thought I had to for Jesussake and in the gospel and so I got upto Wisconsin and was really intending tobe a part of the whole image church andto my astonishment my brother was wasactually having trouble with them he washe was actually having trouble with thatvery doctrine of the one true church hebegan to look more broadly and began tobecome a little more open-minded and wasnot able to quite confess that they werethe one true church and they'reextremely stringent on that point andthey were at that point in the nineteenseventies having what they called acleansingperiod where they were going through alltheir membership and the ministers wouldexamine each member and make sure thatthey were clear on this as well as otherpoints of their doctrine and if youcannot confess that they that they werethe one true church among all otherchurches they were very quick toexcommunicate you and this was a verytraumatic time in fact there was somethey did this so often that I heard ofsome attempted suicides among some ofthe members Wow Wow because because it'straumatic when you really believe theBible and you believe that beingexcommunicated you're cut off from Godyou're delivered to Satan for thedestruction of the flesh and you'reshunned the Holdem in church they shuntheir people it's it's very mean youknow yeah yeah like if you're if youknow it's so ingrained indoctrinatedbrainwashed into you that this is theonly church then you know you suicidalrude I can see that happeningWow so that sort of put me in a spin butI was the first initially verydetermined to join them I thought maybemy brother was wrong but being beingliving with him and and working with himthroughout the day on the farm he beganto explain his feelings and I began toobserve and I began to see thatsomething isn't quite right as well formyself and I began to well I wasextremely conservative minded as mostconverts are and I began to sort ofchafe against some of their more liberalviews as far as outward modern modernfarming methods and and their their moremodern dress and I wanted I wasinfluenced to take a more conservativeview and dress in a lot of differentways that some people wouldn't evenmaybe think about and my brother had hadinfluence from other more conservativemen and Iand other parts of the country he alsogot some of their periodicals and so asI read them I was I was attracted tothem so finally at one point I know I Ihad been a very promising convert andI'm sure if you know anything about thedynamics of these groups anyone comingfrom the outside is like new blood andbecause they have a trouble with toomany families of the same last name orsimilar that are intermarry so whensomeone comes in that's new bloodthere's there's a real strong push youknow to really accept them and to bringthem in I didn't know that there was apush I mean because again like I wasraised old order amish and we don't wantany conference at all like we're we areactively not wanting to have themwhereas i mean you know we don't careabout the genetic issue of the wholeminute is that's one of their hallmarksis they're very evangelistic there's avery good book written by them by aprofessor he's retired I think I don'tthink he's living any longer but it'snamed it's called Oldman peopleClarence Hebert is the author and Ihighly recommend it for anyone who wantsto study these people because it's avery in fact it even mentions my brotherat one point because he was such acolorful figure amongst them that heactually got into the book yeah yeahright so I I just at one point realizeit just wasn't for meand I actually in a service I stood upand gave testimony that I had thoughtthis was what God's God was leading meto but now I see that it's not and I'msorry but I have to leave and of coursethis was rather deeply disappointing tomany of the members there and I thinkget some backlash from that but I was avery strong-minded person in my own wayand I did make movement and left thenyeah and how I was at that time I wouldhave been 18 okay take you very long bythe time youget your brothers and decided the wholedurman's weren't for a year I say notmore than six months okay so yeah whathappened well then i i i i packed up mypickup and i went to visit some of thesechurches that my brother had beengetting these periodicals from one ofthe periodicals name was called thetimely truth and it was written orpublished by a very conservative what Icall the ultra conservative Carmen and IChurch in the nation that I know ofthere sometimes referred to as theTennessee Mennonites but there are sortof a split off from the more liberalMennonites in Ohio they have roots inthe Whistler Mennonites which areconsidered old order Mennonites andthere also have roots and to the ifyou've heard of the non-conferenceMennonites the rod and staff you're onpublicationyeah that's the nest of non conferenceMennonites which are conservative intheir own right but the men usually areclean-shaven and they dress more like amodern man the women still have the capedress and a little bit of head coveringso these Tennessee Mennonites wear a amore conservative split off from thesegroups as a whole but they had alsoattracted other other dissidents fromother more ultra conservative groups inthe old order Mennonites and so I wentdown and visited damn I visited thesereally strict old wood or horse andbuggy Mennonites I I visited moreindependent little family home churchesand I got thoroughly confused swimmingwith all these different types ofAnabaptist rules all of that welcome tothe club I'd like to tell one littlestory I was I was with this these oldorder of Mennonites who were veryconservative they're all horse and buggyand kerosene lights and no chainsaws andI was one Sunday I just I couldn'tdecide between these two groups onegroupno standards no written standardsanother church said yes we should havewritten standards and I fasted theentire day I didn't eat anything exceptmaybe I drank some water and I just feltGod would answer me somehow he wouldshow me a sign he would talk to me butnothing came I at one point thought Iwas going to go with the old orderMennonites with the real conservativebecause it just appealed to me it wasjust so unique it was like going back instorybook land in the waiting hundredsand with us there were some lucky oldorder Mennonites or the car old orderMennonites this was a horse and buggyold order Mennonites okay I was like Iwas attracted to the ultimate and and Iactually sold my pickup and bought ateam of horses and was planning to dothat but in the process I decided tovisit my brother one last time Iactually went up to Pennsylvania tovisit the bishop and the old orderMennonite Church and that was very niceand then I travelled by bus because Ileft my pickup behind and that's the waythe board orders travels by bus so Itraveled up by bus to visit my brotherand my brother who was a very wiseperson saying he he knew what washappening what was what made me tick andand he knew just what buttons to pressand he was able to dislodge my myadherence to the ultimate and encouragedme to search amongst some other groupsthat he had made friends with he newcontacts and that really just launchedme and has flipped me around and Idecided to try then so I went back downto Tennessee and changed my location toanother place there and then in nearthere but that that only lasted a shortperiod of time and I had a I had anaccident with my hand I lost a fingerand I had some operations for speedrafting and so I didn't know what to doI asked the group there if they wouldsupport me financially as I thoughtthat as Christians we shouldn't weshouldn't subscribe to the moderninsurance plans that's most conservativeminutes an Amish don't don't follow theinsurance plans they're against thatbecause I feel as trusting God and so Iasked them to help me but they they weretoo small a group and they said theycouldn't help me I'm gonna have to havemy parents helped me with the insuranceso I was very disappointed in thatand I decided under no other choice I Icalled my parents up and they came downand gladly picked me up they were veryworried about me and they took me backto Virginia and I went in on theirHospital plan and had some plasticsurgery done on my handand reconstructed it and then at thatpoint I decided to go up back toWisconsin to visit my brother the wholeamends were having a series of revivalmeetings see that's the different naturewith them they believe an event and theyhave revival meetings where that theyreally ramped up the the the the how canyou say the feelings the emotions andget people to you know young people togive their hearts to Christ and tobecome members and so I went to theserevival meetings am like cyber week abig religious push just to sell you onconverting so it's kind of you know likea like it's I don't know it's a weekendevent or a week-long event depends on Iguess the organization of specificchurch but there's a big big push foryou to buy into the conversion you knowright again lose thing in this case itwas like a week-long of revival meetingsevery night they would have nemedian sayand you go and they have creatures thatwould be preaching you know repentanceand they have wonderful stories of youknow conversion for darkness to lightfrom state and each crop iced and itjust it was so many different familiesand and things mixed in it was veryinfluentialand my brother had been sort of led tobelieve that they wouldn't require himany longer to actually confess this oneChurch thing and if they just would comeback in and make peace and it kind ofsucked me back into it and so we bothboth of us try to fit in one more timeand then we found out that they hadactually not meant what they said andthat we really did have to confess thatthey were the one true church and atthat point I said I'm done with it I'mnot coming back and I begin pack mythings and I started searching amongstat that point the BT Omni type churchesand the reason for that was is because Ihad thought again as you know the oldword amenitized but I had one problemwith them and that is because of myPentecostal background um I did feellike we should be evangelistic and Ididn't think that they were evangelisticenough to be following the teachings ofChrist in Matthew 28 where Jesus says goye into all the world and preach thegospel teaching all men my ways andbaptizing them in the name of the Fatherand the Son the Holy Ghost so forth sothe BT Amish and the fellowship typeconsumer alert urges were a greaterappeal to me on one account that theywere the evangelistic plus they tendedto be more conservative in their way ofdress they were more Amish like or moreold order like even though that theywere evangelistic and that was a realattraction to me so I started to searchamongst them let me pause here a littlebit to Holderman Mennonites in terms ofhow they dress did they dress like youand I like or did the did they wearbeards or and did the women wear headcoverings or were they like modern youknow what what we would call youwouldn't know that they belong to aspecific religion no you would know themto some extent they wouldn't theywouldn't stand out as quickly the menespecially would not stand out asquickly because their beards are muchmore trim and they they were the typicalzipper pants and belts and and jacketsthe women would stand out a little morewhich I I feel like that's that's sadthat the women are made to stand outmore than the men I feel it's sort of amisogynist- got it but the women had to wear thislittle head it was like a black and itwas all folded up and on church Sundaythey would always fold it down on - tobe tied underneath and the chin and tailwould be out that was the the theRussian Mennonite background that theycame from and that's been adopted by thehold amendment eyes for many many yearsnow yeah that's on Sunday morning thewomen have it all tight as always blackand it's and but during the week theyhave allowed it to be being folded upinto a little beanie type thing in theback and of course they always weardresses that women always process sothey do have a bit of nonconformity inthat respect but as far as they'remodern they have all modern farmequipment the difference would be ofcourse they don't have radio they don'thave television of course they don'thave they don't have internet they mayhave computers now in their businessesbut they would only be for the businessitself and not connected to the Internetyeah okay so so then you were attractedto the beachy Amish in terms of what wasit about their dress that was moreconservative than the HoldermanMennonites because to to someone whodoesn't have her background the wholeurban Mennonite you know standard ofdress like dress code sounds very strictso what was it about the beachy Amishthat appealed to you well they were evenstricter yet they were even stricter themen generally wore suspenders like I'mwearing right now and the group that Iended up joining they were also thebroad fall pants which is a type ofpants that I don't know if I can standup and show you but but it's it's apants closure that does not have thezipper there's a broad flap in the frontthat's buttoned up at the top belt ofthe pants so to speak the cloth belt andto open the pants up and so if your leftor right handed you opened up one two orthree buttons and and laid the flap downto for whatever need you have and thenthan to get it off off you have to alsounbutton the button on the on the clothbelt and then you can strip it off youfor changing your clothes yeah I missKyle - that's the yeah stylin and you'reright the Mennonites some men and icewould most Muslim or modern men and icewould have zipper pants although the oldorder older men ice also have adoptedthe broad fall pants if you studyhistory of the other clothing is veryfascinating there's a book out therethat your listeners might findinteresting if they if this is a topicof interest to them it's called why dothey dress that way and it categorizesall the different dress of the plainpeople Stephen Scott okay Stephen Scotthe's he himself is actually a member inthe old order German Baptist Churchokay but he was a convert and he is avery educated man and he had been tocollege at college degrees and he's beenwriting books that explain in extremedetail all the different facets of thedifferent groups and their differentrequirements and thoughtful pants theydress the type of coverings the bonusall the history behind it the broad fallpants were off the brothel pants werecommon in the 1830s and then the zipperpants came in and even at a time in theVictorian era it was considered anindecent style to have the zipper pantsbecause the zipper was right there wherethe man's genitals were yeah and andwhereas the broad foam tends to close itwhen you say that this is consideredindecentwe're talking about mainstream Americaat the time it has nothing to do withyou know the Mennonites the Amish theAnabaptist I mean this was consideredyou know means from American standardsto be indecent to have that zipper atthe turn of the century is that exactlyyeah we had that in the 1830s and 40s OhEddie but eighteen sick yeah but 1860sin the Civil War air if you watch thehistorical movies you'll see that theyactually have the super pants by then bythat time that the the common Societyhadadopted this and it's already by the1860s okay so the Amish have a historyand the old order groups have a historyof selecting the more conservativestyles that come in through thecenturies through the decades and thenthey latch on to that and then theydon't change and so in that sense theytend to freeze history yeah exactly yeahthat's what those type of thingsattracted me to them I I wanted to be Iwas a nonconformist I wanted to be nonconformed I wanted to be different thanwhat I was raised in anything that thatthat testified against the way I wasraised or was different was somethingthat was very attractive to me yeah yeahso then in terms of the beachy Amish sothen then you did you then actually joinand get baptized into the church yes Idid they were not actually termed abeachy Amish the particular group that Ijoined would have at that time beencalled the Molina fellowship churchwhich was a split off from the Old OrderAmish in Lancaster County Pennsylvaniato a more evangelical position similarto the beachy Amish but they didn'tquite they didn't quite I mean they worktogether with the beachy Amish but theywere somewhat distinct of their own wayokay so now today today they're they'rejust called the conservative Mennonitefellowship is their official okay okayand and I should point out to yourlistener that there's a differencebetween in these type of Mennonites orBT Amish then then the Old Order Amishare then the whole demons excuse mebecause the holmen's were what we call aconference organization they they had atop-down government whereas the BT Amishand the Amish are all more autonomous ornon-conference and so they're more muchmore loose-jointed they sort of havetheir their circle of churches that theyfellowship with but that can vary andthere's no one head of the organizationthat people can go to so that's that'sthe type of group I joined was sort ofmore of a non-conference type of aMennonite Amish fellowship I just wantto say we have been talking for an hournow and how I would like to wrap thisone up is to briefly touch on one thingthat prompted you to leave the beachyAmish church and then join the Old OrderAmish I I began to lose my initialPentecostal fervor of evangelism and thesecond coming of Christeminent return and began to look morelong-term to the world in the earth andI had begun to read some more liberalMennonite books on environmentalism andI began to my father worked for theNational Park Service and he taught uschildren to respect the earth and Ibegan to think on what our impact was onthe earth as far as the modern cars andsuchlike and fossil fuel burning and Ibegan to have that deep long and againto associate didn't use any engineswhatsoever and I was intrigued by theold order way of life and so I began tomove in that direction it was it was itwas a long process it didn't happenovernight right so I just we're justgoing to skim this last part and thenwe'll come back in recording sessionnumber two and go into the details so sohow old were you when you transitionfrom the beach he Amish to the olderAmish how old were you at that point Iwas around 38 38 okay 38 years okay andthen fast-forward you're now in the OldOrder Amish church what was the onedefining moment or the reason for you toatfrom the Old Order Amish church Ohoh that's so hard to hand during onesentence I just okay III okay I know howI can explain itI took what we now call the outsiderstest of faith and when I took theoutsiders test of the faith I realizedthat there wasn't a foundation in reasonin science to to bolster the theteachings and the whole I began to seeit all as built upon like a house ofcards that didn't have a ability toreally prove itself the outsiders testsof faith is when you look at your ownfaith like you look at any other strangefaith that comes to your door like theMormon Church you'll become verycritical of them because you are raisedwith it but it's very very hard to turnthe spot eye light onto your ownreligion because you've been taught froma child that all these things are truebut once you begin reading the Bible inan objective way and you begin to seethe the genocide the misogyny of theslavery that was that was tolerated orencouraged and you begin to see allthese horrible things human sacrificeyou begin to say whoa something's notright here you see contradictions thatare not supposed to be in the Biblebecause we're never supposed to questionbut you begin to see anyhow and it juststarts a whole chain of events and youeither have to shut your brain down andsay and nope I'm not going there I'mgoing to stay true to my faith I got toomuch at stake here or like me you can'tstop your mind you can't stop your brainfrom working and one thing leads to thenext and before I knew it I was what Inow call myself as an Amish atheist nowe are going to end this episode to becontinued because as books upon books ofa story so we will come back in anotherepisode and by the time you see thishopefully you'll you'll see part 2 part2 willas well so this is our part one ofKenneth cop the Amish atheist[Music][Music][Music]

Kenneth Copp is a rare (former) convert into the Amish church, who now calls himself an Amish atheist. Kenneth builds handcrafted, solid wood Amish-style heirloom furniture, powered by real workhorses in an effort to produce goods in the most sustainable way possible. His shop is Locust Grove Woodworks in Maine.

In this episode (Part 1 of his story), we cover what prompted him to join the Old Order Amish church as a teenager and then what the single defining reason was for him to exit the church at age 38. Via his journey, we cover fascinating pieces of Anabaptist origins and history, including the myriad factions of Amish and Mennonite branches of Anabaptistism and some of their governing structures––and even a look at Amish fashion.

In Part 2, we go in-depth in the freethinking, or rationalization, that led to Kenneth’s resignation of religious beliefs, and why he still identifies as Amish. And, Kenneth learned the Amish language and still speaks it, no small feat for an outsider.

Kenneth, raised Pentecostal, considered joining the Holdeman Mennonites who claim to be the one and only true church. From there, he joined the Beachy Amish, and then converted into the Old Order Amish.

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