Discovery Channel “Amish Mafia” Virtually Fake

Amish mafia

If a violent group of Amish “protectors” exists in Lancaster County as represented on a hit reality television series, Steven Echternach and Jonathan Heisse would know about it.

The two local cops are District Attorney Craig Stedman’s liaisons to the Amish community, working with local Anabaptist groups on crimes of all sorts.

And they’ve found zero evidence of the gun-wielding group of Lancaster-based Amish renegades portrayed on Discovery Channel’s hit show “Amish Mafia.”

“I can say with absolute certainty that what I’m seeing on Discovery Channel is an exploitation of the Amish culture,” Echternach, Strasburg’s police chief, said this week. “It’s not a complete blatant lie, but the characterization is very misrepresentative.”

Read much more:

You don’t have to live in “Pennsylvania Dutch Country” and know people who were raised in Amish and Mennonite families like I do to know the Discovery Channel “reality” series “Amish Mafia” is bogus.

The show’s producers cleverly weave together actual stories of Amish and Mennonite individuals who’ve run afoul of the law with these characters who’s backgrounds are greatly embellished to create the illusion that they’re all part of an organized crime syndicate.

Do Amish, mostly unbaptized youths get into trouble, yes. There have been young adults arrested for drug dealing, drinking, fighting and leading police on wild car chases.

Are there “Hut Parties” where Amish youth gather to drink and do drugs, yes. The Amish allow their teenage kids to “cut loose” and get the wild urges out of their system, a tradition known as “rumspringa” (running around ) after which they must decide to become a baptized member of the church or be shunned by their families. In that regard I consider the Amish cult-like because it’s coercive, they hold families hostage. It’s during this time many Amish youth get into trouble with the law. But technically, they aren’t really members of the church yet.

But the stuff done by these so-called mafia members are absurd. You aren’t gonna walk up some guy’s driveway and blast his car with a shotgun to get revenge for side swiping a buggy and then just walk away without ever being arrested. Everyone in these communities know each other (and so do the police).

The show producer, Alan Beiler claims to be Amish but he’s not, he was born in Brooklyn, NY. In the first episode of the show he’s portrayed as a member of this gang who leads the police on three wild car chases because his registration sticker is expired. I recall there was such an incident involving a member of the Beiler family years ago. In the show they use local news clips of the actual arrest to lend authenticity to the show. I have doubts that this Alan Beiler is the same guy however.

Discovery Channel has gotten a lot of flak over this show because of the liberties they take. For their part they say the show is intended to portray the Amish lifestyle in a more interesting fashion and that, as the show progresses these controversies will be brought to light. I take that to mean that after watching the show for several seasons gullible fans will eventually discover that they been duped all along.

You can read what Hollywood has to say about the show here:

One last point about these Anabaptist cults like the Amish, Mennonite and Hutterites, there are many sects within each with different rules. Many Amish keep a cell phone hidden in the barn so they can stay in touch with shunned relatives who’ve chosen to live the “English” lifestyle. Mennonites drive cars and watch TV. Hutterites use laptops and surf the net (although porn sites are blocked).

All of these cults have one thing in common, inbreeding. The rules require them to marry within the cult and in small communities that means virtually everyone is related. As a result they often adopt kids to bring in fresh genetic material. I had a Mennonite buddy who had 8 adopted kids. He even traveled to China and bought an orphan for $10,000. But the one thing I’ve never seen in any of these communities is an African-American child. Draw your own conclusions.


  1. Ran

    Uhm, Alan Bieler was arrested in june or july of 2012, the show is BASED ON ACTUAL ACCOUNTS, not actual footage. So there’s a huge difference, re-enactments based on eyewitness accounts. Your misinformed about the culture, huttertites are a vicious cult, unlike amish. Look up millerites and 7th day adventist and their prophetess, that’s a cult.

    • Buffoon

      I’m not sure but it sounds like you’ve just challenged Whoopies knowledge of cults and all things ‘ites. This should end well. Stick by your guns Ran, don’t take no sh*t.

    • MLM103169

      Ron is correct!
      Actually you should do a little more homework. It is true that Levi is not amish…but he was raised amish and remains close to the sect. He has come to my town and gotten things from Carter Lumber many times. I am in no way saying that all the re-enactments really happened…and true they are compensated for their appearances on the show…but that doesn’t take away from the fact as to who they are and where they came from.

      • Whoopie


        Seems to me you and Ran are trying to obfuscate the issue by putting words into my post that I never wrote. You sure you guys aren’t shills for the Discovery Channel? I never said in my post that this Levi character wasn’t raised Amish or that he doesn’t exist or that because he’s a paid performer he’s not an authentic resident of the County. I dare say his court records for petty offenses proves that he is.

        Regarding this “dodge” about re-enactments: They aren’t “re-enactments” if the events never happened in the first place. If the event never happened then they are fiction, make-believe, in short, fanciful bullcrap.

        If viewers wish to watch a fantasy-drama with an Amish twist they are free to do so. But don’t confuse it with “reality.”

  2. Beth

    I live in this community, know everyone on the show and I guarantee this show is utter nonsense. The people on the show r really from here, although they have not lived the amish lifestyle in a very long time. They do have rumspringa, kids r kids no matter what community ur raised in. The amish and English get along and actually help each other out when needed. It’s shameful how this community is being portrayed. There r problems within the amish as they r human like everyone else. Alan beiler is just an ordinary punk whose trying to make money from kind people. He was not raised amish but Mennonite. How they talked roman beiler into participating, I do not know. When discovery was scouting locations here, they lied and said they were making a documentary. All filming in the gap and intercourse area was done secretly. I was very dismayed to see my children and their faces blurred out while playing an innocent game of softball. Our softball league is a great opportunity where English and amish interact. No one is there taking bets on the games. Levi stoltzfus, Alvin lantz, Esther & John schmucker… U should be ashamed of urselves!

    • Just curious

      What about the last lines of the article that touch upon the lack of diversity in the community…any comments on that? *eyebrow raise*

  3. Dan T

    I have lived in Lebanon County all my life and have Amish and Mennonites farms and neighbors nearby. It is ignorant to call the Amish a cult! They are a variation of Christianity spun off the Reformation. Amish and Mennonites sects of the Anabaptist movement which along with Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians and many other protestants denominations came out of the German and English Reformations of the 1500’s and 1600’s. They chose to practice Christianity based on their interpretation of Scripture. Calling them a cult is like calling Roman Catholicism a cult. The show is an aberration. If this is “reality TV”; then The Mickey Mouse Club a show about pest control. These people do NOT act like this! Shame on Discovery and shame on you!

    • Whoopie


      Thanks Dan, I base my opinion on the fact that these Anabaptists coerce members into joining the church and obeying the rules with the threat of shunning. When a young adult raised in an isolated community is given the choice of either joining the religion or facing banishment and separation from every friend and family member they ever knew, that’s coercion. Those that choose not to join often bear lifelong emotional scars as a result.

      It’s cruel and pointless. No other Christian faith subjects members to such ostracism. Those who do join the church spend their lives looking over their shoulders in fear that the Bishop will object to something they’ve done and they too will be shunned. Often their only “sin” is trying to stay in touch with a child, relative or friend who chose to leave the church.

      Anabaptists live the primitive lifestyle to eschew pride which they consider the worst sin of all. But consider the Swartzentruber (Old Order Amish) the most radical Amish sect. The men wear only one suspender because they believe wearing a matched pair is boastful. They don’t paint their homes lest someone think they are displaying pride of ownership. But in so doing they’re declaring that they’re more pious than the average Amish and the Amish in general think themselves holier than thou for sacrificing the conveniences of modern life. So in the end, they’re guilty of the very thing they despise…pride. They’re just oblivious to that fact, blinded by their sense of piety.

    • tomas rader

      OK…. Catholics are a cult also…just a large and old cult. One thing they got right … inbreeding creates morons.

  4. Though i myself am not amish, i live in primarily amish montgomery indiana. Horse and buggies drive by my house on a daily basis and i know many ex amish. This show is making a mockery ot of a simple, humble. And gracious people exploiting them for monetary gain and portraying them in a false light. If anyone in the amish community did any of the things depicted on this tv program they would be shunned and never dealt with or associated with again by the amish community. Very false and proposterous. Discovery channel has hit an all time low.

  5. shareen

    I dont know if its real or not. Cant judge. But fun to watch. And Alvin, with all his faults, is HHHOTTTT!

  6. I am from Lebanon, Pa, Levi’s name sake. I can also say the show is bunk, even though based on some true facts. I deal with many Amish and Mennonites on a regular basis, and they are kind people.
    People will always take what tv feeds them and do what they want with it, regardless of truth. For everyone else, it’s ridiculously entertaining.

    I concur with Shareen, Alvin is hot…..There’s just something about the strong silent type….*swoon*

  7. bob

    The only good show I like from Discovery is Flying Wild Alaska. All the other shows are bogus or just stupid drama. Reminds me of ABC Family doing a summer of secrets and lies. That’s a family channel? What has become of society? Sheesh! Arial Tweedo for the win!!!!!!!!

  8. Pingback: Couple Who Kidnapped Amish Girls Arrested - Blur Brain

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