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"It’s such an intense thing. Nobody can really explain it," said Furlong, who wrote a book called "Why I Left the Amish" in 2011. "That’s a pretty tough thing to reckon with."
Matthew Schrock, who left Holmes County’s Amish community in Ohio during the mid-1990s, wasn’t formally shunned, but no one would hire him because he was fighting with his father, who was the bishop. "There were a lot of people who wouldn’t talk to me," he said. "No one was willing to risk the appearance of them siding with me."
Shunning has its roots in biblical teachings and is used in some Mennonite churches as well. Jehovah’s Witnesses also practice a form of shunning. But it’s essential to Amish beliefs.
"They want the person to see their error," Schrock said. "But under that, I think, is this desire to maintain the integrity of the group."
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