Furlong to speak about 'Why I Left the Amish' in ZumbrotaSaloma Furlong, author of the memoir “Why I Left the Amish,” will speak at 6:30 p.m. today at the Zumbrota State Theater.
Saloma Furlong, author of the memoir “Why I Left the Amish,” will speak at 6:30 p.m. today at the Zumbrota State Theater. The event is free and sponsored by the Zumbrota Area Arts Council.
Furlong will recount how she made the difficult break with the strict religious community of her childhood. She will also talk about her story that was part of the PBS American Experience program “The Amish.”
“There are two ways to leave the Amish — one is through life and the other through death,” writes Furlong, who grew up in Ohio. “To leave through life, one has to deliberately walk away.”
Furlong’s return for her father’s funeral frames the story of how she came to leave 24 years earlier. One of seven siblings, Furlong said she endured the violent outbursts of her mentally ill father, lack of protection from her mother and physical and sexual abuse at the hands of a brother.
Furlong’s desire to further her education — Amish children leave school after eighth grade — and her resistance to the oppressive strictness of Amish life, led her to run away at age 20. She turned to an “English” neighbor (the Amish term for people who are not part of their community) for assistance. With $450 in her pocket and newly shorn hair, she took a train to Vermont, where she began her new life of freedom.
After leaving the Amish, Furlong married and had two sons. She graduated from Smith College in May 2007 with a major in German studies and a minor in philosophy.