Lucy WalkerÆs documentary ôDevilÆs Playgroundö provides insight and understanding into the normally sequestered religious community of the Amish. Walker follows a group of Amish teens as they engage in a religious rite of passage known as ôrumspringaö (Walker 2002). Amish children are not baptized at birth. Instead, they are baptized and commit themselves to the Amish community when, after freely indulging in the ôEnglishö world or ôdevilÆs playgroundö of mainstream American culture, they decide whether they wish to return ôhomeö (Walker 2002). Through following these teens during ôrumspringa,ö which has no time limit, Walker demonstrates that the Amish clearly define themselves through their relationship with popular culture.
Rumspringa begins when Amish boys and girls turn sixteen. From that time on until they decided whether they want to return back to the Amish community, they are permitted into mainstream culture and allowed to indulge in its temptations. The Amish permit this interaction between their adolescents and mainstream culture because they believe that proper upbringing will lead most teens back to the church. Apparently it does because the film provides information that 90% of ôrumspringaö Amish adolescents return (Walker 2002).
The Amish views itself as an alternative to American or ôEnglishö culture, feeling that only Amish values and lifestyle can open the gates of Heaven. The Amish also believe that each of its adolescents must make the decision to commit to the church independently to receive salvation. Despite this, Amish children are only educated to eighth grade before they learn a manual form of labor. Likewise, further education is considered a form of ôpride,ö something that is to be avoided at all costs (Walker 2002). Therefore, faced with life on the ôoutsideö world, as Faron calls it, it is hard to compete in the job market and overwhelming for many Am