25 Interesting Facts To Help You Understand The Amish

The Amish

The Amish

Where did they come from? Jakob Ammann, a Swiss Anabaptist in the Mennonite church, wanted a much more literal interpretation of the Bible and so those who sided with him started their own thing.

What Is An Anabaptist?

What Is An Anabaptist?

Anabaptists reckon you should only be baptized once you're old enough to confess your faith for yourself. Not a bad idea really...

Wanna Get Married?

Wanna Get Married?

Usually, you'll be a few years either side of 18 when you're baptized (you've already done the Rumspringa thing  -we'll get to that).

Of course, you can't get married until you are baptized and when you get married, it must be with someone within the church.

No Violence

No Violence

Violence of any sort is simply not something that goes down in an Amish community. They're strict pacifists. That sounds great but of course, they can't serve in the military, can they?

An Amish Doll

An Amish Doll

They can have dolls but these dolls do not have faces. It's thought that this will somehow result in feelings of pride and superiority. As you'll see in some other points to come, those things are not good in the Amish faith.

Rumspringa

Rumspringa

If it's got "rum" in the word then count me in!

This is when you turn 16 and get to go do normal stuff for a short period of time. Like, you can go see a movie or drive a car. Some even get drunk.

Then they go back.

In North America

In North America

Arriving in North America during the 1700s, today the Amish number somewhere around the 300,000 mark in the US and Canada.

Life Sans Music

Life Sans Music

There is no music in the Amish world. They reckon music would encourage pride or feelings of superiority, which is bad.

Amish Women

Amish Women

Amish women are homemakers. Her role is what we would consider an old-fashioned one in which she cooks, cleans, and follows her husband's lead in public.

Even if she's really hot! Probably.

Shunning

Shunning

If a member of the community has done something wrong (usually against God), they can be punished by being shunned. Basically, the other people in the community just have very little contact with them for a while.

Excommunication

Excommunication

But if they've done something real bad, then they risk being excommunicated like they do in many other churches. The problem when it comes to the Amish is that since they don't know any other life, they're pretty much screwed. If somebody is thrown out of the Amish church and lifestyle, their family must cease all contact or they may be thrown out too.

No Need For Cars

No Need For Cars

We know they don't have cars, right? It's basically because cars make life too easy. In an effort to retain a dependence on community, they try and avoid anything that will make life too efficient so as to always need their neighbor for something.

Church Service

Church Service

The Amish were persecuted long ago by other factions of Christianity, and so began a tradition of services taking place in the homes of a member. They still do this now, alternating between homes.

Barn Raising

Barn Raising

This is one of the integral parts of keeping the Amish community a selfless one. Basically, they all get together and build a barn for one of the members of the community. It's about as close as they get to being festive.

The Beard

The Beard

A man begins growing his beard the very day he marries. But he must not grow a mustache - apparently they don't agree with mustaches. It's called "the reverse Tom Selleck". Probably.

Wedding Dress

Wedding Dress

The woman might treat her wedding dress (which she makes herself) in much the same way as the man treats his beard. Sort of. She wears the wedding dress to Church every Sunday, from the day she gets married onwards. Often, it's a blue color like these ladies.

Politics

Politics

Interestingly, although they do take the word of God over any government, they also support the separation of church and state.

Schooling

Schooling

Kids are taught by an Amish teacher in an Amish school (obviously) before they do some vocational training which will give them the skills to take their place in the community. They can't all be carpenters, can they?

Getting Kicked Out

Getting Kicked Out

We talked earlier about punishment for stepping out of line and risking getting kicked out of th church altogether, but we didn't mention what those lines may be. One reason for getting excommunicated is drinking alcohol, which is a definite no-no. However, there are many other reasons you may be judged to have transgressed. If you are found using a computer you'll definitely be in trouble. Likewise, if you don't kneel in church.

No Evangelism

No Evangelism

The Amish do not have the same attitude to evangelism as most other wings of Christianity and do not have to go out and spread the word of God. Perhaps they should though and they wouldn't have to outsource their need for males to impregnate their daughters.... Just sayin'.

The English

The English

Amish usually refer to non-Amish as "English" and aim for a peaceful co-existence. You might say that they'd just prefer to be left alone to do their thing, however, some groups have been known to happily afford outsiders little tours of their places and show them how they live.

Modern Medicine

Modern Medicine

Despite their practice of avoiding modern technologies, the Amish will often use modern medicines if somebody gets sick. They don't have insurance of course, however, the community will throw in a few bucks each and get them over the line.

No Photographs

No Photographs

Amish people don't like being the subject of photographs. Sometimes they won't mind if the image doesn't show their faces or it's in some sort of natural setting. But posing for the sake of it is not a done thing.

Retention Rate

Retention Rate

We hinted before at how some Amish populations have run the risk of inbreeding because they aren't out there raking in new members, however, they are of course, having children. They also maintain an impressive retention rate that numbers somewhere around the 90% mark, meaning their population grows each year.

Want To Convert

Want To Convert

Despite no evangelism, there are some people who convert to the Amish faith. It's not easy though...

Firstly, you need to learn the Pennsylvania dialect of German (many don't speak English at all). You then have to give up everything you have (easier for those who don't have anything, right?) and get your head around the fact you'll have no modern conveniences whatsoever again.

Then, you live with a family for a while to get used to their way of life. Finally, everybody gets together to chat and decide whether you get to stay. Oh yeah, the believing in God thing is a necessity too.