Who Are the Amish?

Quck answer

The Amish are a religious group that originated in Switzerland in the 16th century. They are known for their simple lifestyle, strong sense of community, and rejection of modern technology. The Amish believe in living a life of humility, obedience to God, and separation from the outside world. They dress in plain clothing, use horse-drawn carriages for transportation, and do not have electricity or telephones in their homes. They value hard work, self-sufficiency, and maintaining traditions passed down through generations. The Amish prioritize family and prioritize education that focuses on practical skills. They have a strong faith and worship in private homes or community buildings called meetinghouses. Overall, the Amish strive to live a life of faithfulness and simplicity.

If you’ve ever traveled the rural roads of the Midwest in the United States, you may have noticed that traffic jams in the countryside can be quite different from those in the city. Instead of long lines of cars bumper-to-bumper, you might find yourself slowly following behind a tractor or combine.

In certain areas, you may also come across another unique slow-moving vehicle: a horse-drawn buggy. Who are the people who choose to travel by horse and buggy instead of the convenience of a modern car? They are the Amish!

The Amish have their roots in the 16th century Anabaptist movement during the time of the Protestant Reformation. In 1693, a Swiss minister named Jakob Ammann formed his own branch of Anabaptism in Switzerland and eastern France. All modern Amish communities can be traced back to this group. The first Amish people came to North America in the early 1700s, seeking refuge from religious persecution and land to farm.

The Amish follow the fundamental principles of the Christian faith. However, they have specific beliefs about adult baptism, simplicity, community, technology, separation from modern culture, and pacifism that make them stand out in today’s society.

Today, there are more than 40 different subgroups of Amish communities across North America. Each community has its own unwritten rules, known as Ordnung (the German word for “order”). The strictness of these rules can vary from one community to another. However, there are certain rules that apply to most, if not all, Amish communities.

For instance, most Amish groups prohibit owning cars and instead rely on horse-drawn buggies for transportation. They also require their members to dress in a simple and plain manner, and married men are expected to grow beards. The Amish live in rural areas and provide education for their children up to the eighth grade in one-room schoolhouses.

The Amish oppose war and refuse to serve in the military or hold public office. They limit their contact with outsiders and only selectively use modern technologies. While most Amish communities reject televisions and computers, they do allow the use of electricity through batteries and solar power. However, they still avoid connecting to the public electricity grid for the most part.

When it comes to farming, most Amish still rely on horses to pull their agricultural equipment. Some more progressive communities have started to allow the use of tractors, and a few have even embraced the use of cell phones.

When making decisions about technology, most Amish communities permit modified versions of technologies that can benefit the community without having a negative impact on it. They do not view technology itself as evil, but they aim to avoid technologies that would lead to increased contact with and assimilation into modern society.

Although the Amish way of life may seem old-fashioned compared to modern society, the Amish community is thriving. Their population has doubled over the past two decades, totaling over 265,000 individuals, nearly half of whom are under 18 years old. Currently, there are approximately 450 Amish settlements spread across 28 states in the US and the Canadian province of Ontario. The largest Amish populations can be found in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.

Try It Out

We hope you enjoyed learning more about the Amish today! Explore even further by engaging in the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Interested in learning more about the history of the Amish? Go online and visit Timeline: Amish in America to trace the origins of the Amish in North America. What are some of the most fascinating facts you discover from the timeline?
  • Have you ever had the opportunity to spend time with the Amish community? Take a peek into Amish life by exploring Photo Gallery: The Amish Today online. What aspects of Amish life capture your interest the most? Can you imagine yourself enjoying the Amish way of life? Explain your reasons.
  • The Amish are renowned for their strong work ethic and commitment to farming. Watch the online video Amish at Work: Harvesting to gain insight into how the Amish view the use of modern technology in agriculture. As an Amish farmer, how do you think you would feel about your neighbor using modern machines? Provide reasons for your answer.

Recommended Sources

  • http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/general-article/amish-faq/
  • http://www.religionfacts.com/amish
  • http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/15/amish-ten-things-you-need-to-know/14111249/

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