The Amish, called "The Plain People" or Old Order Amish, originated in Switzerland
about l525. They came from a division of the Mennonites or Anabaptists. They opposed the union of church and state and infant
baptism. They baptized people only as adults at about age l8. Adult baptism was a crime in the l6th century. Therefore, the
Amish come from an impressive list of martyrs. They were put in sacks and thrown into rivers in Europe. There are no Amish
left in Europe; The Amish were saved from extinction by William Penn who granted a haven from religious persecution in America.
Since early colonial days the Amish have lived in the United States preserving their distinctive culture, dress, language
and religion in peace and prosperity.
The Amish believe in many things the same as other Catholics, such as
baptism is done after one makes a commitment to the church.
Belief in the Trinity, the virgin birth, incarnation, sinless
life, crucifixion, resurrection ascension, and atonement of Jesus Christ.
One lives on after death, either eternal rewarded
in Heaven or punished in Hell.
Salvation is by grace from God.
The Bible's authors were inspired by God. Their writings
are inerrant. The Bible is generally to be interpreted literally.
Satan exists as a living entity.
They also have their own beliefs that Catholics do not share, such as
Salvation is "...realized as one's life was transformed day by day into the image of Christ."
They believe that their church has received the authority from God to interpret his will. "Submission to church is submission
The world: They believe in remaining quite separate from the rest of the world, physically and
socially. Part of this may be caused by the belief that association with others -- often referred to as "The English" -- may
be polluting. Part may be because of the intense persecution experienced by their ancestors as a result of government
oppression. Amish homes do not draw power from the electrical grid. They feel that that would excessively connect them to
Oaths: Their faith forbids the swearing of oaths in courts; they make affirmations of truth
Language: Members usually speak a German dialect called
Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutsch). High German is used during worship. They learn English at school.
Education: Schools are
one-room buildings run by the Amish. Formal education beyond Grade 8 is discouraged, although many youth are given further
instruction in their homes after graduation.
Appearance: Men follow the laws of the Hebrew Scriptures with regards to beards. They do not
grow mustaches, because of the long association of mustaches with the military
Men usually dress in a plain, dark colored suit. Women usually
wear a plain colored dress with long sleeves, bonnet and apron. Women wear a white prayer covering if married; black if single.
Brides' gowns are often blue or purple.
Vehicles: With very few exceptions, Old Order Amish congregations
do not allow the owning or use of automobiles or farm tractors. However, they will ride in cars when needed. Electrical
devices: They do not use electricity, or have radios, TV sets, personal computers, computer games, etc. Telephones:
In-home telephones are not normally allowed. Some families have a phone remote from the house. Government programs:
They do not collect Social Security/Canada Pension Plan benefits, unemployment insurance or welfare. They maintain mutual
aid funds for members who need help with medical costs, dental bills, etc. Photography: They do not take
photographs or allow themselves to be photographed. To do so would be evidence of vanity and pride. Also, it might violate
the prohibition in Exodus 20:4, the second of the Ten Commandments: "Thou shalt not make unto thee
any graven image, or any likeness of anything that...is in the earth." Marriage: Marriages outside the faith
are not allowed. Couples who plan to marry are "published" in late October. They are married in one of their homes during
November or early December. Rumspringa: Some Amish groups practice a tradition called rumspringa ("running
around"). Teens aged 16 and older are allowed some freedom in behavior. It is a interval of a few years while they remain
living at home, yet are somewhat released from the intense supervision of their parents. Since they have not yet been baptized,
they have not committed to follow the extremely strict behavioral restrictions and community rules imposed by the religion.
They may date, go out with their friends, visit the outside world, go to parties, drink alcoholic beverages, wear jeans, etc.
The intent of rumspringa is to make certain that youth are giving their informed consent if they decide to be baptized. About
80% to 90% decide to remain Amish.
Conflicts and Problems
Behavioral rules: Since arriving in North America, there
have occasionally been disputes within the Amish community. Some members wanted to:
Construct churches and hold meetings
there rather than in homes
Educate their children beyond the elementary grades.
Allow their clothes to include buttons
Vote or become involved in public life
Education: The Amish's insistence on terminating formal
schooling after the 8th grade conflicted with many state's laws which require children to remain in school until their mid-teens.
Some Amish avoided this problem by migrating from Pennsylvania to other states, like Missouri, which had more relaxed laws.
A ruling by the US Supreme Court in 1972 (Wisconsin v. Yoder) recognized their right to limit education of their children.
Accidents: Highway accidents between motor vehicles and
Amish black horse and buggies are a concern to many. Horse-drawn vehicles generally travel between five and eight miles an
hour. Some Amish are reluctant to mount a slow-moving-vehicle sign on the back of their buggies. In some states, they line
the back of their buggies with reflective tape as an alternative to a sign.
TV reality show: On 2004-JAN-18, UPN , and CBS (who oversees
UPN) announced a new reality show called "Amish in the City." The show involved five Amish men and women, aged 18 to 24. They
were matched up with six "mainstream young adults" chosen by UPN who were not told in advance that their housemates were Amish.
They lived together in a house in the Hollywood Hills. The creators insisted that the program will be "totally respectful"
and is "not intended to insult." However, the show would appear to violate one of the fundamental practices of the Amish,
the prohibition of graven images, including pictures, movies, or TV images.
the information from above was from http://www.religioustolerance.org/amish.htm