The Amish

26 May

As someone who grew up in Ohio I still find myself asking….WTF is Amish? Who are these people?

The Amish lifestyle was led by Jakob Ammann and it began in Switzerland, France and Germany.  In the U.S. Amish communities are typically found in the midwest and the more traditional, still speak Pennsylvania German. The population is estimated to be 249,000 people in the US – still pretty small.  They consider themselves Christians and are known for simple living and plain dress. They don’t believe in electricty and travel by horse and buggy.

The Amish seek to separate themselves from society and have been known to shun members of the community that do not conform to their lifestyle and beliefs. They follow a strict moral code and educate their children in the Amish schools. Education is typically discontinued at grade 8! They make their living by farming, a back-breaking task as they use no machines.

It is a common misconception that Amish teens have a choice to stay in the religion – they do not (according to this). Also, they are considered peaceful people, but allegations from people who have left the community indicate otherwise. Those who have escaped/left from the religion complained of that women have no rights within the community and abuse disguised as dicipline is common. Doesn’t really sound like my kind of scene….thoughts?

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4 Responses to “The Amish”

  1. PMW May 26, 2011 at 5:56 PM #

    Amish teens do have an opportunity to leave the church. In fact they actually must formally join the church as adults. The teens actually have a period of time to explore the world outside the church. There is a name for this which I do not recall, it is in their dutch/german dialect but it means something like “wild spring.” There has been a movie made about this that was quite interesting. The kids are relatively young, 16 I think, when this starts so their ability and resources to explore the world outside the church are limited. There is also considerable pressure from family and friends in the chuch for them to “join” and most do.

    • Laura Wise May 26, 2011 at 11:49 PM #

      Hmm well I believed that as well until I read the account I cited in my blog…Maybe it varies in different communities? Thanks for the feedback!

  2. Eazy May 27, 2011 at 10:34 AM #

    It is called Rumspringa. It means “running around.”

  3. MJW July 24, 2011 at 10:52 PM #

    Several misconceptions to address…
    If your source of information is people who have left the Amish church, you may want to take what is said with a grain of salt. As with anyone who leaves anything (a job, church, etc.) their own justifications for leaving will usually be quite negative.
    I do know of abuses in the Amish world, and it is horrible. But as far as being more common than anywhere else in the world, that theory could arguably be debunked.
    Also, Amish youth do have a choice in whether or not they leave, but many times it will be a great disappointment to their family and church if they do leave. It is just as easy to stay with the lifestyle you’ve always known than to step into the unknown.
    The Amish youth also have very little or no rules and parental guidance when it comes to rumschprine, and they do get into many illegal things at a young age.
    I am not Amish, myself. But I do come from a culture that is similar with close roots to the Amish.

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