Facts About The Amish Everyone Should Know

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Amish

Amish people are a prolific religious group based mainly in America. They live simple lives that focus on agriculture and worshipping god.

The Amish ways have stayed traditional other than a few small concessions – indoor plumbing and a single telephone booth for the community to share. They would rather keep their traditions than adopt modern technologies.

Children’s Educations End At The 8th Grade Level

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Boys go into a trade while the girls are always determined to be stay-at-home wives. This means they don’t get educated past grade 8.

Amish children learn in one-room parochial schoolhouses taught by Amish teachers. After that point, the child goes to vocational training with their family and members of the community where they learn skills such as farming and carpentry.

Amish Beliefs Forbid Them From Using Technology

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According to the Young Center, “Most Amish groups forbid owning automobiles, tapping electricity from public utility lines, using self-propelled farm machinery, owning a television, radio, and computer, attending high school and college, joining the military, and initiating divorce.”

No photos are allowed to be taken because the church prohibits pride, or arrogance.

The Rules Are Sometimes Contradictory

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The Young Center’s website gives crucial information, “Mass media technology, in particular, they fear, would introduce foreign values into their culture, by bringing greater mobility, cars would pull the community apart, eroding local ties. Horse-and-buggy transportation keeps the community anchored in its local geographical base.”

There are a few concessions like “outsiders” being able to drive the Amish around when they otherwise cannot.

Amish Careers

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The community has even found a workaround for running businesses when it would otherwise interfere with their religion.

Amish men are normally employed doing practical work like farming, construction, or factory working.

The Average Amish Couple Has Between Five And Seven Kids

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Amish families are generally very large due to the fact that their religion does not let them use contraception.

The average Amish household has seven children compared to the American average of only three.

New Couples Are Encouraged To “Sleep” Together

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Young couples are actually allowed to share a bed before marriage. But a wooden board is put between them to prevent contact.

The idea is for them to spend the whole night talking instead of doing other things.

Amish Dating

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If a couple hits it off, the Amish dating process with the boy asking the girl if he can drive her home. At her house, they will go in and visit. At that late hour, the household will be sleeping so they have plenty of privacy. They may sit up long into the night getting to know each other. The boy makes the long buggy trip home in the wee hours of the morning. If both are willing, the couple starts going steady.

The Amish Don’t Mind Having Their Photos Taken By Others

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It is commonly said that Amish don’t like having their photos taken. “No photos please” signs are common in Amish communities. Amish dislike zoo-exhibit treatment, and most avoid picture-seeking tourists and photojournalists seeking to capture their likenesses. At the same time, there is a variety of thought on picture-taking among Amish.

Photos Encourage Vanity

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While the Amish aren’t opposed to allowing people to take their pictures, they do not take photographs themselves or keep them in their homes. Some Amish completely refuse to allow themselves to be photographed.

Posed photos, in particular, may be seen as a show of pride. On the other hand, some Amish make a distinction between having one’s photo taken in a natural setting, vs. posing for a photo. Some have no problem with allowing themselves to be filmed or photographed, as long as it is obvious that they are not posing.

The Puppy Mills

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The Amish community owns 20% of America’s puppy mills. Annually, around five million dogs are killed in puppy mills, which equates to 11,000 per day. They are kept in horrible conditions, and some kept in cages their entire lives, especially if they are used for breeding purposes.

They can be stacked up to 10 cages high so that the ones in the bottom row have a 90% chance of developing an eye or ear infection. The puppy mill capital of the U.S. is considered Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a place where puppy mills- and the land- is largely dominated by the Amish.

No Education Past the Eighth Grade

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Education in the Amish culture is stopped intentionally at the eighth grade level. Well known for their approach to schooling, most Amish children attend class in one or two-room schools.

The reason behind the limited formal education is practicality (they need the older children to become farmers and craftsman, so they teach them those trades instead), and religious objections (they feel that higher education may teach ideas that negate their Christian values).

Practical Education

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They see little value in traditional education, although some Amish do continue schooling after the eighth grade in the form of supplemental courses (especially businessmen), seminars, apprenticeships, and correspondence courses.

One main objection from mainstream society about the lack of higher education for these children is that it leaves them with essentially no life skills and only an eighth-grade education, should they ever decide to leave the Amish community. With no knowledge of the outside world, they basically have no choice but to stay.

“Bundling”

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This bed shows the Puritan nature of the Amish society. In some Amish homes, the beds have a wooden divider between the husband and wife.

For many Amish couples, procreation is the reason to share intimate moments, so dividers like these allow them to not feel as tempted.

Meidung

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Shunning is no huge shock, as most people who know anything about the Amish know that they still use this awful punishment. In fact, the character of Leanne on Orange is the New Black was an Amish girl before she was arrested, and she was shunned by her community, so that episode made people even more aware of it.

Called meidung by the Amish, shunning is their form of excommunication, inflicted for “crimes” like marrying outside the faith or choosing to leave the community and live a modern life. You may remember Kate Stoltzfus from the TLC show Breaking Amish. She left her community behind and was recently featured in a Maxim photoshoot spread.

Shunned!

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When a person is shunned, all ties are cut from the community, and that includes their family and friends. It is the most serious punishment one can receive and lasts until death, or until the perpetrator repents in front of everyone.

It is disturbing that a whole community can simply flip a switch and turn their backs on someone they have known their whole lives, and even more disturbing is that a mother, father, or sibling could do the same.

The Choice

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Building upon that idea of it being so difficult for the younger Amish to leave or even choose another life for themselves, they are supposedly given a few weeks in which to spend in modern-day culture. During this time, they are to decide whether they want to leave the Amish community or stay in it.

For 90% of Amish youth, it is really no choice, at all; if they leave, they will never be welcomed back, nor will they ever have communication with their families again.

Rumspringa

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Before a teenager is baptized, many young Amish will spend a period of time outside the Amish community to see what it’s like.

This custom is called “Rumspringa”, and can be translated to English roughly as “running around”.

Over 80% Of Amish Teens Return

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Lots of Amish teens return.

80 percent of Amish teenagers return to the community to be baptized after their rumspringa.

Breaking Amish

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It is very harsh, and on top of that, they lack education, knowledge of modern society, job experience, money, or familial support. But some do choose the path of leaving. Of the ones that have, a few have been interviewed and seem happy with their choice, even though it was hard.

One woman, Mary, got her driver’s license and was given a car by a friend, which she paid back with her $8.00 an hour job cleaning at a hospital.

A Clear Patriarchy

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The Amish community is a clear patriarchy, and gender roles are never questioned. They take literal instructions from the Bible. For example: “The head of every man is Christ, and the head of every woman is man” (Corinthians 11:3); “Submit yourself unto your husband as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22); and “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission” (I Timothy 2:11).

Girls are not given sex education, and many are the victims of rape and incest at the hands of their elders, including family members.

Oppression

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The problem is so bad, in fact, that in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, which is arguably the place in America with the highest population of Amish, communities outside of the Amish post information and hand out brochures for young women to let them know how to get help.

Some young Amish women do not even know they are being abused because that is all they have ever known or been taught.

Pollution

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Amish people may be simple farmers, but they release an alarming amount of fertilizer as runoff into the Chesapeake Bay. Collectively, they own 5,000 farms in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where the streams carry the fertilizer and manure to the bay. A professor at Elizabethtown College and a studier of the Amish, Donald Kraybill, says, “They are very resistant to government interference, and they object to government subsidies.”

So they have not been very receptive to the efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency, which has suggested improvements to individual farmers. But the farmers take it as an insult.

“Dead Zones”

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They reject anything from the EPA, therefore continuing to help create “dead zones” in the bay, which are places where the oxygen levels are too low to support life. Their farming practices are rooted in the less environmentally safe ways of the past; cows are allowed to wade into streams and defecate in the water, the placement of the farming fields works against proper drainage, and manure is utilized when holding tanks are full.

And according to an article on pennlive.com, “What matters is the work. A plain-sect farmer isn’t interested in much of anything unless it works for him – and his farm.” Sadly, it certainly seems that way.

Animal Cruelty

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Sadly, it is not just the puppy mills that are an issue. The Amish are known for being abusive toward many other animals, as well. We’ll start with the horses, whom the Amish view as farm equipment and not living creatures. Their buggy horses are often underweight, lame, or scarred from ill-fitting saddles.

They are tethered and left standing all day long, expected to then trot home in the fading light. When they grow too old or tired, they are slaughtered.

Treatment Of Livestock

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Moving on to cows, they have Holsteins that have udders so swollen, they drag on the ground between their legs.

And back to the dogs, they kill healthy ones instead of paying to give them medical care when needed.

Beard and Hair-Cutting Attacks

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If you want to hurt an Amish person, apparently all you need is a pair of scissors. It is a rule among the Amish that women do not cut their hair, and men do not cut their beards. So to cut another person’s hair is one of the most serious offenses you can commit. Even to cut one’s own hair or beard is punishable by shunning and shame.

To cut the hair or beard of someone else is considered a hate crime and is severely punishable. Interestingly, mustaches are not allowed but beards are essentially required because beards were commonplace in the Bible.

A Criminal Offence

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However, men may shave or cut their beards until they are married, at which time they must stop. One example of a person committing a haircut/beard-cut crime in recent years is the case of Samuel Mullet (in the first of the mugshots above), who got 15 of his followers to attack other Amish communities in this way. They were found guilty of cutting the hair and beards of rivals in their community.

Convicted of religious hate crimes and conspiracy, Mullet is serving 11 years in a federal prison in Texas, while the others received various lighter sentences, and many are back home already.

Most Amish Communities Speak At Least Three Languages

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Amish speak both English and Pennsylvania German or “Dutch”. Amish speak a dialect of German known as Pennsylvania German, or Pennsylvania Dutch.

There are some similarities with dialects of German spoken in Europe today, though Pennsylvania German includes numerous English words. Accents and manners of speaking Pennsylvania Dutch can vary between communities.

Swiss Amish

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Additionally, the so-called “Swiss Amish”, primarily found in Indiana, speak a Swiss dialect which differs from that spoken by the majority of Amish.

This can even cause difficulties in understanding between a Swiss-speaking Amishman and one from a Pennsylvania German language background.