The Amish are a people who lead simple agrarian lives in a very protected community. They are very closed and few people know about them and their way of life.
It’s the same for musical instruments. Amish are not allowed to learn to play them because they don’t want anyone to have a feeling of superiority if they have a skill others don’t have.
There are a quarter million Amish people that come from around 200 families. This leads to a phenomenon called the founder effect, where congenital disorders appear in lines of families and where there is a higher than normal infant mortality rate. Some of the diseases in the Amish community are so rare that the medical community hasn’t named them. Because they are so private, the general public hasn’t had the opportunity to see the disorders rampant in these people. They may marry relatives and refuse any genetic testing because they believe that who you fall in love with is God’s will. It is very likely that inbreeding occurs frequently given the very small community. They shy away from outsiders and do not recruit new members into the faith.
Nonviolence is a core tenet of faith for the Amish, and as such there has only been one murder in their entire history. Edward Gingerich exhibited signs of mental illness from a young age, but nevertheless married and had children. As he got older his mental state got worse. The Amish went for outside help from doctors, and Gingerich was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and given medication. He didn’t like the side effects and stopped taking his meds. He brutally killed his wife. He only was set to serve five years in prison, a sentence shortened by his mental illness, but he hanged himself. Unfortunately rape is more prevalent in the very patriarchal society, and perpetrators are handled within the community by usually being banned from church for six weeks. If this doesn’t work, the Amish have been known to call in external law enforcement.
Amish dolls are faceless. The toys are purposefully constructed this way to prevent pride and vanity.
The Amish only go to formal school until eighth grade. After that, they go into their chosen vocations, which are trades, including housework, farming, masonry and carpentry. This was a hard-fought battle for the Amish. There were many court battles 20 years ago, but the Amish are now legally allowed to do this in terms of schooling.
When Amish children turn 16 years old, they enter an age called rumspringa, a period in which they are sent outside the Amish community and can do things normally forbidden in the Amish community such as traveling, drinking Coca-Cola, going to the movies and learning to drive! They're encouraged to experiment and explore. The idea is that teens will sow their wild oats and then return to the church after experiencing the modern world.
The Amish have shunned modern technology and instead rely on old-time methods like horse-and-buggy transportation. Every Amish community makes its own rules, and many invent clever loopholes to enjoy conveniences. The Amish do not have phones in their homes, but there is typically a community phone booth for everyone to use. They don’t own cars but will accept rides and might even call a taxi. Their homes are not connected to a municipal power grid, but many homes operate from gas-powered generators that operate appliances like refrigerators and water heaters. Interestingly they do use computers, but they are a no-frills version; no Internet, no videos and no games. It is used exclusively for business so it has only word processing and spreadsheet programs.
Married or Single?
The distinctive Amish beard with no mustache is a sign of marriage. An Amish male only begins growing his beard after the day he gets married. This makes it easy to tell who’s single and who’s taken!
Amish women sew their own wedding dresses, which must be blue. Afterwards they wear the dress to church every Sunday for the rest of their lives. Amish couples don’t exchange rings in the ceremony either.
Rather than a child christening or baptism, Amish baptisms usually occur when individuals are between 18 and 22 years old. Only once they have been baptized are they allowed to marry.
Sex and Intimacy
Married Amish couples sleep in a double bed called a bundling beds. It has a wooden partition which makes intimacy and sleeping possible while resisting the temptations of the flesh. They even have separate sheets!
Because they don’t believe in technology, they farm with traditional vehicles, refuse to use machinery and travel around in a horse and cart. The church bans them from owning or driving a car, it is thought that owning a vehicle may encourage individuals to leave the community and abandon their faith.
The Amish began to immigrate to North America in the early 1700s, first settling in Pennsylvania. Now they spread out across Ohio and Indiana, too. After rumspringa, about 80% of Amish children stay in the church. They have high birth rates and the Amish population has almost doubled in the past 20 years!
The Amish believe in the literal translation of the Bible.
Amish women are expected to make family, church and community needs a priority, even before their own. They are in charge of managing the home, cooking, sewing and helping neighbors. They cannot serve as bishops or preachers, and must follow their husband’s rules.
Be prepared for a tough road if you want to convert to the Amish faith. First, you are placed within an Amish family to learn the daily life. Youhave to learn the Pennsylvania German dialect and talk like that. You also must abandon your old life, such as televisions, contemporary clothing, and cars. After all this, the church decides whether to vote you in.