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APNewsBreak: Study says Amish expanding westward

By MARK SCOLFORO, Associated Press Writer Mark Scolforo, Associated Press Writer
– Wed Jul 28, 1:29 pm ET

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The search by the booming North American population of Amish
for affordable, fertile farmland has produced settlements in 28 states and Ontario — and
has even led parties to scout recently for suitable properties in Alaska and Mexico.

A new study estimates the number of Amish has increased nearly 10 percent in the past
two years alone, to a total population of 249,000, compared with about 227,000 in 2008.
That figure was just 124,000 in 1992. Nearly all Amish descended from a group of about
5,000 in the early 20th century.

The study by the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown
College in Elizabethtown, Pa., found that about two-thirds of Amish still live in the
traditional strongholds of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana, but that they continue to
spread west, particularly into the Midwestern corn belt.

Farmland in Lancaster County, Pa., can cost $15,000 an acre, compared with $2,000 or
$3,000 per acre elsewhere.

"They are sort of challenging some of the mainstream assumptions about progress and
how you achieve the good life and happiness," said Elizabethtown professor Don
Kraybill, the study's director. "They're not merely surviving; they're thriving, and
growing at this very rapid rate."

The highest rates of growth over the past year were recorded in New York (19 percent),
Minnesota (9 percent), Missouri (8 percent), Wisconsin (7 percent) and Illinois (7
percent). High-growth areas for Amish in the past five years also include Kentucky,
Kansas and Iowa.

The newest state to get an Amish settlement is South Dakota, after a group of at least six
families bought several farms near Tripp in the southeastern part of the state. They have
planted forage for their cows, built barns and established a weekly bake sale.

Myra Weber, co-owner of Weber's Grocery, said they've patronized her store for baking
supplies and ice cream.

"We put it in paper sacks for them, wrap it up really well," Weber said. "They say they
have to get it home right away and eat this."

The study focused on all Amish groups that use horse-and-buggy transportation, so it
excluded such automobile-driving groups as the Beachy Amish and Mennonites.
The Amish are a devout Christian faith dating to the 1500s, and their ancestors began
arriving in eastern Pennsylvania around 1730. They generally eschew modern
conveniences such as motorized vehicles, instead relying on horse-drawn carriages and
permitting only limited use of telephones and electricity. Practices can vary from group to
group, but their plain dress and use of the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect make them distinct
in modern society.

The remarkable growth is almost entirely due to the Amish birth rate — many Amish
families have five or more children. Kraybill said the Amish retain about 85 percent of
the young adults who have to decide whether to remain in the church. The Amish marry
within the community, and the total number of converts nationwide is believed to be less
than 100, he said.

About half the Amish are under 18 years old, meaning the community tends to focus
much of its energy on young people and schools, Kraybill said.

Earlier this summer, a van of Amish land scouts from Prattsburg, N.Y., visited Alaska to
seek a site for a new settlement but were unable to find anything suitable. Another group,
from Illinois and Missouri, just made a return trip to Mexico on a similar mission.

Kraybill said there are no Amish congregations in Alaska or Mexico, although small
numbers of Amish schoolteachers from Pennsylvania and Ohio have been helping
improve education within an Old Colony Mennonite community in Mexico. That
conservative Mennonite group has roots in Russia, rather than Switzerland and southern
Germany, like the Amish.

The teachers' supporters produced a newsletter describing their experiences in Mexico, in


an effort to raise money for the project.

In the new population study, Pennsylvania passed Ohio as the state with the largest
Amish population, in part because the authors employed a more precise method to
estimate the number, one that takes into account the different average size of an Amish
district, or congregation, depending on the state.

The study says the Amish have targeted areas for new settlements judging by the quality
and cost of farmland, the potential for nonfarm employment, a rural lifestyle, other
factors conducive to their values and proximity to other Amish communities.

Their decisions to leave are often prompted by suburban sprawl, land costs, tourism and
other intrusive activities, zoning or similar governmental disputes, the local business
climate, employment needs and church-related conflict.

The Amish account for less than one-tenth of a percent of the U.S. population of 310
million.
Atunci cand am auzit prima data de Amish, m-am mirat ca o asemenea comunitatea poate
coexista in una din cele mai dezvoltate (tehnologic) state.
Ecaterina, o colega de-a mea din programul Muskie a scris pe lista noastra de discutie
impresiile sale dupa o vizita la o comunitate de Amish. Ecaterina nu doar descrie cele
vazute, dar si face o mica analiza intre modul de viata Amish si cel al moldovenilor.
Ecaterina scrie:
“Ieri (19 noiembrie 2006) am fost intr-o calatorie la Amish community in statul vecin,
adica Illinoys.
Amish-people sunt niste neni care dupa reforma bisericeasca – marea schisma din 1693 –
au inceput sa fie persecutati in Europa, in special Gemania, pentru faptul ca ei nu au vrut
sa creada in modul nou adoptat. Dupa ce tot i-au persecutat asa, amishii au plecat in
America, unde acum sunt in jur 125 mii la numar.
Toata poanta e ca ei nu utilizeaza tehnologiile performante, adica electricitatea, tv, radio,
internet, masini, tractoare, unelete electrice. Ei nu isi lasa copii la scoala dupa ce astia
trec de clasa a opta, ca scoala ii face perversi. Apropos, curtea suprema a SUA a
argumentat tare frumos chestia asta si le-o dat voi sa nu invete.
Inca, ei poarta haine cusute de ei insisi. Femeile poarta kikiutse albe, iar barbatii
pantalonasi cu bretele. Nu beau alcool si lucreaza in camp, lemnarit, etc.
In timpul acestei vizite (care a inclus home tour si turul atelierului de munca) am inteles
ca la noi jumatate de Moldova e mai amish ca amishii! Americanii care erau cu noi tare
se mirau de baliga, de gaini vii si de caii inhamati la caruta. Doi japonezi care se mirau
cel mai tare si fotografiau tot ce napadea, cind au vazut conservele pregatite pentru iarna
de gospodina casei mai n-o avut atac de cord. Tot fotografiau si fotografiau.
Apropos, pentru citi oameni erau in acea familie, eu as zice erau putine conserve. Eu cu
mama din 3 (trei!) zahoduri avem sa le umplem toate policioarele cu borcane, dar nu
borcane mici de 700 gr cum aveau ei, ci de acele de trei litri, si nu asa, da cu pepeni
murati si alte bunatati de care stim noi.
Cit despre lipsurile pe care ei chipurile le duc, e cam greu de numit lipsa. Ei au frigider
(congelator cu gaze), motoare hidraulice cu care prelucreaza lemnul, sistem de incalzire
cu gaze naturale, iluminare cu gaze naturale (cu adevarat performant), o multime de
lucruri care functioneaza cu baterii (ceasuri, lanterne, etc.) Cel mai important este ca ei
nu maninca fast-food.
Cred ca ideologia lor seamana foarte mult cu cea a lipovenilor nostri. Chiar au unele
lucruri in comun ca, de exemplu, barbatii insurati trebuie sa poarte barba, iar femeile
maritate sa aiba capul acoperit.
Concluzia mea este ca de fapt nu sunt ei asa de lipsiti de toate, este lume care e mult mai
lipsita…”

Mariana, o alta colega din programul Muskie, a continuat tema despre comunitatea
Amish si a impartasit impresiile personale dupa o vizita similara si alte observatii:
“Am avut si eu ocazia vara sa merg la amish people in Lankaster (cred ca ati auzit de
orasul ista din noutati). Americanii se mirau nevoie mare de fierul de calcat cu carbuni,
de lampa cu gaz si alte lucruri de felul asta, pe cind eu am avut senzatia ca sint intr-un sat
din Moldova. Dupa excursie am mers la restaurant si am gustat din bucataria lor. Bine ca
macar la mancare gustoasa nu au nici o restrictie.
In statul in care stau sunt multi Amish. Am vazut si pe la alimentarele noastre femeiuste
amish cu spiska de cumparaturi si cu barbateii subsuoara. Ultima pereche era deosebita.
Chiar m-am uitat foarte atent la ei. Ea – cu capor (nu tichiuta, nu “cepet” alb, da
anume capor), rochie albastra lunga (dar nu tare strasnica) si cu o pelerina neagra de
asupra rochiei, ca o manta (la moda!). El – costum din material bun, trainic si scump, dar
cusut dupa un model haios, pe deasupra cu un un fel de scurta, cu pantaloni-dudocika,
palarie de paie extravaganta si niste bocanci plini de zoi nespalati de multi ani! Da,
bocancii astea erau exact de fason moldovenesc si glodul tot ca cel moldovensc, asa
frumos, acoperiti cu un strat subtire de lut galben… kartinka!!!
Am povestit despre ei cunoscutilor mei din Moldova si numai o fata stia despre ce e
vorba, dar si ea se mira ca ei mai exista.”

Overview:

There is no consensus on exactly where the Amish fit within Christianity:

Some consider them conservative Protestants.


Most Amish would probably consider themselves to be Anabaptists
J Gordon Melton, head of the Institute for the Study of American Religion,
classifies them as part of the European Free-Church Family along with
Mennonites, Brethren Quakers and other denominations.

The Amish movement was founded in Europe by Jacob Amman (~1644 to ~1720
CE), from whom their name is derived. In many ways, it started as a reform
group within the Mennonite movement -- an attempt to restore some of the early
practices of the Mennonites.

The beliefs and practices of the Amish were based on the writings of the founder
of the Mennonite faith, Menno Simons (1496-1561), and on the 1632 Mennonite
Dordrecht Confession of Faith. The Amish who split from Mennonites generally
lived in Switzerland and in the southern Rhine river region. During the late 17th
century, they separated because of what they perceived as a lack of discipline
among the Mennonites.

Some Amish migrated to the United States, starting in the early 18th century.
They initially settled in Pennsylvania. Other waves of immigrants became
established in New York, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri Ohio, and other states.

The faith group has attempted to preserve the elements of late 17th century
European rural culture. They try to avoid many of the features of modern society,
by developing practices and behaviors which isolate themselves from American
culture.

James Hoorman writes about the current status of the Amish movement:
"In America, the Amish hold major doctrines in common, but as the years went
by, their practices differed. Today, there are a number of different groups of
Amish with the majority affiliated with four orders: Swartzengruber, Old Order,
Andy Weaver, and New Order Amish. Old Order Amish are the most common.
All the groups operate independently from each other with variations in how they
practice their religion and religion dictates how they conduct their daily lives. The
Swartzengruber Amish are the most conservative followed by the Old Order
Amish. The Andy Weaver are more progressive and the New Order Amish are
the most progressive." 2

Membership in the Old Order Amish Mennonite Church and other Amish
denominations is not freely available. They may total about 180,000 adults
spread across 22 states, including about 45,000 in Ohio and smaller numbers in
Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, etc. About 1,500 live in south-western
Ontario, in Canada.

Almost all members are born into and raised in the faith. Converts from outside of
the Amish communities are rare. Some Amish groups have a very restricted
gene pool and are experiencing several inherited disorders.

The early years in Europe:


How the Protestant Reformation generated the Free Church movement,
which led to the Mennonite movement from which the Amish split

The Protestant reformation and emergence of the free churches:

During the Protestant Reformation in 16th century Europe, John Calvin, Martin Luther
and Ulrich Zwingli broke from the Roman Catholic Church to form separate Christian
faith groups. They promoted the concepts of:

Salvation by the grace of God, rather than through church sacraments.


Greater individual freedom of belief.
The priesthood of all believers; no priest or other intermediary was needed between
believers and God.
Close integration of church and state.
Reliance on the Bible alone, with little attention paid to church tradition.

In what has been called "the radical reformation", some additional religious reformers
took these beliefs to a logical conclusion; they preached that the believers should form
"free churches" -- quite different from the highly organized state churches which were
typical at the time. They separated themselves from all secular activities, including the
state, and formed independent, informal, religious groups. These were much like the
Christian congregations in very early Christianity.
A small group of Swiss Christians, led by Conrad Grebel and Fexix Manz formed a study
group intending to recommend changes to the state Protestant church. Their reforms were
rejected both by Zwingli, the church head, and by the Zurich City Council. In 1525 CE,
they formed the first Swiss Brethren congregation in Switzerland. They baptized each
other into membership in their "believers church" -- a crime for which some were
banished; others were executed by drowning or burning at the stake. At the time, the
Swiss state church was no more tolerant of what they regarded as heresy as was the
Roman Catholic Church. Religious toleration developed later in Europe. A key belief of
the Brethren was that only adults should be baptized. The normal practice at the time was
to baptize newborns and infants. The name "Anabaptist," which meant re-baptizer, was
first used as a nickname to describe this and similar groups. The name stuck.

The Anabaptists promoted the concept of church as a self-governing , loose association of


adults, not including children. Worship services held in homes rather than at in a church
building.

The Anabaptist leaders met in secret during 1527 in Schleitheim on the Swiss-German
border. They developed what was originally called a declaration of "Brotherly Union"
and is now referred to as the "Schleitheim Articles." 7 It consists of seven articles:

1. "Believers baptism" was only performed during adulthood, after repentance and a
confession of faith. They practiced antipedobaptism -- opposition to the baptism
of infants. They believe that a child does not have the knowledge of good and
evil. Thus, they cannot sin and would not benefit from baptism.
2. Members who slipped and fell into error were to be warned twice in private. If
they persisted, the would be warned publicly in front of the congregation and
banned from the group.
3. Only fellow believers who were baptized as adults were allowed to attend the
Lord's Supper.
4. They pledged to separate themselves from the evil in the world. They were
pacifists and pledged to reject violence.
5. The leaders in the church, called shepherds, were to be of good character,
competent to preach to the congregation.
6. They advocated church-state separation. They generally withdrew from the world,
which they regarded as a corrupting influence. They would not hold public office
or engage in civic affairs.
7. Members were not to give oaths. Their word is to be sufficient.

These seven principles remain the basic guidelines used by the Swiss Brethren and
Amish to this day.

Some radical Anabaptists who expected an imminent end of the world attempted to create
a theocracy in Münster, Germany by force in 1534. Many governments viewed all
Anabaptists as a potentially serious danger to the social order. The groups suffered
extreme persecution. Many of their leaders were rounded up and executed. Programs of
genocide were organized by various governments, by Protestant groups under Luther and
Calvin, and by the Roman Catholic church. Some city-states employed "Anabaptist
hunters" who were paid by the head to locate and arrest believers. 1

Anabaptists grew in number, in spite of the persecution. They became a loosely-


organized "lay-oriented, non-liturgical, non-creedal, Bible-oriented church." 2

The Mennonites:

The Mennonites are named after Menno Simons (~1496-1561 CE), a Dutch Anabaptist
leader who had left the Roman Catholic priesthood in 1536. He felt that the Catholic
church had lost touch with the Gospel message by concentrating on "...legends, histories,
fables, holy days, images, holy water, tapes, palms, confessionals, pilgrimages, masses,
matins and vespers...purgatory, vigils and offerings." 6 He emerged as a leader of the
Anabaptist movement in Holland, and was able to unify the various diverse groups. Like
most Anabaptist groups, Simons taught "rebaptism, pacifism, religious toleration,
separation of church and state, opposition to capital punishment, opposition to holding
office, and opposition to taking oaths." Finally, in 1577, the country instituted a policy of
religious tolerance, and the Anabaptists there were given the freedom to practice their
religion without oppression.

In 1632, Simon's followers met at Dordrecht in the Netherlands to formally set down
their beliefs in a document called the Dordrecht Confession of Faith. It recorded their
beliefs in the Trinity, the incarnation and atonement of Christ, the primacy of the Bible,
salvation, adult baptism, etc. The Lord's supper and foot washing were observed as
ordinances; they were regarded as symbolic acts, not as church sacraments. Foot washing
was based on the Bible passages in which "Jesus did not only institute and command the
same, but did also Himself wash the feet of the apostles..." 8

Enforcing discipline:

Other Christian faith groups at the time imprisoned, executed, or committed genocide
against non-conformists. The Mennonites rejected these approaches, using non-violent
means -- banning and shunning -- to enforce discipline. Banning involves
excommunication: severing the relationship between the member and the group.
Shunning, called "Meidung" in German, was less severe. It had three purposes: to
encourage the sinner to repent; "to protect the rest of the community from possible
contagion, and to maintain the community's reputation." 3 Shunning requires that church
members temporarily sever all communication with the sinner, including eating together,
until they recant. This practice was based on Paul's writings in:

1 Corinthians 5:11: "....if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous,
or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to
eat."
Matthew 18:15-17: "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell
him his fault between thee and tell him alone...But if he will not hear thee, then take
with thee one or two more...And if he shall neglect to hear them, then tell it onto the
church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and
a publican."

Romans 16:17: "...mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the
doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."

Shunning has generated great difficulties within families, particularly where one spouse
is to be shunned by the other spouse and the rest of the family.

Beliefs of the Amish


Amish beliefs which are shared by Evangelicals:

The Amish are a very conservative Christian faith group, with an Anabaptist
tradition. Many of their beliefs are identical to those of many Fundamentalist
and other Evangelical churches, including:

Adult 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 a gift from God, through unmerited grace.
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.
Etc.

Amish beliefs that are not shared by most Evangelicals:

Salvation: Essentially all conservative Protestants, including Amish, look


upon salvation as an unmerited gift from God. However, Evangelical
Christians have traditionally looked upon the salvation experience as an
intense emotional event which happens suddenly, as a convert repents of
their sin and accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior. The new Christian's
subsequent ethical behavior and daily routine are of secondary importance to
the experience of being saved. The Amish have always looked upon salvation
as being experienced in everyday living. Salvation is "...realized as one's life
was transformed day by day into the image of Christ." 1
Knowledge of one's salvation: For Evangelicals and other conservative
Protestants, salvation is an unmistakable experience which happens when
one trusts Jesus. Amish are different. They don't believe that anyone is
guaranteed salvation as a result of a conversion experience, baptism, joining
the church, etc. "...they would consider it arrogant or prideful to claim
certainty of salvation." 2 The Amish believe that God carefully weighs the
individual's total lifetime record of obedience to the church and then decides
whether the person's eternal destiny will be the reward of Heaven or the
punishment in Hell. If a person is baptized into the Amish church and later
leaves the church or is excommunicated, they have no hope of attaining
Heaven. As a result, an Amish believer lives their life and dies not knowing if
they are saved and will attain Heaven. This lack of certainty has made the
Amish church susceptible to raiding from other Christian evangelists at
various times in its history. 2
The state: The Amish are enthusiastic supporters of the principle of
separation of church and state.
Authority: They believe that their church has received the authority from
God to interpret his will. "Submission to church is submission to God." 2
Rituals: Evangelicals look upon their two ordinances -- communion and
believers' baptism -- as rites that are primarily between an individual and
God. To the Amish, "The church itself, as a body of believers, shared in
communion as a sign of their unity with Christ and with one another.
Baptism in the Amish church symbolized a commitment to both god and
fellow believers." 1
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 the world.
Nonresistance: They reject involvement with the military or warfare. They
believe that Amish must never resort to violence or to take up arms in war.
However, they do not generally view themselves as pacifists, because this
would involve them in political action to promote peace. Their rejection of
violence does not extend to the disciplining of their children. The Faith
Mission Home in Virginia housed mentally retarded children and adults. They
used physical punishment to control the children. It took "...the form of
slapping the hand several times or spanking the buttocks a maximum of four
strokes with the hand or a 'simple light paddle." 3 Bruises on a young woman
led to the state Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation
obtaining an injunction which prohibited the use of force by staff in the
Home. The case caused Professor Alvin Esau to comment: "There is of course
great irony on this issue, as groups such as the Amish and Hutterites use
physical punishment, sometimes excessively, while supposedly believing in
nonviolence in human relationships." 4
Local control: They believe that each congregation -- called a "district" -- is
to remain autonomous. There is no centralized Amish organization to enforce
beliefs and behaviors.
Evangelization: Most believe that it is not their role to go out into the larger
community and attempt to seek converts among The English. However, some
Amish groups have recently become active in evangelization.
Customs: The Ordnung is an oral tradition of rules which regulates how the
Amish way of life should be conducted. Specific details of the Ordnung differ
among various church districts. The rules are generally reviewed biannually
and occasionally revised as needed.
Sex roles: In common with many conservative Christian faith groups, their
family life has a patriarchal structure. Although the roles of women are
considered equally important to those of men, they are very unequal in
terms of authority. Unmarried women remain under the authority of their
father. Wives are submissive to their husbands. Only males are eligible to be
become Church officials.
Oaths: Their faith forbids the swearing of oaths in courts; they make
affirmations of truth instead. 5

The Amish:

Practices of various groups


Church organization:

The Amish adopted a congregational organization. Each congregation is independent and


has its own leadership. There is no formal national head office.

Like most conservative Christian denominations, the Amish do not allow women to hold
positions of power. The four church offices are reserved for men. They are:

• Völliger Diener: (a.k.a. Full Servant or Bishop). He provides spiritual leadership


for the congregation. He preaches, and performs baptisms, marriages and
ordinations. He pronounces excommunication on unrepentant members of the
congregation.
• Diener zum Buch: (a.k.a. Servant of the Book or minister). He assists the bishop
in preaching and teaching. Most congregations have two ministers.
• Völliger Armendiener: (a.k.a. Full Servant of the Poor or Full Deacon). This
office is rare in North America, but was once common in Europe. He assists with
baptism and does some preaching. His main role was as guardians of doctrinal
orthodoxy.
• Armendiener: (a.k.a. Servant of the Poor or Deacon). He reads from the Bible at
church services, assists the bishops in various duties, and administers funds for
the poor.
Candidates for leadership positions are initially selected by vote. Typically, those who
received more than one vote would draw lots to determine who would be ordained.
Ordination is generally for life.

Practices of the Old Order Amish:

Practices shared by most of the Old Order Amish, the largest Amish group, are listed
below. Some smaller Amish groups have adopted practices which are either more
progressive or more restrictive.

• 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.
• Clothing: 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.
• Modern conveniences:
o 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.
o Electrical devices: They do not use electricity, or have radios, TV sets,
personal computers, computer games, etc.
o Telephones: In-home telephones are not normally allowed. Some families
have a phone remote from the house.
• Government programs: Most Amish groups 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.
• Days of Celebration: They celebrate the traditional Christian holy days. They
also observe a Fast Day on October 11.
• Religious services: These are held biweekly on alternate Sundays. One the "in-
between" Sundays, members often attend another congregation's service, or visit
friends or family. Services consist of singing, two prayers, Bible reading, a short
opening sermon, and a main sermon. Each baptized male then offers a comment
on the biblical correctness of the sermons.
• Communion services: These are held twice yearly, in the spring and fall. Before
the service, a council meeting is held in which the attendees resolve any
disagreements that they have with each other. They also discuss matters regarding
proper lifestyle and conduct.
• Meeting places: Services are usually held in the homes of members. As a rule,
they do not build meeting houses or churches. One source speculates that this
practice may have been done "...out of frugality, perhaps out of necessity, or
perhaps to emphasize that people (and not the building were really the church..."
4
• Funerals: These are conducted in the home without a eulogy, flower decorations,
or other display. The casket is plain, without adornment. At death, a woman is
usually buried in her bridal dress. A simple tombstone is erected after burial.
• 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. Depending
upon the behavioral rules of their particular community, they may be allowed to
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. 1,2

The media have generally given an unbalanced portrayal of rumspringa. They


typically concentrate on that small minority of youth who decide to leave their
tradition. For example:
o On 2002-MAY-30, Cinemax's "Reel Life" documentary series featured
"Devil's Playground." A Pittsburgh reviewer commented that: "...viewers
learn that 90 percent of Amish teens ultimately choose to commit
themselves to the Amish community and church, but the bulk of the film is
spent chronicling the lives of teens who make the opposite choice." 5
o On 2004-JUL-22, the series "Amish in the City" debuted. Five Amish
teens were given a rude reception by six city kids at a large house that they
all shared in Los Angeles. Two of the Amish youth, Ruth and Mose said
that they did not feel that they were being exploited by the show. But
Mose commented: "If they still take us back after we have been on
national television, they will take us back whatever we do." 6
o On 2008-JUN-24. ABC News broadcast a documentary titled:
"Primetime: The Outsiders" at 10 PM. It concerned a group of four Amish
teens from central Ohio engaged in Rumspringa. One decided to return to
Amish life; one went to jail for burning a buggy; one decided to leave the
Amish tradition; one was undecided. 7
• Slavery: In the early years of the movement, there are no records of any Amish
family owning slaves, even though this was a common practice among "The
English" (non-Amish) in Pennsylvania until the late 18th century. However, some
families did purchase redemptioners. These were skilled European immigrants
who had no money with which to pay for their trip to the New World. They
promised to work for a family for a defined number of years in exchange for the
cost of their passage.

The Amish

Conflicts and problems: internal & external


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 or pockets.
Vote or become involved in public life.
Theological disputes: There have also been disagreements in beliefs and
religious practices:
"Stream" baptism: Baptisms had traditionally been held in individual homes.
In the mid-19th century, some Amish wanted to follow the tradition of Jesus
who was baptized in the Jordan river. They had candidates kneel in a river
while the bishop poured water over their head. After much debate, the church
decided to accept both methods as valid. Stream baptism was phased out
around 1910.
Universalism: The concept that all persons would be eventually "saved,"
Nobody would spend eternity being tortured in Hell.
Hell: Whether it exists as a place where people are eternally punished.
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.
Polio: There was an outbreak of polio in 1979 among Amish in Pennsylvania,
Iowa, Wisconsin Missouri and Canada. The North American population of
Amish was essentially unvaccinated against polio at the time. The spread of the
disease was halted by an emergency vaccination campaign. This was the last
significant outbreak of the disease in the U.S.
Genetic diseases: Some Amish groups have a very limited gene pool. For
example, the vast majority of Amish in Lancaster County, PA, are descendents
of about 200 Swiss citizens who emigrated in the mid 1700s. Because they
traditionally do not marry outsiders and because few outsiders have joined the
order, the "community has been essentially a closed genetic population for
more than 12 generations." Thus, intermarriage has brought to the fore certain
genetic mutations that were present in the initial genetic pool (as they are in
any population), making the Amish host to several inherited disorders." 5 These
include dwarfism, mental retardation and a large group of metabolic disorders.
One in 200 have glutaric aciduria type I; they are born healthy, but can
experience permanent neurological damage when a mild illness strikes. From
1988 to 2002, the Clinic for Special Children in Lancaster County, PA, has
"encountered 39 heritable disorders among the Amish and 23 among the
Mennonites.....For 18 of the disorders seen regularly at the clinic, the
incidences are high, approximately 1/250 to 1/500 births" 6

There are two obvious ways to reduce the incidence of these genetic diseases
towards levels experienced in the general population:
A massive influx of converts to the Amish faith by outsiders.
Artificial insemination using sperm donated by non-Amish.
Testing of Amish adults for genetic diseases and persuading any that test
positive to refrain from having children.
Unfortunately, all of these paths are probably unacceptable -- and perhaps
offensive -- to the Amish. And so, the genetic diseases will probably increase in
frequency over time.
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.

"...a campaign to stop the show has been started by lawmakers, rural groups,
Pennsylvania Dutch tourism officials and representatives of the Amish....The
'Center for Rural Strategies,' a nonprofit organization based in Whitesburg, Ky.,
has helped organize opposition to the Amish show." Its president, Dee Davis,
said: "Once again Viacom has created a reality show where rural people were
going to be these curios...Viacom's got plenty of ways to make money without
ridiculing rural people." (Viacom owns CBS and UPN.) 1,2,3

Representative Joe Pitts organized a campaign against the show, sight


unseen. Joseph Yoder, an Amish cultural historian, said that he was opposed
to the "whole thing of televising the Amish and putting Amish people on TV
[because] they're trying to stay separated from the world."

"During the [initial] episode, the Amish begin to experience unfamiliar


technologies, from the mundane (escalators, parking meters) to the advanced
(airplanes), and new foods, including sushi and avocados. Together, all of the
roommates visit scenic Los Angeles destinations, including an emotional first-
time visit to the ocean for some of the Amish and a spectacular rooftop view of
the downtown skyline." 7

The show was shown to a group of TV critics who "seemed unoffended." The
first episode was shown on 2004-JUL-28, the ninth and last was on SEP-15. A
description of each episode is available online. 8
Massacre of school children: Three girls were murdered in Nickel Mines,
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania on 2006-OCT-03 by a lone gunman. Seven
more were wounded; of these, two died later in hospital, and one is not
expected to live. More details