The Amish (/ˈɑːmɪʃ/; Pennsylvania German: Amisch, German: Amische) are a group of traditionalist Christian church fellowships with Swiss German Anabaptist origins. They are closely related to, but distinct from, Mennonite churches. The Amish are known for simple living, plain dress, and reluctance to adopt many conveniences of modern technology.
The history of the Amish church began with a schism in Switzerland within a group of Swiss and Alsatian Anabaptists in 1693 led by Jakob Ammann. Those who followed Ammann became known as Amish. In the second half of the 19th century, the Amish divided into Old Order Amish and Amish Mennonites. The latter mostly drive cars as does the main society during the 20th century, whereas the Old Order Amish retained much of their traditional culture. When it is spoken of Amish today, normally only the Old Order Amish are meant.
In the early 18th century many Amish, and Mennonites, immigrated to Pennsylvania for a variety of reasons. Today the Old Order Amish, the New Order Amish, and the Old Beachy Amish continue to speak Pennsylvania German, also known as "Pennsylvania Dutch", although two different Alemannic dialects are used by Old Order Amish in Adams and Allen counties in Indiana.
As of 2000, over 165,000 Old Order Amish lived in the United States and about 1,500 lived in Canada. A 2008 study suggested their numbers had increased to 227,000, and in 2010, a study suggested their population had grown by 10 percent in the past two years to 249,000, with increasing movement to the West. Most of the Amish continue to have six or seven children, while benefitting from the major decrease in infant and maternal mortality in the 20th century. Between 1992 and 2017, the Amish population increased by 149 percent, while the U.S. population increased by 23 percent.
Amish church membership begins with baptism, usually between the ages of 16 and 23. It is a requirement for marriage within the Amish church. Once a person is baptized within the church, he or she may marry only within the faith. Church districts average between 20 and 40 families and worship services are held every other Sunday in a member's home. The district is led by a bishop and several ministers and deacons. The rules of the church, the Ordnung, must be observed by every member and cover many aspects of day-to-day living, including prohibitions or limitations on the use of power-line electricity, telephones, and automobiles, as well as regulations on clothing. Most Amish do not buy commercial insurance or participate in Social Security. As present-day Anabaptists, Amish church members practice nonresistance and will not perform any type of military service. The Amish value rural life, manual labor, and humility, all under the auspices of living what they interpret to be God's word.
Members who do not conform to these community expectations and who cannot be convinced to repent are excommunicated. In addition to excommunication, members may be shunned, a practice that limits social contacts to shame the wayward member into returning to the church. Almost 90 percent of Amish teenagers choose to be baptized and join the church. During an adolescent period of rumspringa ("running around") in some communities, nonconforming behavior that would result in the shunning of an adult who had made the permanent commitment of baptism, may be met with a degree of forbearance. Amish church groups seek to maintain a degree of separation from the non-Amish world, i.e. American and Canadian society. Non-Amish people are generally referred to as 'English'. Generally, a heavy emphasis is placed on church and family relationships. They typically operate their own one-room schools and discontinue formal education after grade eight, at age 13/14. Until the children turn 16, they have vocational training under the tutelage of their parents, community, and the school teacher. Higher education is generally discouraged, as it can lead to social segregation and the unraveling of the community. However, some Amish women have used higher education to obtain a nursing certificate so that they may provide midwifery services to the community.
An Amish family riding in a traditional Amish buggy in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
(2018, Old Order Amish)
|Regions with significant populations|
|United States (notably Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, and New York)|
Canada (notably Ontario)
|Pennsylvania German, Bernese German, Low Alemannic Alsatian German, Amish High German, English|
The Anabaptist movement, from which the Amish later emerged, started in circles around Huldrych Zwingli (1484 – 1531) who led the early Reformation in Switzerland. In Zurich on January 21, 1525, Conrad Grebel and George Blaurock practiced adult baptism to each other and then to others. This Swiss movement, part of the Radical Reformation, later became known as Swiss Brethren.
The term Amish was first used as a Schandename (a term of disgrace) in 1710 by opponents of Jakob Amman. The first informal division between Swiss Brethren was recorded in the 17th century between Oberländers (those living in the hills) and Emmentaler (those living in the Emmental valley). The Oberländers were a more extreme congregation; their zeal pushed them into more remote areas and their solitude made them more zealous.
Swiss Anabaptism developed, from this point, in two parallel streams, most clearly marked by disagreement over the preferred treatment of "fallen" believers. The Emmentalers (sometimes referred to as Reistians, after bishop Hans Reist, a leader among the Emmentalers) argued that fallen believers should only be withheld from communion, and not regular meals. The Amish argued that those who had been banned should be avoided even in common meals. The Reistian side eventually formed the basis of the Swiss Mennonite Conference. Because of this common heritage, Amish and Mennonites from southern Germany and Switzerland retain many similarities. Those who leave the Amish fold tend to join various congregations of Conservative Mennonites.
Amish began migrating to Pennsylvania, then known for its religious toleration, in the 18th century as part of a larger migration from the Palatinate and neighboring areas. This migration was a reaction to religious wars, poverty, and religious persecution in Europe. The first Amish immigrants went to Berks County, Pennsylvania, but later moved, motivated by land issues and by security concerns tied to the French and Indian War. Many eventually settled in Lancaster County. Other groups later settled elsewhere in North America.
Most Amish communities that were established in North America did not ultimately retain their Amish identity. The major division that resulted in the loss of identity of many Amish congregations occurred in the third quarter of the 19th century. The forming of factions worked its way out at different times at different places. The process was rather a "sorting out" than a split. Amish people are free to join another Amish congregation at another place that fits them best.
In the years after 1850, tensions rose within individual Amish congregations and between different Amish congregations. Between 1862 and 1878, yearly Dienerversammlungen (ministerial conferences) were held at different places, concerning how the Amish should deal with the tensions caused by the pressures of modern society. The meetings themselves were a progressive idea; for bishops to assemble to discuss uniformity was an unprecedented notion in the Amish church. By the first several meetings, the more traditionally minded bishops agreed to boycott the conferences.
The more progressive members, comprising roughly two-thirds of the group, became known by the name Amish Mennonite, and eventually united with the Mennonite Church, and other Mennonite denominations, mostly in the early 20th century. The more traditionally minded groups became known as the Old Order Amish. The Egli Amish had already started to withdraw from the Amish church in 1858. They soon drifted away from the old ways and changed their name to "Defenseless Mennonite" in 1908. Congregations who took no side in the division after 1862 formed the Conservative Amish Mennonite Conference in 1910, but dropped the word "Amish" from their name in 1957.
Because no division occurred in Europe, the Amish congregations remaining there took the same way as the change-minded Amish Mennonites in North America and slowly merged with the Mennonites. The last Amish congregation in Germany to merge was the Ixheim Amish congregation, which merged with the neighboring Mennonite Church in 1937. Some Mennonite congregations, including most in Alsace, are descended directly from former Amish congregations.
Though splits happened among the Old Order in the 19th century in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, a major split among the Old Orders took until World War I. At that time, two very conservative affiliations emerged - the Swartzentruber Amish in Holmes County, Ohio, and the Buchanan Amish in Iowa. The Buchanan Amish soon were joined by like-minded congregations all over the country.
With World War I came the massive suppression of the German language in the US that eventually led to language shift of most Pennsylvania German speakers, leaving the Amish and other Old Orders as almost the only speakers by the end of the 20th century. This created a language barrier around the Amish that did not exist before in that form.
During the Second World War the old question of military service for the Amish came up again. Because Amish young men in general refused military service they ended up in the Civilian Public Service (CPS), where they worked mainly in forestry and hospitals. The fact that many young men worked in hospitals, where they had a lot of contact with more progressive Mennonites and the outside world, had the result that many of these men never joined the Amish church.
Until about 1950, almost all Amish children attended small, local, non-Amish schools, but then school consolidation and mandatory schooling beyond eighth grade caused Amish opposition. Amish communities opened their own Amish schools. In 1972, the United States Supreme Court exempted Amish pupils from compulsory education past eighth grade. By the end of the 20th century, almost all Amish children attended Amish schools.
In the last quarter of the 20th century, a growing number of Amish men left farm work and started small businesses because of increasing pressure on small-scale farming. Though a wide variety of small businesses exists among the Amish, construction work and woodworking are quite widespread. In many Amish settlements, especially the larger ones, farmers are now a minority. Approximately 12,000 of the 40,000 dairy farms in the United States are Amish-owned as of 2018.
Until the early 20th century, Old Order Amish identity was not linked to the use of technologies, as the Old Order Amish and their rural neighbors used the same farm and household technologies. Questions about the use of technologies also did not play a role in the Old Order division of the second half of the 19th century. Telephones were the first important technology that was rejected, soon followed by the rejection of cars, tractors, radios, and many other technological inventions of the 20th century.
Two key concepts for understanding Amish practices are their rejection of Hochmut (pride, arrogance, haughtiness) and the high value they place on Demut (humility) and Gelassenheit (calmness, composure, placidity), often translated as "submission" or "letting-be". Gelassenheit is perhaps better understood as a reluctance to be forward, to be self-promoting, or to assert oneself. The Amish's willingness to submit to the "Will of Jesus", expressed through group norms, is at odds with the individualism so central to the wider American culture. The Amish anti-individualist orientation is the motive for rejecting labor-saving technologies that might make one less dependent on the community. Modern innovations such as electricity might spark a competition for status goods, or photographs might cultivate personal vanity. Electric power lines would be going against the Bible, which says that you shall not be "conformed to the world" (Romans 12:2).
Amish lifestyle is regulated by the Ordnung ("order"), which differs slightly from community to community, and within a community, from district to district. What is acceptable in one community may not be acceptable in another. The Ordnung is agreed upon - or changed - within the whole community of baptized members prior to Communion which takes place two times a year. The meeting where the Ordnung is discussed is called Ordnungsgemeine in Standard German and Ordningsgmee in Pennsylvania Dutch. The Ordnung include matters such as dress, permissible uses of technology, religious duties, and rules regarding interaction with outsiders. In these meetings, women also vote in questions concerning the Ordnung.
Bearing children, raising them, and socializing with neighbors and relatives are the greatest functions of the Amish family. Amish typically believe that large families are a blessing from God. Farm families tend to have larger families, because sons are needed to perform farm labor. Community is central to the Amish way of life.
Working hard is considered godly, and some technological advancements have been considered undesirable because they reduce the need for hard work. Machines such as automatic floor cleaners in barns have historically been rejected as this provides young farmhands with too much free time.
The Amish are known for their plain attire. Men wear solid colored shirts, broad-brimmed hats and suits that signify similarity amongst one another. Amish men grow beards to symbolize manhood, marital status and promote humility. They are forbidden to grow mustaches because they are affiliated with the military, which the Amish are strongly opposed to due to their pacifist beliefs. Women have similar guidelines on how to dress, which are also expressed in the Ordnung, the Amish version of legislation. They are to wear calf-length dresses, muted colors along with bonnets and aprons. Prayer caps or bonnets are worn by the women because they are a visual representation of their religious beliefs and promote unison through the tradition of every women wearing one. The color of the bonnets signifies whether the women are single, in which they would wear black bonnets or married, thus wearing white bonnets. The color coding of bonnets is important to signify the women’s relationship status because women are not allowed to wear jewelry because it is seen as drawing attention to the body which can induce pride in the individual. All clothing is sewn by hand but the way to fasten the garment widely depends on whether the Amish person is a part of the New Order or Old Order Amish. The Old Order Amish seldom, if ever, use buttons because they are seen as too flashy, therefore, they use the hook and eye approach to fashion clothing or metal snaps. However, the New Order Amish are slightly more progressive and allow the usage of buttons to help attire clothing.
Amish cuisine is noted for its simplicity and traditional qualities. Food plays an important part in Amish social life and is served at potlucks, weddings, fundraisers, farewells, and other events. Many Amish foods are sold at markets including pies, preserves, bread mixes, pickled produce, desserts, and canned goods. Many Amish communities have also established restaurants for visitors. Amish meat consumption is similar to the American average though they tend to eat more preserved meat.
Over the years, the Amish churches have divided many times over doctrinal disputes. The largest group, the "Old Order" Amish, a conservative faction that separated from other Amish in the 1860s, are those who have most emphasized traditional practices and beliefs. The New Order Amish are a group of Amish whom some scholars see best described as a subgroup of Old Order Amish, despite the name.
About 40 different Old Order Amish affiliations are known; the eight major affiliations are below, with Lancaster as the largest one in number of districts and population:
|Affiliation||Date established||Origin||States||Settlements||Church districts|
|Holmes Old Order||1808||Ohio||1||2||147|
The table below indicates the use of certain technologies by different Amish affiliations. The use of cars is not allowed by any Old and New Order Amish, nor are radio, television, or in most cases the use of the Internet. The three affiliations: "Lancaster", "Holmes Old Order", and "Elkhart-LaGrange" are not only the three largest affiliations, but they also represent the mainstream among the Old Order Amish. The most conservative affiliations are above, the most modern ones below. Technologies used by very few are on the left; the ones used by most are on the right. The percentage of all Amish who use a technology is also indicated approximately. The Old Order Amish culture involves lower greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors and activities with the exception of diet, and their per-person emissions has been estimated to be less than one quarter that of the wider society.
|Affiliation||Tractor for fieldwork||Roto- tiller||Power lawn mower||Propane gas||Bulk milk tank||Mechanical milker||Mechanical refrigerator||Pickup balers||Inside flush toilet||Running water bath tub||Tractor for belt power||Pneumatic tools||Chain saw||Pressurized lamps||Motorized washing machines|
|Percentage of use
by all Amish
|Holmes Old Order||No||Some||Some||No*||No||No||Some||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
 * Natural gas allowed
Most Old Order Amish speak Pennsylvania Dutch, and refer to non-Amish people as "English", regardless of ethnicity. Some Amish who migrated to the United States in the 1850s speak a form of Bernese German or a Low Alemannic Alsatian dialect. According to one scholar, "today, almost all Amish are functionally bilingual in Pennsylvania Dutch and English; however, domains of usage are sharply separated. Pennsylvania Dutch dominates in most in-group settings, such as the dinner table and preaching in church services. In contrast, English is used for most reading and writing. English is also the medium of instruction in schools and is used in business transactions and often, out of politeness, in situations involving interactions with non-Amish. Finally, the Amish read prayers and sing in Standard German (which, in Pennsylvania Dutch, is called Hochdeitsch[a]) at church services. The distinctive use of three different languages serves as a powerful conveyor of Amish identity. "Although 'the English language is being used in more and more situations,' Pennsylvania Dutch is 'one of a handful of minority languages in the United States that is neither endangered nor supported by continual arrivals of immigrants.'"
The Amish largely share a German or Swiss-German ancestry. They generally use the term "Amish" only for members of their faith community and not as an ethnic designation. However some Amish descendants recognize their cultural background knowing that their genetic and cultural traits are uniquely different from other ethnicities. Those who choose to affiliate with the church, or young children raised in Amish homes, but too young to yet be church members, are considered to be Amish. Certain Mennonite churches have a high number of people who were formerly from Amish congregations. Although more Amish immigrated to North America in the 19th century than during the 18th century, most of today's Amish descend from 18th-century immigrants. The latter tended to emphasize tradition to a greater extent, and were perhaps more likely to maintain a separate Amish identity. There are a number of Amish Mennonite church groups that had never in their history been associated with the Old Order Amish because they split from the Amish mainstream in the time when the Old Orders formed in the 1860s and '70s. The former Western Ontario Mennonite Conference (WOMC) was made up almost entirely of former Amish Mennonites who reunited with the Mennonite Church in Canada. Orland Gingerich's book The Amish of Canada devotes the vast majority of its pages not to the Beachy or Old Order Amish, but to congregations in the former WOMC.
Several other groups, called "para-Amish" by G. C. Waldrep and others, share many characteristics with the Amish, such as horse and buggy transportation, plain dress, and the preservation of the German language. The members of these groups are largely of Amish origin, but they are not in fellowship with other Amish groups because they adhere to theological doctrines (e.g., assurance of salvation) or practices (community of goods) that are normally not accepted among mainstream Amish. One such former Amish group is the Bergholz Community.
|Source: 1992, 2000, 2010, 2018|
Because the Amish are usually baptized no earlier than 18 and children are not counted in local congregation numbers, estimating their numbers is difficult. Rough estimates from various studies placed their numbers at 125,000 in 1992, 166,000 in 2000, and 221,000 in 2008. Thus, from 1992 to 2008, population growth among the Amish in North America was 84 percent (3.6 percent per year). During that time, they established 184 new settlements and moved into six new states. In 2000, about 165,620 Old Order Amish resided in the United States, of whom 73,609 were church members. The Amish are among the fastest-growing populations in the world, with an average of seven children per family.
In 2010, a few religious bodies, including the Amish, changed the way their adherents were reported to better match the standards of the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies. When looking at all Amish adherents and not solely Old Order Amish, about 241,000 Amish adherents were in 28 U.S. states in 2010.
|U.S. state||Amish pop. in 1992||Amish pop. in 2000||Amish pop. in 2010||Amish pop. in 2018|
In 2017, Old Order communities were in 31 U.S. states. Pennsylvania has the largest population (74,300), followed by Ohio (73,800) and Indiana (53,100), as of June 2017. The largest Amish settlements are in Lancaster County in southeastern Pennsylvania (38,095), Holmes County and adjacent counties in northeastern Ohio (35,850), and Elkhart and LaGrange counties in northeastern Indiana (24,955). Nearly 50% of the population in Holmes County is Amish.
The largest concentration of Amish west of the Mississippi River is in Missouri, with other settlements in eastern Iowa and southeast Minnesota. The largest Amish settlements in Iowa are located near Kalona and Bloomfield. The largest settlement in Wisconsin is near Cashton with 13 congregations, i.e. about 2,000 people in 2009.
Because of rapid population growth in Amish communities, new settlements are formed to obtain enough affordable farmland. Other reasons for new settlements include locating in isolated areas that support their lifestyle, moving to areas with cultures conducive to their way of life, maintaining proximity to family or other Amish groups, and sometimes to resolve church or leadership conflicts.
Amish settlements are in four Canadian provinces: Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, and New Brunswick. The majority of Old Order settlements is located in the province of Ontario, namely Oxford (Norwich Township) and Norfolk Counties. A small community is also established in Bruce County (Huron-Kinloss Township) near Lucknow.
|Area outside the U.S.||Amish pop. in 1992||Amish pop. in 2018|
|Prince Edward Island||0||150|
In 2016, several dozen Old Order Amish families founded two new settlements in Kings County in the province of Prince Edward Island. Increasing land prices in Ontario had reportedly limited the ability of members in those communities to purchase new farms. At about the same time a new settlement was founded near Perth-Andover in New Brunswick, only about 12 km from Amish settlements in Maine. In 2017, an Amish settlement was founded in Manitoba near Stuartburn.
The first attempt by Old Order Amish to settle in Latin America was in Paradise Valley, near Galeana, Nuevo León, Mexico, but the settlement only lasted from 1923 to 1929. An Amish settlement was tried in Honduras from about 1968 to 1978, but this settlement failed too. In 2015, new settlements of New Order Amish were founded east of Catamarca, Argentina, and Colonia Naranjita, Bolivia, about 75 miles (121 km) southwest of Santa Cruz. Most of the members of these new communities come from Old Colony Mennonite background and have been living in the area for several decades.
In Europe, no split occurred between Old Order Amish and Amish Mennonites; like the Amish Mennonites in North America, the European Amish assimilated into the Mennonite mainstream during the second half of the 19th century through the first decades of the 20th century. Eventually, they dropped the word "Amish" from the names of their congregations and lost their Amish identity and culture. The last European Amish congregation joined the Mennonites in 1937 in Ixheim, today part of Zweibrücken in the Palatinate region.
Only a few outsiders, so-called seekers, have ever joined the Amish. Since 1950, only some 75 people have joined and remained members of the Amish. Since 1990, some twenty people of Russian Mennonite background have joined the Amish in Aylmer, Ontario.
Two whole Christian communities have joined the Amish: The church at Smyrna, Maine, one of the five Christian Communities of Elmo Stoll after Stoll's death and the church at Manton, Michigan, which belonged to a community that was founded by Harry Wanner (1935–2012), a minister of Stauffer Old Order Mennonite background. The "Michigan Churches", with which Smyrna and Manton affiliated, are said to be more open to seekers and converts than other Amish churches. Most of the members of these two para-Amish communities originally came from Plain churches, i. e. Old Order Amish, Old Order Mennonite, or Old German Baptist Brethren.
More people have tested Amish life for weeks, months, or even years, but in the end decided not to join. Others remain close to the Amish, but never think of joining.
Amish populations have higher incidences of particular conditions, including dwarfism, Angelman syndrome, and various metabolic disorders, as well as an unusual distribution of blood types. The Amish represent a collection of different demes or genetically closed communities. Although the Amish do not have higher rates of genetic disorders than the general population, since almost all Amish descend from about 200 18th-century founders, genetic disorders resulting from inbreeding exist in more isolated districts (an example of the founder effect). Some of these disorders are rare or unique, and are serious enough to increase the mortality rate among Amish children. The Amish are aware of the advantages of exogamy, but for religious reasons, marry only within their communities. The majority of Amish accepts these as Gottes Wille (God's will); they reject the use of preventive genetic tests prior to marriage and genetic testing of unborn children to discover genetic disorders. When a child is born with a disorder, it is accepted into the community and tasked with chores within their ability. However, Amish are willing to participate in studies of genetic diseases. Their extensive family histories are useful to researchers investigating diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and macular degeneration.
While the Amish are at an increased risk for some genetic disorders, researchers have found their tendency for clean living can lead to better health. Overall cancer rates in the Amish are reduced and tobacco-related cancers in Amish adults are 37% and nontobacco-related cancers are 72% of the rate for Ohio adults. The Amish are protected against many types of cancer both through their lifestyle and through genes that may reduce their susceptibility to cancer. Even skin cancer rates are lower for Amish, despite the fact many Amish make their living working outdoors where they are exposed to sunlight. They are typically covered and dressed by wearing wide-brimmed hats and long sleeves which protect their skin.
Treating genetic problems is the mission of Clinic for Special Children in Strasburg, Pennsylvania, which has developed effective treatments for such problems as maple syrup urine disease, a previously fatal disease. The clinic is embraced by most Amish, ending the need for parents to leave the community to receive proper care for their children, an action that might result in shunning. Another clinic is DDC Clinic for Special Needs Children, located in Middlefield, Ohio, for special-needs children with inherited or metabolic disorders. The DDC Clinic provides treatment, research, and educational services to Amish and non-Amish children and their families.
People's Helpers is an Amish-organized network of mental health caregivers who help families dealing with mental illness and recommend professional counselors. Suicide rates for the Amish are about half that of the general population.[b]
The Old Order Amish do not typically carry private commercial health insurance. A handful of American hospitals, starting in the mid-1990s, created special outreach programs to assist the Amish. In some Amish communities, the church will collect money from its members to help pay for medical bills of other members.
Although not forbidden, most Amish do not practice any form of birth control. They are against abortion and also find "artificial insemination, genetics, eugenics, and stem cell research" to be "inconsistent with Amish values and beliefs". However, some communities allow access to birth control to women whose health would be compromised by childbirth.
As time has passed, the Amish have felt pressures from the modern world. Issues such as taxation, education, law and its enforcement, and occasional discrimination and hostility are areas of difficulty.
The Amish way of life in general has increasingly diverged from that of modern society. On occasion, this has resulted in sporadic discrimination and hostility from their neighbors, such as throwing of stones or other objects at Amish horse-drawn carriages on the roads.
The Amish do not usually educate their children past the eighth grade, believing that the basic knowledge offered up to that point is sufficient to prepare one for the Amish lifestyle. Almost no Amish go to high school and college. In many communities, the Amish operate their own schools, which are typically one-room schoolhouses with teachers (usually young, unmarried women) from the Amish community. On May 19, 1972, Jonas Yoder and Wallace Miller of the Old Order Amish, and Adin Yutzy of the Conservative Amish Mennonite Church were each fined $5 for refusing to send their children, aged 14 and 15, to high school. In Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972), the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the conviction, and the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed this, finding the benefits of universal education were not sufficient justification to overcome scrutiny under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.
The Amish are subject to sales and property taxes. As they seldom own motor vehicles, they rarely have occasion to pay motor vehicle registration fees or spend money in the purchase of fuel for vehicles. Under their beliefs and traditions, generally the Amish do not agree with the idea of Social Security benefits and have a religious objection to insurance. On this basis, the United States Internal Revenue Service agreed in 1961 that they did not need to pay Social Security-related taxes. In 1965, this policy was codified into law. Self-employed individuals in certain sects do not pay into or receive benefits from the United States Social Security system. This exemption applies to a religious group that is conscientiously opposed to accepting benefits of any private or public insurance, provides a reasonable level of living for its dependent members, and has existed continuously since December 31, 1950. The U.S. Supreme Court clarified in 1982 that Amish employers are not exempt, but only those Amish individuals who are self-employed.
In 1964, Pathway Publishers was founded by two Amish farmers to print more material about the Amish and Anabaptists in general. It is located in Lagrange, Indiana, and Aylmer, Ontario. Pathway has become the major publisher of Amish school textbooks, general-reading books, and periodicals. Also, a number of private enterprises publish everything from general reading to reprints of older literature that has been considered of great value to Amish families. Some Amish read the Pennsylvania German newspaper Hiwwe wie Driwwe, and some of them even contribute dialect texts.
Groups that sprang from the same late 19th century Old Order Movement as the Amish share their Pennsylvania German heritage and often still retain similar features in dress. These Old Order groups include different subgroups of Old Order Mennonites, traditional Schwarzenau Brethren and Old Order River Brethren. The Noah Hoover Old Order Mennonites are so similar in outward aspects to the Old Order Amish (dress, beards, horse and buggy, extreme restrictions on modern technology, Pennsylvania German language), that they are often perceived as Amish and even called Amish.
Conservative "Russian" Mennonites and Hutterites who also dress plain and speak German dialects emigrated from other European regions at a different time with different German dialects, separate cultures, and related but different religious traditions. Particularly, the Hutterites live communally and are generally accepting of modern technology.
The few remaining Plain Quakers are similar in manner and lifestyle, including their attitudes toward war, but are unrelated to the Amish. Early Quakers were influenced, to some degree, by the Anabaptists, and in turn influenced the Amish in colonial Pennsylvania. Almost all modern Quakers have since abandoned their traditional dress.
The Northkill Amish Settlement, established in 1740 in Berks County, Pennsylvania, was the first identifiable Amish community in the new world. During the French and Indian War, the so-called Hochstetler Massacre occurred: Local tribes attacked the Jacob Hochstetler homestead in the Northkill settlement on September 19, 1757. The sons of the family took their weapons but father Jacob did not allow them to shoot. Jacob Sr.'s wife, Anna (Lorentz) Hochstetler, a daughter (name unknown) and Jacob Jr. were killed by the Native Americans. Jacob Sr. and sons Joseph and Christian were taken captive. Jacob escaped after about eight months, but the boys were held for several years.
As early as 1809 Amish were farming side by side with Native American farmers in Pennsylvania. According to Cones Kupwah Snowflower, a Shawnee genealogist, the Amish and Quakers were known to incorporate Native Americans into their families to prevent them from ill-treatment, especially after the Removal Act of 1832.
The Amish, as pacifists, did not engage in warfare with Native Americans, nor displace them directly, but were part of a wave of European immigrants who forced Native Americans westward.
In 2012, the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society collaborated with the Native American community to construct a replica Iroquois Longhouse.
Regional hospitals and midwives routinely send whole-blood filter-paper neonatal screens for tandem mass spectrometry and other modern analytical methods to detect 14 of the metabolic disorders found in these populations...
Dobberteen is one of a growing number of people in St. Joseph County who believes that the Amish shouldn't have a say in what happens with a state road. 'Some people are saying, "Well jeeze, you know the Amish people don't pay taxes for that, why are we filling them in" what do you think about that? We pay our taxes,' said Dobberteen. Roads are paid for largely with gas tax and vehicle registration fees, which the Amish have no reason to pay.
On appeal, the Supreme Court noted that the exemption provided by 26 U.S.C. 1402(g) is available only to self-employed individuals and does not apply to employers or employees. As to the constitutional claim, the court held that since accommodating the Amish beliefs under the circumstances would unduly interfere with the fulfillment of the overriding governmental interest in assuring mandatory and continuous participation in and contribution to the Social Security system, the limitation on religious liberty involved here was justified. Consequently, in reversing the district court, the Supreme Court held that, unless Congress provides otherwise, the tax imposed on employers to support the Social Security system must be uniformly applicable to all.
Amish Mafia is an American reality television series that debuted on December 12, 2012, on the Discovery Channel. The series follows "Lebanon Levi", along with three of his assistants, who are purported to be a "mafia" in an Amish community. Although portrayed by Discovery Channel as documentary reality television, the authenticity of the series has been questioned by scholars, local newspapers and law-enforcement. There have also been accusations of the series being bigoted toward and defaming the Amish people.Amish Paradise
"Amish Paradise" is a 1996 single by parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic. It is a parody of the hip hop song "Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio featuring L.V. (which itself is a reworking of the Stevie Wonder song "Pastime Paradise"). Featured on the album Bad Hair Day, it turns the original "Gangsta's Paradise", in which the narrator laments his dangerous way of life, on its head by presenting an Amish man praising his relatively plain and uncomplicated existence.Amish Tripathi
Amish Tripathi (born 18 October 1974) is an Indian author, known for his novels The Immortals of Meluha, The Secret of the Nagas, The Oath of the Vayuputras, Scion of Ikshvaku and Sita: Warrior of Mithila. The first three books collectively comprise the Shiva Trilogy and the later two are the first two books of the Ram Chandra Series which is going to be a collection of five books. The Shiva Trilogy was the fastest selling book series in Indian publishing history while the Ram Chandra Series was the second fastest selling book series in Indian publishing history. Amish recently launched his first non-fiction book called Immortal India.Gautam Chikermane of Swarajya Magazine says "Amish’s influence goes beyond his books, his books go beyond literature, his literature is steeped in philosophy, which is anchored in bhakti, which powers his love for India".All 6 books have sold over 4 million copies in the Indian subcontinent since 2010, with gross retail sales of Rs. 120 crores. Forbes India has ranked Amish among the top 100 celebrities in India in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018. Amish was also selected as an Eisenhower Fellow, an exclusive programme for outstanding leaders from around the world.Cuisine of the Pennsylvania Dutch
Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine is the typical and traditional fare of the Pennsylvania Dutch. According to one writer, "If you had to make a short list of regions in the United States where regional food is actually consumed on a daily basis, the land of the Pennsylvania Dutch - in and around Lancaster County, Pennsylvania - would be at or near the top of that list," mainly because the area is a cultural enclave of Pennsylvania Dutch culture. Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine reflects influences of the Pennsylvania Dutch's German heritage, agrarian society, and rejection of rapid change.It is extremely common to find Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine throughout the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley region.Holmes County, Ohio
Holmes County is a county located in the U.S. state of Ohio. As of the 2010 census, the population was 42,366. Its county seat is Millersburg. The county was formed in 1824 from portions of Coshocton, Tuscarawas and Wayne counties and organized the following year. It was named after Andrew Holmes, an officer killed in the War of 1812.Holmes County, which was about 42% Amish in 2010, is home to the second largest Amish community (after Lancaster County, Pennsylvania) in the world, that draws many visitors to the county.Horse and buggy
A horse and buggy (in American English) or horse and carriage (in British English and American English) refers to a light, simple, two-person carriage of the late 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, drawn usually by one or sometimes by two horses. Also called a roadster or a trap, it was made with two wheels in England and the United States, and with four wheels in the United States as well. It had a folding or falling top.LaGrange County, Indiana
LaGrange County is a county located in the U.S. state of Indiana. As of 2010, the population was 37,128. The county seat is LaGrange, Indiana.The county is located in the Northern Indiana region known as Michiana and is about 55 miles (89 km) east of South Bend, 105 miles (169 km) west of Toledo, Ohio, and 175 miles (282 km) northeast of Indianapolis. The area is well known for its large Amish population. For that reason, the county teams up with neighboring Elkhart County to promote tourism by referring to the area as Northern Indiana Amish Country.Over a third of the population of LaGrange County is Amish, and it is home to the third largest Amish community in the United States, which belong to the Elkhart-LaGrange Amish affiliation.List of Amish and their descendants
This is a list of notable Amish and their descendants, including both those who lived or are living culturally as Amish or Amish Mennonite as well as those who recognize themselves culturally as Amish or Amish Mennonite descendants but may or may not practice Anabaptist beliefs. This list does not include those of Mennonite religion only, who are not culturally connected to Switzerland and South Germany and the persecution documented in the Martyrs Mirror.
To be included in this list, the person must either have a Wikipedia article showing they are Amish or Amish Mennonite or are of Amish or Amish Mennonite descent or must have references showing their claim and are notable.List of U.S. states by Amish population
In 2018 there were 31 states of the United States that had a significant Amish population. Following are populations by state per the results.
The data for 1992 are from "Amish Studies - The Young Center".The data for 2000 are from a book published in 2001 (Donald Kraybill, The Riddle of Amish Culture).The data for 2010 are from "Amish Studies - The Young Center". The 2010 census of Amish population was published in 2012, compiled by Elizabeth Cooksey, professor of sociology, and Cory Anderson, a graduate student in rural sociology, both at The Ohio State University. It was commissioned by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies for the 2010 U.S. Religion Census (published in 2012).The data for 2018 are from "Amish Studies - The Young Center".The percentage of the state population is from a 2018 estimate.
The settlement in Pinecraft (Sarasota), Florida is very atypical and its population varies a lot according to the season.According to Albrecht Powell, the Pennsylvania Amish are not the largest group of U.S. Amish as is commonly thought. The Amish have settled in as many as twenty-four states and Canada, and Central America, though about 65% are located in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. The greatest concentration of Amish is in Holmes and adjoining counties in northeast Ohio, about 78 miles south of Cleveland. Next in size is a group of Amish people in Elkhart and surrounding counties in northeastern Indiana. Then comes the Amish settlement in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The Amish population in the U.S. numbers more than 270,000 and is growing rapidly, due to large family size (seven children on average) and a church-member retention rate of approximately 80%."There was an Amish settlement in Honduras from about 1968 to 1978 but the settlement failed. In 2015 new settlements of New Order Amish were founded in Argentina and Bolivia. In Canada new settlements were founded in New Brunswick in 2015 and on Prince Edward Island in 2016. In 2018 Amish founded a settlement in Manitoba.Mennonites
The Mennonites are members of certain Christian groups belonging to the church communities of Anabaptist denominations named after Menno Simons (1496–1561) of Friesland (which today is a province of the Netherlands). Through his writings, Simons articulated and formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders. The early teachings of the Mennonites were founded on the belief in both the mission and ministry of Jesus, which the original Anabaptist followers held to with great conviction despite persecution by the various Roman Catholic and Protestant states. An early set of Mennonite beliefs was codified in the Dordrecht Confession of Faith in 1632, but the various groups do not hold to a common confession or creed. Rather than fight, the majority of these followers survived by fleeing to neighboring states where ruling families were tolerant of their belief in believer's baptism. Over the years, Mennonites have become known as one of the historic peace churches because of their commitment to pacifism.In contemporary 21st-century society, Mennonites either are described only as a religious denomination with members of different ethnic origins or as both an ethnic group and a religious denomination. There is controversy among Mennonites about this issue, with some insisting that they are simply a religious group while others argue that they form a distinct ethnic group. Historians and sociologists have increasingly started to treat Mennonites as an ethno-religious group, while others have begun to challenge that perception. There is also a discussion about the term "ethnic Mennonite". Conservative Mennonite groups, who speak Pennsylvania German, Plautdietsch (Low German), or Bernese German fit well into the definition of an ethnic group, while more liberal groups and converts in developing countries do not.
There are about 2.1 million Anabaptists worldwide as of 2015 (including Mennonites, Amish, Mennonite Brethren, Hutterites and many other Anabaptist groups formally part of the Mennonite World Conference). Mennonite congregations worldwide embody the full scope of Mennonite practice from "plain people" to those who are indistinguishable in dress and appearance from the general population. Mennonites can be found in communities in at least 87 countries on six continents. The largest populations of Mennonites are to be found in Canada, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India and the United States. There are Mennonite colonies in Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, and Paraguay, mostly Plautdietsch-speaking, who originated in the Netherlands, and formed as a distinct ethnic group in Prussia and later Ukraine, and are commonly called, somewhat inaccurately, Russian Mennonites. Today, fewer than 500 Mennonites remain in Ukraine. A relatively small Mennonite presence, known as the Algemene Doopsgezinde Societeit, still continues in the Netherlands, where Simons was born.Nappanee, Indiana
Nappanee is a city in Elkhart and Kosciusko counties in the U.S. state of Indiana. The population was 6,648 at the 2010 census. The name Nappanee probably means "flour." The town has several tourist attractions: Amish Acres, Nappanee Raceway, The Arts & Crafts Festival, and the Apple Festival.Pennsylvania Dutch
The Pennsylvania Dutch (Pennsilfaanisch-Deitsche), also referred to as the Pennsylvania Germans, are a cultural group formed by early German-speaking immigrants to Pennsylvania and their descendants. The word "Dutch" does not refer to the Dutch people or Dutch language, but to the German settlers, known as Deutsch (in standard German) and Deitsch (in the principal dialect they spoke, Palatine German). Most emigrated, in the 17th and 18th centuries, to the Americas from within the Holy Roman Empire, which included areas that were later to become Germany and Switzerland. Over time, the various dialects spoken by these immigrants fused into a unique dialect of German known as Pennsylvania German or Pennsylvania "Dutch".
The Pennsylvania Dutch maintained numerous religious affiliations, with the greatest number being Lutheran or German Reformed, but also with many Anabaptists, including Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren. The Anabaptist religions promoted a simple lifestyle, and their adherents were known as Plain people or Plain Dutch. This was in contrast to the Fancy Dutch, who tended to assimilate more easily into the American mainstream. Other religions were also represented by the late 1700s, in smaller numbers.Pennsylvania Dutch Country
Pennsylvania Dutch Country (Deitsch: Deitscherei) is an area of Southeastern and South Central Pennsylvania that by the American Revolution had a high percentage of Pennsylvania Dutch inhabitants. Religiously, there was a large portion of Lutherans. There were also German Reformed, Moravian, Amish, Mennonite, Schwarzenau Brethren and other German Christian sects. The term was used in the middle of the 20th century as a description of a region with a distinctive Pennsylvania Dutch culture, but in recent decades the composition of the population is changing and the phrase is used more now in a tourism context than any other.
Greater Pennsylvania refers to this region as well as historically Pennsylvania Dutch-speaking areas of Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia.Pennsylvania German language
Pennsylvania German (Deitsch, Pennsilfaanisch-Deitsch listen , Pennsilfaanisch; often called Pennsylvania Dutch) is a variety of West Central German spoken by the Old Order Amish, Old Order Mennonites and other descendants of German immigrants in the United States and Canada, closely related to the Palatine dialects. There are possibly more than 300,000 native speakers in the United States and Canada. In Pennsylvania 29.9% of the population currently claim to have German ancestry.
It has traditionally been the dialect of the Pennsylvania Dutch, descendants of late 17th- and early to late 18th-century immigrants to Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina from southern Germany, eastern France (Alsace and Lorraine), and Switzerland. Although for many, the term "Pennsylvania Dutch" is often taken to refer to the Amish and related Old Order groups exclusively, the term should not imply a connection to any particular religious group.
In this context, the word "Dutch" does not refer to the Dutch people or their descendants. Historically, it has been accepted that the "Dutch" in Pennsylvania Dutch is a corruption or "folk-rendering" of the Pennsylvania German endonym Deitsch. An alternative theory is that it is left over from an archaic sense of the English word "Dutch"; compare German Deutsch ('German'), Dutch Duits ('German'), Diets ('Dutch'), which once referred to any people speaking a non-peripheral continental West Germanic language on the European mainland.Speakers of the dialect today are primarily found in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and other Midwestern states of the United States, and in Ontario in Canada. Historically, the dialect was also spoken in several other regions where its use has either largely or entirely faded. The practice of Pennsylvania German as a street language in urban areas of Pennsylvania (such as Allentown, Reading, Lancaster, and York) was declining by the arrival of the 20th century, while in more rural areas it continued in widespread use through the World War II era. Since that time, its use has greatly declined. The exception to this decline is in the context of the Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite communities, and presently the members of these two groups make up the majority of Pennsylvania German speakers (see "Survival", below).Rumspringa
Rumspringa (Pennsylvania German pronunciation: [rʊmˈʃprɪŋə]), also spelled Rumschpringe or Rumshpringa, is a rite of passage during adolescence, translated in English as "jumping/hopping around", used in some Amish and Mennonite communities. The Amish, a subsect of the Anabaptist Christian movement, intentionally segregate themselves from other communities as a part of their faith. For Amish youth, the Rumspringa normally begins around the ages of 14-16 and ends when a youth either chooses to be baptized within the Amish church or to leave the community. For Wenger Mennonites, Rumspringa occurs between ages of 17 and 21.Not all Amish use this term (it does not occur in John A. Hostetler's extended discussion of adolescence among the Amish), but in sects that do, Amish elders generally view it as a time for courtship and finding a spouse. A popular view exists by which the period is institutionalized as a rite of passage, and the usual behavioral restrictions are relaxed, so that Amish youth can acquire some experience and knowledge of the non-Amish world.Verne Troyer
Verne Jay Troyer (January 1, 1969 – April 21, 2018) was an American actor, comedian, and stunt performer best known for playing Mini-Me in the Austin Powers film series. He was notable for having been only 2 ft 8 in (81 cm) tall, the result of cartilage–hair hypoplasia; this made him one of the shortest men in the world.West Nickel Mines School shooting
On October 2, 2006, a shooting occurred at the West Nickel Mines School, an Amish one-room schoolhouse in the Old Order Amish community of Nickel Mines, a village in Bart Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Gunman Charles Carl Roberts IV took hostages and shot eight out of ten girls (aged 6–13), killing five, before committing suicide in the schoolhouse. The emphasis on forgiveness and reconciliation in the Amish community's response was widely discussed in the national media. The West Nickel Mines School was torn down, and a new one-room schoolhouse, the New Hope School, was built at another location.Wisconsin v. Yoder
Wisconsin v. Jonas Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972), is the case in which the United States Supreme Court found that Amish children could not be placed under compulsory education past 8th grade. The parents' fundamental right to freedom of religion was determined to outweigh the state's interest in educating its children. The case is often cited as a basis for parents' right to educate their children outside of traditional private or public schools.Witness (1985 film)
Witness is a 1985 American crime thriller film directed by Peter Weir and starring Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis. The screenplay by William Kelley, Pamela Wallace, and Earl W. Wallace focuses on a detective protecting a young Amish boy who becomes a target after he witnesses a murder in Philadelphia.
The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won two, for Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing. It was also nominated for seven BAFTA Awards, winning one for Maurice Jarre's score, and was also nominated for six Golden Globe Awards. William Kelley and Earl W. Wallace won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay and the 1986 Edgar Award for Best Motion Picture Screenplay presented by the Mystery Writers of America. Harrison Ford was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.