Amish People

There should definitely be some parallels drawn between this and LordOfTheFlies, and WhyDoYouPermitThisToBeDoneToYou.

I was just in an Amish town and they are so cool I think - because they work hard, and are very secretive. I know I would never be able to live without electricity.

I don't know how many hours a week the Amish work. I'd imagine that it varies depending on the season and the business. However, they spend a lot of time working with neighbors, and they spend their Sundays visiting friends and family.

They're farmers. Farming is hard, low-paying work. That's why so few people do it anymore in developed countries, and cities are bulging with new arrivals in less-developed countries. Maybe working together has its benefits, but I vastly prefer my FortyHourWeek.

HenryDavidThoreau farmed, and from his book, I'm pretty sure he didn't work 40hrs a week. The only reason the Amish would need to work so hard is if they plan to buy farms for the children (a goal that easily costs over a million US dollars apiece).

However, they believe in the ProtestantWorkEthic.

Did Thoreau farm, or did he merely have a financial interest in land where farming was known to occur?

If you must ask that, please at least look at the page for HenryDavidThoreau, and maybe consider reading some of his work. In short, I don't believe he ever officially owner property, nor was he likely to have a formal financial interest in land. For some of his life, he supported himself by farming on land he was squatting on, and he wrote about it in his book Walden.

A group of people mostly found in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

They drive horses and buggies, and don't have electricity at home. At times, they appear hypocritical (for instance, owning and driving cars isn't allowed, but it isn't uncommon to buy a van for a neighboring Mennonite family, and hire one of the Mennonite sons as a driver available at any time). However, it is more that they realize that the point isn't no cars, the point is trying to force things to stay simple, rather than allowing it to become overwhelmingly fast-paced.

Well, that was the historical way of it. In this day and age, some electricity is allowed. For instance, small generators are allowed for some things. However, many things can be directly substituted by a small combustion engine, like driving the compressor for a milk refrigerator.

The purpose of the horses and buggies is to force them to live near to each other. They believe that it is essential to keeping themselves as a group. Otherwise, they would become too geographically diverse and then their social activities would lag, or so they seem to think.

The historic way of Amish life is threatened by change. Oddly enough, technology might be more of a savior to them then a hindrance. Amish families are large. It used to be traditional for an Amish family to buy a farm for each of their sons. In a day and age when farms can cost millions of dollars, more Amish need to look elsewhere for work. Some work on construction crews with the English (their name for those not Amish). Others start wood-working shops, where they install state of the art, computer driven machinery. For Amish businessmen, it is often now OK to own cell phones, as long as they leave them at the shop.

The Amish usually do not pay social security (though if they work for a non-amish employer they still do), but then, they wouldn't draw on social security anyway.

Of course, those of non-amish at normal jobs who are under the age of 50 DO pay SocialSecurity?, and most likely we won't get to ever draw on it either. Some of the men are real womanizers!

I live in Baltimore which is a stone's throw from Lancaster County, so visitors often ask me to take them into the Amish country. Although I usually oblige (the area is very pretty and it's nice to get away from the city now and then), there's a bit of that "look at those funny people in the little buggies" atmosphere to these trips that makes me uneasy. -- DavidBrantley

In 20 years of living there, the only Amish I've really talked to are ex-Amish. The Amish really are separatists.

There is quite a lot of local frustration with the Amish. They tie up traffic, put extra wear on the roads (think of why studded tires aren't allowed, and any similarities with a horse), and their horses crap everywhere. They do all this to traffic without paying any of the taxes that get used on road repair and maintenance.

Also, they have a tendency to smell really bad (black wool clothing on hot summer days, and the Amish don't believe in deodorant).

Um, bad by whose standards? Body odor (and many other hygiene-related concepts) is very culturally specific. I know of a U.S. man who moved to South Korea to be a student, and his dorm-mates thought he must've been diseased or something because he insisted on showering every day. (This was a few decades ago; I believe South Korean hygienic conventions are closer to those in the U.S. today.) Reminds me of Ramanujan in England.

Bad by the standards of the people who live near them, who aren't always known for smelling peachy (it is farming country after all).

The historic way of Amish life is threatened by change.

That's true for everyone and everything. The Amish live what's essentially a subsidized existence. Sooner or later, that subsidy isn't going to exist, or it will be made so strict as to force a 'traditional lifestyle'. It's good to see that they are willing to abandon some of their prejudices in the face of realism.

The Amish live what's essentially a subsidized existence.

That's about equally true for everyone and everything. The US Federal Government helped put me through college. They helped kick-start the industry that pays my bills. They're going to give me a nice (effective) discount on my home mortgage.

A more-nuanced question might be, "What's the net subsidy to the Amish?" And the answer might include things like enhanced tourism and the tax revenues it brings, and less-tangible things like having a working model for a different way to live. I know at least one woman who really likes the leave-the-cell-phone-at-work rule that the Amish bishops cooked up.

Wired Magazine has a good article on the Amish ( It helps to know what people's own standards are before figuring out whether they're hypocrites - and there's a lot of misunderstanding about their standards. Anyone have the link?

If you want to think of the Amish as sweet and innocent, don't talk to any police officers from rural Lancaster county. The stories are pretty wild. And according to some of the ex-amish I've talked to, the stories are quite likely to be true. SexDrugsAndRockAndRoll? baby. The Amish observer a period of time called rumspringa (Pennsylvania Dutch, "running around") a part of Amish teen life from 16 until the join church (18-21 usually, I think), documented in the movie "Devil's Playground",

As a family member of an Old Order Amish family, and I myself being Non-Amish, would like to say most everything written concerning the Amish is inaccurate. Opinion is not fact. It would do many people well to find some actual Amish people to talk to and interview before posting their opinions. Unfortunately, many people have placed unusually high ideals on the Amish people and expect to them to live up to their own standards of what they believe them to be. In fact, they are much like you and me, work for a living, raise their children by their standards and genuinely try to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The fact that they are Christians and imperfect humans only makes them just like you and I.

As mentioned above, they do not under any circumstances accept freebies from the government, not social security (they have paid in), or unemployment, food stamps, WIC or any other subsidy. Also, for further review the child labor laws were written concerning working children for wages in abhorable conditions. Amish children are raised to participate in the family, unlike most American children who are raised without learning discipline or responsibility but with selfish instant gratification as their driving force. It would do many people well to learn from the Amish and their lifestyle.

-- Pam King

This board is SERIOUSLY sad. I was New Order Amish until last summer. I am now Beachy Amish Mennonite. The majority of what was said here so far is UNTRUE! The Amish definitely pay taxes. Concerning the 'wild' Amish, yes, sad to say, there are a few wild young people. But just because there are some, doesn't mean the whole Amish church should be stereotyped. The majority of the Amish are NOT like that! Many Amish churches allow electricity and telephones. Those that don't have quite nice gas lighting. The purpose of horses and buggies is NOT to force them to live close together. As much as anything, it's to encourage the ladies to stay at home more. It is much easier to hop in your own car and go all over the place than it is to get a driver, or hitch up.

Not NEARLY all Amish are farmers. Our church has several construction crews (all Amish). But the few families that DO farm seem to make out all right! As a general thing, I think the carpenters tend to start work earlier and get off earlier, so they can have more time with their families. Concerning deodorant, yes, the Amish DO wear deodorant. If they don't, it's their personal choice. There's probably plenty more I could say, but ...

-- anon

I would like to respond to Anon about the whole reason for the buggies by saying he is full of crap. This is typical response from a man with amish "women are mans property and are the root of all evil, after all eve ate the apple first" mentality. I grew up an amish boy and saw this mentality not just in my family but in all the amish. We could just as easy say it is to keep us men from going out to strip clubs. As to the rumspringa, the parties, the drugs the sex that is the NORM and anyone who does not participate is the minority and is made fun of by the others. The parents allow these parties to happen in the buggy shop while they are in the house. I have seen fathers tell the police to get off their property when they came to bust the party. the movie "the devils playground" shows the norm in the whole rumspringa thing. As far as i am concerned the amish, beechy, and conservative menonite are all the same. I would know I grew up in it. don't get me wrong they do teach good work ethics and family values, but when they turn 16 they are allowed to do pretty much anything they want without penalty from their parents or the church. What do you expect any kid to do with that kind of freedom, duh!!!! That is why my kids will not grow up amish,beechy or menonite. I have lots of friends who are amish and would like to leave but don't because they know their family will have to shun them weather they want to or not. Trust me I know how that can be when your parents want you to stop by, but tell you to come after dark and then park the vehichle down the road so that if the bishop or the other church people go by they won't know that I'm there. oh and when they cry when I leave because they are not sure when they will see me again. THE AMISH ARE A CULT. when will the world understand this.

What is Beachy Amish? I have got to admit that I do not know anything at all about the Amish, but I am trying to research it for a story right now. I have to say, I am astounded to find somebody who claims they are Amish on the internet! I have been researching a lot of information about Amish people during the last couple of days, and I think that the whole lifestyle of the Amish is losing it's purpose! Having cell phones, internet access, electric and "quite nice gas lighting" seems to defeat the object of living like this. They are coming off as modern people dressed in old-fashioned clothes.

I agree that this post is sad in the fact that the very people complaining about the Amish are those who are the cause of any hostility toward the Amish. I appreciate the ways of the Amish and will continue respecting them until my final days. Recently, I was on vacation in PA visiting some relatives near Lancaster. We traversed some Amish country, and I was amazed at what I saw. I never saw any human, man or woman, working so hard as the Amish were doing. In fact, if I could start all over I would be Amish and so would my family.

-- AnonymousDonor, Greenville, South Carolina

Does anyone else get the uneasy feeling that it is wrong to talk about a group of people on a medium they will never see?

No. Shall we not talk about the ancient Romans, either? Do not be stopped by the possibility of error. Error and only error leads to corrections. See AnalysisParalysis.

It isn't the possibility of error that bugs me, it's talking behind someone's back. It seems impolite.

Ah, thank you for correcting the error in my interpretation. I was totally wrong. As for the impoliteness of talking behind people's backs, I'm not sure. Perhaps talking behind people's backs is actually not such a bad thing, if not done to malign their reputations but strictly to share knowledge and correct error. Are you feeling uneasy because you envision some harm resulting from this page? -- BenKovitz

It's all over now:

Amish youth know the best and worst of what the Amish world has to offer. During rumspringa, they experience only the worst the "English" world has to offer, which is not a fair comparison. Drug addiction and hangovers are not typical of "English" life. The worst of "English" culture is easy to access, but the best is hard for people without high school experience to access. They don't know it exists, or if they do, they have no idea how desirable it is, or how to access it. The local liquor store owner and drug dealer won�t help.

I would like to see Amish youth do something like charter a bus (or drive several cars) to the nearest big city (for northeast Indiana Amish, this would be Chicago) for a week with rooms reserved and group tickets reserved for:

  1. A tour of the city with an expert pointing out the sights
  2. A tour of the campus of the biggest university
  3. A tour of the biggest library in the city
  4. The best science museum
  5. A science lecture, perhaps at a university or research institute
  6. The best art museum
  7. A good drama - like "Antigone"
  8. A good comedy - like "The Importance of Being Earnest"
  9. A symphony concert - Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner
  10. A dance performance - ballet, tap, folk dance
  11. A tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's buildings, zoo, or other local attractions
  12. Dinner at a nice restaurant with wine - one glass for girls, two for boys; the point is not to get drunk, but to experience gracious living.

This may require the help of an 'English' librarian or teacher. The city's Chamber of Commerce (accessible on the Internet) would have suggestions.

It is important to guard against crime. Only a small percent of 'English' are criminals, but they look for naive people and careless people to victimize. You can expect to be targeted because you are Amish. Protect your women; never let a girl be unaccompanied; it can be dangerous for a woman to be alone in a hallway, elevator, or parking garage. Protect your money from thieves and confidence men. Bring along someone like an 'English' teacher as a guide.

Without leaving home, you can experience the better side of 'English' life. Find a ballroom dance teacher for your next party, to bring appropriate music and give lessons in the foxtrot, waltz, polka, Latin American dances, and jitterbug. Have good refreshments and only mildly spiked punch; the idea is not to get drunk, but to have fun dancing.

I am new here, but I would like to comment a little on the Beachy Amish. It seems to me that many people believe that the Beachy Amish are Amish when in reality they are more like the Conservative Mennonites. Yes, they do have some characteristics of the Amish - for example, the men wear beards. They are still very conservative, in a way maybe more conservative than other horse & buggy Amish. As for myself, I am a conservative Mennonite. For those that are familiar with them, my beliefs are somewhere between the Charity Christian Fellowship and those of rod & staff publishers. -- J�rgen Web

I am trying to find out how I can go about hiring the Amish near Pittsburgh, PA to build me a kitchen? Does anyone know the answer?

"I am trying to find out how I can go about hiring the Amish near Pittsburgh, PA to build me a kitchen? Does anyone know the answer?"

If you are serious about this there are a few Amish communities north of Pittsburgh. Find one and take a drive through and you will see signs on the roadside for furniture/kitchen cabinets etc. Stop in and inquire as to how you can go about having them do your kitchen. I've had furniture made which I was able to pick up myself. Kitchen cabinets are different in that the logistics of having them installed will have to be worked out. Have a good idea of what you want and measurements to give an idea as to cost before you go. The builder I used makes quality solid wood pieces and does excellent work.

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