The Amish are distinctly recognizable from film and television. They are a religious sect of Pennsylvania Dutch with their origins in the Swiss Anabaptist tradition. They’re best known for their simple lifestyles and their unusual forms of plain dress as well as a stout refusal to dabble in any form of modern technology.
In general, the Amish are considered to be a harmless, if unusual, group of people. But there are things that the Amish don’t want you to know and with very good reason.
Here we take a look at 15 things that you don’t know about the Amish and why.
#15 Every Amish Drops Out Of School
When you don’t participate in the modern world, you probably don’t need to spend much time in school. So every Amish person drops out once they’ve completed an eighth-grade education. This allows them to do something in their community instead. You might be surprised to learn that this is completely legal.
#14 Every Amish Gets To Taste Modern Life
The Amish aren’t forced to be Amish. In fact, they have a ritual at the age of 16 called Rumspringa. During the period of Rumspringa, the Amish enter ordinary life and are allowed to travel, drink and participate in the world beyond their communities. Then they decide if they want to return home or leave for good.
#13 Those Awesome Amish Beards Tell You Something
Not every Amish man wears a beard despite the popular depictions of bearded Amish men in the press and on TV. In fact, an Amish man has to do something before he is allowed to grow a beard and that’s get married! A beardless Amish is a man in search of a wife.
#12 You Can Be Thrown Out Of Amish Life
Amish communities abide by a strict set of rules; it’s part of their faith and commitment to their lifestyle. If you break those rules then it’s possible that the Amish around you will excommunicate you and effectively exile you from your own community. This can be applied even for something as simple as failing to kneel in church.
#11 The Amish Don’t Need You
If Amish life appeals to you; you ought to be aware that they see themselves as something of an exclusive club. Converts are not exactly encouraged and unlike other fundamentalist branches of Christianity – there’s no such thing as an Amish missionary. They’re not looking to spread their faith at all.
#10 We’re All English To The Amish
When you call someone “English” you tend to mean that they’re from England or at least an English-speaker. When the Amish call someone “English” all they mean is that the person in question isn’t Amish. They could be from the Democratic Republic of Congo and still be English as far as the Amish are concerned.
#9 The Dark Side Of God’s Will
The Amish attribute much to God’s Will or “Gottes Wille” as it’s said in Pennsylvania Dutch. However, this hides a dark side to their communities as it’s used as an excuse to refuse paternity tests. Amish communities are often small and an unpleasant aspect of this is that incest is all too common.
#8 The Amish Don’t Refuse Medicine
For a people opposed to technology in general – the Amish are quite pragmatic when it comes to their own health. No Amish is required to refuse treatment or medicine from a modern health practitioner. However, they aren’t allowed to buy health insurance and the community holds a “whip round” when someone does need treatment.
#7 Strange Inheritance Rites
While in almost all communities there is an expectation that either the eldest child will inherit or an inheritance will be split equally; in Amish life, the inheritance is always passed on to the youngest son in the family. This may be because the youngest is the one who has had the least chance to earn a living by the time their parents pass on.
#6 Women Are Expected To Serve Men
Like many older faiths, Amish life doesn’t value women in the same way as it values men in the community. A woman is expected to be subservient to her husband and to her father and brothers. Her role in life is to cook, clean and otherwise tend the home with no real say in the community as a whole.
#5 The Amish Community Is Growing Rapidly
While the Amish don’t solicit people from the outside world to join their faith, they do have an incredible rate of growth. All Amish children may elect to remain Amish at the age of 16 and nearly 80% of them do. They are also a fertile folk and the community has nearly doubled in size in two decades.
#4 Marriage Begins With Hard Work For The Wife
Amish people are Christians and that means that like other Christian folk, their unions are celebrated with marriage ceremonies. However, the wife-to-be must sew her own wedding dress if she wants to get married; she can’t just go out and buy one from a shelf. Once she’s married – she has to wear that dress every Sunday for the rest of her life.
#3 You Can’t Get Into A Fight With An Amish
Part of the Amish belief system is a belief that any kind of violence is wrong and separates man from god. That means you won’t be able to provoke an Amish into a fight and it also means that they refuse to join either the police force or any form of military unit.
#2 Musical Instruments Are Banned
The Amish are forbidden to do a lot of things because of the way that they may make them act afterwards. One curious ban within their faith is that which prevents them from using musical instruments. They believe that because some would be more talented than others that it would make them feel superior and that’s not good.
#1 Amish Dolls Are Really Creepy
Dolls are often used in horror movies as they can be a little bit disturbing. But Amish dolls are really disturbing. In order to encourage little girls not to get wrapped up in personal vanity and looks, every single Amish doll is created without a face. It’s like a house of horrors.
Amish life is strange and fascinating. Like many forms of life outside of the mainstream, it has its plus points and its negatives. The most worrying item on the list is the use of “God’s Will” to hide cases of incest and evade prosecution. The other items might be strange and unappealing but they’re not actively harmful to the Amish or to the communities around them.
The Amish don’t solicit people to join their communities but they aren’t intolerant to others. If you ever see an Amish and want to learn more about them, you can always ask.