The Amish, a sect of the Anabaptists, have several beliefs and practices that may seem a little strange to us. While some Amish communities are less conservative than others, all or most of them refuse to use electricity, drive cars, have phones in their homes, use computers, connect to the internet or even allow photos be be taken of themselves.
All of the reasons for these restrictions lie in their Biblical beliefs. For instance, not allowing photographs to be taken of their faces means they aren't breaking the commandment against worshipping graven images.
Refusing to use electricity or drive cars means they aren't putting themselves above others in their communities. This is vital for a group of people believing in modesty or living plainly. This is reflected in their clothing. Girls and women wear solid colored dresses with aprons and prayer coverings for their heads. They don't wear makeup. Nor do they cut their hair. Boys and men wear plain clothing, such as solid-colored shirts, pants with no pockets or zippers, and collarless coats.
Other practices that may surprise you include bundling, problems with inbreeding and even rumspringa, which is the "running-around time" for Amish teens. What to learn more? Below are the shocking rules all Amish kids must follow, from birth to adulthood.
20 There Amish Have One Chance To Go Wild
The Amish get baptized when they are in their late teens or when they are young adults. After doing so, they enter their Amish community's church as full members and take on a whole lot of responsibility. Therefore, Amish teens are allowed to roam free and experiment with activities that are normally forbidden before they officially join the church.
This is called Rumspringa. It's a period when some Amish boys and girls are no longer under the control of their parents on weekends and, since they are not baptized, not under the control of the church. Want to drive a car? Do it! Smoke or drink? Of course - just don't let mom or dad find out. Dress as the English do? Sure. See movies or listen to secular music? YES.
19 Kids Are Forced To Drop Out Of School
It's true. At the age of 14, every Amish scholar leaves school. After tangling with the government, the Amish finally won the right to determine at what age their children would leave school. When you think about it, that one-room school is able to offer a more-advanced education to all the scholars. This means that, at 14, they know as much as a high school senior knows.
At the end of their eighth grade year, every Amish scholar leaves school and enters a period of vocational training, probably under their parents. They also begin to learn life lessons, such as earning and saving money or even operating a business. How many English students have that background underneath their belts by the time they walk across the stage at graduation? Not many.
18 Strict Dress Codes Must Be Obeyed
The Amish want to preserve their modesty. They don't want to stand out among their fellow Amish, so they wear the same style of clothing, in darker colors. While the English value "rugged individualism," this won't fly in any Amish community.
Within a narrow set of guidelines, the Amish will buy or make clothing for themselves and their families. The men wear plain white or solid-colored shirts. Because buttons may be considered a source of pride, they will close them with hooks and eyes. Their coats don't have collars.
Women and girls wear dresses that fall below their knees. The sleeves are usually three-quarter length and the neck is rounded. They can choose dark blue, dark purple, dark green or dark red fabrics. Unmarried girls wear white aprons and prayer caps; married women, black.
17 You Have To Start Working At 14 Years Old
Because Amish children leave school at 14, they enter the workforce at this age. Whoops! Teenaged Amish boys start working with power tools, in carpentry shops, for instance. Federal child labor laws say they can't do so until they are 18. But their dads need their help now, not at 18! And moms need their daughters to help with baking or quilting.
Parents want to begin working with their children and teaching them about work and life when they are still young, not when they are ready to move out on their own. The foundation of the Amish work ethic is family solidarity and apprenticeship. That is, son learns under father so that, when he is an adult, he can start and run his own business. Teens with a trade don't have idle time to get in trouble.
16 Sinners Get Banished From The Community
An Amish can be excommunicated from the Amish community for committing a sin. This happens when a person violates the "Ordnung." For example, if a man or woman uses technology that is forbidden in the community, this would be considered a sin.
After the sin is committed, an Amish person would be given a warning, a punishment, or asked to repent. If the person continues to sin, a vote will take place on whether the sinner will be "excommunicated." If the person is excommunicated, they will be shunned from their community and they will not be able to interact with anyone every again. No speaking or eating with anyone. They cant even exchange money! This practice is to keep all the bad sheep out of the community.
15 Couples Must Sleep In Bundling Beds
This practice allows courting couples to go to bed with each other. Now, hold on! Keep reading. Each person is bound in a blanket, then they lie down on the bed together. They are also fully clothed, except for stockings/socks and shoes. There is no sexual contact—usually. Today, bundling beds may still exist in some Amish communities.
These are double beds with a board running down the middle of the bed to keep the couple from touching each other. Why do the Amish still do this? It's a part of the courting process in some communities. It's supposed to help the young couple get to know each other just a little better. It also allows the couple to "go to bed" with each other with little risk of sexual entanglement or any other related risks, such as pregnancy.
14 Forced To Play With Faceless Dolls
You may have heard that Amish children's dolls are deliberately made without facial features so the Devil won't have a view about what the child or her family are doing. This is wrong.
The practice of giving Amish children dolls without eyes, mouths or noses goes again to the graven images issue. Think about the dolls you or your children may have owned. They had beautiful eyes with long eyelashes. The mouths may have been lipstick-colored for Barbie dolls; little, rosebud mouths for baby or child-like dolls.
The Amish believe that, if a child's doll has a face, it won't conform to their Plain values. The child may also begin to regard her doll with pride, which is a sin. Therefore, a handmade doll lacks facial features.
13 Inbreeding Is A Problem
Look at these numbers and you can see how this problem has developed. Out of some 200 founders, there are roughly 250,000 Amish people here in the United States. This means there is a very small pool of genes from which couples can choose. Very small. An Amish girl in one community gets engaged to an Amish boy in another Amish community. Think of that tiny genetic pool. They may not know it, but they are related to each other. The degree of consanguinity may even be within second or third cousins.
Also, think about the restrictions on marrying outside the Amish faith. Even if our hypothetical Amish girl casts her net even more widely, an Amish beau in Ohio or Indiana may be related to her. Unfortunately, this leads to inbreeding, genetic defects. . . and a high infant mortality rate.
12 Using Technology Is A Sin
The Amish believe in living a separate life from those outside of their church. Technology, along with electricity, is thus forbidden in Amish communities. Why? The Amish believe technology promotes individuality and will separate those who use it from their community. Amish men and women will rely on each for food, health, construction, and care giving (to name a few), and if technology is allowed, then it has the potential of damaging their community. Teens who surf the web would be exposed to the outside world, which is a big no-no.
Along with cellphones and laptops, smoke alarms are also forbidden - yes, installing a smoke alarm in the home is a huge violation. Even musical instruments are not allowed to be played since they promote individuality.
11 No Visits To The Doctor - Unless It's An Emergency
The Amish don't completely shun Western medicine, but they do approach medical care very differently. They will only visit the doctor if it's a last resort. Instead, many Amish communities prefer natural and traditional remedies handed down from their ancestors to heal themselves from any sicknesses or injuries.
If an Amish man or woman develops asthma or diabetes, for example, they will try to learn everything they can about the condition so they can treat it themselves before it worsens. In the event that they do need to see a doctor, they will still continue to use their own remedies along with the medications prescribed by the doctors. The Amish do what they can to eat healthy and avoid allergens so they don't have to rely on pills, injections or inhalers.
10 God Is The Law - Not The Police
Despite what the reality shows about the Amish say, there are no police officers, sheriffs, deputies or courtrooms in an Amish community. That's because all the Amish rely on another law—God's law.
If one Amish person commits a crime against another person, such as domestic violence, the injured person won't call law enforcement. Instead, the person will come before the church body and hopefully, confess to his sin and profess his repentance. Then, he will promise not to do this again.
If you remember the school shooting at the Nickel Mines Amish school, you may also remember that the families of the victims actively forgave the shooter, Charles Roberts. If two people in the community can't resolve a disagreement, the community bishop gets involved. He relies on. . . God's law.
9 You Need Permission To Marry Outside The Church
As in other faiths, it just isn't done. Because of the lifelong training and preparation for a modest, Plain Amish life, church elders and communities don't look happily on an Amish girl or boy marrying an English boy or girl. While an English person can take baptismal instruction and convert to the Amish faith, this doesn't happen very often. Still, some Amish teens may date an English person, but even that activity brings its own complications with it.
If the Amish teen or young person doesn't obtain the permission (blessing) of his or her parents and decides to marry an English person, they won't be very welcome in their home or community. If they haven't been baptized, they can't be punished with the ban (meidung), but they may not be very welcome in the family home.
8 The Husband Is Head Of The Household
Okay, while this basically means that female equality is pretty much unheard of in Amish households, it doesn't mean that mamm (mom) will be treated as a second-class citizen. She won't. She has a lot of value to bring to the home. She probably has a home-based business, such as baking or quilting. She may even operate her business away from the family home.
Still, the traditional Amish family, whether old-school or more modern, views the husband as the leader in the family. As such, his wife defers to him. Yes, she may share in some of the decisions they make as a couple. But overall, the husband will be the one who makes the majority of the bigger decisions. In every other way, mamm is an equal with her husband.
7 It's A Violation To Have Life Or Car Insurance
The Amish don't believe in carrying any kind of insurance, whether it's health, life or vehicle insurance. If they buy a policy, they believe they are violating God's will for their lives. So, how do they deal with an expensive bill that insurance usually covers? They turn to their community. The community contributes to a community-wide fund that is intended for anyone within the community.
This means that if a child develops a serious illness, and her parents' savings account is depleted by her medical care, the community will step forward to cover her care. This may seem to contradict the dictum of "Gotte's wille." It doesn't. By holding insurance, the Amish would be saying, "I don't trust in Gott or anyone else to help me if something bad happens to me or someone in my family."
6 Electricity Is Strictly Forbidden
The Amish don't believe in electricity because they don't want to be "of the world." They believe electricity brings down the value of life. But, and this may come as a surprise, they will use solar panels. These panels feed a large battery, which allows carpenters, bakers and families to power electrical appliances while still being officially off the electrical grid.
Of course, different groups have differing beliefs. One group in Ohio may be strongly conservative while another group farther south in Pennsylvania may be a little more advanced. This means that, while solar panels may be perfectly acceptable for the more-liberal community, they would be forbidden in the Old Order community.
Using solar panels enables the Amish to carry out their work without violating their community Ordnung against the use of electricity. It's definitely a lot more environmentally friendly than using propane to power that generator.
5 Speaking To Outsiders Is A Big No-No
There's a good reason for the divide between the Amish and English. As a group, the Amish want to remain modest and humble. They believe that, if they mingle often and freely with the English, they endanger their desire and goal of humility and living the plain life. There's more. They believe that, if they hang around the English, they run the risk of exposure to greed and pride, among other sins.
One Bible verse in particular seems to bear this out: "Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord." (2 Corinthians, 6:17, King James Version.) Why is it so important for them to live a modest life? Because they believe that, at the end of their lives, Gott will judge how well they lived by the rules of their church through their entire lifetime.
4 Doing It Before Marriage - What Happens?
Yes, this does happen. Whether a baby is born to a single mother from the bundling practice or because she got too involved with her boyfriend doesn't really matter. What matters is that a child has been born. The young mother will be required to appear before the church body (pretty much the entire community) to answer to her actions.
Here's where it gets interesting: She'll be required to answer to each incident of intimacy, giving pertinent details. This means with whom, when and where. It's also interesting that the young father doesn't have to go through the same experience. It's also pretty interesting that the girl won't have to have the information pulled out of her. She'll confess freely. After which the young parents will be married.
3 Amish Dentures Is A Thing
The Amish refuse to carry health insurance, and this also includes dental insurance. This means that, when they experience trouble with one tooth that has to be pulled out, they may opt to have every single tooth pulled at the same time the bad tooth is removed.
Why? It's more cost effective for them to have every one of their otherwise healthy teeth pulled. Once this has been done, they'll get dentures. Think about it for a minute. Dentures don't get infected. Sure, they get dirty, but remove 'em at night, dunk them in the cleansing rinse and reinsert them in the morning.
Let's just hope that any Amish person who opts for this method of dental care is just a little bit older. Dentures still look like dentures.
2 Kids Must Choose The Amish Life
At 16, Amish teens enter a time of life called "rumspringa." During this time, the teen is able to explore, without the risk of being shunned, practices and activities that aren't allowed by Amish communities. This time period takes place before the teen is baptized. This is done purposely, allowing the teen to make up his or her mind about whether to live Amish or English.
Because, once the teen enters full adulthood, gets baptized and becomes a member of their community church, they can't partake in the activities out there in the English world. See where does the confusion come in? These teens have to make a big decision. So did their parents. Some of the teens may decide to run away and live English permanently. This means they are separated from their families and can only see them occasionally.
1 Social Security Goes Against Their Religion
The Amish don't believe in Social Security, since it cuts into their commitment to mutual aid, which they practice within their individual communities. Every Amish worker pays taxes to the government, but they will not use Social Security at the age of 60, 70 or any age. They voluntarily refuse to use it.
In 1955, when Congress required the self-employed to pay into the program, problems arose between the Amish and the government. Eventually, this issue was resolved by exempting all Amish who are self-employed from Social Security and Medicare. When the number of Amish-owned businesses grew in the 1970s, the Amish responded by offering part-ownership to employees. Thus, they were employees, part owners and self-employed. Problem = Solved.
Sources: Listverse, npr.org, amishamerica.com, babygaga.com, Google Books, qz.com, owlcation.com, cyber-breeze.com, thoughtco.com, wikisource.com, amishworkshops.com/ask-viola.html, abcnews.go.com, apartmenttherapy.com, toptenz.net, Donald Reese Photography, Georgia Bankruptcy Law Network, PresidentMommy, amishtrip.wordpress.com, seeyoudowntheroad.org, pinterest.com, oydad.com, emaze.com, Lovina's Amish Kitchen, The Ambassador's Magazine, Big Fat Gypsy Religion, starcasm.net, neatorama.com, Dutchman Online Store,