Historyof the Amish
Theorigin of the Amish people dates back to the 16thcentury when Europe was being restructured. During this time, peoplewanted change and they started objecting to the traditional policies,which linked the church and the government (Nolt, 2015). However, thereforms were progressing slowly and a group of craftsmen inSwitzerland became impatient thus, they petitioned the civilauthorities and local church to enact the much-needed changes.Although their appeals were rejected, they went ahead to baptize eachother secretly, which gave rise to the Anabaptist movement. Later,the state authorities and the church realized that the new movementposed a threat to their domination and rule in the society. As aresult, the Anabaptist movement was declared illegal, which began thepersecution of the Amish people (Nolt, 2015). Within months, themembers of the Anabaptist movement were imprisoned, tortured, andkilled for blasphemy. Then again, the Muenster uprising made thediscrimination against the Anabaptist more intense. After a century,the killings stopped but the Mennonites were stilled being jailed,fined, and deported for their religious beliefs. Hence, most of themescaped to the mountains where they started farming. After the end ofthe war in Europe, which was caused by the rivalry between theCatholics and protestant churches, many people were left devastatedas the population was almost eliminated(Nolt, 2015).. Therefore, thelandowners became desperate to find labor. On the other hand, theMennonites were renowned for their excellent farming skills. Thus,the landowners invited the Mennonites to work on their farms and inreturn, they would attain religious freedom. However, divisionsstarted to form within the Mennonites as Jacob Amman started arguingthat the Mennonites were not following the traditional Anabaptistdoctrine. For example, he believed that communion should be practicedtwice a year although the Anabaptist only held one communion everyyear. Therefore, Amman’s desire to return to the conservativeAnabaptist ways resulted in a split where the Amman’s followersbecame the Amish while the others continued to be known as theMennonites (Nolt, 2015). The Amish first began moving to thePennsylvania colony during the eighteenth century when William Penndeclared freedom of religion and welcomed the settlement ofimmigrants from Europe. The Amish migrated along with theirnon-Anabaptists neighbors to avoid poverty, religious wars, andpersecution. They migrated in two waves during the mid-1700s andfirst half of the nineteenth century. The first Amish immigrantsmoved to Berks County, Pennsylvania (Nolt, 2015). Later, they wereforced to leave this region due to land issues and security concernsbecause of the French and Indian war. Eventually, many settled inLancaster County, Pennsylvania. Subsequently, they started settlingin Indiana, Ohio, and other Midwestern states. Today, settlements arelocated in Midwest and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States.During the nineteenth century, industrialization led to formation ofmore progressive Amish churches. On the other hand, the conservativecommunities formed the Old Order Amish (Nolt, 2015). The group againsubdivided in the twentieth century and formed the New Order Amish.In the twentieth century, 5,000 Old Older Amish settled in NorthAmerica. Today, these groups are scattered across twenty-two states.Nearly, three quarters of the Amish live in Indiana and Ohio,Pennsylvania while other communities live in Michigan, Iowa, NewYork, Missouri, and Wisconsin(Nolt, 2015).. On the other hand, theAmish congregations who were left in Europe slowly merged with theMennonites despite their differences. However, the Older Order of theMennonites was not developed in Europe thus, all the Amishcommunities are located in America. Besides, the communities thatwere formed in North America did not maintain their Amish identity(Nolt, 2015).
Traitsof the Amish Peoples
Throughoutthe Amish history, the practices of the modern world have alwaysthreatened to erode their culture and religious beliefs. However,these people continue the struggle to preserve their identity. In the1860s, the Amish people held ministerial conferences in Wayne County,Ohio to discuss how their communities would handle the pressures ofmodern society. However, these meetings were a form of modernismbecause the notion that bishops should meet to work for uniformitywas uncommon in the Amish tradition (Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner &Nolt, 2013). After several conferences, the conservative bishopsboycotted future meetings. A few decades later, the progressive Amishwere absorbed into the Mennonite community and the remaining smallergroup became today’s Old Older Amish. The group has maintainedtheir cultural practices by remaining as closely joined farmcommunities. The early Pennsylvania Amish viewed modern advancementwith suspicion because they believed that these values threatenedtheir community harmony (Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner & Nolt, 2013).The modern world was characterized by pride and individualism, whichwere against the Amish teachings of humility. Consequently, the Amishwere distinguished from other Mennonite communities through theirconservative aspects and their emphases on family, community, andhumility. Moreover, they believed that Amish communities should beseparated from non-Amish world. Therefore, these people werereluctant to accept modern advancements such as electricity. Theprohibition of electricity has become of symbols that signify theAmish separation for the world. They believe that the publicelectricity line provide a strange connection to the outside world. have tried to preserve their beliefs, whichoriginated in the 17thcentury by developing behaviors and practices that isolate them fromthe American culture(Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner & Nolt, 2013)..Then again, the Amish communities are patriarchal. However, theteachers are mainly women although the men take up the role ofadministrates in the schools. Besides, women are excluded from takingup any formal church roles but they are allowed to participate whennominating the leaders. The economic situation in the country haschanged and forced some of the Amish people to abandon farming andengage in other economic activities. Nonetheless, the people who liveaccording to their lifestyle, but are not baptized into their churchare not considered Amish (Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner & Nolt, 2013).The Amish are a minority group in the United States. The group isconsidered a minority due to their religious beliefs because they area subgroup of the Mennonite church, which was formerly part of theChristian church. The estimated population of Amish in the UnitedStates is 308, 030 as of June 2016, which is an increases from 8030in 2015(Amish Population by State/Province, 2016). . Statistics showthat the Amish population is growing faster as compared to otherreligious communities in the United States, with most of thepopulation residing in Ohio. Reports show that new settlements areformed almost once a month. Currently, they are 456 Amish settlementsand the population is expected to increase to 1,000 settlements by2050(Amish Population by State/Province, 2016). Nonetheless, theAmish encounter barriers to social mobility because they haveseparated themselves from modern advancements even those that areconsidered helpful. The Amish reject productivity technology, whichincreased farm efficiency. Therefore, they have to carry out tediouswork, but their products do not match up to the quantity and qualityof the farmers using modern technology such as tractors (Kraybill,Johnson-Weiner & Nolt, 2013). Moreover, the Amish are literatebut not highly educated because they never attend college. As such,the Amish educate their children in the community schools becausethey believe that limiting social relations with outsiders willreduce exposure to threatening ideas. Therefore, their low educationachievements have put them at a disadvantage and limited their socialmobility. Moreover, the Amish are isolated, which keeps them fromlearning new ideas and practices through interaction with otherpeople in the society. Besides, they cannot actively engage inpolitics or take up public office thus, they lack a means ofexpressing their views and concerns or enact the changes they need inthe community. Furthermore, the Amish lack a central decision-makingprocess and a strategic planning council to determine the way forwardfor the communities.
Duringthe Amish persecution, a Catholic priest, Menno Simons began toquestion some of the doctrine such as the baptism of infants. Mennobegan to agree with the views of adult baptism that he later changedhis religious affiliation from Catholic to Anabaptists. He became theelder of Anabaptists church and strongly advocated for peace andfocused on separating the church from the modern world. Consequently,the Amish people primarily base their beliefs and religious practiceson the Menno Simons’ literature (Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner &Nolt, 2013). Additionally, the Amish base their cultural beliefs andthe teachings on the Bible. However, they all use the literalinterpretation of the Bible and teach their members same values.Additionally, these people highlight the impotence of having mild andmodest personalities, which are essential in maintain their identityand spiritual harmony. For example, the Bible discourages theconformity to the modern world, “and is not conformed to thisworld, but is transformed by the renewing of your mind so that youmay prove what is good, acceptable, and perfect” (Romans 12:2). TheAmish prefer to work at home so that they minimize the contact withpeople from other communities and the effects of a parent’s absenceon the family. Besides, they believe that the Bible encouragesseparation from the outsider, “come out from among them and beseparate said the lord”(2 Corinthians 6:17) Nonetheless, thedecreased revenues due to use of traditional farming practices andincreased prices for farmland has forced the Amish people to workaway from home, particularly in the construction and tourismindustries. On the other hand, The Amish communities hold worshipservices every Sunday at private homes. Baptism and shunning are themost distinguishing religious features of the Amish people. The Amishbelieve that a child cannot be meaningfully baptized thus, theyinsist on baptism during adulthood. The children are expected tofollow their parents’ decisions, but when they mature, they mustdecide whether to make a permanent commitment to the church throughbaptism (Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner & Nolt, 2013). Some Amishcommunities still hold the traditional beliefs promoted by Mennoregarding shunning. Hence, they actively ban those members who decideleave the church after baptism or associate with Amish congregationthat follow different doctrines. Amman insisted on banning even tothe point that he expected a spouse not to share food with a bannedmember until he or she has apologized for his or her behavior. TheAmish also believes that shunning is a biblical teaching, which theyshould follow without exceptions. The Bible indicates, “Now Ibeseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offencescontrary to the doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them”(Romans 16:17). have maintained a unique spiritualculture because they have managed to resist acculturation andassimilation by limiting interaction with outsiders, selective use oftechnology, and rejecting higher education. Besides, they havemaintained religious customs that uphold their identity. The Amishworldview is characterized by Anabaptists beliefs because theirfaiths are virtually the same. They believe necessity of living alife without sin after adult baptisms and the significance ofindividual Bible study (Kraybill, 2014). Nevertheless, the Amish areprimarily distinguished from other Mennonites due to the greatemphasis on values of family, humility, community, and separationfrom outsiders.
TheAmish separate themselves from the world through social, cultural,technological, and legal aspects. exposure to gospelis restricted within their cultural and religious beliefs. Thesecommunities do not evangelize, but their numbers have grown from asmall group consisting of 6,000 people in the 1990s to a populationof 308, 030(Kraybill, 2014). Amish communities nominate clergies ascommunity leaders but power is spread among all members. However,women do not hold leadership positions but they have the right tovote. Besides, the Amish believe that the government does not haveany authority over their religion thus, it is important to ensurethat the social services do not cross the border to religion(Kraybill, 2014).
TheAmish follow the Biblical teachings to obey and pray for theirleaders, but they have always maintained a safe distance frompolitical matters. They view the government suspiciously because itpromotes the world culture and the use of force, which are againstthe religious and cultural beliefs of the Amish people. Therefore,they prohibit membership in political organizations and publicoffices because it goes against their esteemed values of modesty andhumility. Although the Amish formed a national steering committee tonegotiate with the government officials on behalf of the community,they are not politically active. Therefore, they do not have nationalofficials to negotiate with the state and federal officials, whichhinder social mobility for these people. Although the Amish do nothave a single governing body, they allow each church to choose itsleaders and practices (Kraybill, 2014).
The Amish are private and isolated people who believe that contactwith outsiders will destroy their faith. Therefore, one has to becareful when attempting to provide social services to the Amishpeople. It is crucial to ensure that one does not force upon them theideas and things that they consider immoral. For example, the Amishwould reject social services that imply the use of electricitybecause it would violate their cultural practices. welcome outsiders into their communities but one should not cross theboundaries by forcing upon these people the values and beliefs thatgo against their cultural and religious teachings(Kraybill, 2014)..
Lastly,the Amish people history stretches back to the sixteenth century inEurope. The Amish broke off from the Mennonites due to disagreementson various religious practices such as shunning. These peoplemigrated to America to escape poverty and religious persecution fromEurope. Initially, they moved in Berks County Pennsylvania but theyleft and later settled in Lancaster County due to security concernsand land issues. Today, these communities are scattered acrosstwenty-two states in the United States. The Amish are one of the mostdistinctive religious and cultural groups across the Americansociety. The Amish are characterized by their desire to stay separatefrom the outside world through the rejection of electricity andautomobiles, distinctive dress codes. The Amish follow the teachingsin the Bible because they believe that it is the inspired word ofGod. Today, the Amish consider themselves Anabaptists who practicebrotherly love, foot washing, social avoidance and simple lifestyleand clothing. Humility is the most distinguishing characteristics ofthe Amish people. These com munities integrate faith in their entireculture, which has helped them maintain their identity.
AmishPopulation by State/Province. ( 2016). Young Center for Anabaptistand Pietist Studies, Elizabethtown College. Retrieved fromhttp://groups.etown.edu/amishstudies/statistics/population-by-state/
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