Who are the Amish? Some may respond by simply saying people who ride in buggies and men who have beards. However, according to Clyde Browning, the author of Amish in Illinois they are “… a humble people living close to the teachings of the Bible and close to the soil, a people intent on clinging to the ways brought by their ancestors from Europe.” (pg xv, 5). There is a large population of Amish in Illinois who have had a great influence on the surrounding communities because of their religious beliefs and way of life. They have evolved to keep their traditions alive.
The Amish are one of many denominations that resulted from radical Reformation in 16th century Europe. Groups that came from the radical Reformation are known as Anabaptists. The Anabaptists believe in adult-baptizing and separation of church from state. These beliefs set them apart from the teachings of Catholics and Protestants. These groups were totally against adult-baptizing. The Amish religion itself arose from a disagreement among the Swiss Mennonites in 1693. It was founded in Switzerland by the teachings of Jakob Ammon. He and several others became unhappy and eventually split from their parent Mennonite Church (The Amish 8). They craved a more strict and simplistic lifestyle. They wanted to return to the original beliefs and practices. They also believed the process of shunning. They came together and formed a group that rejected wars, materialism and frivolity (Amish 3).
Many Amish communities were formed in Switzerland, Alsace, Germany, Russia and Holland (The Amish 8). The Amish immigrated to North America in search of religious freedom (Amish 3). Those who chose to stay ended up joining back with Mennonite groups (The Amish 8). They settled in southeastern Pennsylvania, the “mother” state of Amish in America. Many other immigrants later settled in New York, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Illinois. They soon divided into two groups, Church Amish and House Amish. The Church Amish were people who held service in a church building, while House Amish were ones who preferred service in their home (Amish 3).
The Amish lifestyle to many is seen as “old-fashioned”, too strict and even unrealistic. However, it is one that is unique and original. Perhaps what makes the Amish way of life so unique is their goals and values. The Amish wish to maintain modest, calm and quiet. They value tradition and a slow pace lifestyle as well as submission, obedience, humility, conformity and simplicity (Discover and Learn 1).
The customs of the Amish are a product of their goals and values and are what set them apart from others and make them so recognizable. Amish wear plain colors and make their own clothes from old patterns (Discover and Learn 1). They dress plainly because it is modest, it is not worldly, it marks their identity, discourages envy/jealousy and most importantly because it is biblical. Most Amish are not allowed to take any form of photography. The Amish are not allowed...