What is the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of Amish folk? From a personal perspective I think of old times dresses, horse drawn buggies, beards, farm lands and an extremely religious set of people. While I have not had the chance of actually sitting down with people that are Amish, I have had experiences with them from a distance, as to gain some knowledge on this front. As we submerge into the basics of this wondrous culture we will learn the origins of the Amish culture, why they hold religion so deeply and how their religion ties all aspects of their culture together:
Humility and obedience are twin virtues in Amish culture. A spirit of humility signals respect for others. Members are taught to obey those with authority over them: children their parents, students their teachers, wives their husbands, members their leaders, and younger ministers their bishop. Everyone is expected to obey the will of God as taught by the community. Despite the strong emphasis on humility and obedience, the Amish express great respect for the dignity of each person. Community and tradition also play important roles in Amish life. The welfare of the community ranks above individual rights and choices. Communal wisdom, accumulated over the decades, is valued more than the opinion of one person. Traditional beliefs and practices are esteemed above scientific findings (Kraybill, Nolt and Johnson-Wiener).
When we think or hear about Amish culture we may tend to wonder what exactly the appeal of living without modern day advances is; to gain a better perspective on this particular aspect of Amish culture we have to dive into religious origins and kinships between people of the Amish culture.
Origins of the Amish religion date back to the time of the Protestant reformation in the 16th century Europe. The religious forefathers of these religions were called “anabaptist” which simply means to be re-baptized as an adult, as they were baptized as infants or children under Catholic or Protestant religions. It was from this reformation that stemmed the creation of the Mennonites by a Catholic priest by the name of Menno Simons and from the Mennonites, a Swiss bishop named Jakob Ammen broke away from the church in the late 1690’s and started his own movement, his followers were called the “Amish.” Another reason Ammen broke away from the Mennonite Church is because he believed in shunning and excommunicating people that did not directly obey the scriptures from the Bible, did not repent for their sins or ask for forgiveness. However, the differences between the two are based on how strict each community is in areas concerning: dress, worship, and modern technology. Mennonites and the Amish both settled in Pennsylvania as a part of religious tolerance in the early 1700’s. Both groups of the Anabaptist faith have the same beliefs of basic bible doctrines, non-resistance and baptism.
The Amish in particular are very strict in their view of how they allow...