Amish Men at a Prayer Service
A Look at the Amish Religion (c)copyright 2001 Bea Sheftel
The Amish religion is more than a religion, it is part of a way of life supported by the community. But what is this religion?
I have written previous articles on the origins of the Amish religion. But what about today? Can you believe that people today would allow themselves to be subjugated by their religon and their community? Yet the Amish do this everyday of their lives.
I remember growing Catholic how I thought the RC church was so restrictive. We went to confession on Saturday, Mass and communion on Sunday. We couldn't eat meat on Friday in those days either, and during Lent there were other restrictions. On Holy Days we had to go to church, even if we had school or work to go to.
Imagine my surprise to study about a religion known as the Amish which was yards more strict than the Catholic religion. I was in a sociology class at Long Island University when the instructor told us about the movement of the Holy Spirit through the Amish churches.
It sounded like a neat religion though I didn't understand all the dos and don'ts. I mean, women have a lot more don'ts than men. It is a patriachal society. That means the men are the bosses, and even above the men are the Bishops and Deacons of the church. They make the rules and the community must abide by them.
In the Amish community a woman's place is in the home. That's it. No career for any Amish woman. The exception are single girls and newly married girls who can work as housemaids, mother's helpers, or in one of the approved stores. Once a woman is with child, she quits her job and stays home. Some married women have permission to set up stands at the Farmer's Market, or to have visitors to their home to sell fresh vegetables or crafts.
The manner of dress,even the colors and lack of pattern on the fabric is all part of the Ordnung,or set of rules by which the Amish live.
The prayer cap is worn by every Baptised woman, and even some who haven't been Baptised yet. Modesty is a way of life in the Amish community. So is frugality. They truly live the old saying, "waste not, want not."
The church sets the rules for the community. So some areas might allow bikes without all the fancy stuff, or agree to a different dark color such as brown,for the women's clothes. Some allow men to use tractors and even electricity in stores. The motivation is often a mix of traditional values, and the good of the community.
Prayers are said in German. The Bible is in German, and so are all the songs. I once thought the Amish way of life was appealing, but the more I find out about them, the more I am thankful for what we have. I mean, just the ability to choose my own books instead of having my choices scrutinized by my husband or elders from the church.
I don't know why any one would want to convert to be an old order Amish. It is a hard religion. In fact, the Amish don't even try to make converts. They know their way of life is hard.
They have some advantages over us. Their community is like an extended family. They don't have to worry about electricity since they use alternative systems. They don't have to worry about politics because they don't become involved.
So people are attracted to what they preceive as "The amish way." They don't realize all the work that goes into writing and rewriting an article.
The Amish, of course, are a Christian sect concentrated in
Pennsylvania, Indiana and Ohio. They shun technology, including
electricity; they drive horses and buggies; and they wear plain
clothes. It's a demanding life, to be sure, but one that most
return to after a period in their teenage years called rumspringa,
a Pennsylvania Dutch term meaning "running around."
Typically, this means driving cars, dating and other mostly harmless
forms of partying. Amish faith and life are one woven
strand, inseparable from each other.
Recommended Books on the Amish