Deep in rural America, there is a thriving community that is the complete opposite of our modern world. Known for their strong commitment to simple living and religious devotion, the Amish have captivated outsiders with their unique culture.
The Amish are an Anabaptist Christian community that appeared in Europe during the Reformation. The community began to form in 1693. In Switzerland, but currently, the Amish live only in the United States and Canada, in the Ontario region. The Amish live according to strict rules, some of which are taken from a literal interpretation of the Bible, some of which are created by the communities themselves and are accompanied by explanations of why the forbidden behavior is unacceptable.
Humility, family, community, and separation from the world are the main goals of Amish life. Daily life and traditions are governed by an unwritten code of conduct called the Ordnung. This community is characterized by its own strange way of life. They do not use technology – televisions, telephones, cars, avoid using electricity. If electricity is used, then there is a strict rule that it must be produced in the community itself, connection to public networks is prohibited.
The Amish are best known for their simple clothing, most of which they make themselves. Men and boys wear wide-brimmed black hats, dark-colored suits, coats, wide-leg pants, suspenders, plain shirts, black socks, and shoes. Men grow beards after marriage but are not allowed to have mustaches. Old Order Amish women and girls wear hoods, long dresses with capes over the shoulders, shawls, black shoes and stockings. The Amish never cut their hair, which is worn in a braid, and they are not allowed to wear any jewelry.
From the outside, this culture seems unproblematic, and although they live separate lives, what is happening inside is disturbing. According to their belief, Amish women must conceive between the ages of twenty and twenty-two. That’s because Amish culture encourages relationships early, starting at sixteen. Amish couples start giving birth immediately after marriage because they see children as gifts from God. The average number of children in an Amish family ranges from seven to eight.
In many cases, women are forced into marriage when the parents agree on which daughter has to marry whom. A woman has no choice.
One of the main problems is the lack of education. All children attend school until the 8th grade. However, in schools, girls and boys are taught separately and on different subjects. Representatives of the male gender are taught how to take care of the harvest, look after it, how to do various farm and other jobs, while women are taught how to take care of their husbands and family, they are taught to be good housewives.
Lack of education also causes health problems. The Amish have strong beliefs about medical intervention, often prefer alternative treatments, and rely heavily on their community for support in times of illness. This preference for faith-based healing practices can cause problems when medical emergencies are needed.
Between the ages of 14 and 18, Amish teenagers can join a world and lifestyle that is already familiar to us. This period is known as Rumspringa in Amish culture. During this time, the teenagers decide whether they want to leave the Amish community completely, or whether they would like to return, get baptized, and commit to the Amish way of life.
When a person decides to leave the Amish community, they often face a process called “shunning” or “excommunication.” Leaving this community can lead to social isolation and loss of community. Because the Amish live in close-knit communities, leaving means severing ties with family, friends, and the support network that has been an essential part of their lives. Shunning can vary from one Amish group to another, but it usually means that a person is completely pushed away and treated as if the person no longer exists in the community.
The leaving process itself can be emotionally and psychologically challenging. Individuals may experience a loss of identity, feelings of guilt or shame, and conflict with their new beliefs and values. Adjusting to a new lifestyle and the complexity of the outside world can also be overwhelming.
Amish education focuses on practical skills and religious teachings rather than formal education. As a result, individuals leaving the Amish community may have limited academic qualifications and professional skills necessary for employment in mainstream society. This can make it difficult to find a suitable job and may require additional education or training. Until people adapt to the modern world, they usually have to work jobs with minimal pay. As a result, the survival rate also changes. Often, those who left face financial difficulties as individuals search for work, find housing and adjust to the costs of living outside of the Amish community.
It is important to note that while leaving the Amish culture can be challenging, individuals who do so often gain newfound independence, personal freedom, and the opportunity to explore different ways of life and beliefs. Support groups and organizations exist to help individuals overcome these challenges and provide them with the resources to transition into the modern world.
This whole culture is based on the so-called “word of God”, so everything that seems right and practical to modern society is unacceptable to them. That is why this community is separated from the rest of the world and avoids contact with it.