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History of the Amish
In Europe, in the early 16th century the catholic Christians had a powerful influence over people's daily lives .It was
also a period of conflict between different groups of Christians.
In Switzerland, one of these groups was led by a man called Jacob Amman. He wanted to practice Christianity
differently to what the pope thought was right. They wanted to:
Simplify prayer and church service
Wait until children grew up before baptizing them
The catholic Christians prosecuted them for this, so they fled to North America and settled in Pennsylvania. Here
they rebuilt their way of life and based it on farming and their own Christian beliefs.
Today, they still live separately from the outside world. Those who are not Amish are referred as "English". 80% of
the Amish still live in Pennsylvania however some live in Ohio and Indiana. The Amish use three languages,
Pennsylvania Dutch for at home, High German for worship and English with outsiders. They believe that the
community is at the heart of their faith and to live as a loving community separate from the world. Individualism
How is the Amish culture different to ours?
The Amish have very different attitudes to life compared to our own. The Amish believe that living how god wants
them to is essential.
Modern conveniences such as televisions, telephones and cars are avoided; they believe that they undermine
god's principles and would make the community drift apart. They believe that god is pleased when they work in
harmony with nature; therefore they always live in rural communities.
One of the most striking differences between our two cultures is the clothes. The Amish women and girls wear
dresses made from one solid color. Their hair must never be cut and always in a bun. If they are married, they
wear a black bonnet, if they are single, they wear a white one. Men must wear a solid colored shirt, dark trousers,
braces and a straw hat. Amish men grow beards only when they are married and after they must never be cut,
they must also never grow a moustache. Dark blue, green, purple, brown and black are the most common colors
of clothing and women never wear makeup. They believe that these clothes separate them from the outside world.
putting God and community ahead of the individual;
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How is order maintained
There are around 200,000 Amish, They are a growing group, and its thought that their population doubles
every 20 years. The Amish are divided into dozens of separate fellowships, broken down into districts. Each
district is fully independent and lives by its own set of unwritten rules.
Because Amish transport is limited to horse buggies these districts are geographically small and may include
around 30 or 40 households.
The Amish do not have a professional group of ministers.…read more
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The Amish worship in their houses, and take it in turns to host worship. They believe that they, the people are the
church therefore they don't need a church building. A 3 hour service takes place every Sunday and is followed by
Hymns are sung and are led by a single voice who will sing the first bar of each line alone. They are very slow and
could last 20 minutes.
Prayer is said while kneeling and is usually silent.…read more