When we have people come into our brick-and-mortar store, we’re always asked questions about our builders and their life styles. So, who just are the Amish? The Amish believe that they are to bear witness to the world, but remain separate from it. This is both physical and social. They also believe that association with others, also known as “Englishers”, is polluting. They avoid modern conveniences as an expression of their ideals of simplicity and separation. Their homes do not draw power from the electrical grid. They generally do not have generators to run electricity, except to run some farming machinery.
With some exceptions, Old Order Amish congregations do not allow the owning or use of automobiles or farm tractors. However, they will ride in cars when needed. They do not have radios, TV sets, personal computers, computer games, etc. In-home telephones are not normally allowed. Some families have a phone remote from the house or shop for business purposes. Some Amish households do not even have running water, instead they support their water needs with gravity-run water. Examples of rare permissions by Amish priests are the use of fax machines so they can communicate to the shops they do business with.
However, the Amish do not fear technology, far from it. They carefully pick and choose what technology will actually benefit their society, and slowly integrate it into their lives. What they do fear is the vanity and lack of humility that often results from mass modern consumerism. The Amish regard these traits with distaste, as ego and pride clash directly with their religious beliefs, which value humility and community.
The Amish do not take photographs or allow themselves to be photographed. This would be even more evidence of vanity and pride. Also, it is against the commandment: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that…is in the earth…”.
Now, there are different sectors of the Amish. There are the Old World Amish that we work with located in Indiana and Ohio. Then there are the Mennonites. Mennonites are more relatable to the modern public than the Old World Amish. Mennonite Amish are allowed to own vehicles, they’re allowed to have their photo taken, and enjoy the amenities that we enjoy today. What separates them from the general public though, is they’re not allowed to be confrontational by any circumstance and must follow the Christian path. They follow the basic principals the Amish are required to follow.
Education and Work
While Amish men work in factories, they are able to keep the individuality of the church. This is because Amish ideals can be retained outside of the intensely rural farm life. Many Amish men work in factories, but their vital purpose continues to be to become a farmer. Even while they work in a factory, they stay living in the shut off countryside.
The Amish tend to educate their children outside of the American public school system. They prefer to use schoolhouses within their own communities, run by their own people; their family. Amish children are not educated beyond the eighth grade, as any more education is not required for factory or farm life, and could arouse ambition, vanity and greed in their children. Though the culture of the Amish is misunderstood and often attacked, most Amish families are content with protecting themselves from modern society.