Over the course of time, we have received many questions about the Amish culture and their beliefs. Below, we have put together some of the questions that have been answered so far either on YouTube videos, on Facebook, or through this website itself. We will also be adding to this list as time goes on and we get more questions.
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Q. What language do the Amish speak?
A. Actively in private life, the Amish use Pennsylvania Dutch, which really is not an official written language. It lacks many of the grammatical rules and structure that would be required before that was possible. However, this is the language that they speak within their community and at their homes. When interacting with people outside of the community, they speak English just like you and I do. Finally, as the Bible that the Amish use is German (Luther’s translation, among others), they do know some German as well. Most Amish read German but cannot speak it very well, so it is hardly ever used. For more on this, see my YouTube video here.
Q. Are the Amish taught a trade while in the community?
A. The Amish are primarily an agrarian community. However, due to their heavy emphasis on community self-sufficiency, many other skills are learned. Woodworking, one of the things that the Amish community is known for, is very prevalent as a trade. Also, construction and other various skills. Most Amish can do pretty much anything with their hands. For more on this, see my YouTube video here.
Q. Are a lot of Amish leaving today? More so than 20 or 30 years ago?
A. I would say that the number of Amish leaving today has increased significantly over the past 20 or 30 years. This has been mostly due to the advent of technology and the ease at which Amish people can access it. There are some progressive Amish communities that even allow cell phones! Some communities are doing what the Amish call rumspringa, where they are allowed to leave and test out life outside of the community, and this also has been a huge contributor among the Amish for their younger generation leaving. However, the Amish also have large families, and obedience to elders is something that is especially taught in the Amish, so the majority of Amish stay with the Amish. For more on this, see my YouTube video here.
Q. When you leave the Amish, what happens if you try to go back?
A. What happens when you go back is largely based upon whether you joined the church or not. If you join their church and then leave, you are what they call shunned, in which they are commanded to pretty much ignore you until you conform back to their ways. This is meant to make you miss the fellowship of your family and friends so that you will go back and be Amish. If you are not a member of the church before leaving, you are not shunned officially, but many still treat you the same way. You really are not welcome back unless you plan on becoming Amish again. For more on this, see my YouTube video here.
Q. What does playtime and fun look like for the Amish children?
A. Sundays are really the only true playtime that the children have because of the strict rule that no work is to be done Sunday. Even with it being Sunday and not a work day, the level of activity in general is limited, so certain things are not allowed to be played. Work is very heavily emphasized, so playing is usually just something that time is not found for. This does instill a very good work ethic in Amish children, and you can see the fruits of that when they are older. For more on this, see my YouTube video here.
Q. How is divorce viewed in the Amish community?
A. Divorce is completely frowned upon in the Amish. It is just something that is not accepted at all. I know even of one man who knew that he would not be allowed to divorce his wife, and so he tried to kill her rather than stay married to her. This, of course, is very rare, but it shows their strong hate for divorce. For more on this, see my YouTube video here.
Q. How does Amish dating work?
A. As with all of these answers, it varies slightly from community to community, but for my community, it is very strange. Amish guys do not really talk to the girls if you are not family, which makes the dynamic between the guys and the girls is really awkward. What would happen is a guy (who was at least 17 years old) would see a girl that he liked and would have a relative of hers ask her if she wanted to go on a date with him. The guy would then drive up in a buggy on Sunday night (which was always date night), and they would drive around in the buggy to his house. This ride was the first time that they would have talked together. When they reached his house, he would sit on a rocking chair on the porch, and she would sit on his lap and they would talk then. Usually after the first few dates, it was assumed that they were a couple and it went from there. For more on this, see my YouTube video here.
Q. Do the Amish ever make new rules for their community?
A. All the time! The interesting thing about the Amish making more rules for their communities though, is that their rules for making their rules more strict are really easy. In fact, the bishop at any time can make the rules more strict and they are in immediate affect. However, the problem comes with making the rules more loose. In order to make the rules more ‘modern’ shall we say, a unanimous vote from the entire community is required. Yup. Just one person can wreck it for the entire community. For example, I remember one time when they tried to introduce quartz watches into my old community, and we could not use them because of just one vote against. For more on this, see my YouTube video here.
Q. What would happen if a non-Amish wanted to join the Amish?
A. This varies from community to community. With some of the more progressive Amish communities, you may be allowed to join and welcomed with open arms. With the Old Order Amish, it is a bit tougher. In some you cannot join period, and with others, you are never really considered Amish if you do join. As a general rule, you run the greatest chance of getting to Heaven if you were born and raised Amish your entire life. For more on this, see my YouTube video here.