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What comes to mind when you think of the word “Amish?” Most likely, men with long beards, black buggies and women in plain dresses rollerblading down the street. A group of traditionalist Christians, the Pennsylvania Dutch as they are also called are known for their simple living, lack of vanity and refusal to adopt the conveniences of modern technology.

According to historical records, the Amish emigrated to Pennsylvania in the 1800’s in order to find a rural place to set up their communities without the interference of urban growth and development. A recent study has shown that the sect has grown in population to 227,000 from 165,000 in the year 2000. This is due to the fact that most Amish women have a minimum of 6-7 children. We can’t imagine how much they have to work out to maintain post-baby bodies.

In order to become a full-fledged member of the Amish church, you must be baptized between the ages of 16-25, and marriage is a requirement within the church community. For the most part, Amish live off the governmental grid and do not have any types of commercial insurance and refuse to take part in social security. We guess no one there will be retiring from plowing or feeding the chickens.

While the Amish for the outsider looking in may seem like a simple and peaceful people, they actually have some crazy and weird practices that will make your head spin. For starters, there is no such thing as “dating” because young Amish men and women only court and you only court the person you plan to marry. Talk about being cornered in early. The Amish also have sleeping ritual that involves sharing a bed with a wooden board separating the man and woman, which certainly takes the concept of safe sex to an entirely new level.

We did some research and found 30 details about the Amish community that we’re sure they keep hidden for a reason. Check them out!

30. Origin of the word “Amish”

thesun.co.uk

When people think of the Amish, they think of what they may have seen on TV. Many famous celebrities have played Amish characters on the big screen, and an actress you may recognize is Kelly McGilles (pictured above) in the movie Witness with Harrison Ford. The origin of the word “Amish” actually comes from the name of Jakob Ammann, who was a Swiss Anabaptist in the Mennonite Church. He was a strong advocate for the literal interpretation of the Bible, which created a huge rift in the church. This sect that broke off eventually became what is today known as the Amish.

29. Baptism and Marriage

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Between the ages of 16 and 25, young Amish men and women are expected to get baptized to become full-fledged members of the church. Until this happens, they are not allowed to marry. However, once they’ve been baptized they can only court and marry someone from their own church community.

28. Code of Non-Violence

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The Amish follow a strict code of non-violence and reject any form of violence from their community. Considered to be strict pacifists, the Amish men do not enlist in the military.

27. Faceless Dolls

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Most Amish children grow up with dolls that are faceless, which is due to the Amish rejecting any form of vanity, as well as pride. It’s believed without a face, the child will not grow up with the wrong set of priorities. Personally, we find them slightly disconcerting.

26. Rumspringa

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Rumspringa is a limited period of time that can last up to a year, when an Amish child turns sixteen. During this period of time they are allowed to go out into the world and experience all it has to offer, and then determine whether or not they will return to the Amish community. For some young Amish, rumspringa is simply symbolic, however for others its a time to challenge the status quo and decide what they really want from life.

25. No Music

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When it comes to Amish church, you will not see any types of instruments being played. This is due to the church believing instruments are a way of self-expression that encourage pride, vanity and jealousy. Therefore, all songs are sung a capella.

24. Amish Population

Image: The Columbus Dispatch

The Amish population, although small, continues to grow year to year. In 2000, the community was determined to be around 175,000, however today it has reached over 300,000. This is due to the face that most Amish families have 6-7 children. That’s quite a few mouths to feed. The first Amish actually immigrated to North America in the 1700’s

23. A Woman’s Place

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In the Amish community, the role of an Amish woman is to be a wife, mother and a homemaker. This traditional gender role is encouraged with the men working and the women helping one another in the community. Most Amish women submit to their husbands and let him make most of the decisions.

22. Shunning Practices

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The practice of shunning is one that is most talked about outside of the Amish community and revolves around a church member being shamed for a transgression and coerced back into the church. During this time, members of the church will not speak or see the shunned member. Not even family members will speak to the person experience the shunning.

21. Ex-Communication

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Ex-communication is the next level of shunning practices and involves a complete communication breakdown of the said person with anyone from the community. They are no longer allowed to live in the community and are banished. Parents and siblings must also cut all ties, unless they wish to be banished as well. It can be a very painful experience for someone who has only known the Amish community their entire adult life.

20. No Cars

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Using a motorized vehicle is forbidden among the Amish, therefore they use a horse and buggy, as well as roller skates for the Amish youth. The reason vehicles are banned is because it is believed it removes the reliance on the community, which is viewed as very important.

19. Barn Raising

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One of the more festive times for the Amish is known as a barn raising. It is not only a social event, but an economical one as well, where the community joins together to build a barn for one of its members. This is the foundation for the Amish culture: selflessness and neighbors helping one another.

18. Church Services

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Due to the persecution from the Mennonites when the Amish splintered off, most church services are held each week in a different community member’s home. While some communities have a building to worship, this is usually not the case in smaller communities.

17. The Infamous Beard

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One of the more iconic images of Amish men is their long beard and it’s the way you tell if a man is married or not. Men in the community are required to grow a beard once they are married. However, mustaches are forbidden…not sure why, but we can see the aesthetic appeal of simply a beard.

16. Women’s Clothing

Image: PBS

Amish women are known for their colorful and simple dresses, however you can tell if a woman is married by her simple blue dress that she must sew herself for her wedding day. This dress is then worn for Sunday church services and is tradition in the Amish community.

15. Political Affiliation

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The Amish believe in a full separation of church and state, despite believing the word of God is supreme law. Most Amish affiliate with the Republican party, although some have been known to take a more liberal stance.

14. Amish and Education

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The children in Amish communities all attend a one-room schoolhouse that is taught by a fellow community member. Once they reach a certain age, they leave the schoolhouse and begin vocational training within the community. This can include farming, weaving, as well as carpentry.

13. No Photography Please

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The Amish are very adamant about not having their picture taken. This is because they believe a photo is a fixed image and unnatural. Amish are VERY superstitious and believe photos can open one’s soul to the devil.

12. Amish Children Retention Rate

The Amish Experience

The Amish community has a very high retention rate. According to statistics, 80-90% of Amish children choose to stay within the church after their rumspringa.

11. The Amish and Murder

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Due to their nonviolence rules within the community, there has only been one case of homicide among the Amish. A man named Edward Gingerich who was mentally unstable murdered his wife Katie by smashing her skull in. Due to his mental problems he only served five years in prison before hanging himself in 2011.

10. No Phones Allowed

Image: Amish America

The Amish are known to reject all types of telephones within their homes. While some sects allow cellphones, most do not, therefore a pay phone must be used. Although, a payphone is becoming few and far between, so many Amish communities have a community phone.

9. Horse and Buggy DUI’s

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One interesting fact about the Amish and their buggy is that in the eyes of law enforcement it’s considered a vehicle, therefore the Amish can be arrested for driving under the influence. While it is rare, since alcohol is frowned upon, there have been several instances of young Amish being arrested for drinking and driving their buggy.

8. Puppy Mills

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In a very surprising revelation, many Amish communities run puppy mills in Lancaster, PA, which is considered the puppy mill capital of America. These places breed puppies at an alarming rate to sell to various resellers, and can involve horrible living conditions and very sick puppies.

7. Amish and Reality TV

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The spotlight was put on the Amish in 2010 when the reality show Breaking Amish hit the airwaves and followed a group of young Amish on their rumspringa. The series has so far lasted five seasons as it followed members of the church exploring life outside of the community with some choosing to leave and some staying.

6. Don’t Participate in Social Security

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The Amish community does not participate in any type of governmental aid or insurance programs, therefore most do not have a social security card. However, some have obtained one in order to be eligible for exemption from Social Security and Medicare taxes.

5. Must be Baptized to Join Church

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As mentioned previously, Amish men and women must be baptized into order to join the church. This ceremony is considered a cleansing of the soul, and that the new fully fledged member of the community is now pure in heart and right with God.

4. Marriage is Mandatory

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When living among the Amish, marriage is mandatory. There is no single and independent lifestyle within the church. All members are expected to be baptized and wed by a certain time, otherwise there can be consequences.

3. No Love Outside of the Community

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Young Amish men and women must court and marry within the community. They may not have a relationship with someone from outside the Amish and for some sects, they cannot marry from other Amish church communities.

2. Lower Cancer Rates

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Due to their rejection of modern conveniences and simpler way of life, the Amish community is known to have a lower rate of cancer. This is due to the fact all of their food is grown within the community and the labor of tending to the community keeps them in top physical condition.

1. Bed Sharing Ritual

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When a young Amish couple is looking to wed, they spend several nights in the same bed together simply talking. The male and female are separated by a wooden board to help resist temptation and spend the night getting to know one another.

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