The Amish (04:29)
The Amish Church began in European after the Protestant Reformation and spread to the United States. There are more than 250,000 Amish in the U.S. and some of their communities have become tourist attractions.
Amish Farming (04:49)
Working the land is an important part of Amish belief and is viewed as being close to God. Amish families began settling on farms in Pennsylvania in the 1700s. Many Amish families are struggling to keep their children working on the farms.
Amish Baptism (06:27)
The Amish are Anabaptist, which means someone is baptized into a faith as an adult, so it is voluntary. The Amish, like other Anabaptists, were persecuted in medieval European and fled to America seeking religious freedom. Amish teenagers decided if they want to be baptized and join the church.
Amish Life (04:41)
Amish families start everyday with Bible readings and singing. The home is seen as a place to shape a child’s journey through the religious life. Submission and servitude are ways to show religious devotion.
Amish Church (06:21)
The church is more important than family for the Amish. There are no church buildings and families take turns hosting Sunday worship every two weeks. Church is a social event that connects the families throughout the community.
Amish Rules (07:05)
The Ordnung are the unwritten rules that govern Amish identity. It states what is restricted and is used to maintain discipline. Each church has its own Ordnung and they can vary from community to community.
Amish in Changing America (03:56)
When the Amish first arrived in Pennsylvania, most of their neighbors were German farmers, who also spoke Pennsylvania Dutch. Daily life for the non-Amish changed with the Industrial Revolution, but the Amish remained the same. The Amish banned new technologies to keep the local churches as close-knit communities.
Amish as Americans (03:33)
By the 1930s, people began to think the Amish would eventually die out and interest in studying and documenting their lifestyle increased. Though they consider themselves Americans, their beliefs come first and part of it includes rejecting American life.
Amish Schoolhouse Shooting (09:32)
On October 2, 2006, a mass shooting at an Amish school by a non-Amish man killed five children. Five others were wounded but law enforcement struggled to identify the children and notify their parents. The Amish community forgave the shooter, believing everything happens in accordance with God's plan.
Amish and American Laws (05:41)
In 2007, six Amish men in New York were cited for violating state building codes for refusing to submit building plans and install smoke detectors. Many modern building codes violation Amish beliefs because they put faith in man-made devices over God.
Amish and American Schools (08:55)
Before education became more regulated, non-Amish and Amish students would attend county schools together. As the school year lengthened and the age a student could leave raised, public schools became less practical for the Amish. Amish parents worried teenagers attending public high schools would encourage them to leave the church and most stopped sending them in the 1950s, which led to legal battles.
Former Amish (07:04)
Being forced to leave school influenced Saloma Furlong's decision to leave the church at 20 and go to Burlington, Vermont. She appreciated the individualism and freedom that was allowed in her new life. She was shunned, meaning she was excommunicated from the church and members are not allowed to contact her.
Amish Shunning (04:58)
Those who have been shunned can come back and confess, which allows them to rejoin the church. Levi Shetler left at 17 because he wanted to experience a different life. He visited his family, but his father told him not to come again if he was not going to stay.
Amish Women (06:19)
Men are considered the head of Amish households and women are expected to be submissive. Church ministers often blame the victims of domestic violence.
Amish Exile (03:12)
Shetler is still devoutly religious and worships with a group at his new home in Mansfield, Ohio. He has been away for three years but has considered returning to his family.
Amish Occupations (07:44)
Because of the rising cost of land, less than half of the Amish are able to support themselves through farming. Many work manual labor or construction in and around their communities. In Indiana, more than half the Amish men work in factories outside the community.
Amish Relocation (04:16)
Thousands of Amish families have moved to areas with cheaper land, where they could still rely on horse and buggy for transportation. Many bought farms in Colorado after their access to land in eastern states decreased.
Amish Rumspringa (06:01)
At age 16, Amish teenagers go through a rite of passage. They can go out with friends on weekends and it is the first time teenagers are allowed the date; the period continues until they are married. They can experience outside culture and determine if they want to stay with the Amish church, which 90% do.
Amish and the Outside (05:43)
A tour bus goes through an Amish community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The Amish want to be separate but friendly with the outside world. Many worry the increased levels of contact will diminish Amish life.
Credits: The Amish (01:42)
Credits: The Amish
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