Who Are the Amish?
-- Background and Culture
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Who are the "Plain People" found here in Ohio in the world's largest Amish communities?
The Amish are the most conservative segment of the Anabaptist movement, which also produced the Mennonites. The Amish resulted from division within the Swiss Brethren. They derived their name from Jacob Ammam, an influential Swiss Brethren leader of the late 1600's and early 1700's.
Most of the Amish forefathers came from Germany and Switzerland. Many were driven from their homes be religious persecution, and hundreds of them emigrated to the United States during a period of 125 years, starting soon after 1720. The Amish believe that the Bible teaches a life of simplicity and a distinct separation between the church and the world. In view of this, they have refrained from accepting technology and a lot of cultural changes that have been introduced as progress. Thus they are still driving horses and buggies; not because they think the automobile is wicked in itself, but because they believe the lifestyle it brings with it tends to break down a cohesive family structure, and the simple lifestyle which they value so highly. They speak the Dutch language among themselves but also speak English as well.
Many such choices and practices only make sense within the context of a unique historical and religious setting. To outsiders, these practices may seem quaint and old-fashioned, when in reality, they're an expression of biblical principles, an interpretation and application of scriptures that has basically remained unchanged for hundreds of years.
As a group they do not wish to be idolized, and they have a distaste for their name to be used commercially to promote sales. It is quite safe to say that the Amish would feel a keen disappointment if tourists to their counties would remember them only for their thrifty farms, their quilts and crafts. Instead, they would desire a deeper understanding of their Christian profession, which is silently portrayed by their simple lifestyle.
If you desire more information on specific doctrines or a statement of faith, you may write for a list of titles to:
Amish Brotherhood Publications
2233 State Route 557
Baltic, Ohio 43804