#1 Can You Become Amish?
Yes, an outsider can become an Amish community member, but it will be a rare and challenging process.
Since most Amish people are born into the religion, it is seldom that a non-Amish member seeks to join by choice. Not only would that outsiderhave to learn Pennsylvania Dutch, the dialect of the Amish, but there would be many steps of social acceptance to be gained within a small and very tightly-knit community.
The steps to becoming an Amish member, as described by the Daily Record’s interview of Atlee D. Miller, a member of the Walnut Creek Northeast New Order Amish Church, include but are not limited to:
- Move to an Amish area. Some will allow guests; others may have regulations against this or leave it up to the individual’s discretion.
- Attend Church every Sunday
- Be introduced and accepted by members of the community
- Find a job
- Learn German, or Pennsylvania Dutch
- After one year, you will be re-evaluated. If moving forward, you will learn the ordinances.
- The Church will then vote upon whether or not to take you in.
Some communities may be more or less strict than this.
Others may not welcome outsiders at all.
For many Amish people, being Amish is a right of birth that cannot be chosen or pre-meditated.
- “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” – Romans 15:7.
- How to Join The Amish; Mental Floss Published July 25th, 2007.
#2 Can an Amish Man Marry an Outsider?
The Amish Church regulates interfaith marriages, prohibiting non-members from marrying members; therefore, it is not common for an Amish person to marry an outsider. If a person does wish to marry a non-Amish person, they would have to immerse themselves within the community, obtain approval, and have the person baptized in the Church before the eyes of God.
It takes considerable commitment to work through the process of joining the Amish community as a non-birth-born member. Not only do you have to attend Church every Sunday, but after one year, you will be voted on. If the church leaders determine you are not fit to remain in the community, you will be excommunicated; if, however, you are approved, you are officially a lifelong member of the Amish community.
Despite there being a process in place in some communities – The Amish do not wish to bring in outsiders. They are a private community that sees outside influence as a threat to de-establish the structured nature of their culture. Allowing mixed marriages is seen as a destabilizing danger to the Amish society, so the answer is usually no.
- “To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” – 1 Corinthians 7:12-14.
#3 Can the Amish Fly in Commercial Planes?
No, Amish members do not travel outside of their community and generally do not travel by plane or car. If a member is using a plane or car, it could be for a particular emergency or special case. There are also about 5% of Amish people that do mission work (such as the New Order Amish), but 95% or more of Amish people do not fly on planes.
There could also be a case for how progressive the community is. If they are highly conservative, they might be less likely ever to expose themselves to the world. If they want to evangelicalize (uncommon for Amish), then they might be more open to channels/methods for this communication.
For non-members, being exposed to airplanes is a phenomenon. You will see in the hit show, Breaking Amish, members that were raised in the Amish society that are breaking free of the denomination for the first time. Leaving on their own to explore the world, you can see a newly-departed member on her first flight, feeling very overwhelmed.
- “The birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.” – Psalm 8:8 .
- Breaking Amish – First Flight Fright; Published TLC UK; January 14th, 2014.
#4 Can the Amish Use Guns?
Yes, the Amish are permitted to use guns, pistols, and riffles. This can be for recreation, hunting, protecting their crops, etc. But will typically not be for reasons related to violence.
The Amish are proponents for nonresistance, meaning they will not serve in:
- The military
- Law enforcement
- Any position that requires violence against people
Regardless, many Amish have gun collections or may make local hunting trips. As a non-violent community, they are still not abject to big game hunting. Hunting is seen as a way to connect with nature while sustaining the family.
- “He was a mighty hunter before the Lord. Therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.” – Genesis 10:9 .
- “Behold, I am sending for many fishers, declares the Lord, and they shall catch them. And afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks.” – Jeremiah 16:16.
- Amish Heirloom 16-Gun Cabinet by DutchCrafters Amish Furniture; Published October 9th, 2014.
#5 Can the Amish Ride in Cars?
No, the Amish do not generally ride in or operate motorized vehicles, and to do so could signify a threat to their minimalist society. Amish members are not even allowed to ride in a car operated by an outsider, but they may be allowed to ride a public bus or train for emergencies, business inventory re-stocking, or mission work.
If a community is more progressive and unafraid of the outside world, car trips would not be as heavily regulated. It will all depend on that community’s sense of security. If they feel secure in their congregations’ loyalty, they will not fear exposing them to modern amenities; However, if they see these things as destructive temptations, they will be more inclined to shelter their community members from these enticements.
According to USA Today regarding their outlook on technology:
“Amish life is governed by the “Ordnung,” a German word for order. The rules vary from community to community. According to the Young Center, “Most Amish groups forbid owning automobiles, tapping electricity from public utility lines, using self-propelled farm machinery, owning a television, radio, and computer, attending high school and college, joining the military, and initiating divorce.”
- “The chariots race madly through the streets; they rush to and fro through the squares; they gleam like torches; they dart like lightning.” – Nahum 2:4.
- Ardentnetwork.org – Sharing the Roads in Amish Country; Published by Ohio State University Extension on April 29th, 2016.
- Transportation.ohio.gov – Amish Safety
#6 Can the Amish Smoke Tobacco?
Generally, a large percentage of Amish men will smoke cigarettes or cigars.
As with most religions, it will depend on the conservative or progressive nature of that congregation. For some societies, tobacco is a major cash crop and will support their local economy. For others, it can be seen as a sinful habit from which to abstain. You will commonly hear of an Amish man smoking his tobacco pipe, but you will almost never hear of an Amish woman smoking tobacco.
The Baltimore Sun examined the Amish to understand the effects of secondhand smoking, finding:
“The researchers did not have to account for potential smoke exposure in the womb since women in the Amish community generally do not smoke.
About a third of Amish men in the study smoked, with 64 percent smoking cigars, 46 percent smoking cigarettes, and 21 percent smoking pipes. Reed said cigar and pipes produce more noxious secondhand smoke than cigarettes.”
Tobacco was formerly hugely embraced in the Amish society but has become less popular in recent decades. Just as it was more common in general America the 1950s (45% of all U.S. adults were smokers), it was similarly common in the Amish community. As this evolved in general society and health concerns were raised, the Amish church leaders also began to strongly discourage the use of tobacco products.
Despite the emergence of these health concerns, it is still a viable crop and economy-booster for many Amish, so they would likely support the growth and distribution of tobacco products.
· “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
- Baltimore Sun – Amish on Second Hand Smoking – Study; Published 2017.
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