Interesting Religious Sects The Amish Part 2

About the interesting sect of the Christian Church the Amish, history, size, and tradition of the Mennonite denomination.

SOME INTRIGUING RELIGIOUS SECTS

THE AMISH

Amish men wear black hats and plain shirts and trousers. Suspenders and hook-and-eye coat fasteners are still used in some regions. Men grow beards and wear their hair long and unparted. The upper lip is shaved. Boy's clothing resembles that of men. Women and girls also wear long hair, always braided, and dress simply. Plain white prayer caps are worn from infancy. Full bonnets guard against weather when needed. An Amish bride is dressed in blue.

Early marriage is encouraged. Most Amish marry in their early 20s. Following an extensive courtship, the ceremony is reverently undertaken. A honeymoon consists of an extended horse-and-buggy trip to relatives' homes.

The Old Order generally use horses and mules for farm power and the horse and buggy for transportation, although some churches have permitted tractors, without pneumatic tires, as economic necessities. Young men of courting age drive a single-seated buggy, pulled by a spirited horse. A family travels in a larger, enclosed buggy. Regionally, buggy colors vary from black to light gray to yellow.

Mutual aid alleviates fire and other disasters, with 75% of a loss being covered. Carpentry and other labor are donated. Elderly Amish are cherished and cared for within a family home or in a separate house in the farm compound. Social Security and government agricultural subsidies are not accepted. Photographs are forbidden, as are radios, movies, and television. Ownership and use of an automobile would bring excommunication and shunning by the Old Order. But life is not without enjoyment. The Amish love their own singing and traditional folk games. Pride is avoided. Humility is natural. Visiting friends and relatives is the greatest Amish joy.

The Old Order do not allow schooling beyond the eighth grade. High school is considered worldly. Amish fathers have gone to jail rather than back down from their convictions. In 1972 the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Wisconsin v. Yoder, decided that Amish parents may have control over their children and that compulsory attendance laws violate the First Amendment. But, to be sure, the Amish are educated--in farming, animal husbandry, marketing, and homemaking.

Dr. John Hostetler and Professors Elmer and Dorothy Schwieder have written of the variety of experiences, stresses, and accommodations that befall the Old Order. Many have become regular Mennonites. In 1927 the Beachy Amish (named for their leader, Moses Beachy) split from the Old Order and began using automobiles and modern appliances. To the outsider, the Old Order may seem austere, but they continue their attempts to preserve their customs, language, and religion as they were 300 years ago. Not seeking converts, they remain a closed society whose sincerity and simplicity are admired but rarely emulated.

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