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The Amish Community and Its Culture

The founder of the Amish community was called Jacob Amman. They are also called Amish Mennonites, and are a Christian church group fellowship of the Mennonite churches. These people are known for their unwillingness to embrace contemporary technology, simple life and plain dressing. They originated from the German-speaking parts of Switzerland and the Palatinate of Germany. However, the migrated caused of various reasons and a recent survey was done in 2010 showed that these people are increasingly moving to the west.

To be a member of this religion, one is baptized, often between the period of 16 and 25. This is a requirement for marriage. A worship service led by a bishop and a number of ministers is conducted each Sunday in a member’s home. Ordnung (rules of the church) must be followed by every follower. These groups maintain a separation from the outside world. They recommend a way of rural life, humility and direct labor but highly reject arrogance, conceit and haughtiness.

The way the cloth is a depiction of their devotion, for instance, belts, sweaters and neckties are forbidden. In addition, mustaches in men are outlawed, apart from being reluctant to any technology. Old Order Amish have minimum use of technology while the New Order Amish allow the use of electricity, ownership of vehicles, updated farming machines and telephones in the home. They believe in education, but formal edification through the eighth grade, which is conducted in their private schools (Kraybill).

Amish View of Death

The Amish believe in life after death, and have faith that after death the spirit has left the physical body: thus, they do not visit the grave of a demised member.

Subcultures within the Amish

The first is the Old Order Amish, the largest Amish group with a German accent called Pennsylvania Dutch used in worship and giving edification on English (Graham and Cates, 5). Formal education beyond the eighth grade is not encouraged though after they have graduated, they are instructed in their homes. Men follow the laws of Hebrew Scriptures concerning beards but do not keep beards. These people use technology such as vehicles, electrical devices and telephones. Marriages are done only in faith, rather than commitment. Mostly, they are found in the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and West Central Wisconsin.

The second subculture is the Swartzentruber Amish. This group separated from the True Old Order Amish and do not consider other Amish groups to be true Christians. They speak German and English is learnt when one attends school. Sexual actions between spouses are rigorously restricted to the requirements of reproductive purposes. They cannot undertake any sexual practices on fasting holidays. They are mainly found in Mississippi River is in Missouri. Other Amish subgroups include Beachy Amish who are related to Weaver town Amish Mennonite Church in Ireland and the New Order (Sherer).

Amish Belief on God and Common Beliefs

Amish religion is based on early Christianity and the urge to be ingenuous to God (Burgess). They have the notion that the Bible proffers instruction from God and that the Church aids in fulfilling God’s purposes on earth. This belief emphasizes issues of humility, obedience and simplicity. The Amish follow the word of God even if it contradicts with the government. Amish believe that God is the initiator and controller of all things. God exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Amish believe that Jesus Christ was God’s child, who will come back to judge the universe, bring the dead back to life and bring in the kingdom of God the Father. They also believe that Satan exists as a living person. He is the source of evil and corrupts humanity and their ways.

The Amish do not consider women to have positions of power. These positions are for men.

Spiritual leaders in the Amish Community:

  • Volliger Diener. He provides spiritual guidance for the congregation.
  • Diener zum Buch. Helps the bishop to preach and teach.
  • Volliger Armendiener. Helps in baptizing and preaching, his major role is the head of doctrinal orthodoxy.
  • Armendiener. He reads the Bible at services helps the bishop and gives funds to the underprivileged in society.

The Amish are very conservative church group, with an Anabaptist tradition. Adult baptism is initiated after giving an assurance to the church. They have a belief in the Trinity and Jesus Christ. Believe in life after death. They have the belief that the writers of the Bible were enthused by God and salvation is a bequest from God. God is worshipped every Sunday in a follower’s home.

View of Death

Death is viewed as a neutral phenomenon since they believe in life after death, which was either rewarded in Heaven or punished in Hell. For those who lived a righteous life, the reward was heaven and those who followed the vices the reward was hell though; they believed that God was to make the judgment.

Rituals of Death for the Deceased

After death, the body is embalmed by an undertaker who is familiar with Amish customs but has no applying of make-ups. The body is cleaned and clad in traditional white clothing by the family. The deceased is buried on the third day after his/her death in the local Amish cemetery. The casket is made of plain pine. Gravestones state the surname, birth date, death time and age in years, months and days.

Rituals of Death for the Family of the Deceased

The family of the deceased grieves in private and public displays of grief are rare. An agonizing separation followed with anguish, death is received benevolently as they surrender to God’s superior powers. They also take care of the deceased by cleaning and dressing. There are only three situations when family and friends can view the deceased. The first viewing is held at the home, a day before the funeral. The second viewing happens during the funeral when the casket is open on display at the home of the deceased. The third viewing is done at the gravesite. This final viewing is held just before the coffin is put into the grave (Burgess).

Graves are dug by hand, and the gravestones are simple since they believe no person is better than the other is. During the funeral, the deceased is paid respect but no eulogy is read and flowers are not present; the service is exceptionally simple. No singing is done rather a hymn is read by the bishop until grave is full of pallbearers and the Lord’s Prayer is said silently. Mourners wear black, and immediately the family enters a year of mourning. The deceased families do not observe a formal memorial day nor visit the grave since they have faith that the spirit has left the body. The Amish are reminded that their spotlight should not be excessive on the world as on their future existence (BBC).

Works Cited

BBC. The Amish. Religion. 2009. Web.

Burgess, L. et al. Social Class, Amish Culture, and an Egalitarian Ethos: Case Study from a Rural School Serving Amish Children. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 2008, 23(3).

Graham, Linda and Cates, James. Health care and sequestered cultures a perspective from the old order Amish. Life and Health Library. Pp. 5-7.

Sherer, Lon. The Amish in Northern Indiana. Goshen College, 2004.

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