Can Amish Get Tattoos? Are They Even Allowed To Get One?

The Amish community is known for its distinct way of life, rejecting many aspects of modern society and embracing a simpler, more traditional way of living. But what about body art? Can Amish individuals express themselves through tattoos, or is this practice considered too modern and secular for their beliefs?

The Amish people’s literal understanding of the bible forbids them to get tattoos. As Leviticus 19:28 says, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord.” Furthermore, Amish society considers these as vanity and worldly, which are highly prohibited in the Amish culture.

In this article, we will explore the world of Amish tattoos, examining their religious and cultural significance and uncovering the surprising truth behind this controversial topic.

Amish Community Versus Vanity and Worldliness


When one thinks about the Amish culture, the first thing that comes into mind is their plainness and modesty. They believe that living a simple life is what God teaches in the bible.

Since all Amish communities generally take the holy book word for word, they have avoided everything related to vanity.

Amish people are forbidden to wear clothes with decorations such as buttons, Amish women cannot wear makeup nor have their hair cut and show it to the public, Amish men can’t grow mustaches nor shave their beards after marrying, and Amish children play with faceless and fingerless dolls.

In addition, the Amish church considers things such as tattoos, cosmetics, piercings, and earrings vain and worldly. Therefore, seeing an Amish person wearing or having any of these things would be impossible.

The Amish strongly believe that worldliness or getting influenced by worldly things would cause them to get absorbed by the modern world, create envy among others, and detach themselves from their faith.

In terms of Amish beliefs, these would compromise the longstanding Amish way of life and keep them from being close to God.

What Do Amish People Think of Tattoos?


Looking closely at all Amish communities worldwide, each group lives a strict Godly life. Unlike the society most of us live in, the Amish church has been taking extra precautions from the start to prevent Amish community members from having access to possible temptations that may cause them to commit sins.

Since getting inked is a sign of vanity, a part of the modern world, and is mentioned in the holy book, it is seen as one of the biggest sins an Amish person can commit. Even the idea of having one is frowned upon within any Amish community. Therefore, getting one is strictly forbidden.

Moreover, all Amish community members are taught as part of their religious teachings that the human body is a temple of God. Therefore, it shouldn’t be marked with anything, especially something permanent.

Most of them with a more conservative Amish faith would say that having a permanent ink on your body can be equivalent to self-mutilation and rebellion against God.

Can You Become Amish if You Have Tattoos?


In today’s modern world, getting inked is no longer a big issue for many of us compared to the last century. Due to society being more open, less discriminating, and less conservative, men and women get ink for personal reasons and self-expression.

Most don’t try to hide them anymore. You’ll see people from all walks of life walking around with inks on their arms, legs, and even necks and faces.

The answer can be complicated if a person has ink and want to become Amish. In general, tattooed people are not allowed, especially in conservative Amish groups like the Swartzentruber Amish, Schwartz Amish, Nebraskan Amish, etc.

The Old Order Amish, on the other hand, are known to be more friendly to outsiders. They commonly reside in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and many other parts of the United States and Canada.

If an inked person is serious about converting to Amish, he can try the less conservative and more modernized Amish groups. A certain group living in Holmes County, Ohio, the New Order Amish, are known to be the most progressive Amish.

Some of the subgroups under New Order Amish reportedly have electricity. Additionally, they speak English during their church services when no Pennsylvania Dutch speakers are present.

Bearing permanent ink on the skin would require the joiner to take a few extra steps because even though there are many Amish subgroups, some may live differently from others when adapting to modern conveniences.

They still have a common center, especially when discussing the Amish faith, since they all belong to one well-established religious group. 

Ways to Become Amish if a Person Has Tattoos


Over the years, many outsiders who are used to the modern American culture have attempted to become Amish for many reasons. Some have liked their new life of becoming one with the well-known plain people, while others have decided they couldn’t handle it.

According to scholars Donald Kraybill, Karen M. Johnson-Weiner, and Steven Nolt, in their book “The Amish,” released in 2013, only 75 people have successfully become Amish and have stayed since 1950.

Anyone who has permanent tats and is serious about joining the simple life of the Amish must do the following:

Repent for Getting Tattoos


Since the Amish consider this type of body art a sin, repentance is the first step to forgiveness. For the Amish, repenting for sins makes it possible for sinners to grow and develop spiritually and get closer to God again.

Have the Tattoo Covered at All Times


If the ink can be concealed with clothing, the interested joiner must always cover it. Under any circumstances, the mark on the skin shouldn’t be seen by anyone.

Get the Tattoos Removed


If the tattoo can not be covered by any means possible, the only chance is to remove it permanently. Thanks to modern technologies, anyone can now get rid of permanent tattoos in four ways:

  • Plastic surgery
  • Laser tattoo removal
  • Removal cream
  • Salt scrubs

What’s Next?

If the interested joiner gets accepted by the Amish successfully, there are more steps to take. There are instruction classes and tons of consistent church services to attend. He must learn the Amish languages – Pennsylvania Dutch and German.


He would also have to commit to all Amish rules and give up every worldly thing he has. Lastly, he’ll have to put his best foot forward as the congregation would closely observe to see if becoming Amish and living a Godly life would suit him well.

If he fails but is still interested in becoming a part of the Amish community, he may start by reading a few books and living like the Amish way for as long as he can.

Some Amish families living in less conservative Amish communities may accommodate outsiders in their homes for months or even a year so that they can experience what it takes to become Amish.

What if an Active Member of the Amish Church Gets a Tattoo?

The Amish people are also humans. Humans, by nature, are not perfect. Even though no information is available on any active Amish community member getting tattooed, we can only assume a few possible scenarios based on their longstanding rules and traditions.

Rumspringa, a period, where Amish youngsters who just turned 16 have the chance to discover the life outside Amish society. | Photo: moranfamilyofbrands

In the Amish culture, there’s a period called the Rumspringa that lasts almost two years, where an Amish youth who just turned 16 will be given a chance to explore what’s outside the Amish society.

During this period, Amish rules would not apply to him, so he could do whatever he wanted, like wear modern clothing, start a relationship with a non-Amish girl, drink alcohol, or get tattooed. All this while maintaining contact with his Amish family.

If this Amish youth decided to return and get baptized by the Amish church, he would have to do something about his ink. The baptism would be put on hold until he repents and removes the marking from his skin permanently. After his repentance, he would have to meet with their church officials to decide his fate.

Shunning is the most well-known form of punishment in Amish society. If an active member of the Amish community decided to break the rule and get inked, he would most likely be shunned.

The offender would be separated from the community to make them realize their sins – cutting off all social interactions, even with people living in their own homes, Amish families, friends, business partners, co-workers, etc.

To get back, the shunned member should remove the ink and repent for his sins. The decision to forgive him would be up to the church.

You might be interested in exploring if Amish people can look at mirrors.


The Amish way of life is committing to every word from God. For all Amish community members, these strict rules help them escape temptations and sins that may cause possible detachment from their church, community, and faith.

As people would always say, avoiding temptations is more effortless than resisting. The Amish have already established this by taking vanity and worldliness off their menu.

By the Amish dressing modestly, not wearing any jewelry, and avoiding tattoos, they are confident they’re on the right track to keeping themselves close to God all the time.


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