Is Amish a Religion, Culture, or Belief System?

While most people are familiar with the Amish life, few know of their religious beliefs. This lack of knowledge often leads others to misunderstand them and what they believe in.

The Amish is a conservative group who believe that they were called to live a simple and disciplined life. Originating in the 17th century, they are followers of the Christian faith.

They have their own belief system and they follow their own rules. This article aims to help you understand them better.

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The Amish People

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The Amish are considered the most conservative group that belongs to the Anabaptist family or Protestant Christians. They first came into being sometime in 1693.

Jakob Ammann, an Anabaptist leader, decided to usher a group of Swiss Mennonites to break from the main body. The main reason involved their differences in the way they practiced the celebration of Communion.

While the Mennonites observed it once a year, Jakob Amman wanted to celebrate it twice per year.

Another reason relates to separatism. Ammann wanted to be separated from non-believers while the Mennonites had no issues with intermingling with non-believers.

Ammann also wanted to observe the washing of the feet. This wasn’t included in the rituals of Mennonites, highlighting another difference they had.

The group faced persecution from both Protestant Christians as well as Catholics. Because of the persecution they faced, they were forced to emigrate to North America. It started in 1727 and continued all the way through 1770.

Compared to the Mennonites, the Amish believed in living a more strict and disciplined lifestyle. In fact, they often shunned the other Mennonites for not following such a lifestyle.

What Are The Amish Beliefs?

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The Amish followed the religious teachings of the Mennonite faith. This may seem contradictory, as the Amish parted ways from the Mennonites, but their principal beliefs remain the same.

Both Mennonites and the Amish have strong Christian beliefs and view the Bible as the word of God. They also view the church as the vessel which connects us to the Lord and Savior.

As you can expect, the Amish see religion as a way of life and not merely as a “once a week” activity. Each and every day, they strengthen their faith and beliefs by constant worship in both church and home.

It’s not uncommon to see gatherings at the church each night in Amish communities. In addition, family prayers are constantly spoken throughout the day at home.

Both the Amish and Mennonites believe that most individuals live a sin-filled life and the only salvation from this is to seek forgiveness from Jesus. They don’t force these beliefs on anyone, though.

Instead, they allow young adults to experience the outside world through Rumspringa to see if they want to continue practicing the Amish beliefs. While some may choose to live in the outside world, most young adults go back to their simple Amish lifestyle that’s focused on family and religion.

The Basic Amish Values, Beliefs, and Practices


Amish people are private people. Instead of displaying or showing their religion, they practice it and use it in their daily lives.

The Amish is a community that weighs heavily on religion and the teachings of the Bible. Here we’ll go a little bit deeper into their beliefs and reveal why they’re so adamant about strictly following the beliefs of their church.

When Do Amish Get Baptized?

Amish communities practice adult baptism. This means that they allow people to choose to be baptized once they are old enough to decide on whether or not to embrace Amish practices.

Amish baptism involves a deacon pouring a cup of water into the hands of a bishop and onto a person’s head. This is done three times. The candidate is also asked to make a confession of faith. He needs to agree and comply with the expected behaviors and regulations of the community.

Failure to comply or show commitment to Amish beliefs can mean ex-communication.

What Do Amish Wear?

The Amish dress style is quite plain and simple. The men typically wear straight-cut coats, dark-colored suits, suspenders and solid-colored shirts. They choose shirts with conventional buttons and black socks and shoes.


Amish women, on the other hand, wear modest dresses which are generally solid in color. They wear full skirts with long sleeves, a cape as well as an apron.

Unlike most of us, they never cut their hair. They usually wear it in a bun on the back of their head and over it, they wear a prayer covering. They don’t wear jewelry items or even clothes made with printed fabrics.

Why Don’t the Amish Use Electricity?

The Amish choose to deliberately separate themselves from the world and remain self-sufficient. Because of that, public electric and utility lines are considered forbidden. As a result, they are protected from outside influences, such as those coming from the internet, radio, and TV.

However, this doesn’t mean that Amish people don’t use power tools in their farms or houses. Some of them use 12-volt self-contained batteries for such purposes.

Others get creative and rely on either hydraulic or air-powered motors, particularly when operating large household equipment and appliances.

For lighting, they use pressurized gas lanterns which they mount on walls or hang from their ceilings.

How Do Amish Make Money?


Amish members are great farmers. In fact, for most of their history, they’ve farmed. 

Unfortunately, due to the rising land prices in the different parts of their communities, Amish groups found it hard to rely on just farming alone. 

Amish people found other ways to support their families. Some of them started at-home shops and remote businesses, including making and selling wood products. Some Amish women earn by operating baking, quilting, and craft enterprises. 

Others make a living by taking less common occupations, like providing auctioneer services and even health services. There are Amish members who operate carpentry crews that often work in distant places.

How Are Amish Schooled?

Traditionally, Amish schools only have a single room where kids are taught from grades one through eight. They believe that education beyond that grade is unnecessary for Amish children.

Instead, the kids are taught how they can perform their Amish life duties. For example, boys are given lessons on farming. Amish girls, on the other hand, are taught ways to perform their household duties.

How Do Amish Get Around?

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For longer trips, Amish find horse-and-buggy quite useful. However, if the trip is relatively short in distance, they may use rollerblades, bicycles, and kick scooters. Some even consider walking.

For traveling long distances, Amish people can hire a van and driver. It’s actually a popular choice among people who live traveling in small groups.

Most Amish churches don’t allow air travel. The only time they can fly is during emergency situations, like when they need to travel by helicopter for medical treatment.

Only the New Order Amish churches allow their members to travel by air.

Amish can also ride trains and buses. They are also a common means of traveling for people who require longer-distance transportation.

Do Amish Drink Alcohol?

Typically, yes. 

However, compared with most communities and other groups, they don’t have bars or clubs. They usually enjoy alcohol when they’re in someone’s home or their own property. It’s one of the ways they spend their leisure time together which doesn’t happen a lot.

What Are The Amish Not Allowed to Do?

Amish women aren’t allowed to cut their hair and this goes back to the biblical passages you can find in Corinthians I.

To take care of their long hair, they make sure to brush it in the morning or at night. During the day, they keep them under their white headdresses which are also called prayer coverings.

At night, some of them let their hair down. 

The toys Amish children play with also have rules. For one, they are only allowed to enjoy simple toys.

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This includes dolls with no face. This stems from the Book of Deuteronomy which forbids people from creating idols with human characteristics. Amish communities believe that only God is capable of making humans.

Amish men grow beards, but not all of them. As part of the Amish culture, some unmarried men choose to have a clean, shaven face. Once they’ve married to start their own Amish family, they’ll be allowed to grow out their beard to reflect his transition into the world of manhood.

The Difference Between Amish and Mennonite Beliefs

Mennonite and Amish have similarities. However, even though they came from the same branch of religion, they are still different from each other.

The biggest differences between the two involve their practices and beliefs. For one, Amish families tend to exclude themselves from the greater world. They do this by dressing plain, avoiding the world’s technologies, and shying away from things that can separate them from their families and church.

Mennonites, on the other hand, pay close attention to how important their missionary work is. Some of them even embrace today’s technologies and work hard to spread their faith throughout the world.

Consider these:

A man belonging to the Amish community will ride a horse-driven vehicle while a Mennonite will use a modern automobile to get around. Amish women wear plain, solid-colored dresses while those that belong to the Mennonites will wear plaid or even flowered prints.

In general, Amish members shy away from becoming a part of other groups or populations. They choose to live in close-knit communities. Mennonites, on the other hand, don’t live as separate communities.

The Common Myths About The Amish Tradition

Being a separate community, a lot of myths have grown up surrounding the Amish society. Below are some of the most common ones and the truth behind them.

Amish only eat all-organic food items.


Amish are excellent farmers. However, this doesn’t mean that they only eat organic produce. 

Some of them have shown interest in organic farming but it hasn’t happened to all Amish farmers. They remain a minority. 

There are Amish farmers that operate with few to no chemicals. Some of them don’t even have organic certification.

Amish men can have more than one wife.

Contrary to what most people think, Amish men don’t practice polygamy. 

Amish marriages are heavily rooted in their community, family, and church. A marriage involves just one man and one woman.

In a typical household, the man is deemed to be the head. The woman, on the other hand, is responsible for being the caretaker of the kids.

Amish people are able to exist throughout several generations because they produce large families. In fact, most of them have half a dozen children.

Having a big family helps ensure that they are able to persist into the next generations. Plus, it also gives them more hands for free labor in managing their farms and other occupations that are considered manual intensive.

Apart from that, having big Amish families help them create a more dependable Amish community. This is a huge deal since most of them don’t have traditional insurance. When needed, they pool their cash as a community to help pay off their health bills.

Considering all those things, marriage in Amish isn’t just an affair between two people- it’s actually a community affair.

Amish don’t use money.

Because Amish families are known for farming and making their own goods, others think that they don’t use money. However, that’s not the case in real life. They actually use cash, checks, and even credit cards.

Amish don’t see traditional doctors.

Amish families don’t have traditional health insurance plans. Purchasing one may show their lack of faith in God who the Amish interpret as their provider.

Because they are known to be economical in terms of their health care choices, most of them tend to self-medicate before seeing health professionals. They take folk medicine and herbal treatments to remedy an ailment. They also practice faith healing.

However, the Amish community doesn’t avoid going to doctors or using modern medicine. They even see specialists when they don’t feel any improvement in their health condition.

Amish don’t pay their taxes.

Even if they shy away from being a part of society and enjoying modern conveniences, they still pay their taxes. That includes their property, income, sales, and other local taxes.

However, they are exempted from Social Security and they don’t collect either. 

Amish are all farmers.

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Even though they have farms, they aren’t their only source of income. Some of them are woodworkers and carpenters while others are involved in construction. There are also Amish members who own businesses and shops.

Amish only travel by horses and carts.

As mentioned earlier, they don’t just rely on horses and carts when traveling. They have a lot of options, including pedal-less bikes, scooters, and roller skates. These are their popular choices when it comes to short-distance travel.

Amish members can’t leave their society.

Any member of the Amish community is free to leave. In some cases, people who have left may even be allowed to return within a limited time.

However, once a person decides to leave permanently, he’ll be shunned.

Shunning means considering that person a stranger or outsider forever. He won’t be allowed to join or participate in his community again. Even family ties will be cut.

Another way to be shunned from the Amish church is by defying the authority known as Ordnung

In case you are wondering, Ordnung refers to the unwritten sets of regulations that serve as guides for the Amish people in their everyday lives. You can think of it as the one giving orders or serving as the foundation of their community.

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Its purpose?

It upholds their society. Without it, anyone can just join and leave as they please and that can cause tons of problems for everyone.

You can’t find its strictures in the bible; instead, they are based on Scriptural principles.

Here’s an example:

Consider the plain Amish dress. It may seem like a way to limit one’s self-expression, but in reality, it helps limit pride and envy. It’s based on several passages in their Scripture.

The Ordnung is also what prohibits certain behaviors in the community. The list includes suing in court, running for political office, using public electricity, and divorce.

Amish can’t have fun or parties.

Becoming a member of the Amish community can be a lifetime commitment. Because of this, their elder church members allow some space for the younger ones to explore their curiosity.

For one year, young members are allowed to drive cars, drink, and be a part of the regular society to let them know what they’re all about. They call it the Rumspringa.

After it’s over, the Amish youth are asked to make a choice. They either join their community and completely embrace their way of life or get shunned. 

Outsiders can’t join the Amish church.

Although difficult for most people, outsiders can become a part of the Amish community. Non-Amish people can do so through convincement or conversion.

First, they would need to live among the members and show genuine interest in changing their lifestyle and becoming a part of the society and the Amish way of living.

This means letting go of the things they’ve been used to, like automobiles, electricity, and modern conveniences. You have to separate yourself from the modern world and modern technology.

You have to do this for about a year. You can live by yourself or you can find Amish families that are willing to take guests. Take note that other Amish families aren’t open to the idea of having outsiders in their homes. Additionally, you’ll need to attend their Amish worship services and church services every Sunday. 

After a year, the elder church members will decide whether or not to take you in. If their votes are affirmative, you’ll be considered a full member of the Amish society.

Amish men can’t cut their facial hair.


Amish men grow beards, particularly those who are married. They grow and never cut it. However, mustaches aren’t allowed.

When an Amish man has a clean or cleanly shaven face, it’s an indication that he’s not married.

They can’t get their photos taken.

This isn’t true. However, non-Amish people are highly encouraged to use their sound judgment when taking photos. Most Amish members want privacy and they don’t want other people disrespecting their homes and properties.


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