FAQ about the Amish

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Some frequently asked questions about the Amish:

If they don't use electricity, how can the Amish sometimes have water heaters, stoves and refrigerators in their homes?
First, the Amish use gas in many of these instances. Many appliances that we run on electricity can be converted to run on natural gas. Also, some have windmills on their property which generate power. This is acceptable because it is self-reliance on a natural , Godly source of power as opposed to being connected to our power lines with their man-made electricity.

Are Amish babies born at home?
Most Amish in this area use either a local birthing center - built and run by and for the Amish and Mennonites - or local hospitals. Some still have midwives who deliver at home.

What is a barn raising?
A community event for the Amish, entire families pitch in to help. Men and boys of all ages take part in the work and sheer numbers compensate for the lack of modern equipment. The framing is usually completed before the noon-day meal - a feast prepared during the morning by the women - and the remainder completed in the afternoon. The bulk of the work is completed in one day.

I see that the Amish use the same modern medicine and doctors I do. Can you explain this?
Nothing in their beliefs prevents the Amish from seeking modern medical help, although they do not have health insurance. They do band together, however, within their communities and see that anyone who needs financial help for medical problems is not turned away. Local doctors report that Amish tend to be good patients, both in that they appreciate good health as a gift from God and that they pay their bills.

Why is it that Amish cannot own or drive cars, but they can ride in them?
At first glance it might seem inconsistent, but the philosophy is that while owning a car might separate the community (not everyone could afford them, they might become used as status symbols, and they would inevitably hasten the slow-paced Amish way of life), Amish will accept rides (or even pay for them) to meet various transportation needs such as travel to outside employment or for medical attention.

Why don't the Amish use electricity?
Because the Amish lifestyle is a deliberate effort to separate from the world and maintain self sufficiency, they decided in the early part of the century that linking with electrical wire would constitute a connection with the world and would violate the Bible's instruction not to be conformed with the world. That decision, viewed now, shows amazing foresight as it has protected the Amish community from outside influences such as radio and TV.

What holidays do the Amish observe?
The Amish observe many of the same holidays the rest of us do - but just the religious ones. For example, they celebrate Christmas (and in some orders, Old Christmas), Good Friday and Easter, Ascension Day, Pentecost, and Thanksgiving.

Can an outsider become Amish?
While it is not uncommon for a person born into the Amish faith to leave that church and culture for a more liberal lifestyle, it is quite unusual - but not impossible - for an Englishman to give up modern accoutrements for the extreme discipline of the Old Order Amish. Such a conversion would include formal instruction in Amish beliefs and language as well as baptism - not to mention significant lifestyle changes. You would probably enjoy reading about Donald Beam - an Englishman who did just that - in The Amish of Holmes County.

Why don't the Amish want to have their pictures taken?
The Amish forbid photographs of them being taken based on the Biblical instruction that Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth (Exodus 20:4).

Is it true that the Amish don't have to pay taxes?
The Supreme Court has ruled that Amish who are self employed do not have to pay Social Security tax, as it is a form of insurance and as such conflicts with their religious beliefs. Amish who are employed by non-Amish employers, however, do pay this tax. Amish pay property taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, etc., as well.

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