When you think of the word “Amish,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Perhaps it’s a disconnected and strange community, a complete lack of technology, or a strictly religious way of life with few luxuries. If this sounds like you, you may be surprised by these 17 common misconceptions about the Amish.
The Amish Reject All Modern Technology
One of the most common beliefs about the Amish is that they have no access to technology. However, according to Ohio’s Amish Country, the New Order Amish allows the use of “electricity, ownership of automobiles, modern farming machines, and telephones in the home.”
The Amish Live Completely Isolated from the Outside World
Many people think that Amish people live in total isolation, cut off completely from the outside world. However, for most communities, this is not the case. Amish people regularly interact with non-Amish individuals for business and other necessary engagements.
Amish People Have No Formal Education
You may believe that Amish children never receive formal education or are completely homeschooled throughout their childhood. However, this is not the reality for many Amish kids. Amish children usually attend school until the 8th grade, often in Amish-run schools.
The Amish Are Completely Self-Sufficient
It’s a commonly held misconception that Amish people are totally self-sufficient with no help from the outside world. However, the truth is that most Amish communities rely on trade with non-Amish people and use money just like everybody else.
All Amish People Farm for a Living
If you picture an Amish individual hard at work, you’ll most likely see them tilling the soil or harvesting crops. But as noted by Amish Studies, Amish people have a wide variety of jobs, including carpentry, manufacturing, quilting, trading, and more.
The Amish Are a Luddite Community
Many Americans view the Amish as a Luddite community that completely opposes progress and technological advancements. In most communities, this is far from true. The Amish community primarily bases their approach to technology on their desire to maintain community rather than opposing it completely.
The Amish Never Travel
It’s often thought that Amish people rarely or never leave their insulated community bubble. However, in reality, Amish people do travel, both within and outside of their own communities. Reasons for Amish travel include visiting family, medical issues, and business purposes.
The Amish Have No Interaction with Government
Think that Amish people don’t have any interaction with the American government? Think again! The truth is that the Amish community does interact with the government when necessary for purposes such as paying taxes, participating in government programs, and for legal matters.
Amish Life is the Same Everywhere
Just like all other groups of people, the Amish community is not a monolith. Despite what you may have believed, not all Amish communities follow the exact same sets of rules and principles. Many differences can be found in the way they dress, use technology, and interact with the outside world.
The Amish Language is a Form of German
Some people mistakenly think that Amish people speak German. But the truth is that Amish people usually speak Pennsylvania Dutch, which is a dialect of German. Furthermore, many Amish individuals are bilingual, speaking both English and Pennsylvania Dutch.
The Amish Practice Arranged Marriages
Many Americans think that Amish people are very backward when it comes to their marriage traditions and only practice arranged marriages. However, according to Amish Baskets, this is not the case. Amish couples usually choose to marry based on their shared values and lifestyles.
The Amish Don’t Pay Taxes
Despite what many people believe, Amish people do indeed pay taxes. They typically pay local, state, and federal taxes. However, they are sometimes exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes. Even if their children attend Amish-led schools, they also pay public school taxes.
The Amish Are Opposed to Healthcare
Some people think that Amish individuals reject all forms of modern healthcare and refuse to turn to the outside world for medical treatment. But in reality, many Amish people do frequently visit doctors and hospitals when necessary.
Instant Shunning for Deviating from the Ordnung
Many Americans think that all Amish communities are so strict that they will instantly shun anyone who strays from the Ordnung, or ‘order.’ However, the truth is that shunning is a final resort that is usually only imposed once someone has repeatedly gone against community values.
Amish Women Have Very Few Rights
The majority of Americans may view Amish women as having a severe lack of rights and autonomy. While it’s true that Amish women do have fewer rights than most American women, they also hold significant roles and responsibilities in both their households and wider communities.
The Amish Eat Only Organic Foods
If you think Amish people will refuse to eat anything besides strictly organic food, it’s time to think again. While Amish people do produce much of their own organic food, some communities will also buy groceries from the supermarket.
The Blue Gate Myth
According to Amish America, it is a commonly held myth that an Amish man will paint his gate blue to indicate that he has a daughter of marrying age. At the age of 16, many Amish girls begin participating in youth groups to socialize and eventually find a suitable partner to marry.
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