17 Common Misconceptions About the Amish That People Need to Stop Believing

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By Jonathan Trent

The Amish community is a unique and often misunderstood group, and many of us have ideas about who they are and how they live. However, many of these ideas are completely inaccurate. Let’s explore 17 common misconceptions about the Amish that people need to stop believing.

No Technology

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It’s commonly believed that the Amish completely reject technology. However, National Geographic says they selectively use technology to support their way of life—after consideration and discussion. For example, they might use solar panels, diesel generators, or even cell phones in limited contexts, as long as it doesn’t disrupt their values.

Cut Off from the World

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The Amish aren’t actually entirely isolated from the outside world, and they don’t avoid non-Amish people. They often interact with them through business, markets, and social events. Many Amish even run successful businesses that rely on modern commerce.

Don’t Use Cars

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Although the Amish don’t personally own or drive cars, they might hire drivers or take public transportation to travel longer distances. This allows them to maintain connections with broader communities without compromising their lifestyle or values.

Uneducated Community

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The Amish value education but focus on practical skills rather than formal academic achievement. Amish children typically attend one-room schoolhouses through eighth grade, where they learn reading, writing, arithmetic, and practical life skills. 

Don’t Pay Taxes

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According to USA Today, the Amish do pay taxes, including income tax, property tax, and sales tax. However, they are exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes because they don’t rely on these government programs.

Lack of Modern Medicine

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The Amish generally accept modern medicine when needed. They might seek medical care from non-Amish doctors and will go to hospitals for serious health issues. Their approach is typically practical, focusing on what’s best for health and well-being.

Reject Modern Conveniences

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Even though the Amish generally avoid modern conveniences like electricity from the grid, they sometimes use alternative sources of power, such as gas lanterns, wood stoves, and other off-grid technologies to help them maintain their way of life while still providing functionality.

Always Dress the Same

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According to Britannica, the Amish are best known for plain, self-made clothing. Even though the basic elements are consistent, Amish people don’t always dress exactly the same. There are subtle differences in styles, fabrics, and details depending on the specific group.

They Are All Farmers

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Farming has traditionally been a central part of Amish life, but not all Amish are farmers today. Many are involved in other trades, such as woodworking, construction, and crafts. In fact, some Amish businesses are highly successful and contribute greatly to the local economy.

No Higher Education

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The Amish generally don’t pursue formal higher education, but this doesn’t mean they reject learning and higher education altogether. They often take on apprenticeships or learn trades within their own community.

Don’t Use Electricity

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The Amish use electricity, but they don’t draw it from public power grids. They generate their own electricity using solar panels, generators, or batteries. This allows them to have some modern conveniences while maintaining their commitment to self-sufficiency.

No Banks or Financial Services

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Many Amish use banks and other financial services for their businesses and personal needs, like checking and savings accounts, and they sometimes take out loans to buy property or equipment for a business. However, they avoid accumulating any credit-based debt.

No Interaction with Non-Amish

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It’s true that the Amish prefer to live separately from mainstream society, but they often interact with non-Amish people through business and other activities. In fact, CNN says that Amish businesses have a 95% success rate at staying open for at least five years, which means they must have plenty of interaction with non-Amish.

Don’t Celebrate Holidays

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The Amish celebrate various holidays, including Christmas and Easter. It just might look a little different from mainstream holiday celebrations, as they tend to focus on the religious aspects of these holidays rather than the commercial elements. 

Pacifist Lifestyles

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The Amish advocate for nonviolence. However, they aren’t necessarily pacifists in the complete sense of the word. After all, they are highly likely to defend themselves and especially their families if needed.

Don’t Marry Outsiders

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It’s rare, but not unheard of, for Amish people to marry outside their community. The Amish community emphasizes shared values and faith, which generally means marrying within their group. But this doesn’t mean it’s always completely banned to marry outside of the faith.

No Individuality

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Amish people prioritize community, but there’s still room for individuality within their structure. Career paths and hobbies can vary widely among individuals, and each person is valued and brings their own personality and perspective to the community.

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