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Amish Assimilation in the United States

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Amish assimilation in the United States

Amish assimilation in the United States

To begin understanding the Amish style of assimilation we must first try to understand the Amish and their traditional beliefs and culture they brought to the United States during their immigration. Starting in the early 18th century, many of the Amish migrated to the U.S. Most of the members who remained in Europe rejoined the Mennonites. Few Amish congregations existed by 1900. On 1937-JAN-17, the last Amish congregation -- in Ixheim, Germany -- merged with their local Mennonite group and became the ZweibrÐ"јcken Mennonite Church. The Amish no longer existed in Europe as an organized group (Robinson, 2004). The most distinctive belief of the Amish is reflected in the Bible verse "Be ye not conformed to the world," meaning that one should separate oneself in one's appearance and practices from the mainstream of society, conforming instead as well as possible to Biblical tradition.

The Amish do not collect social security, unemployment insurance, or welfare. Instead, each Amish community makes sure that everyone's needs are taken care of. In addition, the Amish community, in the form of small schools, controls education. Education does not usually extend beyond the eighth grade. The most impressive aspect of Amish life is the way in which they appear to be stuck in a time warp: They make an effort to live in the fashion of the 1600's of their forefathers. They do not usually use automobiles, nor do they use electricity or phones in their homes. Instead, they use horse-drawn buggies, mules or horses to pull farm equipment, oil lamps to light their homes, and so on. Amish clothing is also distinctive: Women wear dresses, usually of a single bold color, a white apron, and black bonnets. The dresses use no buttons or fasteners other than straight pins. Men wear plainly cut black suits and flat-brimmed hats of black felt or straw. Men grow their beards (after marriage) but shave their mustaches. They choose to examine change carefully before they accept it. If the new idea or gadget does not assist in keeping their lives simple and their families together, they probably will reject it. Each church district decides for itself what it will and will not accept; there is no single governing body for the entire Old Order population, but all follow a literal interpretation of the Bible and an unwritten set of rules called the Ordnung (Esh, 2005).

The Amish have in fought assimilation into American culture and suffered by standing firm in their old traditional beliefs: Settlements in Pennsylvania were attacked during the French and Indian Wars during the mid 18th century, in the mid 18th century, a religious revival spread across the American colonies. Baptist, Methodist, United Brethren and German Baptist Brethren itinerant pastors and evangelists targeted the Amish. The "revivalists" took a heavy toll on the Amish membership. The War of Independence put a heavy strain on the Amish principle of pacifism and neutrality. The colonies were divided into Patriots and "Tories" -- those loyal to Britain. The Amish attempted to remain non-violent and neutral, but were attacked by both sides. For some of them, their situation was complicated by oaths of loyalty to Britain that they had taken when they were admitted to the colonies. The U.S. entered the war in the spring of 1917, that draft required the Amish to also enlist, however legislation provided for religious conscientious objectors, but there was no formal system for recognizing their status. Amish youth were required to report for duty. Some cooperated by undergoing training; most refused; some

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