Practices of the Old Order Amish are listed below. Some smaller Amish groups have adopted more progressive practices.

.Members usually speak a German dialect called Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutsch). High German is used during worship. They learn English at school.

.Schools are one-room buildings run by the Amish. Formal education beyond Grade 8 is discouraged, although many youth are given further instruction in their homes after graduation.

. Members do not own or use automobiles.

.They do not use electricity, or have radios or TV sets.

. Marriages outside the faith are not allowed. Couples who plan to marry are "published" in late October. They are married in one of their homes during November or early December.

.They celebrate the traditional Christian holy days. They also observe a Fast Day on October 11.

.Men follow the laws of the Hebrew Scriptures with regards to beards. They do not grow moustaches, because of the long association of moustaches with the military

. Men usually dress in a plain, dark coloured suit. Women usually wear a plain coloured dress with long sleeves, bonnet and apron. Women wear a white prayer covering if married; black if single. At death, a woman is usually buried in her bridal dress, which is often blue or purple.

. Religious services are held in the homes of members biweekly on Sunday. They meet in a different  home each week.

bullet .The casket is plain, without adornment. A simple tombstone is erected later.

.They do not collect social security/Canada Pension Plan benefits, unemployment insurance or welfare. They maintain mutual aid funds for members who need help with medical costs, dental bills, etc.

.They do not take photographs. This is based on the prohibition in Exodus 20:4, the second of the Ten Commandments:

"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that...is in the earth..."


Conflicts and problems

Education: The Amish's insistence on terminating formal schooling after the 8th grade conflicted with many state's laws which require children to remain in school until their mid-teens. Some Amish migrated from Pennsylvania to other states, like Missouri, which had more relaxed laws. A ruling by the US Supreme Court in 1972 recognized their right to limit education of their children.

Accidents: Highway accidents between motor vehicles and Amish black horse and buggies are a concern to many.

Polio: There was an outbreak of polio in 1979 among Amish in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Wisconsin Missouri and Canada. The North American population of Amish was essentially unvaccinated against polio at the time. The spread of the disease was halted by an emergency vaccination campaign. This was the last significant outbreak of the disease in the U.S.

Genetic diseases: Some Amish groups have a limited gene pool. For example, the Amish in Lancaster County, PA, are descendents of about 200 Swiss citizens who emigrated in the mid 1700s. Because they do not marry outsiders and because few outsiders have joined the order, the "community has been essentially a closed genetic population for more than 12 generations. Thus, intermarriage has brought to the fore certain genetic mutations that were present in the initial genetic pool (as they are in any population), making  the Amish host to several inherited disorders." These include dwarfism, mental retardation and a large group of metabolic disorders. One in 200 have glutaric aciduria type I; they are born healthy, but can experience permanent neurological damage when a mild illness strikes.


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