The Amish community is an endlessly fascinating community, mostly because they live their lives so differently from the way many of us live our lives. I mean, no Tinder, no GrubHub, no Facebook, no Instagram. The Amish don't know even about the joy of receiving likes on a hot selfie. But they also don't know about the pain of taking 600 selfies to get the right one, so maybe it all evens out.
The reason the Amish community lives so differently from most of us is because their rules dictate they do so. The rules of the Amish community, known as the Ordnung, dictate almost every aspect of their lives. Yes, there are rules about the way they worship God and about the way they treat others, which is pretty common with religion. But there are also rules about the way they dress, what they eat, and how they live basically every single moment of their lives. Not only are their rules strict, but the punishment for breaking their rules is strict as well. Unlike other religious communities, the Amish community will excommunicate and shun anyone who breaks any of their rules. So, it’s either you follow all the rules all the time or you get the hell out of the Amish community.
While the idea of a life uncomplicated by technology and vanity may seem enticing, some of the rules of the Amish community are rather dark or have dark implications. Below are 15 shockingly dark rules of the Amish community that every Amish person must follow. It may make you view the Amish community in a whole different light.
15 The Ordnung Is Mostly Unwritten
Before we get into all the shocking rules of the Amish community, we should talk about the Ordnung, which is the Amish community's particular set of rules. "Ordnung" is the German word for order, discipline, or rule. What’s interesting is that the Amish Ordnung is kind of… unwritten.
Unlike many governments or religious communities, the Amish's rules are flexible to a certain extent. What I mean to say is that the Amish community has no central body of leadership. Each community governs itself and, therefore, what you find to be true in one Amish community may not true in another Amish community.
So, what exactly is the Ordnung all about? Well, the Amish believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. The Ordnung provides rules of living, which guide the Amish to live in a way deemed moral by a literal interpretation of the Bible. But again, it totally varies from group to group, since there is no central governing unit.
The fact that there is no central leadership means that Amish communities are largely left to themselves, which is when things can get dark and weird. That would be like if every state, city, neighborhood, or even street were left to govern themselves with no higher authority. And we know that wouldn't end well.
14 Children Play With Faceless Dolls
Let’s just get this out of the way, faceless dolls are literally the creepiest dolls ever. These dolls are creepier than Chuckie, or Annabelle, or any other horror movie doll out there. In fact, there should 100% be a horror movie about an Amish faceless doll.
On the dolls, you also see traditional Amish clothing, as plain, solid colored clothing is what the Amish dress in. What you do not see is any hair or facial features. The reason these dolls lack hair and facial features is to avoid creating vanity in the children. You know, because seeing a human face on a doll apparently creates vanity. The Amish community also believes that because we are all alike in the eyes of God, the dolls should be all alike (and creepy) as well.
Children generally don’t play with many toys, so both boys and girls will play with these dolls. When a doll is too dirty or too played with, new cloth will be sewn over the dirtied cloth. So, you’d generally get one or two dolls for your entire childhood… you know, if you, like, actually wanted one of these dolls. But you might be better off just playing with the grass, because these dolls are definitely haunted.
13 There's No Higher Education (Get To Work, Kiddos!)
The education children in the Amish community receive is not so great. Children are educated in one or two-room private schools, so very small. Their learning then ends after the 8th grade. Yup, at 13 years old, you're done with school forever.
The reason for ending their education so early in life is for two major reasons. The first reason is practical, as the Amish find apprenticeships important for job training. After 8th grade, children will train in agricultural jobs or craftsmanship jobs. That makes sense. The second reason is much less practical, as the Amish feel that higher education can instill ideas that counter their Christian teachings. And duh. Basically, the Amish aren’t too into science, history, math, literature, or anything at all that could make children question the likelihood of God’s existence.
Because of the stunted education children in the Amish community receive, it makes it very hard for a member to leave the community and prosper in the outside world. This is likely yet another dark reason they halt formal education at such a young age. It helps keep members inside the community, because they can't thrive in the outside world.
12 Rumspringa Is Their One Chance Of Freedom
It’s not all dark and dreary for the children in the Amish community. Sure, they have to play with some freaky looking dolls and they get put to work at a rather young age, but they do get some fun with Rumspringa.
Rumspringa is a rite of passage for teens in the Amish community. When a teen is around 16, they are given their one time to embrace the outside world. This time is known as Rumspringa. During Rumspringa, teens will dress in non-Amish clothing, so like jeans and a t-shirt. That must feel AMAZING, right? (Bye, suspenders! Bye, ankle-length dresses!) Teens will also be able to drive vehicles and use other modern, electronic devices. (Hello, Tinder!)
It's not all fun and games, though. Because Amish children are very sheltered, it can be dangerous for them to indulge in the outside world. Many times teens on Rumspringa will indulge in drinking and drugs, which leads to them getting super blacked out.
After Rumspringa, the teen will have the choice to commit to the Amish community forever or to leave the Amish community forever.
11 Bundling Is A Thing That Happens
The Amish community embraces very traditional Christian beliefs, which means no sex before marriage, kiddies. But you know, hormones are still a thing. Amish teens, just like all other teens ever, still itch to cash in that V-card. To experience intimacy without actually having sex, the Amish community practices bundling, which is a weird practice to say the very least.
Bundling is practiced by a boy spending the night at a girl’s home. They will share a bed or two beds pushed together, with a bundling board (seen above) or a bundling sack in the middle. They will be given separate blankets, so they will not touch skin to skin the entire night. While they aren't to touch, they are expected to talk to one another the entire night. This creates an intimacy without touching.
It’s a sweet idea in theory, but the whole bundling board is a little extra.
10 Baptism Happens At A Much Older Age
Many religions baptize a follower at a very young age. Like, when that follower is basically a baby. I mean, we’ve all seen babies dressed in little white dresses, as a priest drowns them in a bird pool. That’s what baptism is, right?
This practice of baptizing at pretty much birth doesn’t allow the baptized to actually make the decision themselves. The Amish community doesn’t baptize their members until after Rumspringa, which allows them to be fully aware of the decision they are making. In fact, members may get baptized as late their 20s.
This actually seems like a solid rule, but there's a darker side to it. Because the decision is specifically made at an older age, baptisms are not taken lightly. That said, if one leaves the Amish community before baptism, they are not excommunicated. However, if one leaves the Amish community AFTER baptism, they will be excommunicated from the entire community. And that brings me to…
9 Excommunication Can Happen To You
Okay, let’s talk about shunning and excommunication in the Amish community.
You can be excommunicated from the Amish community for being sinful, which includes anything that violates the (pretty much unwritten) Ordnung. A major violation would be if someone used any of the technology forbidden in the community. So, you can't Uber. Ever. Though, excommunication is usually a final resort, after a warning or other preliminary punishment. For a person to be excommunicated, a unanimous vote would have to take place.
Once a person is excommunicated, they will then be shunned, which is when no one from the community will socially interact with the shunned ever again. This is to keep "bad sheep" out of the community and stop them from creating more bad sheep. But don't forget, shunning only happens to those who are baptized. Therefore, someone who decides to leave the Amish community after Rumspringa and before baptism will not be shunned. If someone leaves or is excommunicated AFTER baptism, they will be shunned.
So, the decision to be baptized comes with heavy responsibility and consequences. Also, just think of how harsh shunning is. I mean, you pretty much only know this tiny part of the world and suddenly you’re cut off from it. That's an A+ mind game right there.
8 The Weird Loopholes To Their Rules
Like everything ever, there are some loopholes to the strict rules of the Amish community.
The Amish have strict rules against modern technology of any kind. This means that they won’t even drive cars. Instead, they rely on horse-and-buggy. But… they can enjoy cars… sometimes. If someone offers an Amish person a ride, they are allowed to accept. They are also allowed to accept the use of a taxi or chauffeur. So, basically Uber is perfect for the Amish community, except that they can’t use phones… only when they can use phones. Most Amish communities will have a community phone booth that members of the community can use, but otherwise phones are forbidden.
While there are no power grids to power the community full of homes, there are gas-powered generators. This is used to power refrigerators (which is modern technology, no?) and hot water heaters.
There are also computers. Yes, computers! The specific computer used by the Amish community is called the Deskmate. This computer doesn’t connect to the Internet, have any games, or really do anything at all. It’s pretty much just used for business related activities.
So, you can see how easy it may be for one to accidentally break the Amish rules, you know, because there are actually accepted ways to break the rules. It's all so confusing.
7 No Self-Expression = No Musical Instruments
One of the major reasons for shunning modern technology is because the Amish think technology promotes individuality. You can’t necessarily say the Amish are wrong in the belief that technology promotes individuality. I mean, most times you see groups of people all literally staring at their phones instead of even acknowledging one another. Without modern technology, the Amish community relies on each other for everything - from food, to services, to care giving.
That said, the Amish also prohibit musical instruments, as they believe music promotes individuality as well. They feel that creating music could create feelings of superiority and pride in a person. Sometimes harmonicas are allowed for church hymns, but how sad is a mostly music-free life?
On that note, creativity of most kinds is looked down upon. The basic rule of thumb is that most actions must benefit the community, rather than be internalized or individualistic.
6 They Have To Dress Like They're On The Handmaid's Tale
The Amish dress code is very specific. It’s so specific that you can mostly tell a person is Amish from their clothing alone.
The Amish always wear clothing in plain colors. They are not to wear any flashy colors or prints. Men do not wear belts, because they believe the belt buckle is too gaudy. So, you’ll see men in suspenders instead of belts. Though, I kind of think suspenders are even more showy, but whatever. The Amish also believe zippers are gaudy, opting for buttons instead. That adds a whole couple seconds every single time you have to use the bathroom, right?
While dress codes vary from community to community, some Amish communities won’t even wear collared shirts, as it’s a reminder of the military/business/government positions they have shunned.
Women are to wear long dresses that cover up pretty much everything. I have to say that these dresses would be pretty sweet for those days you eat a whole pizza by yourself and you don’t want to feel fat. (Also, I can't be the only person who has "days you eat a whole pizza by yourself" days, right?) Women are also to wear prayer caps and bonnets on their heads. So, basically The Handmaid's Tale.
Furthermore, women never cut their hair, like ever. Men are to shave their faces when they’re single, but once they are married they grow out their beards.
Long story short, there are A LOT of rules about the Amish wardrobe.
5 No Violence, But Animal Abuse Is Totally Cool
The Amish community is known for how strongly it opposes violence of any kind. In fact, The Amish are pacifists and opt out of serving in the military, even in times of drafts. However, the Amish are pretty down for being violent to animals.
The Amish see animals are machines and they treat animals as such. Horses are used to pull buggies pretty much until they die. There are reportedly times when the horses grow so weak, they literally just collapse from being over-worked. There have also been reports of beaten horses, as an Amish man may beat an over-worked horse when it fails to do its job. Oh, and the Amish are also known to run puppy mills, which help them earn a profit. So, yeah...
While hearing stories of gruesome puppy mills and beaten horses can seem evil, it’s simply that the Amish don't view animals in a sentimental way. They are seen as part of the work force and treated as such.
4 Be Fruitful And Multiply... With Genetic Defects
The Amish are all about sex… you know, when you’re married and trying to make babies and stuff. The Amish community promotes a "be fruitful and multiply" motto, so they have a lot of sex and a lot of babies. This makes sense, as their community almost completely grows from the within.
With such strict rules, not many people are converting to the Amish way of life. That would be mean no Uber, no GrubHub, no Tinder, and no iPhone. It would be a hard adjustment from the way in which many of us live our lives today. So, the Amish community grows via reproduction.
That said, the Amish community is plagued with genetic defects, as the community tends to procreate… with the same genetic pool. It seems that almost all of the Amish in the United States are related to the 200 Amish families that first settled here.
In other words, if you’re Amish, you’re most likely going to marry your cousin. It might be your first cousin or your fourth cousin, but still your cousin.
3 The Church Services Are Very Special
The Amish community is very religious, but their religious practices are a bit different than any other religious community. Most communities will gather in a building to celebrate their holy days together. The Amish, on the other hand, practice home worship.
The Amish don’t believe a building is the Amish church, but rather that the Amish church is found in the body of each of its members. The whole church at home thing sounds really chill, but the services are sometimes THREE hours long.
Another reason the Amish community practices home worship is because it’s practical. The Amish community is all about everything being useful. Instead of building a decadent place of worship for people to attend once a week, it’s more resourceful to make their homes or barns do double duty.
2 Funerals Are A LONG Process
An Amish funeral is a long process.
After someone passes away, the grieving process is different in that the Amish community isn’t especially sentimental, as was discussed in the portion about the animal abuse. They are more reserved in their grieving. There's also the fact that the Amish don’t necessarily believe in salvation as part of their faith. That said, there is little talk of the person being in "a better place." So, it’s pretty bleak. But also, that’s just kind of what happens when you live that farm life. You pretty much grow up around birth, life, and death. You realize that this is just the way of the world.
While that's the grieving, the funeral process is different too. Traditionally, Amish only embalm bodies if it is the state law to do so. They will then hold a funeral ceremony and then dig the grave themselves. Since they don’t use modern machinery, the grave is dug with an ol’ shovel and elbow grease, sometimes taking hours.
So, you’re sad over a loved one dying and then you have to do manual labor. Um, that sucks.
1 Crimes Are Kept Within The Community
As discussed earlier, the Amish community is generally a peaceful community, as they see violence as a sin. While they have a reputation of being a peaceful community, crime has recently been on the rise, though it is hard to really tell. The thing with the Amish community is that they shun many modern aspects of our society, like the government, the judicial system, and police. That said, when someone commits a crime, it is usually kept within the community. They rarely involve the police, even with serious crime.
Many of the known crimes in the Amish community tend to be against women, as it’s a patriarchal society. So, rape is a common crime in the Amish community. In 2016, there was even a husband and wife who “gifted” a man their 14-year-old daughter. Inside the Amish community, beard-cutting is a major crime. Once a man marries, he doesn’t shave his face. But if someone is mad at him, they may run up and cut off his beard. Yes, it’s an actual thing that happens in the Amish community.
Since the Amish community is so strict and unwelcoming of outsiders, we know little about the actual community. The little that we do know of the Amish community, though, is pretty shocking.
Sources: Amishamerica.com, Listverse.com, Peopleof.oureverydaylife.com, Lancasteronline.com, Owlcation.com