No matter how bad you think you have it, there is always someone else who is worse off. These poor amish kids have no opportunity to try to make a "worldly friend" because their whole community is kept isolated from the world and they all have to live next door to each other. They have no television, radio, or internet. No access to public libraries and sometimes no opportunity to go to school. They have even less contact with outside world than the JW children. Who will reach out to them?? They are not even allowed in a door-to-door prostelitizing because of the fear of influence of others. Where is their chance of escape? How do they get out? And we think 3rd world countries are oppressed? Look what is going on right here in this country! Land of the free? Who will free them to be able to make their own choices in life?
Facts you may not know about the Amish:
The Anabaptist movement believes that only the pure should be involved in religion and that if a member were to fall into sinful actions, he or she should be excommunicated. Meidung, also called shunning, is the practice of the community to avoid associating with members of the community who have been excommunicated 24 . Jacob Amman's interpretation and practice of Meidung was even more strict than that of the Anabaptists. He told his followers to shun all members that leave the Amish church and those who marry an outsider. He also preached that one should not buy from, sell to, or even eat at the same table as the excommunicated individual 25 . Such strict traditions have been passed down generation to generation and have kept the Amish lifestyle stable 26 . The Amish get their instuction for shunning from the Bible in I Corrinthians 5:11, which says "But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother or sister who is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber. Do not even eat with such a one" 27 . Once a person has been shunned, if they acknowledge their sins and wish to make ammends with the community, they are allowed back into the fellowship, usually after two or three weeks 28 .
The practice of washing feet comes from the scripture of John 13. The Amish follow a strict and literal interpretation of the Bible, and just as Jesus washed the feet of his disciples at the last supper, the Amish wash each others' feet at the observance of communion. They stoop when washing each others' feet as a symbol of humility 29 .
Currently, many of the important differences in the Amish way of life are the customs and moral principles. Such beliefs have become known to the Amish followers as the Amish Charter. This is an unwritten set of rules and beliefs that all Amish people strive to uphold and use as a guide in their daily lives 30 .
Some of the most important beliefs held by the Amish are: separation from the outside world, vow of obedience, and closeness to nature. There are other regulations over societal customs such as dress, use of inventions and no formal education beyond elementary school. The fear of being shunned and excommunicated keeps the Amish from being tempted by the outside world. The moral beliefs of the Amish Church are based on the Bible and most of their views stem from literal translations of the teachings of the Bible. The Amish do not try to recruit members from the outside world because that would be seen as consorting with those that are shunned 35 .
However, while the Amish do see meaning in the functions of government, they also give limitations to the authority of the state. Several issues and controversies have come up between the Amish and the state during the 20th century. Some of the most controversial include; the consolidation of small elementary schools, the requirement of high school attendance, compulsory welfare systems, and conscription 39 .
When attendance was required past the fourth grade, quite a few Amish parents refused to go along with this law. Slowly though, they began to accept the idea of children attending school through the eighth grade. However, serious conflicts came about with the onset of school consolidation 40 .
But with consolidation, Amish parents did not like their children going to large schools away from the farm community where they did not know the teachers or what their children were being taught 42 .
Another issue Amish culture had with the public school system was over the attendance in high school. The Amish feel that the age when a young person should be in highschool is when cultural isolation is most important 43 . Public high school teaches ideas that are not ackowledged by Amish culture, and parents feel it is important that at this time in a young person's life, he/she should only be surrounded by Amish peers. Other objections against high school attendance stem from their religious beliefs on social boundaries. I Corinthians 3:19 is an often quoted passage which says, "The wisdom of the world is foolishness with God" 44 .
After many confrontations in various states, the U.S Supreme Court finally settled the controvercy on May 15, 1972. In Wisconsin v. Yoder , the court ruled in favor of the Amish saying the states could not constitutionally force Amish to send their children to public high schools 45 .
In addition to controversy with the American government, the Amish also struggle with the basic idea of modernity 50 . No matter how hard they try to avoid it, technology is slowly creeping into the Amish way of life. The areas where they have much conflict in are: telephones, motor vehicles, use of tractors, new types of farm equipment, and "luxuries" in the home. While the Amish still don't permit electricity in the home, most do use mechanical or gasoline-powered machines.