The Amish, who are also called "The Plain People" or Old Order Amish, originated in Switzerland in approximately 1525. They originated from a movement called the Anabaptist movement. Jacom Amman was the leader. This happened during the reformation in the16th Century Europe. They believed in holding on to traditions and keeping themselves separated from the world. He was stricter about this than other Anabaptists of that time. The Anabaptists were against the union of church and state and also against infant baptism. They felt that each individual should make this choice for himself when he or she is old enough. They felt the age for baptism was about 18 years. This disagreed with the laws of the time. It was illegal to be baptised as an adult in the 16th century. Many Anabaptists died backing up their beliefs. They also held their worship services in their homes instead of in a church. Many organizations fought them because of their beliefs, from the government to the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches. The Amish once belonged to the Mennonites, who were named after Menno Simons, a Dutch Anabaptist leader. The Mennonites were persecuted in their native country, Holland and fled to Switzerland.
Later, in 1693, there was a split from the Swiss "Mennonite" Brethren in 1693. This split occurred mainly because of the practices of foot washing and avoidance. Today there is no organized Amish movement in Europe. The Amish migrated to the United states in the early 1700's. The majority arrived in Pennsylvania, this was part of a " Holy Experiment" organised by William Penn, which is said to have saved the Amish from extinction. They have enjoyed religious freedom from the time they arrived in America until the present, with only a few minor glitches, which have been resolved in court cases. Since their arrival in Pennsylvania the Amish have been living in accordance to their religious beliefs. They live very simply, holding on to the way of life of the 1700's. This includes dress, language and technology. In the 1860's, the Amish held a series of conferences in Wayne County, Ohio to decide how to deal with the pressures to live a more modern life. What resulted was a split into a number of divisions, ranging from the conservative Old Order Amish, the New Order Amish, and a few more groups which are more conservative than the Old Order. The Old Order is the largest of the groups. They use few modern conveniences. For the most part they shun the use of motor powered equipment. However, on occasion they will use tractors with steel wheels to pull large equipment on the highway. And, it is rare to see tractors being used in the fields, except in climates that are too hot for horses. Very few of the Old Order use indoor plumbing and running water. The New Order maintains many of the Old Order practices. However, they are considered the most progressive of the Amish groups. Some of these New Order Groups use telephones, regular air filled tires for their tractors, and even electricity in their homes. Some extreme cases are the conservative Swartzentrubers, and the Nebraska Amish of Central Pennsylvania who do not use indoor plumbing, or motorized machinery of any kind. They also wear even more conservative clothing. The Nebraska Amish, for example, do not wear suspenders or bonnets, and will not even allow screens on their doors and windows. Over 90% of the current Amish population, are from the original emigrant ancestors. There are less than 10% converts included in the total membership. Today there are between 100,000 and 150,000 Amish in North America. The largest group resides in Holmes County, Ohio. Other areas of concentration for the Amish are in Pennsylvania, northern Indiana and Iowa. Fewer still are to be found in the eastern and mid-western states and Ontario, Canada. All together, the Amish are said to have communities in 24 states. When most people think...
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