Top 5 Fascinating Amish Facts

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The Amish mostly keep to themselves down in "Amish country" (especially Lancaster County, Pennsylvania), so you may not know a lot about these religious folks. But there are some interesting facts about the Amish! Apparently, they are pacifists but own guns, and are even involved in some gun ownership controversy...

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Written by William Regot

Top 5 Amish Facts

Founded by Jakob Ammann in 1693, the Amish live a simple life free of electricity and cars. And for the most part, they keep to themselves. Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Facts. In today’s installment, we’re counting down the five most interesting facts you may not know about the Old Order Amish, a group who tend toward the secretive side.

#5: Those Who Leave the Church Face Shunning

The Amish don’t take kindly to those who quit the faith, and if a former member interacts with the community, they play hardball. Everyone from the community is expected to shun all ex-members, even close friends and family members. When someone is shunned, talking to them is not explicitly prohibited, though it is limited. Also, no one can sit down to eat with the former member or do business with him. This harsh treatment is meant as a tool to enforce the authority of the church, without which, according to some Amish, the culture would cease to exist.

#4: Despite Being Pacifists, They’re Really into Guns

Going from the movie “Witness”, you’d think the Amish were afraid of guns, but that’s not the case. Being pacifists, they use guns, just not against human beings. Instead, the Amish use them for hunting or to shoot pesky critters that get in their crops. Andrew Hertzler, an Amish man from Pennsylvania, tried to purchase a firearm in 2015, but was told he had to have photo ID, as required by U. S. federal law. The problem is Amish can’t have photo ID because they believe it's a "graven image" forbidden by the 10 Commandments– which happens to be the same reason Amish dolls don’t have faces on them. Faced with this predicament, Hertzler chose to file a lawsuit for religious exemption so he could buy a gun without photo ID. A lawsuit combining religious freedom and gun rights. Is there anything more American?

#3: Rumspringa Is Not Spring Break for the Amish

From the Pennsylvania Dutch for “running around,” Rumspringa is a rite of passage for Amish adolescents which begins at age 16. Reality TV shows like “Amish in the City” and “Breaking Amish” tend to sensationalize the experience somewhat because, well, because reality TV. But most Amish youths going through Rumspringa don’t experiment with drugs or alcohol, and most don’t even break with their normal customs. A core tenet of Amish beliefs is that only an adult can choose to embrace their Lord and be baptised. Rumspringa is designed as a time for young people to make that decision. We often hear that it can be a hard choice to make because it means foregoing all the creature comforts and opportunities in the larger world. Nevertheless, the vast majority of Amish teens choose to stay in their community.

#2: There Is No Amish Mafia

“Amish Mafia” was about an intimidating gang of Amish led by “Lebanon” Levi. The mafia was involved in several rackets, including collecting protection money from Amish stores, but their main focus was to make sure the Amish of Lancaster, Pennsylvania stuck to their ways. The concept of an Amish mafia is seen as complete fiction by experts such as Donald Kraybill, a sociology professor who taught about Amish culture at Elizabethtown College. A police department in Lancaster county released a standard form stating “Amish Mafia” was entirely made up because officers kept getting asked by concerned viewers what they were doing to stop the mafia. In 2014, seeing “Amish Mafia” as exploitation, several groups and politicians, including the Pennsylvania governor rallied to demand the show’s cancellation. However, this backlash backfired. According to producer Eric Evangelista– who by the way swears they were telling true stories– the show was completely over, but this controversy created buzz that inspired Discovery to order another season. Womp womp.

#1: Amish Tourism Is Driving Away Amish from Pennsylvania

The Amish tourism industry is big business for Pennsylvania, generating an estimated 1.8 billion dollars per year in Lancaster County. However, this increased economic activity is having a negative impact on the 30,000 Amish living in this region. Malls and housing developments being built in these areas have made farmland scarce and more expensive. This has forced the Pennsylvania Amish to look for other states to live, like Wisconsin and Kentucky, where land is cheaper and more abundant. This displacement is even more significant when you consider that the Amish population has grown at a much faster rate than the national average, and that their current size of nearly 300,000 is expected to double over the next twenty years.

So, what do you think? Should the Amish be required to have photo ID to buy a firearm at a gun shop? For more butter churning Top 10s and universally shunned Top 5s, be sure to subscribe to


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