The Amish are a conservative Christian group that traces their roots to the Anabaptist movement in sixteenth-century Europe. They are closely related to the Mennonites, another Anabaptist denomination.
The Amish church began with a schism in Switzerland in 1693, led by Jakob Ammann, who felt that the Alsatian Anabaptists were too lax in their discipline and lifestyle. He and his followers became known as the Amish, and they settled in the valley of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines in Alsace, where they prospered economically.
The Amish faced persecution and discrimination in Europe, and many of them immigrated to Pennsylvania in the early 18th century, where they found religious freedom and fertile land. They continued to speak their dialect of German, known as Pennsylvania Dutch, and to maintain their traditional culture and practices. In the 19th century, the Amish divided into Old Order Amish and Amish Mennonites, with the former being more conservative and the latter more progressive. Today, the Old Order Amish are the largest and most well-known group of Amish, and they live in several states in the US and Canada. They are known for their simple living, plain dress, pacifism, and slowness to adopt modern technology.
The Amish value rural life, manual labor, humility, and submission to God’s will. They have their own one-room schools and stop formal education after grade eight. They have a set of rules, called the Ordnung, that governs every aspect of their daily life, including clothing, transportation, electricity, and telephones. They seek to maintain a degree of separation from the non-Amish world, which they call “English” and “worldly”. They join the church through adult baptism, usually between the ages of 16 and 23, and they worship in their homes or barns every other Sunday. The Amish have a high birth rate and a low attrition rate, and their population is rapidly growing.