Can I Convert to Amish-ness?

I have some familiarity with the Amish. Still, I have never looked into it as a religion. (Do the Amish practice more than one religion? Are all Mennonite by definition?) In any case, I know they do not go out looking for converts.

Can I convert to Amish-ness? How would I go about it?

First, quit using the internet. Or electricity.

Dude, they’re anabaptists.

1 Yes
2 You can begin wherever you are.

Yes, the espouse the doctrine of Adult Baptism (another side of the horror in the news). What does that have to do with it?

That they’re not Mennonites (also anabaptists, now that I think of it, but I was mistakenly thinking that this was one of the distinctions).

Sure, you can convert to an Anabaptist sect. You don’t even have to give up your computer–you just have to stop using it for anything but work, AFAIK (depends on the sect, of course; strict Amish would probably not allow that). My husband’s co-worker buddy was an adult convert to a Mennonite sect, and also a software engineer. There are different degrees of committment; anyone is welcome to attend Mennonite services every week without converting, or you can commit to a sort of light version, or go all out.

Amish are different than Mennonites, and there are one or two others as well, such as Hutterites. Mennonites are not as strict as Amish, and are more likely to be all over the place; there is a Mennonite community here in my town. There are also differences between various sub-groups of these sects–for example, our co-worker friend used to drive a couple of hours north for church, because he belonged to the congregation up there, which is different than the local one. (He has since moved.)

I remember from a sociology course in college that the Amish try to dissuade converts. After the movie “Witness,” there was a huge spike of people just showing up in Amish communities looking to convert. Their presence was very disruptive. Now with the school shooting they are likely getting a lot more attention that they wouled rather not have.

Converting to Amish is a lot like converting to Chinese if you’re not Chinese. Amish is a culture, not just a religous movement.

Many of our neighbors are German Baptist, and a few are Amish. Most outsiders have an idealized and romantic notion of what Amish life is like. Reality is different.

There are a ton of different sects that outsiders label as “Amish”, but their belief systems vary widely. (Helpful hint: true “Amish” are not selling handicrafts to the public and you won’t see one of their daughters working in a resturant.)

There are groups which allow use of modern items as long as they’re not* owned *by the member. (My grandfather had a barn built by these guys. They used modern power tools and rode to work in trucks-- those items were all techically “owned” by a non-member, so it was okay.) They’re allowed telephones in their homes if it’s for business purposes.

Just grow a beard, wear black clothes, sell your car 9and buy a horse and buggy). Then renounce:
-modern medecine (no vaccinations)
-recorded music
Spend all day Sunday in church.
Are you SURE you want to have such a lifestyle?

Can you provide a cite or can someone point out how prevalent this is? I certainly recall seeing a few of the victims from the latest shooting being loaded into helicopters for a trip to a trauma center.

From the same site that was earlier referred to in this thread - Do Amish use modern medicine and doctors?

Not all Amish even renounce vaccinations; since a polio outbreak in 1979, for instance, many Lancaster County Amish congregations allow/encourage parents to have their children vaccinated against certain illnesses. And I do not know of any Amish group that disallows all modern medicine.

In general, even those modern conveniences that are normally disallowed are fine when human life depends on it. This is why the girls with the worst injuries could be flown to Hershey Medical Center, but their parents and other family members asked to be driven. (It’s only 30-40 minutes drive from Paradise to Hershey; the answer might have been different if it would have taken them hours to get to their daughters’ bedsides.)

More importantly, which modern technologies are permitted and not permitted will vary from congregation to congregation, and you will often find things that are okay in some circumstances but not others. For instance, electric lights in the house are always prohibitted, but in the barn, workshop, or other places where the risk of fire is very high, rules may be different - and certainly Amish dairy farmers can use generators to power refrigeration for the milk awaiting pick-up, to comply with state laws. Most Amish will use telephones in an emergency, or for doing necessary business with outsiders - but not for talking to friends and family in a social sense.

Some - very few - people do convert to the Amish faith, but it’s a lot like converting to Judaism: members will not seek you out, and they will make very very sure this is what you really want before you do it. Add to this the fact that the Amish religion is extremely community-based and most Amish communities are already under population pressure - trying to find acceptable ways for the new young families to support themselves when more farming land is either unavailable or prohibitively expensive - and you’ll see it’s no easy task. If anyone should be interested in converting to an Anabaptist faith, I’d suggest researching the Mennonites or the Brethren. (Amish are not the same as Mennonites, although there are many similarities and many Mennonites also choose to live Plain lifestyles.)

Lissa and Ralph…according to the site above, neither of you are quite correct (with regard to selling wares or seeking medical help):

There is nothing in their religion that forbids them to earn money. They just don’t flaunt it.

I buy gourds on line from a co-op that gets the gourds from the Amish.

The Amish do a lot of ‘playing it by ear’. Do we use a crane to raise this roof? Well, if the crane won’t work to divide their community, they might opt to use it. Usually a crane means doing business with those outside the group, but it some cases, if they can get one with little hassle, and labor in the community is in demand, or illness has reduced the number of able men, they might opt to rent a crane.

There are not as many hard and fast rules as you might suspect. For example, ‘…the Amish do not sell to the public…’’ is no more a rule than saying that I don’t dance with men. No, I don’t dance with men, but it isn’t a rule per se that dictated my behavior.

Also, I am surrounded by genuine Amish goods. in the hands of non-Amish. The Amish have lots of furniture, sheds, and tools and food sold every day. However, they will often choose to sell through Menonites or other trusted non-Amish friends.

Many rules we all ‘live by’ aren’t written anywhere, rather they are entrenched in our culture and are social mores if anything. Women in my ‘world’ don’t spit, but darned if I could find that rule somewhere.

Interesting cultural sidenote: many Mennonites run quilt shops in which they sell Amish and Mennonite quilts–each sect has its own particular designs and traditions, and they have also branched out into selling other types of quilts for non-Anabaptists, though they would not use those in their homes. They have traditions of high standards and excellent needlework. And you will notice that the quilts are generally sold as made by local residents, or something similar.

Now, about 20 years ago or so, when Hmong refugees started coming to the US, some of them were sponsored by Anabaptists and wound up settled nearby. The Hmong also have traditions of beautiful, high-quality needlework, and so a great partnership was born. Many Hmong women earn income by sewing quilts to be sold in local shops, which has been a good way for them to get ahead. But it’s not something the shops advertise, since they know that tourists are imagining Mennonites sewing the quilts–and some people worry about culture loss, since the Hmong are sewing different quilts than they would use themselves (even though they’re still sewing traditional things as well).

(Personally I think this is just fine and an interesting story, but I suppose others will feel differently.)

As Philster pointed out this is utter bullshit. I know lots of Amish families (my grandmother was raised Amish) and they are indeed “true Amish” and they sell handicrafts to the public and their daughters work in restaurants.

As others have pointed out, the “rules” vary by sect and congregation. The Amish aren’t idiots - if you have 10 kids and one family farm not all 10 kids are going to grow up to be farmers. They make livings in many different ways.

And the Amish have no problem with medical treatment. My grandfather is an “Amish hauler” (gives folks rides for money) and he’s always either taking them to the store or taking them to a doctor. Spend an hour in Aultman Hospital in Canton Ohio, you’ll see plenty of Amish there.

Mennonites, by the way, aren’t all “Amish-like.” My grandparents go to a Mennonite church. The new building is 20 times more modern than my Lutheran church here and only a smattering of women wear headcoverings for services. It’s just like any other church and the parishoners are just regular American people. The only awkward difference I’ve ever noticed when attending their service is when there was a foot washing (everyone washes someone else’s feet). Something about humbleness. I was too squicked to get the message :slight_smile:

Think you’re really rightous? Think you’re pure in heart? Well, I know I’m a million times as humble as thou art.