While working on my meager investment portfolio, I wondered, do the Amish have savings/investments? Do they keep money in banks? Do they write checks or use credit cards? Do they buy stocks? What about insurance? Do they buy health and life insurance?
It’s hard to picture Amish people putting money in Money Market accounts and Mutual Funds. It’s even harder to imagine them calling their broker to discuss their stock portfolio. So, I’m guessing they don’t do much investing.
However, it seems like the Amish would be foolish to not save money in bank accounts or buy insurance policies.
As a former resident of Philadelphia, I can tell you there are some Amish that use machinery. They work in the Reading Terminal Market, an almost 100 year old farmers’ market in the heart of the city. If you go to the Amish part of the market, you’ll see them using automated meat slicers, ovens, cash registers, and so on. I believe they try to use as little machinery as possible, but they’re not nuts about it.
With all the money they make, I have to assume they use banks.
I’m no expert, but I seem to remember that the different Amish sects all have different rules as to what they can use or not use, and that the village elders decide what’s OK and what’s not. Quite a lot of technology is allowed.
I’m not Amish so I can’t quote their theology, but my understanding is that they are not against technology per se. Their decisions on what types of technology to use are based on how they feel it will affect the Amish commmunity as a whole. The basic idea is that they will gather together and discuss the impact of some technology. They will try to figure out if it will divide members within the community, isolate individuals from the community, lead to the Amish being drawn into the non-Amish society, or cause a loss of traditional values like thrift, ambition, or self-reliance. In some cases where there is no clear consensus, some Amish will use the technology to test its impact before a more general decision is made.
My presumption is that in any religious group, there are some who follow the religion’s rules more carefully, and others who follow it less carefully. This is not to cast aspersions on any particular group, nor do I suggest any particular percentages for the more/less strict. It’s just that humans have free will and are fallible. Just like some citizens of whatever country will follow the law better, and others not so well.
It is also too easy to confuse the members of one group with the members of another group. Just because you see someone who looks Amish using a cash register, don’t presume that the Amish religion okays it. He might be a Mennonite. Or a Chasidic Jew!
I think the Amish have a complicated relationship with technology and there may be many regional variations. I lived in Western PA for a while and the Amish were quite comfortable with shopping at Walmart and eating at McDonald’s. They also rode in cars (often with Mennonite friends). I remember reading that some Amish also use small gas-powered engines–e.g., around the farmyard, but not cars or tractors. I’m not sure about electricity in shops that are Amish-owned, but they do work in stores where it is used. I don’t know about banks, but I think there are associations within the Amish community which may function which may function like insurance.
Mike King had the most complete explanation. The one point that he left out: the Amish closely follow the maxim “in the world but not of the world.” They do not use electricity in their homes because they do not want to be tied to the larger community’s power source. They are exempted from Social Security because they have made the case that they take care of their own and that they will never need to go to the government for help.
Specific rules do differ by region, as mentioned. They my buy a tractor in common to use the PTO to run a community thresher, for example, but they will not (yet) use that tractor to plow or till–and never for any one individual’s use.
To the original question: the Amish do use banks. Costs have risen to the point that they need to secure loans for new construction. This has led the banks to require that the houses be wired in case they ever pass out of Amish hands. So the houses are wired, but no fixtures areinstalled and no connection is made to the outside.
Outside of securing loans and having a secure place to deposit cash, I do not know whether the Amish invest. (Kinda hard to picture their portfolio.)
You will most likely not see a practicing Amish person’s response on this board. It is possible, of course, that a Mennonite may post, here. The Amish broke with the Mennonites when they felt that the Mennonites were succumbing to “the world.” Many Amish and Mennonite communities continue to exist near each other and it is not uncommon for an Amish person who comes to believe that the Amish have become too reclusive, but who believes in the general tenets of their collective faith, to join the Mennonite community. We could conceivably encounter one of those folks some day.
I’ll take my chances, responding as a recovering Mennonite from a family of engineers and computer techs who did live in close proximity to the Amish for a while.
Yes, the Amish do use banks. In many communities, their funds are actively sought after by banks. I suspect they also have home owner insurance and perhaps other forms of insurance, since banks are likely to insist on it as terms of any loan. It would hardly surprise me to learn that Amish also use CD’s, bonds and other kinds of investment instruments, although, IMHO, stock speculation doesn’t strike me as their style.
In Goshen, Indiana, the banks often had post to tie horses to, just in order to accomodate Amish customers. The Amish tend to be fiscally conservative (in my experience) and tend to keep large sums in the bank, making few withdrawls and generally maintaining good credit records. This makes them ideal customers, enabling banks so favoured to offer slightly lower interest rates to all their customers. I have never known a Amish to use an ATM card or credit card, but my last experience in an Amish town was almost 10 years ago when neither was so widespread, so I can’t discount the possibility.
I have seen Amish shop at mass market grocery stores and eat at fast food restaurants. (In Goshen, eating at Taco Bell on Sunday afternoons seemed to be a favourite.) Using Greyhound to travel long distances is not uncommon. Although I’ve never heard of Amish in aircraft, I suspect the main reason is price rather than religion. Also, roller blades are very popular in Amish communites right now.
That’s about all I can attest to first hand.
I have heard a bit second hand about Amish culture and their reasons for these behaviour, but searching the web will probably yield better accounts of them than I can.
"I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: “O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.” And God granted it.
Gee, DIo, I thought you liekd me. I see you strongly hate me from your post!
I am not frigid, not abnormal, not ugly, but I am a christian.
Theres lots of us!
We believe sex is wonderful and should be saved for marriage, sortof like a diamond that you don’t throw in garbage.
Compatiblity is never a problem, I know that from personal experience.
There is a couple in my church in their 20’s who have dated for years.
They arre marrying in May and are abstinate cause they love each other and think the other is Worth Waiting For.
Its called self control and maturity.
We christians are not whackjobs except to small minded folk who can’t abide anyone not believing what they believe.
I don’t go around calling atheists nutjobs.
I am 45 and have been abstinate 10 years, happily.
I know some Amish that live in southern Ohio, the Adams county area if that helps.
The big thing with them, as has been mentioned above, is not allowing the outside world to get into their home. So no electricity in the house. But they do use gas run freezers, fridges, etc. When they need to go someplace too far for the horse and buggy they hire neighbors to take them. There are several non Amish retired folks in the area that have turned this into a nice cottage industry as the Amish generally pay fairly well. They can fly, but only in an emergency. When a married man travels he is expected to take his wife with him. They us credit cards and banks. They do not use insurance, when they get sick they just pay. I think the community as a whole pitches in if the cost gets too high. A man is expected to fix his sons up with a living. For instance one family has a business making bird feeder/houses, swings, tables, etc for Wal-Mart. When the sons finish school at 14 they go to work for Dad. By the time they are in their 20’s they have enough saved to build a place of their own. Daughters generally just get married and churn butter and stuff. They don’t have zippers, just buttons. If fact their clothes almost qualify as a uniform. But they do like to go to Wal-Mart. They by stuff from the Schwans truck. Many have phones, only they aren’t in the house but on a pole down the drive by the highway, sort of like Mr. Douglas’s phone on Green Acres. Married men have beards.
Anyway that’s what I know about the ones in southern Ohio. I was told they came there some 30ish years ago when they broke off from a bunch in northern Ohio because they were getting too modern.
Accoding to my information the Amish do use banks - but they do not use insurance. Nor do they use lightning rods or vaccines. I’m not sure how the “no insurance” thing is handled when taking out loans, but since their communities have such a long history of coming to a member’s aid (they’ve been known to show up at a hospital with a enough cash on hand to pay for something like a kidney transplant) maybe this isn’t such an issue.
The only Amish I’ve ever heard of in an aircraft were severely injured Amish being airlifted to a hospital.
I worked in the loan department of a S&L for many years. We made home mortgages to Amish within their nearby community.
These individuals generally had bank accounts. There was a special federal insurance regulation regarding these loans. Instead of insurance, we had to get a letter signed by the Bishop, stating the community would rebuild the home in case of damage.
At some point the issue was raised(perhaps by federal examiners) that the institution might lose a large percent of the loan should we have to foreclose on one of these homes since they didn’t usually have electricity or plumbing.
To respond to these concerns, I think I called the regional FmHA, to ask their foreclosure experience with loans of this type. The respponse, ZERO. IF a loan ever gets to that point, just call the Bishop. He’ll pass the hat. The Amish don’t want the “English” to own these properties.