I recently met an Amish person (born and living in the US) and they mentioned that their church services were in German. While I was actually aware that this was a common practice among the Amish, I was wondering whether their attachment to the German language was primarily a cultural affinity or a way to feel separate, or whether it was out of a belief that the German language is specially blessed by God or something similar to that.
I was comparing this to another phenomenon I’ve seen. I am aware that there are a number of English speaking Protestant Fundamentalists who hold to the so-called “King James Only” belief which states that the King James Version of the Bible is the most correct or valid among all English versions commonly used today, sometimes even going to the extent that they believe that it is directly inspired and holds as much authority as the original language texts. Is this remotely similar to the Amish’s attachment to German in general, their dialect of German, or their preferred German Bible translation?
Is it similar to the Roman Catholic Church’s attachment to Latin as the “official” language of the church? I was under the impression that the RCC treats the usage and primacy of Latin as a practical decision that was made by the church rather than a belief that Latin was God’s preferred language.
No, it’s not a sacred language as far as I can tell (I’m not Amish myself). In fact, some Amish speak a Swiss dialect instead of a German one. It’s a cultural affinity. It’s also, probably, somewhat a way to feel separate from the outside but it’s hard to say. I’ve never met anyone Amish who wasn’t also fluent in English, and outside of their own communities they will always speak English. I gather they consider it rude to converse in a language some of those present can’t understand.
A lot of PA Dutch religions used to do ceremonies in German prior to WW1. A bit of anti-hun hysteria led to sometimes forced changes to English. When things calmed down a bit most stuck with English concerned that it would happen again in short order. The Amish either reverted back to German or managed to weather the storm in the first place.