The Amish are a group of people that most of us hear of, but not many people outside the Amish community know much about the structure of this society. While often treated as tourist attractions, the world could learn a lot from the Amish society, who are a devoutly religious group with strong values.
The Amish originated in the Anabaptist movement in Switzerland in the 1500s. In 1693, Jacob Ammen began teaching his followers to be more conservative than other groups, and they separated from other Anabaptist groups, such as the Mennonites, and Swiss Brethren.
Amish faith is closer to Protestantism, but with a few key differences. The most recognizable is their belief that only those who truly believe in the faith and only an adult can choose the ritual of baptism.
As strict pacifists, the Amish rarely deal with violence and as such, they cannot serve in the military.
After the 2006 Amish school shooting that killed five young girls, the Amish community collected donations for the family of the gunman who took his own life and attended his funeral as a gesture of forgiveness, something not often seen in other communities.
As a community with close interpersonal relationships, the Amish don't have phones for personal use (some businesses do,) but their communication is face-to-face or in writing.
Communities are autonomous from each other; an Ordnung governs each, which is a set of rules covering everything from acceptable attire to acceptable technology and the sanctions imposed if a member breaks the rules. The Amish fear shunning and excommunication because it means complete isolation from the only world many ever knew.
Contrary to popular belief, the Amish do pay taxes, but due to religious reasons and their choice not to collect from these funds, they are exempt from paying Social Security and Medicare taxes. The community takes care of its elderly members and each other, and multiple generations live in one home or on one property.
The Amish live in rural areas and most farm, but others learn trades directly related to their way of life such as blacksmithing, buggy and harness making, or carpentry. However, some do work in local businesses or factories because farmland is increasingly scarce and expensive. The Amish communities are located throughout the Eastern and Midwestern United States.
The Amish speak a dialect of German, called Pennsylvania Dutch, and all religious services, bibles, and many books are printed in this language. An Amish-born person normally hears English for the first time when attending school in one-room schoolhouses within their community. They do not normally attend public schools.
The main difference between Amish children and "English" children is that Amish children do not attend school beyond the eighth grade, which is when they begin working on the family farm or learn other trades.
The Amish believe photography is a sin of pride, and they will not allow anyone to take their picture, and often place their hat or hands in front of their face if approached. Pictures seen of them on the internet or in newspapers are often shot from a distance without their knowledge.
Another belief is that if they put a face on an Amish doll, they consider it idolatry, which is why they also engage in very few forms of entertainment.
The community Ordnung determines the clothing and grooming standards of the Amish, thus they dress plainly, resulting in the name, "the plain people." Men usually wear dark pants, light colored shirts, wide brimmed hats made of felt or straw and occasionally suspenders. Single Amish men stay clean-shaven, after marriage, they cannot grow a mustache, but must grow a beard. Amish women typically wear long dresses usually in dark colors, aprons, and bonnets or prayer caps. However, they never cut their hair, but wear it in a neat bun under their cap.
The Amish community preaches love, brotherhood, and forgiveness, which is something they practice daily. The "English" world could learn a lot from them.