3 responses to How many types of Amish are there?
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    Matt Santos
    Comment on But I think a more informative answer can be found? (May 9th, 2013 at 09:30)

    But I think a more informative answer can be found?

    Like many topics, a simple question leads to a complicated answer. However, after reading about organization, affiliation and fellowship, with a level of detail incomprehensible to a person who would ask such a question, I’m left with an answer like, “it’s complicated.”

    Perhaps we can find a way to address the original answer a little better. Since the question is likely from someone outside of the community, try taking their perspective (the way they view things) into consideration.

    Can Amish communities be classified in other less official ways that make sense to those around them? How do they dress? Are there certain aspects of their behavior that an outsider can pick up on easily? Are there aspects to their beliefs and behavior that in general terms even insiders immediately identify with or distance themselves from? To an outsider, the minute details that split communities are really not that important – it is the big stuff like “those Amish drive cars, while those only use animals to plow their fields – there must be at least two types of Amish.”

    Any attempt to classify people will be imprecise and may offend or upset the people that are being classified. However, raising the level of understanding and perhaps comfort of those who are seeking this information is, I believe, a good thing. I believe that is the mission of this blog.

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      Comment on How many types of Amish are there? (May 10th, 2013 at 12:07)

      Matt for more detail you might try some of the in-text links above, such as this one, which explains affiliation, district, etc: http://amishamerica.com/how-are-amish-communities-organized/

      Also recommended are some of the resources noted, for instance An Amish Paradox which discusses diversity in Holmes County, Ohio. I can also recommend a new book coming out next month titled simply The Amish (Kraybill, Nolt, Johnson-Weiner) which has an entire chapter on the different affiliations and actually tallies the many different Amish groups.

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    Comment on How many types of Amish are there? (January 25th, 2015 at 00:03)

    How many types of Amish are there?

    It would seem simple for an outsider to look at the Amish and try to classify them by our standards, perhaps to their frustration, but for the seeker, to get a simple answer. However if we identify the Amish as a separate culture or national affiliation (and we should), as we do with persons from other countries, you would see there is greater heterogeneity among them by reason of their own classification of diversifying factors. There are fewer common denominators between Northern and Southern Italians, between rural and urban Chinese, and between the many groups who occupy lands across borders in the African nations. Should we just simply call them Italians (or even Europeans), Chinese (or even Asians), or Africans (or perhaps very ignorantly, Black)? Even to look at language – for example, we would seek to assimilate persons hypothetically as dissimilar as Dominicans with Nicaraguans with Mexicans with Spaniards and just call them ‘Spanish-speaking persons’ or even more broadly, Hispanics? And this doesn’t eliminate concerns for persons who are of Philippine origin, who can trace their identity to both Spanish and Asian forebears. Would anyone from any of those cultures tolerate such an idea, of being lumped together in such a broad fashion?

    For those who are ‘English,’ outsiders looking in, all the Amish (and dare I say Mennonite) look pretty much alike, but for those who are inside, to be classified with common traits we have identified, is disreputable or contradictory, and would separate us even further from recognizing or acknowledging their identity. To understand them, we have to understand how THEY parse their culture and identity, not the other way around. Just my two cents.

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