I had originally planned to try a separate post for each question, but realized that would take awhile and that some can probably be answered in shorter form.
So here are some more of your questions from the “Submit your Amish questions” page. We’ll get to more later:
Fr. Andre Leveille, CSC: Do the Amish have baptism, communion, confirmation, marriage, ordination and annointing of the sick like some mainline Christian religions?
Amish do have all of these except for confirmation. Baptism differs from the Catholic sacrament most obviously by the age of those baptized (infant vs. adult baptism, typically the 18-22 age range though can be earlier). A special communion service happens twice yearly among Amish. In addition to bread and wine it also includes footwashing. Marriage is for life and Amish remarry only on the death of a spouse. Amish do perform a ritual of anointing with oil for ill persons. The Amish Way is a good resource with much more detail on these practices.
Have you ever heard of the practice of “mourning handkerchieves” in the Amish community?
I have not! Anyone have input?
Leo: Do Amish people serve on juries?
Amish people do not serve on juries. They are typically granted exemptions based on religious beliefs. Generally speaking Amish feel God should judge others; serving as a juror would mean being party to any punishment handed down by a court, and wouldn’t square with their nonresistance beliefs.
Lisa Roszler: If an Amish teen decides to live outside the community during rumspringa, what resources are available to help them in the “English” world?
It’s not too common to do so, but those Amish youth who do leave their communities may find solidarity and assistance among others like them–people raised Amish or others who are also spending some adolescent time away from home. Certain places have been known to attract Amish youth or those leaving their communities, such as Pinecraft in Florida or the ex-Amish community at Columbia, Missouri.
Juan Carlos: What do Amish read most? In practice, do they really read Pathway Publishers’ publications, or is most of their reading material from other non Amish publishing companies?
Pathway’s publications (Family Life, Blackboard Bulletin, Young Companion) are highly popular. You won’t see them in all groups but they are quite common in Amish homes in many different communities.
There are a fair number of other publications and books from “Plain” publishers as well, which you’ll see by a visit to an Amish shop carrying reading materials. You do get a range of books outside of those produced by Plain publishers though. Some Amish read real-life inspirational stories, often with a Christian backdrop. Some enjoy history; I’ve discussed World War II with Amish who obviously had done some homework on the topic. Word is that some Amish even read Amish fiction. Some reading is obviously frowned upon but there is a range of tastes like with anyone.
Lisa Kuhn: Do children play together or are the sexes separated from the beginning? What about within a family? I presume if there was an emergency males and females could help each other – but what about cpr?
Amish children play together from an early age like other children. Brothers and sisters sleep in different rooms. In emergencies Amish will do what is practical; no public touching/physical displays of affection between the sexes is a custom not an inviolable rule.
Nic: Do the Amish use cloth diapers & cloth trainer unders for their babies & toddlers? & if so, are ‘allowances’ made to the laundry day rule of only washing once a week?
Amish do use both cloth and disposable diapers. As you’d expect, more progressive and wealthier Amish are generally more likely to use disposables. I’ve never heard of a community with a hard and fast rule of only washing once a week. They may have a set laundry day but Amish women generally do the laundry when the need arises, as long as it’s not Sunday.
Karen D: It is easy to find information on the larger Amish communities but I would like to know more about the smaller Amish communities as well as other Anabaptist communities and Plain groups that seem to pop up around these communities.
Sometimes we have features on smaller communities here; I also suggest checking and leaving comments in the comments section of the individual states in the State Guide. Smaller communities are simply going to have less written about them, but thanks to people sharing there is sometimes info, for example on where to find area stores and businesses.
Alice Mary: How often do Amish bathe, and does it differ within each community or “parish” or by the “type” of Amish they consider themselves to be, re: Swartzentruber, Beachy, etc.?
The most conservative Amish do not have hot running water in the home. So obviously baths are going to be less common (weekly) events. Generally speaking farmers are probably less likely to shower, or let’s just put it this way: they are going to “feel dirty” less often than I am. Which I can understand. If I were a farmer I’d be taking 4 or 5 showers a day. I guess I wouldn’t make a very great farmer.
You can find outhouses in these communities, among others: Cashton, Wisconsin; Big Valley, PA; Swartzentruber Amish communities; some Swiss Amish; Buchanan County, Iowa; Orange County, Indiana; and others. Sometimes more mainstream Amish may have an outhouse on the property, for example for workers or for use when outside. I don’t know who shares bath water, but if that’s done it would naturally be more likely in homes where you have to go to the trouble of heating it up. Now that’s recycling.
Along the same lines, do they use deodorant? Commercially available shampoos or other toiletries?
Some Amish make soap; I haven’t stayed in a lot of very conservative Amish homes so I don’t know to what degree those folks use the homemade vs. store-bought.
But generally speaking, commercial shampoos and soaps, toothpaste, etc. are quite common like in English homes. In fact I use those products whenever I wash up while staying with Amish friends. I’ve never used their deodorant though. Or their toothbrushes. Well, there was that one time…
Photo credit: bread-spiz/sxc.hu