Amish Returning COVID-19 Stimulus Checks

It’s just a little detail at the very end of this story, on Amish in Maine and coronavirus. But worth drawing attention to. This is the Unity community:

They also added, they’ve been receiving Stimulus checks but they will not accept them and those will be returned to the Federal Government. The Amish don’t accept direct government aid as they like to maintain their independence with the government.

Images: News Center Maine

Accepting benefits in the form of stimulus money could compromise their arrangements in other important areas – like conscientious objector status, abstention from Social Security, and their eight-grade schooling program.

These are at least philosophically dependent on keeping some separation from the state. But that also means not partaking of the “good things” – like free money – when they conflict with this separation.

So these are Amish in a small community in Maine. But this response is, I’d expect, the way it’s going in most Amish communities.

I gather the checks are sent out automatically to everyone who qualifies. So I suppose any Amish receiving one would need to physically return them, or just refrain from cashing them.

But are all Amish returning these checks? I would guess not. In a group as diverse as the Amish, there is usually not going to be 100% uniformity across every community, church, and family – even on the more “core” Amish beliefs.

Case in point would be some Amish accepting unemployment assistance during the 2008-09 recession. Another would be the rare instances of Amish filing lawsuits – a thing the Amish “do not do”.

This story otherwise discusses the Unity Amish response during coronavirus. The impression is of a community that is pretty conscientious about their relationship with non-Amish neighbors.

They shut down the school, avoided visiting non-community stores, initially stopped having their after-church meal, and later paused church services altogether.

Here’s the full video report from News Center Maine. It’s got input from interviews of two brothers, Caleb Stoll and Abner Stoll.

I do like this quote from Abner: “I feel less of a need to be informed because I think most people would be happier if they were less informed.” A good example of “Amish wisdom”?

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    1. Joe


      It is hard to see, but when the Amish fellow (Caleb) turns his head a bit, I think he has a mustache. I know most Amish will NOT wear a mustache. I believe it goes back to military people in the 17th and 18th centuries wearing them.

      Interestingly, several years ago, we stopped briefly at an Amish-owned store in the Unity community. The young man minding the store did not yet have a beard, but did have a wispy mustache. He also said the community was planning on building a meeting house, also not common in Amish communities. I believe (Erik can probably confirm) that they have now built the meeting house.

      1. Good eye Joe. I’ve never visited but the people there apparently do wear mustaches, or something like a mustache. One of our readers described an encounter with an Amishman from the area here:

        “I met several folks from the Unity and Smyrna settlements at the 2015 Anabaptist Identity Conference in Nappanee. Actually, the first person I met when I entered the building was a man, of English background, from Maine. I didn’t think he was Amish, due to his mustache, and was confused when he didn’t salute me (I am a member of the Old German Baptist Brethren, New Conference and we generally use the Holy Kiss with other groups that would do the same). He informed me that most Maine Amish wear mustaches.”

        Regarding that last statement, there are two Swartzentruber Amish communities in the state so I think they wouldn’t be included in the mustache group. There are now six settlements in the state.

        And you are right, there is a meetinghouse in the community. It apparently also doubles as a school, or at least did at one time:

        1. Stephanie

          Amish Returning COVID-19 Stimulus

          If I am not mistaken, the bottom line is that the government owns all of the land that folks buy including the buildings. The last I heard that is the case. Which means that when folks invest in land and buildings, and build on the land it is theirs. But the government still owns it. Basically that makes folks “caretakers” of said property. So as I said perhaps I am mistaken but this is what I was informed years ago. With that my opinion is that I think the Amish should keep the Stimulus checks the government sends them . From what I heard at least in NYS even the homeless and non-citizens of the U.S. are also receiving assistance from the government. With respect for the Amish if they don’t pay into Social Security, they might consider doing that because no matter what the “government” still dictates. So maybe collecting SS benefits might be a bad idea for the Amish. I don’t know but it is my opinion. But I do know that there are loads of people who are on government assistance who really should not be. With tourism down and farmers struggling I hope that the Amish are able to survive this pandemic that has put the country into a near standstill. Home schooling is better than public schools and most private schools. So I would think that the Amish could still provide instruction for the children without being forced into placing their children into schools. Even if the Amish hired a State Licensed Teacher then I think that might protect them from the government insisting they put the children into schools. Now with this pandemic students are being instructed at home anyway while schools are closed. Personally I think they should continue with schooling at home and eliminate going to a school. It eliminates behavioral problems from students, and this way teachers can still provide State Mandated Instruction to students through the computer. Sorry I really raised alot of other observations while typing this comment abt the Stimuls check. But it seems one concern leads to the other . Thank you. Take care and God Bless

          1. Stephanie Berkey

            Stephanie, handouts, as well as other unnecessary state involvement, are a bad ideas because they influence people to become dependent and helpless. The Amish are smart to not want this. Attempts to use the force of government beyond it’s place are common, but that doesn’t make it right. We have Constitutional laws that protect us from that, but we also need to do our part and and use wisdom and inspiration.

            The government does not own our land. Where did you get that idea? Americans own their own land and are not just caretakers for the government. You seem to be confusing the government with God.

            1. Stephanie

              Amish Returning COVID-19 Stimulus

              I would like my previous response to Amish returning checks to the government to be deleted. I am not interested in discussing this. I am sorry I said anything. But I want you to know I do not confuse the government with God. I know that the government puts taxes onto all property owners. When taxes are not paid the government can take the property. There are cases where people are exempt from paying taxes. But after their death the issue’s of property does become complicated. With the Amish I am positive that they have enough family to allow for their property to continue to go down the line after one member dies. So it keeps going until finally at some point property can become an issue where the “government” can get involved if necessary for various reasons! Also the issues with the government and property ownership can be complicated. But I am not going to continue responding to what I said in my previous comment and I hope that Eric or someone can delete it. I happen to be a very serious Christian with family who were Menonites and AnaBaptists. So I am not going to defend what I have said. I appreciate and respect the Amish and am fully aware of the reasons why they have chosen their life style without depending on the government. But it is all very obvious that the Government definitely knows who and where they are which is the reason WHY they DID receive their STIMULUS CHECKS! I don’t need to waste my time sending in any kind of response or comments to this wonderful page and I don’t have time for it. Nor am I going to defend nor explain anything that I have said. Thank you

              1. Stephanie Berkey

                Stephanie, I understand it’s very complicated because corrupt bankers and politicians have made it that way. It is much more accurate that they are the ones who have confused government with God.

    2. Stephanie Berkey

      They don’t want to be a part of the rest of the world’s crazy self destruction, as much as possible. But how can you help your fellow man that way? I wonder if they’d like to know how close the mark of the beast is (google microchips and kids)… Benjamin Netanyahu suggests microchipping kids to enforce social distancing:

    3. Geo

      on being informed

      A profound observation by Abner. I would prefer not knowing so much of what goes on. I’m sure I am less happy knowing much that is beyond my control and which may not even have any affect on me. in a perfect world I would only be informed of what matters to me. What matters to each of us is unfortunately as variable as our lives and we must face the full blast of the information storm or risk being un-prepared for approaching storms.

      1. Karen Baker

        Need to know

        I feel better, knowing more. The more I know, the better I can, in this case, protect myself from COVID19. And, considering that the current administration never wants to tell the truth, I need to now just what is going on these days, and in more matters than the pandemic.

      2. I think we are oversaturated with news nowadays (along with “news”).

        There are just more channels now to get it to us, and the tech delivering it is more effective than in the days of just radio, newspaper, and the evening news hour. Filtering and limiting how much of it goes into our head is both a skill and a discipline, while at the same time it’s probably not healthy to be completely closed-off or closed-minded. And unfortunately politics seems to creep into just about everything, or tries to at least.

        1. Geo

          "news" (wink wink)

          Right on Erik. Nowadays there is news and also “news” which functions as sophisticated shaping and manipulating what and how the audience thinks. Probably the most prominent source of such “news” has “news” as part of it’s corporate name. It’s news ( as opposed to propaganda) because they tell us it Like we need to be told it’s news. An old saying is if the cat has kittens in the oven it doesn’t make them biscuits. More real news like more real knowledge really is power. So called “news” teaches you things that are not true. My wise old teacher told us “it aint what you don’t know that hurts you. It’s what you think you know that’s wrong.
          “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Amen and amen to that.
          I would add: “beware of false prophets”.

          1. Stephanie Berkey

            “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” ~ Mark Twain

    4. Stephen


      I don’t know how important mustaches are, but Caleb and Abner are Elmo Stolls sons. Elmo Stoll started the Christian Community in Cookeville Tn. in 1990. Many in that community wore mustaches. They didn’t believe that scripture forbid it. I suppose the community in Maine doesn’t forbid them either. But I’ve never visited the Maine community.

      1. Karen Baker


        Thank you for the info!

      2. Thanks for making the connection Stephen. Looking back at past posts I found Caleb mentioned and it looks like I wondered in one post about the possibility that he was related to Elmo Stoll. Looks like he is also a minister in this community. He gave an interview to Bangor Daily News in 2015 which was really interesting.

    5. thom

      Amish Wisdom

      To each their own, but that nugget of Amish Wisdom was one of the driving factors of me leaving the Amish.
      “I feel less of a need to be informed because I think most people would be happier if they were less informed.”
      I’m sure plenty of people find comfort in that thought but it goes against my personal worldview. I found that thinking to be prevalent in my family and church, whether it was uncomfortable personal issues or complex, nuanced moral issues.
      I continue to believe that knowledge is power and knowledge is what makes life exciting and beautiful and worth living.

      1. Well I’d agree being too in the dark can be unhealthy. I’d much rather deal with too much info than not enough.

    6. Maine Amish

      I have been to Smyrna several times camping. While there I usually visit Pioneer Place their community store. I think it was in 2004 I introduced myself to the Budget Scribe and got invited to Sunday School because it was an off Sunday. I also visit the community store in Unity because it is closer to where I live. I buy my deck furniture there. The Amish have been moving further South in Maine They now have a community in Wales. The Stacyville Scribe said in the last Budget there were two Amishmen scouting out land but it didn’t mention where in Maine. I hope it is further South so I can visit more often.

      1. They sound like a welcoming community which is what you’d expect from one with a reputation for attracting converts. That’s interesting about Wales – do you know anything more about that community? For instance when it started and how many families?

        1. Wales Maine Community

          The only thing I know about the Wales community is what I read in the Budget from the other Maine community scribes. I know they started in the summer/fall of 2019 and the other communities would travel in groups to Wales and stay for shifts of a week or two. Here is a link to an article I found online from a Maine newspaper.

          1. Thanks for the reply Richard. I passed the info along to Joe Donnermeyer, who is keeping tabs on settlements, and he says he is aware of it. Thanks for that link – I actually remember glancing at that article when it came out, never did a post on it though.

    7. Amish returning stimulus checks

      Some people believe that ignorance is bliss. I believe it is ignorance that is the root of many of societal problems. ignorance might be bliss, but it is also dangerous!

      1. By his quote I don’t think Abner Stoll, or anyone here, was arguing for “ignorance”. Information overload is another more nuanced story. So is the quality of the information we consume.

      2. Stephanie Berkey

        It can be very daunting and seem impossible to find the truth, but all that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. That happens when they are not well informed.
        “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” ~ Hosea 4:6

    8. Bill Monti

      Amish Returning COVID-19 Stimulus Checks

      There’s a predominately Amish newsletter that we subscribe to in our area (central Illinois.) In the April 15 edition a full page “To Whom It May Concern” letter which was written 3/30/20 by the Old Order Amish Steering Committee and the Illinois Steering Committee was published.

      The Steering Committee discouraged accepting the checks. They stated they are a direct government handout which conflicts with the principals that their social security exemption was granted upon. In addition, it included a supposed Abraham Lincoln quote which I have not verified as such: “It is not right to eat bread earned by another man’s sweat.” It also included several reasons per their culture as to why they should not be accepted.

      Included within the letter was information regarding: “How to Return Unwanted Stimulus Checks That You Do Not Wish to Accept,” “Address Where to Return an Unwanted Check to,” and “If the Stimulus Check has Already Been Cashed or Direct Deposited in Your Account, Do the Following” (to return.)

      Knowing numerous Amish in our area we have no doubt that some will return them, but some will keep them. Most probably those that keep them will not share that information with anyone for numerous reasons.

      1. Joe

        Lincoln’s references to Genesis 3:19

        Here is a link that explains several of Lincoln’s references to Genesis 3:19, the source of the quote:–poor-hand-to-quote-scripture-lincoln-and-genesis-319?rgn=main;view=fulltext

    9. Stephanie Berkey

      The Amish join protest in Minneapolis for George Floyd

      Some Amish are informed and proactive; I love it!

      Beautiful 😀

      1. Nice singing, but do you really think those are Old Order Amish people?

    10. Stephanie Berkey

      Informed & Involved Amish

      Some Amish join protest for George Floyd
      True protesting is done lawfully, with respect to others, during daylight hours. Otherwise it’s rioting and detracts from it. Anti-freedom forces are trying to divide us and ruin America. Thank you and God bless our good police and military! Please pray for them and our leaders.

      1. Who is describing them as Amish, besides the owner of the YouTube channel that posted the video? (and the media that picked it up and went with it, of course)

        1. Stephanie Berkey

          I’m not sure Erik, if they are or what order they are; there’s so much diversity among the Amish in how they do things. It certainly doesn’t seem typical in some ways though, that’s why I liked it. The singing is nice, and the love displayed for their fellow man.

      2. Anti freedom forces

        Who are the “anti freedom forces”?

        1. Stephanie Berkey

          Hallmarks of Communism:
          1. Never let a good crises go to waste
          2. Divide & Conquer
          3. Deceive, Deflect, Deny

          Rioters claim to be the Black Lives Matter movement. If they weren’t, wouldn’t BLM protest only during the day to clarify? They yell, “No justice No peace, but justice under rule of law requires time and peace. Riots, looting, vandalism, chaos, assaults, and murders are Communistic, in which when demands are met, they are not satisfied.

          At first they demanded one, then all four police be arrested. Now they demand an end to the police. This became very ugly recently with them turning on Mayor of Minneapolis refusing to abolish police: Americans are for justice and freedom for all, but they are also for law, order, and peace.

    11. AmishgirlRebecca

      Those are definitely NOT Amish!