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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