Ask an Amishman

Okay, we’re going to roll this one out on a trial basis.  But who knows, could be interesting.

I frequently get Amish-related questions in my email inbox.  I do my best to answer but sometimes come up short.

So:  if you have an Amish-related question you’d like answered, and would prefer a response from an actual Amish person rather than hearing me yap on about it, send it on in.  You’ll find the email link in the upper left-hand corner of the blog or under the ‘about’ link.

Ask an Amishman

No guarantees on getting an answer, but the best ones I’ll pass along to ‘Mr. X’, our Lancaster County Amish correspondent, and if he can work it into his very busy schedule (these days he’s working harder than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest), we’ll try to get responses straight from the Amishman’s mouth right here on the blog.

To kick it off, here’s one that came in the other day:

Do you know whether the Amish read or have any views on the Amish novels by Beverly Lewis or Wanda Brunstetter? I asked a teen girl last trip and I don’t think she was familiar with them, yet they are sold throughout the area at shops where Amish work. Those authors have probably done more to expose the general population to the Amish lifestyle than anything I can think of.

And the response:

“There is a small percentage of Amish readers that read the Beverly and Wanda books, mostly young females.  For the most part they are taken for exactly what they are–storybook novels.  Therefore most Amish people really don’t have anytime to read them, let alone ponder their meaning.  More popular with the Old Order Amish and Mennonites are the Carrie Bender books, which is a pseudonym for a daughter of an O.O. Mennonite bishop.  Also the Buggy Spoke series, written by an Amish woman named Byler from Central Pa. I personally have not read any of these books but have sisters and nieces that do.”

I have to admit that I have little experience with Amish-themed fiction.  Marta Perry was kind enough to send me a couple of her Amish romance-suspense novels last fall, even despite the fact that as a 30-year old single male, I’m probably not the ideal demographic for the genre.

With all the research and writing work that has been going into my own two books, I have not had a chance to finish them, but I did find the few chapters I read entertaining.

Interest in Amish-themed fiction seems to be booming (like interest in most things Amish these days).  Besides the perennially popular Wanda and Beverly, other authors have made the scene as the subcategory has grown.  Beth Wiseman, for example, has sold 40,000 copies of her debut novel Plain Perfect since last September.

Whoops, this was supposed to be ‘Ask an Amishman’, and looks like I’m yapping again.  Anyway, thanks to our inquisitive reader and to our AAP (Anonymous Amish Person), and hope we’ll be getting some interesting questions.  If you can get them past me I’m pretty confident this is no holds barred, so feel free to get into cultural, spiritual, pop, or whatever topics you’re curious about.

Ah yes, it’s not required, but have a glance here if you want to avoid asking something that’s already been covered, or maybe to inspire an idea.

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  1. tim

    Do you or anyone know of any law stating the Amish can hunt out of season? In Northern New York this happens alot. Thank-You very much-Tim

  2. Rick

    I suspect you are speaking of farmers that can get a number of tags for ‘nuisance” wildlife. This applies to non-Amish as well.

  3. Kala Holland

    Dear Mr. X,
    My name is Kala Holland and I am 13 years old I really would like to have an amish penpal near my age that was female like me. I was born english but plan to become amish when I get older. I thought it might be helpful if I had a penpal to teach me the language and such. Please respond soon. I pray God blesses you and your family.

    ps. to whoever runs this site my email is down…..

  4. evita

    Best mnr. X. I am a woman from Netherlands. My desire is contact with an Amish woman. I know it sounds weird, but do not pen-pal for me? Respect for your time taken.

    Hart Salute, Evita (NL Dutch)

    powered by

  5. Kelly

    We are taking a road trip to NY City and will spend 1-2 days in Lancaster County in August. My kids (boy age 9, girl age 6) attend a private school that is literature based. Each has significant summer reading to do (both fiction and non-fiction) and I want to tie their summer reading into our destinations.
    Can you recommend any age-appropriate books that would be a good overview on the history & culture of the Amish?
    Any off-the-beaten track things we should consider doing?
    Anything else?

  6. Anne

    Hi Kelly,
    if you would provide me with an e-mail address, I could send you something that you could consider doing while you are there 🙂 I know an amish family that hosts dinners for tourists, but I do not want to put their phone number out here on the www. As they have kids the age of your kids it might be a nice experience for your boy and girl.

  7. okay i have a question how would one go about joining an amish or mennoite community from the outside? is it possible they would be welcomed? or at least be friends with them?

  8. if the amish or the mennoites come from an anabaptist background would somebody from a conservitive view point be welcomed in? just curious.

  9. Anne

    During my last visit in Pennsylvania I heard that there should be an Amish settlement in the Ukraine. Does anybody know more about it and where to find them there?

  10. Anne there may still be a Beachy Amish settlement in Ukraine, but not an Old Order Amish community.

  11. Courtney

    Okay, I’ve always loved the way amish people live. I was wondering if it is possible to spend a couple days with an actual Amish family?

  12. Hello, thisis very interesting about the Amish. I would like to ask, why are the Amish permitted to do as they do ,a cting like a sect, in USA?
    In Europe, (Catalunya) where I come from, this wouldn´t be permitted, children not going to a normal school, not letting them study after 8th grade, not paying some taxes, having no passport, etc

  13. Chelsea

    Adam, I am not Amish, but I do know for sure that they pay taxes. In the USA there is a form you can sign to opt out of paying Social Security, but then you also sign away your option to accept SS when you get of age too. That is the only tax that one can ever get out of. As for passports, we are not required to have passports in the USA unless you are leaving the country. As soon as someone reaches a specific age, 18 I think, you must have a State ID card, but there are allowance set in place to allow the Amish to not have their pictures on the ID cards. Those are the only two things I know the answers to because they apply to everyone living in the USA, not just the Amish.

  14. David

    Are the Amish really against having their photographs taken? I heard it isn’t an issue in some communities.. Why?

  15. Michael

    I know that most Amish would deny that there are any gay members, but we also know that the rates of homosexuality are fairly constant across all cultures of the world. I am curious what supports are available to these individuals. I have known many young men and women choose to kill themselves when they have to deal with thier sexuality and have limited supports. If there is a support system that is wonderful and I would like to know more about it. If there is not how would a support group make a support service available to the Amish community for individuals who are dealing with issues of sexuality?

    1. Yes, Michael, there are gay Amish people

      Although there are no quantitative studies on the subject, realistically the same percentage of homosexuals in “mainstream” America can be found in the world of the Amish. The only difference is, most gay Amish will conform to their culture’s norms and live as heterosexuals. Homosexual encounters during rumspringha is perhaps as common during adolescence as in any culture. Roughly 20% of Amish people never join the church. What percentage of those are gay? Difficult to judge. In addition, not all those who remain in the Amish community are devout. What number engage in sex outside of marriage? Most likely far less than in modern America, but there must be some, including those who have had same-sex encounters. Amish is like any other denomination–it’s comprised of humans. Few people have written about the topic of homosexuality and the Amish. I, Shelter Somerset, am one. James Schwartz is another. Google “gay Amish” and you will find a few books on being gay and Amish.

  16. Kendal L

    Dear Mr.X,
    How old do you have to be to join and Amish community. I am want to know because I have wanted to join for a while now and I don’t know if I am to young.

  17. Betsy

    Hi Mr. X

    It’s so kind of you to take time out of your busy life to answer questions from us nosey “english” people!

    It seems to me that the rest of America has a lot to learn from the Amish. We are getting further and further disconnected from each other with every new invention that supposedly keeps us “connected”. And it seems we are not going to slow down our using up the earth’s resources any time soon. I keep telling my husband one day we are all going to be crawling to the Amish and begging them to teach us how to grow food, how to use horses, how to work in a manual way once we’ve used up all the oil!
    So I guess I don’t really have a question, but would be happy to hear your thoughts on the subject. Also – there is a lot of empty land in Detroit – who knows may some Amish would want to settle here!

  18. Jane Anne

    Can you recomend ONE book (more if able) that would help me apply the gentle Amish ways of GOD to my life? Please – not the bible – it is too “coplex “for me – and I am looking for something that will help me beome more like Christ in my day to day living as a married (barren ) female. Reson= Amish and menonnite people see m to embody everything I wish I could become…They seem to please both God and family…. I kow in my heart I doubt I will ever become “AmisH’ – I am a modern (sort of – live in 6 acres of desert in isolate community- no understanding/contact with American TV, Utube , Mp3 players etc- I do not know wht these are……I guess I am hoping how to “lean” INcorporate the Amish ways into my life -expecially every day life – areas I struggle with TREMENDLUSLY. eventhough i know my husband nor i will probably neve convert to Amish . We are old – 48 years….. I think it is NOT too late – to learn and apply some good “principles to our housefhold. Thank you fro your time an d patience.

  19. Varsha Phillips


    Please let me know if there are any Old order Amish in North Carolina. Do they have furniture stores, bake shops, quilt shops in North Carolina.


  20. lisa

    we are going to be in your area on a sunday ….do any of the amish allow you to attend a church service with them?thank you

  21. lisa

    i also would like to know if any of the amish would allow you to eat in there homes with them?we done that one time while traveling to penn. thank you

  22. Peggy

    What are some games that Amish play, both children and adult?

  23. Paul

    I know that most US newborn boys get circumcised (unlike us Europeans). However, I would hazard the guess that circumcision is NOT the cultural norm among the Amish (it is not encouraged in the New Testament). Do you know whether I am correct, or whether some Amish have this custom?

  24. Shelee

    I’m not sure if this question has been asked before, but I hope you don’t mind if it has. I’ve only been to Amish country once, but when there I immediately noticed how many of the Amish had businesses — tourist based businesses. Do the most Amish believe it is all right to use people’s attraction towards their lifestyle as a way to make money or are there some “sticklers”? What would these more conservative Amish families, assuming they exist, do for a living if (since) many of Amish cannot afford to farm? Also, as more and more Amish move towards a more urban life because of the pull of their businesses, do they find that it might be profitable to move back to where they can live a country life, even if it means moving back to Europe or somewhere Amish have not yet settled? Or do the Amish have to stay and live in an area where other Amish have settled? Perhaps if they moved they could preserve their lifestyle more easily. I hope this isn’t too many questions.
    Thank you, I’m loving the column!

  25. Cathy Huxley

    Is there any chance that the Amish could come and set up a community in Britain?
    Cathy (from the UK)

  26. Carole GIngrich

    Hi, I have always wanted to get to know the Amish people, not as a tourist but as a friend. I am 72, female and my question is:

    Is there a family willing to allow me to visit them on a regular basis? I have references. I have always loved the Amish culture. I live in Elizabethtown, PA., about 25-30 miles from Lancaster, PA.

    Thank you
    Carole Gingrich


  28. susan

    i know you are reliogious i try to study the bible, i want to know why you all celebrate christmas and the other holidays ..when no where in the bible it states jesus birthday. god has not given us athority to reconize days months years book of acts by the way thats a goddess holiday a heathen he does not like that you are regonizing another god tammnuz and nimrod the son bad people. please dont say its together .. cause you should do that all the time so tell meeee…

  29. Marianne Kukec

    Why don’t I ever see Amish riding their horses?

  30. jim knapp avoca mi.

    hi, i live neer the amish and i take horses to be broke to drive by the amish, and they welcome me there and with out taking any horses there they still take there time out to talk to me they are very friendly people. i have even bought horses from the amish at there cost, and they train them to drive on a buggy at no extra cost to me. they are always glad to talk about there lift style, but to be amish that would not work. the amish do know what they are doing even if they only go to the eight th. grade, (jim knapp avoca mi. )

  31. jim knapp avoca mi.

    i see alot of amish riding there horses.

  32. Kate

    Erik, do you talk to the Amish pretty often? I just wondered whatever happened with this post, though I do know it would be really hard to ask all these questions! haha. I know people ask me lots of questions and I try but can’t always answer either. Just curious how often you talk to the Amish or visit them? Have you ever visited MI Amish?

  33. Hi Kate, the quick answers–talk–weekly, if not daily. I visit and typically stay with Amish friends a few times per year. On this post, as it says in the intro, trial basis 🙂 Time concerns on multiple parts have pre-empted regular answers, though I try to get back to this one when possible. And Michigan–to now, only once, Hillsdale Co.

  34. Jason


    I was wondering if people marry into Amish families. And if it’s okay for a non-Amish man to be good friends with an Amish woman.

    Thank you for your time.

    Many Blessings.

  35. Mona

    Hi have a question, do the Amish pay taxes ?

  36. Tai Johnson-Spratt

    baby gift?

    I am currently working with an Amish family in Bloomfield, IA. My friend and his wife are expecting their 5th baby. Could you suggest a few choices of baby gifts for the baby? I know a lot of our English baby gifts would be unsuitable. Any suggestions would be very helpful as I am at a loss. Hurry please, the baby is due in a couple of weeks.
    Thank you,

  37. Lindz

    Response to Pauls Question

    I’m writing in response to a question I saw from Paul. He posted awhile ago asking if the amish men are circumsized. I am currently dating a man who grew up amish in Smickburg, Pa (The third largest settlement in PA and is old order amish). He left his amish heritage and family when he was 18. He is circumsized so they do not object to it.

  38. Former Amish

    Asking Questions

    If I may point out, when asking your questions you must realize that there may not be just one answer. You can have as many answers as there are different communities. They are not all the same.

    Erik, I’ll volunteer to address some of the questions as a former amish.

    In my former home community, you would not be able to spend a day, eat with, or any other interactive function. You would at most just be able to conversation from outside their personal space.

    You can join, yes. But it is very difficult. You’d have to someone vouch for you that feels you’d have a good chance of succeeding. So, the younger you’d be, the better.

    Photographs are not acceptable, but different communities have varying tolerances.

    Betsy, you are correct; a lot can be learned from them. But if you are astute to the news, you will also see the modern society is also causing their culture to slowly erode. Look at child labor laws, sustainability by farming, etc. They are slowly modernizing. So, if we don’t allow them to maintain their lifestyle, a hundred years from now, they won’t be what they are today.

    Gay? Really? In my former community, that’s blasphemous and unheard of.

    Rusty, they DO believe in God’s word. I don’t understand why you would think that they don’t.

    Susan, Christmas and Good Friday/Easter are about the only holidays that they “celebrate” because they are religious in nature. They know that is is not on the real date – they acknowledge that the actual date may not be known. But that’s ok, it the meaning of it that’s important. I cannot see any connection to any heathenism or to another god.

    Jason, that arrangement would be rather odd. But, what do you mean by “good friends”? The most liberal amish may allow this to some extent, but the more conservative communities would not allow this for one second, no way, no how.

    Mona, they do pay taxes. They are exempt from paying into Social Security so long as they stay with certain parameters. But, SS is really insurance and not a tax, right? But they do pay taxes when they make purchases and they are required to file income tax forms just like anyone else.

    Tai; rattlers, or things that are safe to chew on when teething. That’s a hard list to make, but hope it helps.

    1. Lee Ann

      Former Amishman:

      Where can I go to get a bed slat replaced? I bought my bedroom set from the Amish in MN, but live in AZ.

      Why did you decide to leave the order? Would love to exchange email or snail mail with you about different amish communities.

  39. Former Amish, thanks for stepping into the gap here! Our Anonymous Amishman has had his hands full lately 🙂

    I really appreciated and enjoyed reading these answers.

  40. Sally

    Amish birthdays

    I have an Amish friend whose birthday I would like to recognize. Do they accept birthday gifts? Thank you.

  41. Bridget

    Question for Mr X

    Mr Amish man,

    What do amish children call their parents? And amish teenagers, and adults? And also, how do they bathe? And do they go to a specific church building? And what is courting like? I hear they don’t touch each other until marriage.

    Thankyou for answering these questions!

    1. Mr X


      In Pa. Dutch the words for Mom and Dad is Mam and Dat.
      We use soap and water and we have 2 full bathrooms at our house. We take showers daily or oftener. My teenage boys prefernce in deoderant is Axe. I being over 40, prefer Old Spice or Right Guard

      In Courtship the boy asks the girl of his choice and of his own freewill.

      Courtships are not arranged by anyone else except by the couple. The girl has the right to refuse anytime and often does. I know bc I was the victim a number of times. But I am so glad they did bc I wound up with one much better.

      The ideal in courtship is to maintain good moral standards but to say they don’t touch may be a stretch. Although the phrase Hands off courtship is heard

      Mr. X

  42. Kate

    Hands-Off courtship

    Hi “Mr.X”,
    What church community are you from or were you from? I wonder because all the church communities I’m from believe and pratice Hands-Off Coursthip. I know a lot of Amish that would believe touching isn’t right at all before marriage. Here, and other places, we practice the hands off courtship and it’s often wrote about in Young Companion meaning we obviously aren’t the only church 🙂 I think a lot of Amish youth practice this with the help of our Lord.

    1. Mr X


      I live in Lancaster and I am still very Amish.

      In the crowd that my sons run around with, Hands Off is the policy, plus it is expected that the young are members of the church before dating which is an expectation for only some crowds . Maybe 25%. Clean courtship is very certainly worked for everywhere,but to say that no affection ever is shown in courtship is quite simply a stretch. These kids are also human and make mistakes.

      And of course there is quite a variation in thought and practice, between couples,crowds and families. And the larger the settlement is, the more variation there is.

      And you are very correct that it is only, with the help of the Lord, that this can be done. The same is true in a marriage. An analogy frequently used to illustrate a strong marriage is that of a cord with three strands. The Lord,the husband and the wife.

  43. Mary Wiley

    Looking for Amish work

    I’m new to Mo. I just bought a place in Mountain Grove and am looking for an Amish person from everything from horseback riding lessons, purchasing a horse, amish made saddle and additions to my house. If you know of anyone in or near the area of Douglas County, I would appreciate it.

  44. ask an Amishman

    I am looking for an Amish woman to sew a couple dresses for me. I had a wonderfull Amish lady who has done this in the past, and she was in a bad accident and passed away. I did not think it in good taste to ask the widowers new wife to continue this for me. I am disabled, and on a fixed income, and know the Amish to be honest, and i trust them to do bussiness with me. I hope to find someone in either NY,Del. or PA. I am respectfull of their ordnung, and need dresses for everyday wear, nothing fancy. Thank you. Patricia Tiffany

  45. Trina

    Wanted - Amish to Build Our Draft Horse Barn

    To Anyone Who Can Refer Us to the Amish Community,

    We are looking for Amish to build a horse barn for our draft horses in the Drummond, Montana area. We would like 4-6 stalls on both sides of the barn with 10 foot overhangs, and a 16 foot breezeway down the center. Stalls would be 12′ x 12′.

    Do you know of any Amish communities that would like to do this?

    Please let us know,
    God Bless,
    Doug & Trina

  46. Tom Freret

    Living with the Amish

    I live in the UK. When I was 2 years old, “apparently” as a family we went and visited the Amish as part of out trip to see my Auntie in Texas. I have for many years admired the lifestyle of the Amish. I have also been watching the Amish series on channel 4, and it has interested me in many ways. Is there ways of being able to spend time living in an Amish community and living an Amish lifestyle? It has something I have been thinking about a lot recently, and definitely something i would very much like to try.

    1. Hi Tom, thanks for your comment. You might find more info on this topic here:


  47. lisa kuhn

    cookbook available?

    i wonder if there is a really good cookbook/baking book available to buy; i would like recipes based on ‘real’ ingredients, not shortcuts. i am especially interested in breads and other baking.
    also, where can i buy amish items in general online?? thanks!

    1. Lee Ann

      Go to Amazon.com they have Amish cookbooks there. I have bought a couple and the recipe’s are straight from the amish kitchens. Very good!
      Erik, has one amish cookbook he just loves!

      1. lisa

        amish cookbooks

        thanks so much! i probably will need to look at amazon uk though as i am in france…i wonder if erik can recommend his book? god bless

  48. Robert Slate

    I admire the Amish because they do not try to force their religion on non-believers as many other Christian denominations do. It was wrong in the Middle Ages for the Catholic Inquisition to force conversion on Jews, and it is wrong today for Christians to send missionaries and evangelicals out to proselytize.

    1. Mario

      It’s equally wrong for the left wing atheists to forcefeed their ideology down people’s throats by force of legislation or gun. At least when Christians proselytize they don’t force it on people with a gun (at least not in the past 200 years). Funny how you have to bash Christians by digging 600 years into the past. I noticed you failed to mention your Muslim comrades who DO force religion people through brutal force, and they make it illegal (punishable by death) if you choose to leave the religion.

  49. tiffany rangier

    ask an amish men

    is it hard learning german pennsyvania dutch?what are some good books?

  50. Curt


    Do the Amish harvest the corners of their fields?