On certain things, essentially all Amish agree. Things like wearing plain clothing, not fighting in wars, or closing businesses on Sunday. These are universal across all Amish groups – part of a widely-shared culture, tradition, and belief system.
This may be seen in different styles of hair or clothing, or, say, rejecting an engine mower in favor of a push mower. But for the most part, many general practices, beliefs, and customs are followed by nearly all Amish, or a great majority.
However, then there are the exceptions. These are practices that might be seen among 98% of Amish…while a small handful do things a bit differently. Or, one sizeable group stands out from the bulk of Amish society.
Sometimes this is a more progressive minority, accepting a technology that few others do. And sometimes it’s a more conservative one, rejecting a practice that nearly all Amish accept.
Yet they’re still seen as “Amish” – by both themselves and other Amish people. They just have a bit different approach on this, or that.
So let’s have a look at 10 of those exceptions to “Amish rules”.
10 Amish Exceptions To The Rules
1. Church meeting houses
Nearly all Amish hold church at their homes, or in pre-existing structures at their homes, like in workshops or basements. Yet a small minority builds and holds worship in separate meetinghouses. The Amish of Somerset County, Pennsylvania are one of the best-known examples of this.
Most Amish begin growing beards on getting married. But the custom can vary both between groups, and within a church. For example, some start growing a beard at baptism.
Others will grow a beard after marriage and moving into one’s own home. In other cases, unmarried Amish men will grow a beard at a certain age (for instance, once hitting 40).
3. Public electricity
The vast majority of Amish still reject any direct connection to the public electric grid. They get needed electric power from generators, solar sources, and batteries.
Yet one subgroup – known as the “electric” New Order Amish – does permit connecting to public power. Additionally, in some communities there have been some exceptions made for buildings meant for business purposes.
4. SMV Triangle
Nearly all Amish (over 90%) use the orange Slow-Moving-Vehicle triangle on their horse-drawn transport. The one big exception is the Swartzentruber group of churches, who have always rejected this symbol, along with electric lighting on their carriages.
Most Amish do not pose for photos or appear in videos. This is the popular “rule” cited by many in the public. However on an individual level, Amish people may feel comfortable appearing on camera.
For example, the screenshot above shows an Illinois Amishman named Joseph Yoder discussing Amish ways for a news station. Certain more progressive churches as a whole may be generally more accepting of the camera as well.
Generally Amish don’t consume large amounts of alcohol, or do so in moderation primarily for health purposes. However, in some communities, alcohol use and even abuse is not unheard of.
7. Raising tobacco
Most Amish farmers do not raise tobacco. The biggest exception is found in Lancaster County and at least some of its related communities, where raising tobacco as a cash crop has a long tradition.
8. No hired drivers
While most Amish accept the hiring of drivers (“Amish taxis“) for longer-distance travel (to and from a workplace, or for visiting family or going on other trips), the Swartzentruber Amish only do so in emergency situations. When traveling longer distances, they rely on bus and train service.
9. Volunteer firefighting
This refers to the tradition seen primarily in Lancaster County (and sister settlements) of heavy Amish participation in local volunteer firefighting companies. It’s an example of civic involvement common among this group of Amish, and not seen too frequently or on the same scale elsewhere.
10. Assurance of salvation
While most Amish hold a “living hope” of salvation, some churches profess a belief in assurance of salvation. The New Order Amish churches are the best example of this, but Amish in other churches might also express similar beliefs.
So there you have ten exceptions to common Amish custom and belief. But that’s certainly not all of them. Feel free to share any others you would add.