A Follow-Up On The “Plain Parade”

An Amish friend who saw the title of the post last week had this to say: “Plain Parade – what an oxymoron”.

I think that is an astute observation. The quotation marks were meant to suggest the term be taken with a grain of salt. Especially, as noted in the original post, since the actual Amish participation seemed to be minimal. That said, he also predicts that “there will be an uptick in Plain voters” this election.

Photo: Mike Schenk, Wooster Daily Record

My main interest here is in the phenomenon of Amish participation in politics, as it’s not traditionally something they promote or engage in, outside of a minority. But as suggested, that could be eroding.

So concerning that aspect, the Wooster Daily Record did a nice follow-up report, getting some Amish and other local opinion on the parade, and politics in general, which provides further context.

I was told, and the paper also reports, that there was to be a second parade this past Saturday, but have not seen much of any news on how that turned out.

I’ve pulled some interesting excerpts from that article, and have added some additional information which I was able to gather below.

Local observations

The article contains a number of comments from local observers. Here’s the first, a shop worker in Fredericksburg whose clientele is heavily Amish:

Adam Amstutz, an employee at Fredericksburg Square Market, frequently converses with members of the Amish community when they visit the business. At least 80% of his customers are Amish, he said.

Political conversations and a showing of support for Trump have become more frequent within the last year, Amstutz said.

Trump’s commitment to putting Americans back to work and his pro-life stance are appealing to Amish voters, he added.

“For a national election, I’ve never seen this type of (interest) ever in my life,” said Amstutz, a lifelong Fredericksburg resident. “… We’re not really that loud of a community. This year, you definitely see a lot more vocalization around here.”

Next, the Amish-raised county commissioner, and the director of the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center:

Holmes County Commissioner Joe D. Miller, who left the Amish community at 18 years old, said he also has heard during one-on-one conversations with Amish individuals that there is an increase interest in participating in the 2020 election.

The economy also has an impact, he said. Tariffs Trump imposed on international imports have benefited the Amish community, Joe Miller believes. For example, he said, an Amish furniture maker has received a number of big orders from large corporations. Before the tariffs, Amish furniture makers couldn’t compete with Chinese companies that could fill orders cheaper, he said.

“I think a lot more Amish are excited about voting and will vote because of those values that the president has,” Miller said.

Marcus Yoder, director of the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center and a leader in the Amish community, said there has been an increased awareness of the role of government for two primary reasons.

First, with smartphones and internet access, information is more accessible. Though some Amish may not use those technologies, they hear about happenings through people who visit their communities. Second, the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions have brought attention to state and national leadership, he said.

“When everything shut down, by nature you pay more attention to what is going on, and I think that has brought some heightened attention to the elections,” Yoder explained.

Kyle Kopko, co-author of an analysis of Plain voting in the 2004 election, had some input as well. He gives some context to the idea of a “separate people” voting:

Voting in a presidential election may be frowned upon in more conservative churches and is still considered controversial, he said. There has been a longstanding debate about voting in Old Order communities, which grows out of Anabaptist religious traditions, Kopko said.

“A lot of this goes back to the Gospel and Jesus noting that his kingdom is not of this world,” Kopko said. “His kingdom is in heaven and you as a believer ought to focus not on the worldly endeavors, but focus on being a citizen of God’s kingdom.”

Who are the Amish in the parade?

As far as who is actually participating in the parade, Kopko says this:

The Amish who have participated in Trump parades and rallies do not appear to be traditional Old Order Amish, Kopko said. The participants may be from a more progressive, New Order group or may be young adults on rumspringa who have not yet joined the church, he said.

This aligns with what I see in the video, and also what I was told by a local Amish person – that some of the buggies appear to be from the “New Order Tobe” group (not to be confused with the larger New Order group in Holmes County), and that one of those heavily involved is from the New Order Tobe. This group is a bit more progressive than the “regular” New Order, and is about 4 or 5 churches in size.

Also, I pointed out in the first post that there appeared to be at least one Swartzentruber buggy. My Amish source says this:

There are Swartzentruber shown in some of the pictures I have seen, but in the one you shared with me the Amish buggy passengers do not appear to be Swartzentrubers, though I’m baffled why they are driving a Swartzentruber buggy…. I’d love to know the story behind that!

Finally, this was an interesting bit from Kopko:

“Generally speaking, it’s hard to tell where this is all going,” Kopko said. “I think as a political strategy, reaching out to this group makes sense, but also results aren’t going to happen overnight. If this is successful, it’s going to take a number of years to be realized just because of culture, the different settlements.”

Amish comments on the parade

Finally, here are some Amish voices. Three of these are from the article, and one of these is the aforementioned Amish local. First, this is “Mr. Miller“, who attended the Oval Office meeting last December. Note his final line:

Though Miller said he is not participating in this weekend’s rally, he is not shy about his support for Trump.

Trump believes in the importance of law enforcement, Miller said, adding the Amish appreciate and value the protection and service local police and sheriff’s departments provide in their communities.

The desire to vote, Miller said, is not because of Trump. Many Amish are newspaper subscribers and disapprove of the violence and riots being reported, which has sparked an interest in voting, he said. Miller desires to vote for someone who is honest, keeps promises and stands for biblical principles, he said.

Gauging the true support of the local Amish community is difficult, little data is available. A representative from the Holmes County Board of Elections said the board does not keep track of the number of Amish who vote.

“I can’t speak for the whole Amish community, I can only speak for me,” Miller said. “I’m not a Democrat. I’m not a Republican. If we all turn to God, things would shape up real quick.”

Next, they were also able to find at least one Amish voter not supporting Trump (though that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s voting for Biden). His rationale for voting against the incumbent is of interest:

On the other hand, one leader in the Amish community, who did not want to be named, said he will participate in an election for the first time in November.

This election, featuring former Vice President Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris on the Democratic ticket, has been unprecedented and has galvanized the Amish community, sparking an interest to vote for either party, he said.

He will be among the Amish who vote against Republicans Trump and his running mate, Vice President Mike Pence out of concern for the uproar support for Trump has caused — such as noisy parades and rallies where buggies meant to represent the Amish community are decorated with American or Trump flags, which is not the Amish way, he said.

It sounds almost like a “protest vote” against the idea of some Amish people getting too tied up with political demonstrations.

In a somewhat similar vein, an Amish friend in Holmes County had this to say:

I’m extremely disappointed and offended there are Amish people involved in this and appalled at a group of Amish men who sent voter registration forms out to Amish homes urging them to vote for Trump. I’ve never seen an election that the Amish talked so much about! Though I’ve not heard of any Amish sermons directly endorsing Trump, we hear vague reports of some that came close and also Mennonite churches who strongly get involved.

Finally, from the article again, a business and church leader in the community. I do believe most Amish views would align with his final line:

Ernie Hershberger, owner of Homestead Furniture and an Amish minister, said Amish typically do not actively participate in government but rather pray silently that leadership will lead with Christian values.

The Amish believe in prayer and being a light to the community, he said. It starts with the family, then the church and then the nation, Hershberger said.

Placing political paraphernalia on a buggy or attending a rally does not align with traditional Amish values, he noted.

“We would much rather as a community stay out of the limelight and do our duty of showing love and practicing our conscientious objector status,” Hershberger said.

Note: Comments, as always, are welcome, but please keep them civil and on-topic. 

Update: Comments have been closed on this post.

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    1. michael saint

      Yes we should vote for someone who only paid 750 dollars I am at poverty level and paid more then he did

      Shame on America for supporting him

    2. Joni

      I’ve cast my vote. I think my God would be quite disappointed in me if I voted to continue the godless display of this administration.
      200,000 have died of Covid-19, while our political “leader” commits all 7 deadly sins on a regular basis.
      I could not be more sure that Donald Trump is the Bible’s false prophet.

      1. John J. Keim


        Well, I have to admit Joni, if their is a god, then trump is definitely the epitome of the false prophet.

        In real life, Trump is a fraud, a tax cheat, a woman abuser and user, and a swindler of the worst kind. Forbes magazine reported the other day that Trump is debt to the tune of 1.1 Billion dollars. So I guess you could say he is a billionaire, just not the kind anyone else would want to be. lol He
        has been under IRS audit ten prior to winning the election in 2016, so when he won the election they put the audit on hold, so I believe that is the main reason he’s so desperate to win re-election. He’s desperately trying to hold off the tax man.

    3. Ben

      Joni,so you support the other party that believes it is ok to kill babies and goes against God’s teaching about marriage between man and woman?

      1. Geo

        trying to learn

        Help us understand: tell us where it says democrats believe its ok to kill babies and where does God say anything about marriage between a man and a woman. Preaching without specifics just comes off like Putin’s trolls sowing division for the benefit of Putin’s chosen candidate.

      2. John J. Keim


        Ben, no I don’t support Biden either, because both the Dem party and the Rep. party are corrupt to the hilt.

        This stupid fantasy that the left loves to kill babies, is about most disgusting thing you right wing fanatics could say. The right has never met a war they don’t love. I don’t hear the right railing how the US murdered, as some have suggested, upwards of 1 million innocent men, women, and children in Iraq. Yet somehow, when a woman wants to abort a fetus, that’s somehow a lot crueler. Just admit it, religious men just want to control their women.

    4. Marie


      I very much appreciate this website because I have for many years been interested and felt a kinship toward Amish/Anabaptist spirituality (although I belong to another Christian tradition). I’m disappointed to see a rise in Amish participation in politics, generally, because I think they have always provided an effective witness that the kingdom of God is not of this world. I’m especially dismayed that some are beginning to take a more avid interest in politics by showing support for Trump. I’ve always considered the Amish to be thoughtful and wise, and can’t believe that so many would fall prey to Trump’s sham politics, belittling of the differently-abled, and encouragement of violence, among many other character flaws. I’m also disheartened to see that, at least as reported in the article, some of the Amish support for Trump comes from a desire for more money. More money in one’s own pocket should be the last reason someone supports a political candidate.

    5. Monique

      Amish vote

      I live in Geauga County and see the same thing. I interact with the Amish community and they are all in for President Trump. They see the destruction the democratic cities are dealing with and there is no law and order enforced. They see how the democrats pushed God out of their party and beliefs. They see how the left continues to murder the innocent. They are conservative people. This bizarre action from Democrats is not conducive to the Amish way of life.

    6. Virgadean Richmond


      I am dismayed that many of the Amish have gotten behind the most godless president I have seen in my lifetime. His behavior in office goes against the Bible in almost every way. He doesn’t value life or he would have done his job and led the nation properly out the harms way of the virus. He downplayed the virus and knew he was misleading the nation. It came out yesterday that in his 2016 campaign he specifically targeted over 2 million black voters using their personal information to deter them from voting. He is responsible for families being torn apart permanently and put in cages at the border. Throughout the Bible God is crystal clear that foreigners are to be treated properly. He has lied over and over about the smallest things to the largest things.
      I am dumbfounded none of this makes a difference to so many Christians. The baseless allegations that all Democrats are baby murderers is illogical at best. Christians who tend to vote for Democrats simply think there is a better way to reduce abortion than appointing right wing judges, preaching at (not to) non-Christian women (and not the men that got them pregnant) and shouting it as a political slogan (which by the way is how it started – it had nothing to do with caring about babies).

      1. Just me

        Marie in Wonderland

        You must not know a whole lot about the Amish you feel such a bond with. There’s not one Amish man or woman here in Lancaster County who I know that isn’t voting for Trump. Im sure there might be some gullible enough to vote for Biden, but overall Trump represents what the Amish are looking for. There is quite a dislike of biden here. Remember, the Amish are only human. Each & every one of them. A large number see what Trump has to offer Americans & it’s in line with what they want. You will never find a perfect president with no skeletons and they know that. So you look at what a candidate has to offer. I just see Amish all over leaning alot more Republican, again not all. You might not have a “real world” view of them & think they are flawless perhaps? That’s usually what many people run into when they aren’t a part of the Amish culture.

        1. Marie

          I'm not in Wonderland

          Just Me, your characterization of me as being “in Wonderland” is rather less than kind. I do not romanticize the Amish. I’ve studied Anabaptist society and religions for over 40 years and have certainly spent time amongst the Amish. I said that I was disappointed that the Amish don’t seem to have the wisdom to discern how false and inhumane Donald Trump is. Their naivete in the face of English-style duplicity has them falling for Trump if, in fact, they are. And I am also disappointed that the Amish are choosing this time in history to depart from their more traditional practice of being apolitical. In the long run, I don’t think it will serve them to become more worldly in this way – they’re only inching closer to English practices and I think that’s unfortunate for both them and the world to which they witness. Certainly, no one in this world is perfect (least of all, me), and certainly not the Amish. I also happen to take great exception to the puppy mill practice amongst some Amish communities, but that’s for another discussion. I wasn’t going to continue to respond to this thread, but if someone calls me out by name, and then mis-characterizes me, I feel that I must respond in order to clarify.

        2. Geo

          What's the offer?

          “just me” writes: “but overall Trump represents what the Amish are looking for”. OK but what is it they are looking for that they see in Trump? Inquiring minds want to know so tell us.
          ” A large number see what Trump has to offer Americans”. What does Trump offer Americans?

          What specifically is “just me” trolling about?

          My best guess? “Just me” is just another troll from Putin’s troll farm.

      2. Monique


        We didn’t hire a preacher. We hired him to get things done.. Keep that in mind.

    7. Marie


      It is well-documented that the national abortion rate was decreasing under democratic administrations, as more programs were in place designed to make abortion less of a “necessity.” Look up the statistics. Voting on that single issue is misguided and ill informed. It also ignores the disregard for the lives of the elderly, the disabled, and the support of the death penalty (also against God’s commandments) by Trump’s party. I won’t comment further, but will again reiterate my belief that the Amish are being played by the current administration and I’m saddened to see them falling for it.

    8. Don Shenk

      A Deeper look at the Election

      Let’s look down the line, both candidates are aging and showing signs of this. So it is extremely important to look at the VP’s! I can not understand why Christians would prefer Harris over Pence.

      1. Joni

        Don Shenk

        Why is that, Don? What is it about me preferring Kamala Harris you don’t understand?

    9. Romain S.

      Plain parade

      When I think Jacob Amann split up because the menno meddled in the affairs of the world around them and participated in politics like other religions, I think he must be turning in his grave. We are far from the ideas of Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz or Amann …
      I don’t know if the Amish still follow the Schleitheim confession as they did in Europe, but in article 4 of the confession it says: Separation from Evil: complete separation from all political institutions ( …) and ban on war.

    10. David Ufkes

      How many commentators here actually read Amish America? How many are simply looking for a site to say hateful things about Trump. I could say a lot bad things about Biden but I think I will take the high road. Now go ahead and bash me if you want children.

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