Why Do Amish Drive Black Vehicles? (Like Buggies)


The Amish are a Christian community that places a high value on tradition. They reject modern technological advances, including electricity and the Internet, and many do not own cars. On the other hand, those who do only drive black or dark blue vehicles.

Amish people drive black cars to show their modesty and blend in with the crowd. The central Amish beliefs are humility and avoiding offending God by drawing attention to themselves. The Amish prefer black cars because they are the most simple and unpretentious.

Even though Amish rules prohibit owning and driving cars, attitudes differ from church to church, and in some cases, owning a vehicle is permitted. However, Amish are frequently confused with Mennonites, among which driving is fairly common. It should be noted that Mennonites are more flexible in terms of lifestyle regulations than the Amish, for whom rules are much stricter and tradition is preserved more authentically.

Also see Do Amish People Pay Taxes? to learn more.

Amish buggy
Can Amish people ride in cars that non-Amish drive? See below

Do Most Amish Drive Vehicles?

Most Amish do not drive vehicles because doing so goes against their religious beliefs. They can hire non-Amish drivers and ride in cars as passengers. However, in less conservative Amish communities, people sometimes own simple cars in neutral colors such as black or dark blue.

The Amish are known for rejecting modern conveniences to keep to their traditional ways. Owning and operating cars and, in many communities, any gas-powered equipment is not allowed. [1]

This prohibition comes from the beliefs about rejecting luxury, living a humble life, and respecting tradition. Cars are more comfortable and allow for faster travel compared to horses and buggies, and thus driving vehicles is considered a luxury, while traditional means of transportation remain primary.

In addition, as many members of the Amish community acknowledge, not owning cars is also about strengthening connections between people. The inconvenience of long journeys without a car contributes to people staying closer together and bonding within the community.

There is always a concern about younger people leaving the church, and vehicles can literally take them away from home. Thus, forbidding driving and owning cars and using smartphones and the internet is a way of reducing the temptation for young members to leave the community. [2]

Yet, driving a car and using a vehicle is not the same. While Amish are not allowed to own and operate cars, they can use the help of others to ride in vehicles if necessary for work or special events, such as weddings.

In today’s changing world, work is a strong motivation for adjustment, even for the Amish. Less conservative communities allow people to use cars and own them for business purposes. [3]

Among Mennonites, more liberal in terms of following the traditional ways, and some less traditional Amish-Mennonites, driving vehicles is relatively common. However, there are certain restrictions on what vehicles they can use and for what purposes.

Also see Are Amish Friendly to Outsiders? to learn more.

black buggies
What does the color black symbolize to Amish people? See below

Why Are Amish Cars Black?

Amish cars are black because the color is considered the most modest and humble and does not stand out. Furthermore, as vehicles are considered a luxury, which the Amish community strongly opposes, it is only acceptable to own vehicles in dark colors, if at all.

The Amish lead a very simplistic lifestyle and resent modern technology and conveniences. Their aversion to luxury requires them to avoid anything flashy. They believe that God is everywhere, and they do not want to offend him by attracting attention to themselves or trying to stand out.

That is why Amish and Mennonite cars are black. In some churches, it is a strict rule that only black vehicles are allowed, while driving a gray or dark blue car is possible in others. It can be any color that isn’t bright and eye-catching, but black is preferable.

Besides the religious value of obedience and humility, the Amish are also strongly respected within and helpful to the community. Humility fosters compassion, understanding, and respect for others, while submission and willingness to serve God and others motivate people to dedicate themselves to the church. [4]

Humility and obedience are key Amish values taught to every community member from a very young age. They are also present in every aspect of the Amish way of life. That is why the color of a vehicle is important and subject to strict regulations.

Also see Why Do Amish Pull Teeth? to learn more.

Amish buggie
How common are horses and buggies in Amish communities? See below

What Kind of Vehicles Do Amish People Use?

Amish people drive simple cars that aren’t too expensive or fashionable and are not associated with social status. They usually own pickups and vans shared among the community members who are allowed to drive.

As mentioned, driving cars is not common in most Amish communities. Instead, they follow the traditions preserved over centuries and still use horses and buggies to travel short distances.

However, as the world changes, the Amish communities face new difficulties in maintaining their way of life. Today, not having a car is a great challenge.

While there are loopholes in the rules that allow Amish community members to hire non-Amish drivers to assist them in using a car, it becomes prohibitively expensive for people who must frequently travel, for example, for work, which does not benefit the community.

So, in some churches, the attitude about cars has changed. As traveling in traditional ways is still possible and vehicles make it faster, cars are considered a luxury. Still, looking from the perspective where fast traveling is necessary, a car becomes essential, while paying drivers every time for a ride is overly costly.

This belief is why driving a car is permitted in some communities. The ability to drive is usually restricted to a few members who share the same vehicle, often a van or a pickup. People use the car for work and other community-beneficial purposes. Thus, having a car allows the Amish to not rely on others for necessary car rides.

As mentioned, private car ownership may be permitted in less conservative communities such as Amish-Mennonites. Nonetheless, they are usually older and less expensive models in black or other dark colors. Amish vehicles must be modest to be consistent with their beliefs and way of life.

Also see Are Amish Allowed to Dance? to learn more.

Conclusion

Traditionally, the Amish do not drive cars and use horse-and-buggy carriages instead. However, if allowed, they drive simple and modest cars in neutral colors.

References:
[1] Source
[2] Source
[3] Source
[4] Source

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see the About page for details.

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