Are Amish Friendly to Outsiders?


Known for their simple lifestyle and clothing, the Amish people are a traditional, closed community of Anabaptist Christians who came to America in the 17th century. They follow the Bible and have isolated themselves from the rest of the world, as connecting to it will make it hard for them to follow the teachings of their church. However, is it possible to build a friendship with an Amish person?

The Amish are generally friendly to outsiders. They enjoy talking to non-Amish people and have fostered friendships and business partnerships with them and people who do not share their faith. Usually, males have connections outside their community, as Amish women keep to themselves.

This article will explore if the Amish can have friends outside their community and religion, if the Amish like tourists, and if an Amish man can marry an outsider.

Amish outsiders
Do Amish people have non-Amish friends? See below

Can Non-Amish Be Friends With an Amish Person?

A non-Amish person can be friends with an Amish person. Many Amish have fostered friendships outside the community and with those who have a different faith from theirs.

However, the Amish will not spend time in specific social settings like bars or movie theatres with their non-Amish friends. Furthermore, they won’t take photos with their friends because the Amish avoid people taking their pictures. The Amish tend to keep their boundaries from the non-Amish or English people on religious grounds.

Keeping their boundaries does not mean they are less welcoming to the non-Amish. [1] Amish business owners sell their products to non-Amish people, thus establishing some kind of connection. 

The Amish also tend to keep a harmonious relationship with their non-Amish neighbors. While they shun electricity and technology on religious grounds, they sometimes ask their non-Amish neighbors to use their cell phones to call someone or place something in their freezer. In return, they will provide something in exchange for that favor, such as giving produce or paying cash. [2]

In rare instances, some Amish people even invite their non-Amish friends to their church service. These services take place in their private homes. [3] Most likely, the outsiders will not understand the service because it occurs in Pennsylvania Dutch.

Amish buggy
How should visitors behave in Amish communities? See below

Do Amish Like Tourists? 

There are various opinions about tourism among the Amish, as some communities ignore tourists. However, others, especially business owners, participate in tourist activities and sometimes connect with non-Amish tourists.

Tourism has not changed the lifestyle of the Amish people, but some within their community established businesses and got their profits from tourism. [4] These businesses give tourists a snapshot of what Amish culture and lifestyle are. [5] 

Much of the tourist activity regarding Amish life occurs in Lancaster County in Pennsylvania. Other areas where tourists flock to glimpse Amish culture include Holmes County in Ohio and the Indiana town of Shipshewana.

Locals remind tourists to consider the Amish community’s culture and lifestyle. They also advise visitors to dress and behave modestly.

Tourists must also avoid approaching the Amish unless they seem open to the company. [6] The Amish prefer to keep their privacy as they believe that the outside world has a morally corrupt culture, and having contact with them will make it hard for them to obey their culture. [7]

Tourists must not take photos of the Amish, either. The Amish believe that posing for a picture is a sign of pride and violates the second of the ten commandments. [8]

While some welcome tourists, others are wary about commercializing Amish culture and lifestyle through tourism or detest unwanted attention. Some Amish people in Pennsylvania opt to quit farming or migrate somewhere else to avoid tourists and keep their quiet life. [9]

Amish buggies

Can an Amish Man Marry an Outsider?

An Amish man cannot marry an outsider unless certain conditions are met. There are two options available to the Amish man if he wishes to marry the outsider: either the outsider will join the Amish community and get baptized into the faith, or the Amish man will leave the religion and be shunned.

Marriages within the Amish community are not arranged. Instead, people see them as a rite of passage to adulthood. [10] The couples must be baptized in the Amish church before marriage. The marriage also requires the approval of the Amish community.

An Amish marriage stays for life as divorce is unacceptable in their religion. Therefore, if an Amish man wants to leave his wife, he has to leave the church and the community. He will then be excommunicated and shunned from the community.

Non-Amish or English people are not allowed to marry Amish people. This is because the Amish see inter-religious marriage as a danger to their community.

As mentioned above, the English can marry an Amish if they are willing to join the Amish community and undergo baptism or if the Amish person renounces his religion. The decision to marry lies solely in the individual Amish member.

While there are instances of Amish people inviting outsiders to a church service, it is rare for an outsider to convert to the Amish way of life because the community does not encourage outsiders to join their religion.

The outsider, usually a male, who seeks to join the Amish community must be determined to adapt to the Amish culture and lifestyle and learn to speak Pennsylvania Dutch.

This would also mean giving up on the modern lifestyle the outsider used to live before joining the Amish church. They also have to attend church every Sunday. After a year, church leaders must approve them before officially joining the church. [11]

An Amish man giving up his religion to marry an outsider will likely face adjustments, too, as he adapts to a different way of life that is contrary to the teaching he learned.

While the English are not allowed to marry an Amish, they are generally allowed to attend Amish weddings as guests.

Conclusion

The Amish people are generally friendly and welcoming to outsiders and tourists, but some communities prefer to be left alone. Therefore, tourists must also behave modestly.

References:
[1] Source
[2] Source
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[6] Source
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[8] Source
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[11] 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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