Do Amish People Drink Alcohol?


The Amish are devout Christians who have a reputation among outsiders for their adherence to rules. Amish don’t use electricity in their homes or farms, They don’t own cars and shun most modern comforts aside from certain pieces of farm equipment. Many outsiders (called “Englishmen”) assume that these restrictions include alcohol, but the matter is more complicated than that.

Some groups of Amish people drink alcohol, but others don’t. Old Order Amish, the larger denomination, doesn’t prohibit alcohol use. New Order Amish, a more recent sect of Amish, prohibits drinking alcohol.

This article will examine why different subgroups of the Amish drink alcohol and why others believe it’s wrong. It will also address the issue of alcohol abuse in Amish communities and whether it’s more or less common than in other cultures. Keep reading to learn more about the Amish and their complicated relationship with alcohol.

Also see Are There Any Black Amish People? to learn more.

Amish horse and buggy
Why do some Amish believe it’s okay to drink alcohol? See below

Why Do Some Amish Believe Drinking Alcohol Is Wrong?

Some religious groups believe there is wisdom in outright banning the consumption of alcohol, no matter one’s age or the amount of alcohol in the drink. The New Order Amish are one such group. They split from the main Amish (now called the Old Order Amish) in the 1960s over the subjects of alcohol, tobacco, and courting traditions between young people. [1]

Some Amish believe drinking alcohol is wrong because it is destructive to the body. They believe they should treat the body with respect, so they prohibit the use of potentially damaging substances such as alcohol and tobacco.

The New Order Amish tend to be more relaxed about using modern technology, including landline phones or traveling by airplane. 

However, they are more conservative than the Old Order Amish regarding morally questionable activities and believe that all alcohol use is dangerous. The New Order Amish also don’t partake in traditional courting rituals like “bundling,” in which two young people lie in bed together while fully clothed.

The New Order Amish’s rejection of alcohol, tobacco, and bundling is connected to their conservative worldview. 

Unlike Old Order Amish, New Order Amish are more concerned with spreading their beliefs and doing missions work. Not drinking alcohol is one way the New Order Amish are noticeably different because of their faith. Their “clean” way of life without many common vices may be appealing to potential converts.

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

Amish alcohol
Is alcohol abuse found in Amish communities? See below

Why Do Some Amish Believe It’s Okay To Drink Alcohol?

Despite their appearance as plain, pious people, the Amish don’t have a blanket restriction on drinking alcohol. This subject is one of the reasons the New Order Amish split from the Old Order, as the Old Order Amish saw no reason to prohibit all alcohol use. 

Some Amish believe it’s okay to drink alcohol in moderation because it’s mentioned in the Bible. Alcohol is also very important to the Amish’s Germanic heritage. Most Old Order Amish communities see no need to prohibit alcohol use.

Most Old Order Amish communities have no bans on alcohol, but alcohol use is less common than in English communities. 

They may drink alcohol when celebrating weddings or relaxing after a long work week. Some Amish people even make their beer, wine, or ciders. Many Old Order Amish people drink in moderation on special occasions without breaking social norms.

But for some Amish people, alcohol is a more complicated subject. For example, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, it’s common for the Amish to drink when in private. 

They don’t drink at bars or in other public spaces, and there might be some social stigma attached to alcohol consumption, but it’s not outright forbidden. Drinking in private ensures there’s no judgment on the activity.

Drinking alcohol can be a social activity for Amish people. 

They may use alcohol to help them bond as a group, to help relieve stress, or liven the mood at a celebration. For most Old Order Amish, drinking alcohol in moderation isn’t a morally good or bad act. 

Also see What Language Do Amish People Speak? to learn more.

Is Alcohol Abuse Found in Amish Communities?

Alcohol abuse can be found in all Old Order Amish communities, but it’s no more or less common than in other communities. Some Amish people are more prone to abusing alcohol than others, just like Englishmen. The Amish are no more or less prone to alcohol abuse than other communities. 

These factors mean that alcohol abuse is as common in Amish communities as elsewhere. 

Their strong faith and social ties may help most Amish people find a support network in cases of alcohol abuse.

There are no credible sources that point to alcohol abuse being more or less common among the Amish than the English. Because the Amish live in relative isolation, they may experience alcohol abuse and simply don’t report it.

It’s also possible that alcohol abuse is more prevalent in Amish youth but less prevalent in adults so that their overall alcohol abuse is average compared to the English.

Some suggest that restrictions on alcohol can lead some Amish people to overindulge, especially youth. 

This overindulgence is stereotypically done during a young person’s Rumspringa, or “running around,” but it can happen before or after the young person joins the Amish church. [2]

During Rumspringa, Amish youth will leave their communities and experiment with the outside world before they commit to fully joining the Amish church. Some Amish youth will use Rumspringa to engage in binge drinking, drugs, and sex, but it’s not as common as pop culture portrays. 

Rumspringas are as varied as the young people who partake in them. Some include alcohol abuse, while others don’t.

Amish adults aren’t immune to alcohol abuse, either. In 2019, NBC reported an Amish man and teenager drinking a horse and buggy while intoxicated. [3] The pair had multiple open containers of alcohol on their buggy. They fled the police when pulled over. 

Amish adults are just as capable of abusing alcohol as English adults.

Conclusion

The Amish have no unified teaching on alcohol use, as it’s one of the reasons that the Amish split into the Old and New Orders. 

Also see Do Amish People Celebrate Christmas? to learn more.

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

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