Debunking 23 “Amish Lifestyle” Myths

Living “The Amish Lifestyle” is a common phrase these days, especially among homesteaders. To many, it conveys a simpler lifestyle, with whole foods, family, and faith combined into daily living…

young Amish man plowing the field with 4 horses

Many see the Amish as eating only organic foods, not vaccinating their children, living off their land only, and living the life we all dream of.

But, is it really that way? I have lived in the Amish heartland in Northern Indiana for 12 years and I don’t see it. I showed some of the posts to my Amish friend.

It took her nearly 1/2 an hour to stop laughing. “Is that what you English really think?”, she said. Yes, to the Amish, non-Amish are “English”.

She really couldn’t understand how people got some of those ideas. So, today, we are going to debunk some of the more common myths.

Things You Get Wrong About The Amish

Biggest Amish Myths Debunked One by One

Myth One: Amish eat only the foods they grow on their own farm, and it’s all organic.

I think this is the one that made her laugh the most, to be honest. Sure, they garden, raise beef and pigs, and have chickens, goats, or milking cows. Well, most of them.

But, they are just like us and they will buy cereal, dairy, shortening, sugar, flour etc. at Aldi or Walmart.

They will buy canned soup by the caseload for their recipes, and Velveeta cheese is a popular item. Hardly organic, and hardly homegrown. In their gardens, they will also use chemicals like Sevin to control pests.

Yes, some are organic, but it’s at the same rate the English are. They simply are NOT all organic. And, don’t even get me started on Amish peanut butter, chock full of corn syrup.

Myth 2: Amish don’t vaccinate or use doctors

Um, yes they do. They just normally use doctors within their own community, and they don’t go to Facebook and tell you all about what they do.

Many of them are private people (just like everyone used to be before social media) and you also won’t hear about depression or abuse. They just don’t talk about it outside their community.

As a matter of fact, those things occur here all the time, just like the non-Amish. But, at the local center that helps them, the Amish have their OWN spaces and group therapies. They don’t mix with the English there.

They also have the same rate of autism, Down’s syndrome, and other ailments as the non-Amish, but once again, they DON’T TALK ABOUT IT with the non-Amish.

Myth 3: Amish don’t use electricity

I am going to shock many of you here, but the non-electric rule is under the local Bishop’s authority. Some allow it, some don’t. My friend told me a story about a young couple that bought a house that had electricity.

The Bishop at the time didn’t allow it, so they had to pull it all out. The next Bishop said it was okay, so they put it back in. The next Bishop had them pull it out again.

Yeah, they really did that. Need a shocker? There are those who have electricity that use *gulp* microwaves.

Just follow some of them around the store and see all the frozen microwavable pizzas, chicken nuggets, and such that they buy.

Sure, many do live without electricity, but among them, there are solar panels and wind generators. They just don’t use the local electric company.

Myth 4: The Amish don’t use cars

Okay, so my friend laughed really hard at that one, too. It’s just too general.

Sure, a lot of them use horses and buggies. But, some have cars or trucks. It’s more the old-order Amish that use horses, and the “Beachy” Amish that drive. But, they do.

They also have English drivers that will take them to the store, or to other places. As a matter of fact, there are several drivers in my neighborhood who make a nice living off driving Amish all over.

The biggest factor there is that they are required to “make it a sacrifice” to use a driver, so they may pay up to $60 each for a trip to the store.

Myth 5: Their lifestyle is so simple and easy

Well, in the same manner that ours used to be in the 1950’s. Most of them just don’t have the distractions like social media that we do.

nd, yes, some DO use it and have cell/smart phones. Their days are generally full of keeping the home and farm running, like any homesteader.

Doing laundry daily, hauling water if necessary, washing dishes, caring for children and making meals. Sound familiar?

Myth 6: The Amish live outside the rest of the world

The ones who say that make me wonder if they have ever lived near the Amish.

Sure, there are some who try to deal with only other Amish, but in today’s world, that is next to impossible. They live and do business among them daily.

From their country stores, to roadside bakeries, to selling rabbits, eggs, chickens, and other items, I’d say you are hard-pressed to find an Amish person who has TRULY been able to cut themselves off from the rest of the world.

Myth 7: The Amish have arranged marriages.

The Amish do not have arranged marriages. Instead, they allow their young people to choose their own spouses.

This decision is usually made after spending time with a potential partner in an informal setting, such as at a dance or sing-along.

The couple will then ask the elders for permission to marry. If this is granted, the wedding will be held in the fall, after the harvest has been completed. The Amish believe that this process allows for more informed decisions and happier marriages.

Myth 8: They don’t drink alcohol.

One of the most common myths about the Amish is that they do not drink alcohol. This is not true. While the Amish do not typically drink to excess, there are many instances in which alcohol is consumed.

For example, wine is often used for Communion, and cider is a popular drink at weddings and other celebrations. In addition, some Amish businesses, such as wineries and breweries, produce and sell alcohol.

However, it is important to note that the Amish do not condone drunkenness, and alcohol is generally only consumed in moderation. Therefore, while the Amish do consume alcohol, it is not an integral part of their lifestyle or beliefs.

Myth 9: They do not have to pay taxes.

One common misconception about the Amish is that they don’t have to pay taxes. While it’s true that the Amish don’t pay social security taxes, they do pay most other federal, state, and local taxes.

This includes income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, and gas taxes. The only major tax that the Amish are exempt from is the social security tax.

This exemption stems from the fact that the Amish don’t participate in the social security system. Consequently, they don’t receive any benefits from the system either.

While the Amish do enjoy some tax advantages, they still pay a significant amount of taxes every year.

Myth 10: The Amish only speak Old English.

The Amish are a very private and insular group, which has led to many misconceptions about their culture and way of life.

One such misconception is that the Amish only speak Old English. In fact, the Amish speak a German dialect known as Pennsylvania Dutch. While some words may sound similar to English, the grammar and syntax are completely different.

The Amish community is also quite diverse, with members coming from all over the world. As a result, there is no one “Amish language.”

Of course, many Amish speak “regular” English and other languages from interacting with members of the community outside of the Amish community.

Though the Amish may seem like they’re living in the past, they are actually quite adaptable and modern in many ways.

Myth 11: All American women who wear dresses and head coverings are Amish.

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about the Amish. One of the most common is the belief that all American women who wear dresses and head coverings are Amish. This is simply not true.

While it is true that the Amish do dress conservatively, there are many other religions that have similar traditions.

Orthodox Jews, for example, also dress modestly and cover their heads. Conservative Protestants also tend to dress in a more traditional way, and many Mennonites also wear head coverings.

Muslims also have a tradition of modest dress, and many women wear headscarves as a sign of their faith.

So, while the Amish do have a distinctive style of dress, they are far from the only religious group that does so.

Myth 12: They only have an eighth-grade education and aren’t that smart.

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about the Amish. One of the most common is that they only have an 8th-grade education and aren’t very bright. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

While it’s true that most Amish children only attend school through the eighth grade, they receive a much fuller education than many people realize.

In addition to the basics like reading, writing, and arithmetic, Amish students also learn practical skills like gardening, carpentry, and animal husbandry.

As a result, they are well-prepared to take on the responsibilities of adulthood. Furthermore, many Amish adults go on to get their GEDs or even college degrees.

So while they might not have formal schooling beyond the eighth grade, that doesn’t mean they aren’t intelligent or well-educated.

Myth 13: The Amish only use outhouses.

In reality, the Amish use a variety of different types of toilets, including both flush toilets and outhouses.

While it is true that some Amish communities still rely on outhouses, this is usually only the case in rural areas where septic systems are not available.

In most Amish homes, you’ll find a flush toilet connected to a septic tank. The Amish also make use of composting toilets in some situations, such as when camping or traveling.

So, while it is true that outhouses are still used by some Amish communities, it is certainly not the only type of toilet used by these people.

Myth 14: They don’t use telephones.

It’s a common misconception that the Amish don’t use telephones. In fact, many Amish homes have telephones, and the use of this technology is generally accepted by the community.

However, there are some restrictions on how telephone service can be used. For example, Amish businesses are not allowed to advertise their products or services using telephone directories or other media.

Additionally, Amish families generally only use telephone service for business purposes or to connect with other members of their community.

While the use of telephones is not as common among the Amish as it is in the general population, it is still an important part of daily life for many members of this unique community.

Myth 15: The Amish don’t travel outside of their communities.

One of the biggest myths about the Amish is that they never travel outside of their communities. In reality, the Amish do travel, but they try to limit their interactions with those who are not part of their community.

The reason for this is that the Amish believe that the outside world is a temptation that could lead them astray from their religious beliefs. As a result, they try to limit their exposure to it.

However, this does not mean that the Amish never leave their communities. They will travel for business or pleasure, but they try to do so without attracting too much attention.

Myth 16: Amish Mafia and Breaking Amish are two shows that are a good reflection of the Amish community.

While the Amish community may be one of the most private and tight-knit groups in the United States, there are a number of popular television shows that claim to offer a glimpse into their lives.

“Breaking Amish” and “Amish Mafia” are two of the most well-known examples.

However, it is important to remember that these shows are ultimately entertainment programs and should not be taken as an accurate representation of the Amish community as a whole.

The Amish people have a long history of shunning modern conveniences and living a simple, faith-based lifestyle.

While there may be a feeling of curiosity about what goes on behind closed doors, it is important to respect their privacy and allow them to live their lives free from outside scrutiny.

Myth 17: They don’t celebrate Christmas or other holidays.

One of the most common misconceptions about the Amish is that they do not celebrate holidays.

However, this is simply not true. While the Amish do not participate in many of the traditional holiday activities that are common in mainstream culture, they do celebrate both Christmas and Easter.

On Christmas Eve, families gather together for a special meal and sing hymns.

Gifts are often given to children, but they are typically simple items such as books or clothes. Easter is also celebrated with a special meal, and many Amish families also attend church services on Easter Sunday.

In addition to these two major holidays, the Amish also celebrate Thanksgiving, Pentecost, and several other religious holidays throughout the year.

Myth 18: All Amish people are farmers.

One common misconception is that all Amish people are farmers. While it is true that many Amish people do work in agriculture, this is not the only occupation available to them.

In fact, the Amish population is quite diverse, with members working in a variety of occupations including carpentry, blacksmithing, and even cheese making. There are also a number of Amish-owned businesses, such as furniture stores and quilt shops.

The Amish community is not defined by any one occupation, but rather by its shared values and traditions.

Myth 19: The Amish isolate themselves from the rest of the world.

The Amish are a religious group that is often misunderstood by the general public. One of the most common misconceptions about the Amish is that they isolate themselves from the rest of the world.

In reality, the Amish do not believe in isolationism.

Instead, they believe in living in close-knit communities where members can support and care for each other. While the Amish do have their own unique customs and beliefs, they are not immune to the outside world.

Myth 20: They do not allow decoration or color.

In contrast to popular belief, the Amish do allow decoration and color in their homes–they just have specific guidelines about what is appropriate. For example, many Amish families will choose to paint their walls a neutral color such as white or light blue.

However, they may also add a colorful border around the perimeter of the room.

Additionally, Amish quilts are often brightly colored and intricately patterned. While the Amish do have certain restrictions on decoration, they still enjoy adding a personal touch to their homes.

Myth 21: Amish men can have two wives.

In spite of what some people think, Amish men are not allowed to have two wives. This is due to the fact that the Amish follow the teachings of the Bible, which state that a man should have only one wife.

Additionally, the Amish believe that polygamy is a practice that leads to disharmony and division within a community. As a result, Amish men are expected to be monogamous and to remain faithful to their wives.

Those who do not adhere to this rule can be subject to expulsion from the community. In short, the idea that Amish men can have two wives is nothing more than a myth.

Myth 22: Women are second class citizens in Amish society.

It is a common misconception that Amish women are second class citizens within Amish society.

While it is true that Amish women do not hold positions of authority within the church, they are nevertheless highly respected and play an important role in the life of the community.

Amish women are responsible for running the household and raising the children, as well as for maintaining the gardens and caring for the livestock.

In addition, they often work alongside their husbands in the family business. It is thanks to the hard work and dedication of Amish women that the Amish community is able to function so efficiently. Far from being second class citizens, Amish women are very much an integral part of Amish society.

Myth 23: All Amish are identical in their traditions and ways of life.

It is a common misconception that all Amish are identical in their traditions and ways of life. In reality, the Amish are a diverse group of people, with many different customs and beliefs.

For example, some Amish communities allow the use of electricity, while others do not. Likewise, some Amish groups allow the use of cars, while others prohibit them. The Amish also differ in their views on education, marriage, and other important issues.

As a result, it is important to remember that the Amish are not a homogeneous group; instead, they are a complex and diverse community.

What You Will Find True about the Amish

They are wonderful, caring people who love to laugh and be among family and friends as much as possible.

They are a close knit sort who generally don’t move too far away from where the rest of their family members are.

I have found them to be generous and very easy to talk to and I have learned a lot about gardening, chickens and goats from my Amish friends. They take their religion very seriously.

As a matter of fact, you won’t find Amish dolls with faces, nor do they take ID pictures for driver’s licenses. That stems from the commandment of no graven images in the Bible.

They don’t like their picture taken for that same reason, which is why I have no real Amish pictures to show you. You can take a picture in the store “on the sly” but I won’t, out of respect.

All in all, the Amish are just like you and me, except they wear bonnets, and some only wear black dresses. Some wear different colors of dresses. (dependent on the Bishop again.)

So, if you think “Amish”, think of a great group of folks who are living just like you and me, and remember that they are not that different.

And, get to know them… you may be surprised at what you learn from them directly.

amish lifestyle myths vertical

18 thoughts on “Debunking 23 “Amish Lifestyle” Myths”

  1. Thanks for sharing this.
    Around here even the word “Amish” has come to be an adjective meaning “high quality” or “old fashioned.” So you can buy “Amish storage buildings” that don’t seem to have anything to do with being Amish.
    I’ve gotten to know some Amish folks at the Farmer’s Market and I was surprised to learn that they’re not organic or opposed to using GMOs. You’re right that many of the things we assume about them just aren’t true. But I do admire their devotion to family and community. They make good neighbors (at least the ones I know do).
    I did not know about the “no faces on dolls” and the strict rules against graven images. Interesting.

    1. they ARE amazing people, but honestly, no different than anyone else. I can’t understand how “Amish” became synonymous with “high quality” on everything….

  2. Thank you for this! We have many friends who are Amish and no they aren’t like those “Amish are perfect “articles. I also live in northern Indiana, in Rochester, so were pretty close!

    1. Heather Harris

      Hello, fellow Hoosier! You are so right, my friend was actually embarrassed to find that the “English” put them almost on a pedestal as a model life. They are just like us, aren’t they?

  3. One of my close relatives has started an Amish person hauling business in their retirement. It has expanded their worldview and I am really happy for the freedom, education, and money this brings them. I’m considering this as my kids get older and into school.

    The Amish are definitely living in a different world than we do, yet not as different as everyone expects. They’re very hard working and very tight with their money. Most are very pleasant people to be around (minus their smell, they do not wear deodorant around here).

    Thank you for choosing not to post photos without their permission. I live in an area where we have people travel into to visit our Amish stores, and I often see people ambushing them with their cameras or sneaking in photos behind their backs – I just think that so disrespectful since its against their religion.

    1. Heather Harris

      yes, the no deodorant thing…:) you are right, it’s so disrespectful to take someone’s picture behind their back. I wouldn’t want someone to do it to me 😉

  4. I’ve read that many Amish support themselves with puppy mills which is horrible and for me would negate anything positive about them.

    1. Heather Harris

      Yes, some of them do that…but again, at the same rate as the non-Amish run puppy mills. They are really no different than “regular” people.

      1. It’s an issue in Indiana, too…breaks my heart! They don’t realize what is happening, I am sure. They are doing it for income, but it’s not going humanely obviously!

  5. we live in an area with Amish neighbors. I thought about writing a similar post! Thank you for putti g this out there-the Amish post I see circulating are amusing and as you mentioned full of myths.
    Not to take away from the fact that most are very good people who help and support each other and do have a self reliant mindset but they are not all that different from some of their English neighbors.

    1. Heather Harris

      exactly! They are truly a wonderful people, but I see so many put them on a “pedestal” and they are just like any other group! 😉

  6. Great article! We live among a small Amish community in the South Eastern part of the US. You are right on the dot. Sadly the English here have mixed feelings for the Amish, some like myself, respect and appreciate their diverseness while others treat them with disdain, as second class people. Do you see this in your area? How can we help change people’s mindset? The other myth that I find is that people assume because they live simple that they are poor, on the contrary most have thriving business from agriculture and tourism. Their simpler lives allow them to hold on to their money unlike we English.

    1. The mindset that “they are different than I” makes it hard for some people to see beyond the barriers. It would be awesome if we could all look past our differences, and see our similarities!

  7. I live in Maryland and drove to Pennsylvania to buy our border collie pup from an Amish family. I got really nervous as I approached the town because there were signs up everywhere about stopping the puppy mills. Someone told me I might be going to a puppy mill. I had no idea that the Amish would be in that kind of business!
    Well, we arrived at the farm, and the mama border collie came running up and greated us as we got out of our car. Next thing you know her pups came running up too! They had free range of the house yard and barn area of the farm. There was one older family pet dog and that was it! No puppy mill! I was so relieved — and we just love our border!

    1. Heather Harris

      I am so grateful you had that experience! I have “heard rumors” about the Amish running puppy mills, but I have never bought a puppy. Glad to know they aren’t all true!!!

  8. The rumors are just that … rumors. Percentage wise, there are no more Amish puppy mills than there are English puppy mills. You are just as likely to find a puppy mill outside an Amish community as you are to find inside … I dare say more. Not quite sure how they got that unfair reputation. Also, on another topic … here in Ohio (especially northeastern & eastern Ohio) the reason for their reputation for quality products is because THAT is exactly what they produce! QUALITY! Everything from solid hardwood furniture, to barns and coops, to quilts, to pies & cakes and they can fix ANY piece of broken equipment or vehicles you own! If you buy it from the Amish, I can promise you will not be disappointed! Straight up! Sure they charge a little more but it’s not cheap stuff from China that falls apart first time you wash it, sleep on it or drive it. Furniture from them? Lasts GENERATIONS! Someday, I will inherit my parents’ dining room table, chairs & china hutch. Has already been around for 35+ years and still going strong. Solid oak and QUALITY craftsmanship. Worth every penny!

  9. We homesteaded for 20 yrs. Built our place for lumber logged off our own woods. Totally off grid. Then the Amish began movibg in. They soon began adking for favors. Rides,help with fixing broken stuff,etc. Ok for awhile but not calls all day and night. They think English have nothibg to do and take advantage. We worked just as hard. Yes,they breed dogs. No they aren’t cared for. Getting to be a big problem. The buggy horses are overworked. Because they wear long dresses,etc. Doesn’t make them any better than us. Yes,we buy from the farmstands,but carefully. Some are very dirty. I had to stop buying eggs at one place after finding the woman was using a bucket of dirty water to wash eggs and pack them for sale. The broken ones all over the floor. The smell was so bad I gagged. They are NO different from anyone else. Stop romantising it. There are good and bad just like anyone else. There are multiple birth defects as they inter marry and a small gene pool. The women keep having kids to work the farm. The Amish near our old farm were a different group than where we live now. Just a few miles away these people use modern farm equipment and most have cell phones and some form of electricity. Fancy buggies. Much more friendly as they have shops and farm stands and need to sell products. So don’t lump them all together.

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