Asked by Linda from NY

Q: Why do they shun? It sounds so mean. 

A: Hi Linda! It is not meant to be mean. It is meant as a kindness. The Amish believe in a very literal heaven and hell. If they believe someone is in danger of going to hell, they will use shunning as a means to bring that person to repentance and back to the church.

Thanks for the question Linda!


Asked by Janie from PA

Q: Are there Swartzentruber Amish in the US? Where are they located?

A: Yes, Janie. There is a large settlement in the Mt. Hope area of Holmes County, Ohio. And I’ve heard there is also a large settlement in northern New York. There are probably other settlements, but I’m only sure of those. 

Thanks for the question Janie!


Asked by Rena

Q: One discrepancy from what I thought, is about homeschooling. I understood homeschooling to be an anathema to the Amish because they make their decisions based on not individualism, but bringing community together. Obviously, you heard about an exception, or exceptions.

A: Hi Rena–The problem with trying to define the Amish culture is that there are over 40 different sects of Amish and within each sect are multiple individual churches. Each church votes on their own particular church rules (their Ordnung). This set of rules can be over things as picky as how many pleats a woman can have in her dress, or something bigger like whether or not a farmer can use a tractor in his fields instead of horses. Apparently this applies to homeschooling as well. In the Old Order Amish sect that I usually visit in Holmes County, Ohio, several Amish mothers home school. In fact, one of the mothers took me with her to another Amish woman’s garage to pick out homeschooling material. It was one of those in-home stores that so many Amish women run. It was filled with shelving and every shelf was filled with homeschooling books for various ages. When I asked my homeschooling friend why she did this when an Amish school was just down the road, she said that her children were growing up so fast, she just wanted to enjoy spending as much time as possible with them.

Thanks for the question Rena!