Who are the Amish

The Amish have their roots in the Anabaptist movement during the radical reformation.  Anabaptists rejected the practice of infant baptism in favor of the baptism of adult true believers.  One group of Anabaptist were led by a former catholic priest named Menno Simmons, who joined the Anabaptist movement in 1536 after the murder of his brother by Anabaptist hunters.  This was the start of the Mennonite Church.

The Mennonites rejected infant baptism, believed in the separation of church and state, practiced shunning and excommunication to enforce discipline within the church and believed in voluntary church membership.  Only adults who accepted Jesus Christ into their lives and agreed to live by the rules of the church were baptized.

The Amish are followers of the belief of Jakob Amman, a reformer in the Mennonite Church.  He objected to the lax use of shunning and excommunication, Shunning was originally practiced at the communion table, but Ammann felt it should be extended to all aspects of life including the refusal of a spouse to eat or sleep with the shunned member.

The act of foot washing was also falling into disuse which Amman saw as just one way the faith of the Mennonite Church was weakening.  Ammann believed in strict separation from the world, objected to the use of violence and military service.

The first Amish emigrated to America in 1730, settling near Lancaster Pennsylvania.  Lancaster is still home to the largest Amish settlement, but Ohio, Indiana and Iowa also have large communities.  The Amish are now found in most of the United States, Canada, South and Central America.  They are no longer Amish in Europe, those remaining there having joined the Mennonite Church

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