Member of a conservative Christian group in North America known as the Old Order Amish Mennonite Church. The Amish originated in 1693–97 as followers of the Mennonite elder Jakob Ammann (1644?–c. 1730) in Switzerland, Alsace, and Germany. He taught that lying was grounds for excommunication (which meant being shunned by all other Mennonites), that clothing should be uniform and beards untrimmed, and that the state church should be avoided. Migration to North America and assimilation eliminated the Amish in Europe. They settled in Pennsylvania in the 18th century. After 1850 they split into “Old Order” (traditional) and “New Order” (now the Mennonite churches). Old Order Amish now live in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas. Adults are baptized and admitted to formal church membership at age 17 to 20. Services are in Pennsylvania Dutch (a German dialect) and some English. Though similar in theology to Mennonites, Amish wear modest, old-fashioned clothing and generally reject modern technology, including automobiles and telephones.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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