To answer the question- Are there Black Amish people comprehensively, this article will examine the Amish ethnic background, lack of diversity, and concerns of racism in the community.
Yes. There are Black Amish people. However, they are very rare. There are a few African-Americans who have joined the Amish community.
Foster care programs account for a large majority of outsiders that came to live with the Amish. Given that no particular law prohibits Black people from joining the Amish community, some Amish have adopted children of diverse racial backgrounds.
Regardless of their ethnicity, any adoptee of the Amish parents must accept to be baptized in order to be recognized as a part of the Amish community.
What is a Black Amish Person called?
The term for Black Amish person would still be Amish. There aren't many Black Amish people.
However, one can find Black Mennonites such as the Famous Return to Amish star Shelly, a Black Mennonite girl who was adopted into a Mennonite family.
It is noteworthy that non-white adults also have the privilege to join the Amish community. They would experience not just the standard barriers (worldview differences and language barrier) that any other outsider would face but also any other biases based on race.
What is the Race of the Amish?
Amish are predominantly white due to their European ancestry. Regardless of where they reside now, almost all Amish community members can track down their origin to Europe, mainly Switzerland, albeit settlements also occurred in Germany, Russia, and Holland.
The vast majority of Amish people share a Swiss-German heritage, culture, and dialect and generally marry among themselves.
Thus, this sociological composition meets the criteria for defining an ethnic community. Even so, the Amish do not consider themselves an ethnic group; instead, they reserve the name "Amish" for those who have been welcomed into their church community.
When a person is born into the Amish community but chooses not to become a church member through baptism and embrace its lifestyle, he or she is no longer regarded as an Amish.
This explains why several Mennonite congregations used to be Amish. Most Amish people today are descended from those who came to America in the 18th century; those who came in the 19th century were socially liberal, which resulted in them losing their original Amish identity.
Jacob Amman (c. 1656 – c. 1730) is the founder of the Amish movement. He led the splinter group that felt the Mennonites were straying from Menno Simons' principles and the 1632 Anabaptist Dordrecht Declaration of Faith, most notably the tradition of banishment (commonly known as Meidung).
Insistence on this practice by Amman went so far as to require the spouse of a banished member not to sleep or dine with them until the individual repents of their misdeeds.
This uncompromising attitude led to the formation of the Amish community. This occurred following the Swiss Mennonite group division in 1693.
The Amish history in America is that they first started migrating from Europe to America in the 18th century after William Penn announced religious freedom in his colony of Pennsylvania.
The Amish were part of a broader exodus from the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany and surrounding places.
They migrated with their non-Anabaptist neighbors to escape religious strife and hardship. The initial immigrants settled in Berks County, Pennsylvania. However, they eventually relocated due to land ownership and security issues during the Indian war and French revolution.
Many families finally made their way to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The remaining Amish groups in Europe gradually united with the parent Mennonite congregation.
Amish Population Distribution
It is difficult to estimate the population size of the Amish community because of their social and geographical seclusion.
According to estimates predicated on Amish church districts presence and average district area, there were roughly 198,000 conservative Amish in America in 2000.
However, this figure includes children who have not yet been baptized as formal members of the community.
Old Order settlements may be found in 21 states across, with the most populous state being Ohio. The population of the Amish is fast rising, with a mean of 7 children for every household, and new communities are continually being founded to acquire adequate acreage.
Other significant Amish villages are situated in New York's Montgomery County and Delaware's Kent County.
Several Beachy Amish groups have also established themselves in Central America, notably a bigger group in San Ignacio, Belize.
Are the Amish People Racist?
The Amish communities have been labeled racist in certain quarters, while others believe they are simply isolated from society and do not mingle with other ethnic groups regularly.
There is little evidence to corroborate the history of racial discrimination among the Amish people. According to the official position of the Mennonite church, racism violates the teachings of Jesus Christ and is thus a sin.
The Amish community is, by extension, one of the Mennonite splinter groups that anchor its doctrines on the foundational beliefs of love and compassion for all humans.
Mennonite groups have a rich history of advocating for – or at the very least defending – repressed people's rights. They even campaigned for the abolition of slavery.
The Amish community, in contrast to Mennonite groups, has been more subdued in its opposition to racism and white supremacy.
That is not to say they condone or endorse white supremacy or racial discrimination. Amish people, like those of any other ethnicity, religious group, or community, share the following characteristics:
They are not collectively racist, but it does not eliminate the fact that there are some racist members within the community. Still, we all agree that the Amish are, on the whole, calm, God-fearing people who understand the importance of God's love and community.
Regarding racial relations, the Amish church has traditionally been leftist. This gives us a reason to address the Amish community's major problems with Black Americans in their areas of interaction.
The Amish people are a self-contained sect of religious zealots. Although they have a classic touch and seem nice, they adhere to several very stringent social and moral norms that offer little opportunity for individualism or progressive perspectives.
The majority of the shifts in attitudes on race between White society (the Amish are virtually entirely White) and Black Americans have existed since the 1970s. In the past century or so, the Amish have only altered their social ideas when it is in the best interest of their community.
Due to the lack of Black Americans within their community and the fact that they do not attend their church, they do not feel the urgency to make changes that accommodate them.
Also, the intermarriages between the Amish people and Black Americans are nearly non-existent. People who are still actively involved in the church organization do not do it, and neither do those who have been ostracized or excommunicated.
This implies that the Amish people are unlikely to know or have a relationship with any Black American apart from their coworkers or individuals they occasionally encounter in public.
Lastly, there are no societal consequences for disliking members of particular groups inside the Amish community.
Whereas the Amish study the Biblical scriptures and claim religious commitment, they are very capable, like many devotees, of cutting out exceptions for themselves depending on personal prejudices.
In general, racism is not regarded as a violation of religion or theology in the Amish society, and hence there are few justifications for the Amish people not to be racially biased when dealing with African Americans.
While it does not seem that the Amish themselves took part in the most recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations, some Anabaptists did.
The Mennonite Church in the United States issued a statement as the Black Lives Matter protests unfolded strongly condemning police brutality and white supremacy and urged Mennonite members to stand in solidarity with the oppressed people of color and walk with them in their quest for social justice.
Most cities, like Portland, garnered considerable media attention showing Portland Mennonite Church district members engaged in peaceful rallies around the city. Various pastors also contributed to news articles about their church's position in supporting the BLM protest.
There is no doubt that we are still in the thick of these events. Many questions remain, however, such as what impact the epidemic, racial justice efforts, and growing political divisiveness in the United States and throughout the globe will have on diverse Amish and Mennonite groups in the long run.
Overall, we must come to a consensus that not every Amish is Racist. However, as they seldom come in contact with other minority groups and face no social consequences for being biased, the outcomes often reflect racism.
How an African American can become a Member of the Amish Community
People used to contemporary amenities and comforts will certainly have a difficult time giving them up in order to live the simple, un-mechanized Amish lifestyle.
Furthermore, any joiner from the "English" world would need to fulfill the following requirements to become part of the Amish community:
- Get involved in the community's practices for some time before becoming a full-fledged member.
- Make time to study the Amish culture, rituals, and language.
- Commit to receiving the sacrament of baptism.
The other members of the Amish church would also have to acknowledge the full commitment of the outsider to their way of life and be of the same opinion that they have earned a position in the group.