Another America: The Plain People of Pennsylvania

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The farmlands of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country are among the most productive in the nation. Many of the farmers here are different from most Americans – different by choice. They are the Amish and Mennonites, also known as the Plain People. The Amish trace their heritage back hundreds of years, and yet, despite all the time that has passed and the many changes that have taken place in society, they still live and work much as their forefathers did. For the Amish people, family, farm and faith are top priorities. The Amish are devout in their faith, believing in a literal interpretation and application of Scripture as the Word of God. They take the Biblical commands to separate themselves from the rest of the world. They believe worldliness can keep them from being close to God, and can introduce influences that could be destructive to their communities and to their way of life.
Today, there are over 25 different Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren church groups in Lancaster County, all holding to slightly different traditions and their own interpretations of the Bible. The more traditional groups are called old-order Amish and do not permit electricity or telephones in their homes. But young people in the faith feel the pressures of the outside world, some decide to leave the Amish and are shunned or excommunicated by their families. They must decide whether they want to join mainstream America or live a life separate from the world.

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