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Explaining the Amish Way of Life - VOA Story

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Published on Aug 16, 2007

Not far from the hustle and bustle of city life live the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. These deeply religious people shun the conveniences of modern society to live a simpler life where transportation is a horse and buggy and horsepower really means horsepower.

The Amish are very devout and take seriously the biblical commands to separate themselves from the things of the world including electricity. Power comes from propane, kerosene, wood, coal, or natural gas.

As the world around the peaceful farmland changes, so have some of the traditions of the Amish. Transportation is no longer limited to horse-drawn buggies. "There is a division among the Amish over the automobile. One group got automobiles, another group kept the horse and buggy. we just simply name them old order -- drive the horse and buggy, and the new order -- drive the automobiles. They have electric, they have meeting houses and they don't have green shades."

But many traditions remain. Amish children attend one-room schoolhouses through grade eight and farming is the mainstay of Amish life. There are normally two horses on a farm for buggies. Several mules are kept for farming. Milking is one of the most important sources of income on the farm.

Many Amish leaders believe their separation from the outside world strengthens their community. And that community is thriving. Despite what many on the outside would describe as a backwards lifestyle, the Amish population in Lancaster County has almost tripled over the past half century.

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