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The Amish are members of a conservative Christian group in North America, known as the Old Order of the Amish Mennonite Church. The Amish appeared in the period 1693-1697 as followers of the Mennonite elder Jacob Aman, and after moving to the United States there are no more of their followers in Europe.

Because they are a very closed community, little is known about them – that they live in a traditional way and reject modern technology, which is why they are the subject of fascination for many.

But how do they manage to live like that? It is all due to their set of rules that everyone in the community must follow, and they are known as Ordnung. These rules touch on every area of life, they talk about how they should treat God and each other. The penalty for non-compliance is excommunication from the community, and no explanations or special circumstances help.

The Amish are well-known for their reluctance to use technology. The Amish and technology have a long history of struggle. While Amish furniture is beautifully built with old-fashioned hand tools, many people wonder why they don’t upgrade their skills and use modern technology to build that furniture. People also wonder why they reject other forms of technology, such as cell phones and the internet.

But is it true that the Amish completely shun technology? Actually, it’s not. The Amish do restrict the use of many forms of technology, but they don’t shun it completely. Let’s look at the Amish and telephones, for example.

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The Amish and their use of telephones

A common myth is that the Amish don’t use telephones at all. But the reality is they do use them. They just don’t keep them in their homes.

The Amish don’t see telephones as something evil, despite popular belief. They do, however, see it as being intrusive on family privacy and time spent together when there’s a telephone in an Amish home.

That’s why they found a compromise in phone shanties. Similar to a phone booth that we might have once used, a phone shanty has a phone, phone book, pen and paper, and a log for calls made and received. This is all used so that the Amish can make calls when they need to and pay for the calls they’ve made.

The phone shanty is found at a distance from the home, however. It’s often at the end of a lane or the side of a rural road. This is meant to discourage the Amish from making a lot of unnecessary calls.

What about cell phones?

Cell phones are a rather controversial piece of technology among the Amish. Some believe cell phones should be avoided. They see them as being too personal and too easy to hide, thus making it much easier for their owners to become too dependent upon them.

But some believe that cell phones actually make phone usage more easily restricted. Because the owner of the phone can decide who gets to use it and when they can use it, these people believe a cell phone may be a good way to allow phone usage.

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The truth about Amish and technology

While the public perception is that the Amish reject technology in general, the truth is that the Amish do use, and sometimes even heartily embrace, technology. They simply do so in a much more mindful way than most Americans.

The Amish tend to ask themselves a question before adopting a new-to-them technology. They ask, will this help or harm our community and way of life? With that question in mind, they carefully evaluate the technology in question to find the answer.

If the answer is that it will help, Amish leaders may speak out and encourage the use of the technology. But if the answer is that it is more likely to hurt, or they’re not sure, they’d rather err on the side of caution and avoid damaging or even destroying their way of life.

Different sects have different technology

Another common misconception is that all Amish people, regardless of who or where they are, have the same technology. The reality is that there are different sects and some sects are more or less open to technology than others.

Some of those sects, for example, are okay with the use of electricity while others are firmly against it. Some sects have horse-drawn buggies that have battery-powered headlights and even windshield wipers.

You can learn more about the Amish & their culture at

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Why are they so cautious about technology?

Many of the Amish live their lives based on something called the Ordnung. This is basically a set of rules that were created in the 1500s and have been in use ever since. Since about the 17th century, the Amish have been using technology that was available at that time. Any technology since then has come under strict scrutiny before being accepted or rejected.

The reason for this close scrutiny is that any new addition of technology requires a change to the Ordnung. You might think of this as being the same as making a change to the Christian Bible for each new technology that most Americans and others around the world use. When you consider all the changes that would need to be made to account for all the technology that’s come to be since the Bible was written, it’s easy to see why they might be so cautious.

The simple fact is that the Amish are not anti-technology, though it might seem that way. What they are is mindful about their use of technology. Rather than letting technology own them, they would rather own technology. The Amish and technology might have a complicated relationship, but they do have one.