|Amish Barn Raising|
|Early Amish Homestead in Holmes County Ohio|
|Amish Farmer Holmes County Ohio|
Undoubtedly there are numerous reasons why the Amish are maintaining their numbers and see continued growth. I will present some ideas here.
1) Many are happy and content to stay Amish. They enjoy their common bonds, fellowship, and see their church as the true church of Jesus Christ.
2) They might feel like they are betraying their forefathers if they were to leave. There is almost never an Amish church service where they do not mention their forefathers, those who, during the Reformation, gave their lives for the sake of Christ. Always stressed is, "Honor thy mother and father." Those contemplating leaving suffer many stern admonitions from those around them.
3) The Bann und Meidung. These words in English mean excommunication and shunning. In English, the Amish do not use the word shun, but rather "Avoidance." The meidung, or shunning is applied in different ways depending on the church, the community, and/or the family. Some shunnings are dictated by the church, other shunnings (avoidances) are mandated by the family. The Bann (or Bonn as the Amish call it today) has, since the 1600's been the source of many divisions within the Amish and stricter Mennonites. The bon is an effective way of dealing with the nonconforming member, thus removing him from social relationships and community status. No longer does this person have influence on the church, thus aiding the church to remain socially isolated from the erring one. Additionally, there is great influence by the majority. It would be socially unacceptable for a member to defend the "Erring soul."
Examples of things an Amish person could get excommunicated for:
a) Attending a more liberal Amish or a Mennonite church.
b) Attending revival meetings or Bible studies and not making a confession for it.
c) Noncompliance to church rules, which could be almost anything.
d) If they commit an actual Biblical sin and refuse to repent.
My husband, who was raised Amish, says, that while he was never told this is so many words, he believed that if he ever left the Amish, he would be condemned to hell.
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Submitted by Loretta Coblentz
October 19, 2014