The Amish and Mennonite people create curiosity no matter where they go, or wherever we find them. The largest congregations are located in Ohio and Indiana. The Lancaster, Pennsylvania region is the 3rd most populated area in the country. They number almost 150,000 strong in America. Although the religion was started in Europe during "The Reformation," there are not any Amish left in Europe. The Mennonite religion was started by Menno Simons in the late 15th century. The Amish religion is a branch of the Mennonites. The new religion was started by Jakob Amman in 1693. The Amish didn't feel the Mennonites were strict enough in their practices of "shunning and excommunication" from the church. There are actually very few differences otherwise. Both sects were like any Non-Catholic or Protestant religion of the time. They were severely persecuted and most times executed for their beliefs. When William Penn started a "religious experiment" in Pennsylvania in 1681 offering a region where communities could practice whichever belief system they choose without any repercussions, the Amish, Mennonites and many religious groups left for America. Both groups are referred to as Anabaptists, which simply means re-baptism. They believe a person needs to make the lifetime commitment to God, Family, and Community. (They interpret the word "JOY" as an acronym for, Jesus, Others, and Yourself.) This commitment decision is not taken lightly nor left for an infant to decide. The typical age one decides whether or not to join the church is generally as a late teen.
The Amish way of life revolves entirely around the bible and its teachings and is taken quite literally. From the stories they read to themselves and their children, to the songs they sing, everything is taken from their incredibly strong belief in Christianity and the biblical teachings of the bible. People are always curious as to why The Amish choose to use this modern technology and not that. Some of their reasons come from their biblical beliefs of humility and not drawing attention to oneself. They also believe in not acquiring worldly possessions. The expression goes "that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than it is for the wealthy to enter the gates of heaven." Their beliefs are that all men are equal so if I can afford a dishwasher and you can't, does that mean I am better than you? Rather than answering this question they avoid it and don't purchase or own something that would raise that question. They ride in cars, but don't own them. The fear is that by owning a car you want to have the ability to leave your community for the outside world. Community is one of the main principles associated with Amish life. The use of electricity is similar in that it would create a connection to the sins of the outside world. There are exceptions. The local Ordnung (elders, leaders) would decide where and when it could be used. Life support equipment is one example of an exception to the rule. Some of the Amish have cell phones to help with the operating of their businesses. Otherwise, telephones are viewed as another way to bring the outside in. The Amish in their views of self-attraction are the many things other than those already noted are exactly the reasons they are so noticeable to the "English" or outsiders as we are called. They wear the same clothing, no make-up or jewelry, don't play musical instruments, don't play town organized sports, and for many reasons shun the idea of photographs being taken of them.
Some of the interesting peculiarities that I find interesting are the wearing of a beard to represent marriage. The men are clean shaven until married at which time a beard is grown to represent marriage. Some Ordnungs even regulate the length of chin whiskers. They are forbidden to wear mustaches. Mustaches were frequently worn and very fashionable with the men of the military. Being pacifists, the Amish reject any association with war and anger. They also don't believe in the swearing in of oaths.
The women wear black bonnets to cover their hair, which is never cut, until they are married. At this time the black bonnet is replaced with a white one to symbolize marriage.
The Amish are an interesting society in that they stand strong in an ever changing and chaotic world. Their religious convictions get them through the hardest of times. They believe that no matter how heart-breaking or belief-testing, it is part of God's master plan.
I suggest those that are fascinated by "the Amish Way Of Life" to search out the many articles, books, and published stories about them.