Amish communities are not centrally governed so each group comes up with their own version of the rule.There are two types of Ordnung – those determined in the early history of the religion by conferences (these are usually written down rules) and those passed verbally within each group.This is not a lawful form of punishment in the Amish and even though the person being punished may not be guilty of anything in the eyes of his own community, the loss of hair causes great shame and shunning (not the excommunication type – just the social embarrassment type).Most recently an Amish sect leader Samuel Mullet (above) coerced 15 of his followers to attack other Amish communities in this way.Rumspringa or “the Amish get out of jail free” card is the Amish term for adolescence.During this time young adults are most likely to be rebellious against their community and consequently they are treated more leniently so as to not push the youths away.Coats and vests are fastened with hooks and eyes but shirts have buttons (it is a myth that the Amish shun buttons). Married men must grow their beards whilst mustaches are forbidden.Amish women cannot wear patterned clothing or jewelry and they are not permitted to cut their hair.
These differences in beliefs can often lead to bizarre forms of violence.They were found guilty of the crimes and are facing 15 years in jail each for violation of hate crime laws. Because most Amish descend from the families of the 200 founders from the 18th century, they have a much higher rate of genetic disorders due to inbreeding – such as “maple syrup urine disease.” They also have a high infant mortality rate, but this does not phase them.These disorders and childhood deaths are seen by the Amish as “Gottes Wille” (God’s will).The reasons for these divisions are, as usual, over matters of doctrinal disagreement.There are eight distinct divisions within the Amish as a whole with the most conservative “Old Order” having split in the 1860s.
The rules are mostly derived from the Bible but those which aren’t are justified by the fact that they will cause a person to ultimately become worldly and thus breach the Biblical laws.