The Amish community is among the most traditional and conservative religious groups in the United States. As such, they have many unique practices that set them apart from other religious denominations. From how they dress to the technology they use, the Amish have many rules and regulations that define their lifestyle. But a common question people ask is: Do the Amish drive cars?
In this article, we're going to answer this question in detail. We'll look at how the Amis travel, their beliefs about motorized vehicles, and the laws that govern their use of motorized transportation. Read on!
What this article covers:
How Do the Amish Travel?
The Amish travel primarily by horse and buggy. This is a traditional method of transportation that the Amish community has used since they first settled in the United States. The horse and buggy are seen as a symbol of the Amish culture and reinforce their desire to live and apart from modern society.
Buggies are designed for safety and comfort, with a solid steel frame, spring suspension, and brakes. The horse provides the power to move the buggy and is usually provided with quality care from its owner.
Some buggies are equipped with hand brakes, headlights, and taillights for added safety. Others are built with enclosed sides and roofs to protect from the elements.
But since the Amish only use these traditional methods of transport, some of the questions most people ask include Can Amish ride bikes? Can Amish ride trains? Can Amish fly on planes to travel long distances? Let’s answer these questions in detail.
Amish & Bicycles
While not all Amish communities allow the use of bicycles, some do. In particular, the Midwest region of the United States has seen an increase in bicycle usage among Amish communities. For example, in Holmes County, Ohio, and the Shipshewana and Nappanee areas in Indiana, bicycles are a common mode of transportation for the Amish.
Generally, Amish scooters are allowed in place of bicycles in many Amish communities. They’re similar to traditional kick scooters but with several key differences. Amish scooters have larger wheels, higher ground clearance, and heavier frames than regular kick scooters, making them more suitable for long-distance travel on unpaved roads. They also come with a bike basket, bell, front, and rear brakes and can carry up to 300 pounds.
Amish & Planes
The Amish generally don’t fly in airplanes. Flying goes against the Amish values of simplicity and wanting to remain separate from the world.
However, there have been some exceptions to this rule. In extreme circumstances, some Amish families may choose to fly when necessary. Examples of such situations could include attending a family funeral in a far-flung area or an emergency medical trip.
Amish & Trains
Amish communities in some areas of the United States may use trains for long-distance travel. This is usually done to attend special events such as weddings or funerals in other parts of the country.
In these cases, the Amish will typically take a train that’s operated by Amtrak or another private carrier and ride it to their destination.
Amish Beliefs About Technology
Technology and modern conveniences are largely frowned upon by the Amish community. They hold the belief that technology can easily lead to vanity and a focus on materialism.
Therefore, the Amish are opposed to most forms of technology. Instead of using computers, you'll find hanging file baskets, quill pens, and inkwells in Amish households and businesses. Kids play with Amish dolls instead of video games. Pets sleep on a wicker dog bed instead of ultra-plush pet beds.
However, the New Order Amish are much more open to technology, and they often use modern amenities—motorized vehicles—in moderation, but they still understand the importance of being self-reliant and respecting their traditions.
Can the Amish Drive in Motor Cars?
The simple answer to this question is no. The Amish unanimously reject owning and driving motor cars, and instead favor more traditional modes of transportation.
Historically, the Amish adhere to a strict interpretation of scripture which prohibits them from using modern technology in their daily lives. The Bible is often cited as a basis for their rejection of motorized vehicles, which they see as a way to avoid the “worldly” trappings of modern life. In the book of Romans 12:2, it states that “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” This idea is central to Amish belief and serves as a reminder of their commitment to living an agrarian life focused on faith in God.
Further evidence of this comes from the Amish Ordnung, which is essentially a code of conduct that every Amish person must follow. This unwritten law sees driving as an alienating and frivolous activity, which may lead to pride and arrogance.
However, you need to know that these rules apply to whoever’s in the driver's seat. There are acceptable loopholes in the Amish culture that allow them to travel in cars. People known as “Amish haulers” or “Amish taxi drivers” offer their services to the Amish who need to travel long distances. These people are non-Amish, and typically charge a fee for their services.
The mode of transportation used in the Amish lifestyle is not just for the sake of tradition. The Amish use it because they believe it reflects their values of humility and simplicity. They want to remain separate from the world and not be influenced by modern technology.
Ultimately, driving a motor car is strictly prohibited for Amish people. However, they generally allow the use of vehicles in specific situations, such as medical emergencies or funerals. This may sound restrictive to outsiders, but it is a way of life that should be respected.
The Amish remain integral to our culture and history regardless of their transportation choices. Their traditional values and beliefs are something that should be admired and celebrated.
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