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dunkards vs amish

Dunkards vs Amish

When you think of the Amish, you tend to think of plain-dressed outsiders. However, it’s important to remember that the Amish form part of a larger Anabaptist community, and not everyone who fits this description is actually Amish. 

Looking at the sub-denominations of the Anabaptists, there is often a mixup between the Dunkards vs the Amish. Keep reading to understand more about the Dunkards and how they differ from the Amish. 

What this article covers:

Who Are the Anabaptists?

The Anabaptist movement began in the 16th century in the Radical Reformation protesting the ongoing formalization of the church into an institution. This resulted in the formation of churches that opposed Catholic doctrine which is why you see such large differences between Amish people vs. Catholics

The Anabaptists were mostly simple folks who wanted to focus on Christ-like brotherly love and strict adherence to the Bible. They also believe in adult baptism where the person can give full consent.

dunkard vs amish

However, you can’t conflate Amish with Anabaptist. In fact, the Dunkards are the second largest group of Anabaptists, after Mennonites, highlighting the differences between Anabaptists vs. the Amish

Who Are the Dunkards? 

The term Dunkard denotes a few different groups. Most broadly, it refers to German Baptists, also known as the Schwarzenau Brethren. However, there’s also the Dunkard Brethren Church, a sub-denomination of German Baptists. 

This article will be exploring the broader Schwarzenau Brethren and the differences between Dunkards and the Amish, including touching on Brethren vs. Amish. The Brethren are considered Anabaptist, but combine Anabaptist theology with radical pietism. 

The Amish are also often compared to other Anabaptist groups, like the Hutterites vs. the Amish, or Mennonites vs. Amish people. 

dunkards amish

Dunkard Origins

The Schwarzenau Brethren originated in 1708, with a separation from the existing church partly due to an increased focus on individual faith as opposed to church doctrine. They formed after the Amish had split off and there was a ceremony of rebaptism in Schwarzenau in Germany.

Due to religious persecution, the Dunkards left Germany for The Netherlands, and then eventually several groups settled in America. 

Over time, Dunkards have spread across Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, along with other states. In 1782 the Dunkards forbade slave-owning for their members because of their belief in equality and humanity.

Dunkard Beliefs

As with other Anabaptists, baptism is extremely important. The Dunkards get their name from their belief in full-body immersion (or ‘dunking’) during baptism. 

Dunkards also believe in a triple baptism, with people being dunked three times to symbolize the Holy Trinity. 

Within the Dunkards (and Anabaptists in general), there are three main categories: Old Order, conservative, and mainline.

Old Order denominations, like the Old Brethren German Baptist Church, have traditional theological beliefs and reject the use of modern technology, like the Amish. They’re also deliberately isolated from modern society.

Conservative denominations, such as the Dunkard Brethren Church, hold the same theological beliefs but permit the use of certain modern conveniences like electricity. 

are dunkards amish

Then there are mainline denominations that are completely integrated into society rather than holding themselves separate. An example from the Dunkards is the Church of the Brethren, the largest denomination. This openness to modern society is similar to the difference between the Amish vs. Mormons, although Mormons are not Anabaptists. 

Dunkard Traditions

One of the most important Dunkard traditions is the triple baptism. Another important tradition is the love feast, which consists of three traditions in one.

The first is the ritual of foot-washing, often called feet-washing. This is done before the meal and shows humility and care for the common man. It is done in imitation of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, and it is a tradition that the Dunkards and the Amish share. 

Following this is the love feast itself, which is a general term referring to a meal shared between a group of Christians. This is an important act of fellowship for the Dunkards. It’s thought to be modeled after the Last Supper.

How Do the Amish Differ from Dunkards?

While they both originate from the Anabaptist tradition, Dunkards aren’t Amish. 

In fact, the Dunkards split off around 15 years after the Amish had separated themselves from the broader Anabaptists. A group that is closer to the Amish is the Mennonites because the Amish community grew out of them.

amish vs dunkards

The Amish tradition was founded in 1609 by Jakob Amman after disputes about how closely the church held to the word of the Bible, and the consequences for going against the Bible, with Amman and the Amish favoring shunning.

While they share a common root, there are differences, including a distinction between an Amish vs. a Mennonite buggy. 

A core tenet of the Amish lifestyle is the idea of self-sufficiency and isolation from the modern, secular world, aligning them more closely with Old Order Dunkards than other sub-denominations. 

One example of this would be the legacy of craftsmanship in the Amish community. Amish men are skilled at woodworking, and making things like wooden bread boxes, while Amish women are very capable seamstresses and basket weavers.

You can find an incredible selection of handmade Amish baskets, like beautiful harvest baskets, or even small storage baskets for shelves. The Amish basket weaving tradition combines beauty with practicality, producing gorgeous functional pieces like storage baskets for shelves


amish and dunkards people


This is an example of how the Amish community is still thriving while maintaining its separation from the modern world. This is a big difference between the Amish vs. the Shakers, which have all but died out. 

In addition to confusion between the Amish and other Anabaptist groups, there’s sometimes confusion between Puritans vs. Amish, although the Puritans split from the Church of England.


When it comes to the Anabaptist community, there are many differences between the Dunkards and the Amish. It’s important to take time to learn about different cultures rather than grouping them together.

The Amish community is sometimes seen as extreme, but there’s a charm in their simplicity and the beautiful old-fashioned craftsmanship they still produce. 

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