How Many Amish People Leave the Community?
A stringent set of religious principles and customs govern the Amish way of life with the intention of preserving its isolation from the outside "English" world. As a result, there are no cars, electricity, education above eighth grade, or outside music in Amish communities.
However, once in a lifetime, Amish teenagers are given the opportunity to experience the English world. Do these teens return from Rumspringa? How many Amish people leave the community?
Read on to find out more about Amish people leaving, the Amish freedom of choice, and Rumspringa.
What this article covers:
What is Amish Freedom of Choice?
What happens when an Amish person leaves the community? Any member of the Amish church is free to leave at any time. Members who choose to leave might be allowed to rejoin the church. However, those who leave permanently are shunned. They become strangers and are not permitted to participate in the community.
In many Amish communities, you can’t become a member of the church before you turn 16 and have gone through Rumspringa. After Rumspringa, those who choose to join the church are baptized and agree to abide by the Ordnung.
What is Rumspringa?
Rumspringa, loosely translated in Pennsylvania Dutch as "running around," is a coming-of-age period in which Amish youth decide whether they wish to be baptized as Amish and join the church, or leave the community. It generally extends from ages 16-21.
Some Amish teens go through Rumspringa in the community, while others choose to leave the community for a taste of the outside world. During this period, parental supervision is relaxed, and teens might engage in drinking, dancing, watching TV, and even driving cars.
Amish Rumspringa statistics show that most Amish teens don't go far from their family homes and that 85%-90% return. The rates of return are lower among the strict Swartzentruber Amish (90%) compared to less strict ones such as the Andy Weaver Amish (97%).
Teens who leave the Amish before joining the church are not shunned because they didn’t make a baptismal promise and therefore aren’t breaking any vows.
How Many People Leave the Amish Way of Life?
Approximately 15% of people leave the Amish way of life due to curiosity or simply wanting more choices in life than what is offered within the Amish way of life.
How to Join the Amish
Although the Amish don't associate with the English, some people have successfully joined their community. Here's how to join the Amish:
- Do your research: You need to understand everything about the Amish and what you're leaving behind. Read books and websites about the Amish, or talk to an ex-Amish before deciding if you can live with the much stricter Amish rules including education rules, if you have any children.
- Visit the community: As part of your research, visit the Amish community, talk to the people running Amish businesses and really observe the culture, and always show respect for their beliefs.
- Make your decision: If you still feel a strong will to join the Amish, contact the district bishop to see how feels and if he can help you enter the community.
Members who fail to follow the rules are put on brief probation. If they don't see the error of their ways, they're excommunicated and shunned. Only people who are baptized and have joined the church can be excommunicated or shunned.
Even though leaving the Amish community is technically not allowed, it does happen.
The Amish's freedom of choice allows members to leave at any time. People who leave after joining the church are excommunicated and shunned, while those who leave before joining the church aren’t.
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