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shaker vs amish

Shaker vs Amish

The Shakers and Amish communities are known for their unique religious beliefs and simple living.  However, their practices differ greatly from one another. Here is everything you need to know about the differences between Amish and Shakers.

What this article covers:

Who Are the Shakers?

The Shakers are a religious sect that originated in England in the mid-1700s. The group came to America and called themselves the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing, or Shakers. They were called "Shakers" because of how they danced, described as being like a tremor or shudder.

Shaker History

The group was founded by Ann Lee, who believed she was Jesus' second coming. She and her followers moved to America in 1774 and settled in New York State. There she continued her preaching and gathered followers who believed that she was indeed a manifestation of God's will on Earth.

shakers vs amish

The Shakers flourished during religious revivalism, known as the Second Great Awakening. They spread out across the country and established communities in several states. These areas included New Hampshire and Massachusetts before they moved west to Kentucky and Ohio. Some of them also went south to Georgia and Alabama. 

The Shakers continued to grow throughout the 19th century until they reached an estimated 6,000 members at their peak. Today there are few remaining Shaker communities. Historians have widely studied the Shakers because of their unique religious beliefs. 

Shaker Lifestyle

The Shakers believe salvation is achievable through complete submission to God's will. To achieve this state, they must live according to strict rules.

Their lifestyle revolves around collective work and community living. They don’t believe in marriage. They adopt children and raise them as a community.

They believe this communal lifestyle will help them achieve salvation by fostering love among community members. Recent research shows that their way of life explains why Shakers live longer than the average American.

amish vs shaker

Their most prominent features are their hand-made products. Like the Amish, Shaker women weave bread baskets to store bread and other healthy foods.

The Shakers' beliefs are based on the idea that God and man are one and that celibacy is the only way to salvation.

The Shakers have five primary tenets: celibacy (including abstinence from masturbation), pacifism, communal ownership of property and goods, separation from mainstream society, and total reliance on God's love to guide their lives.

What's the Difference Between Shakers and the Amish? 

The Amish and Shakers are religious communities with much in common. Both groups practice a simple way of life without electricity or modern technology. 

They live together in close-knit communities and don't have much contact with the outside world. These Amish s shaker differences are also what separate Amish Mennonites and Hutterites.

Belief About God

The Shakers are Christians who believe in an imminent second Coming of Christ and salvation by divine grace. The Shakers believe in a God who was a man like them, an all-powerful being who could hear their prayers but didn’t intervene in human affairs.

Shakers also believe that Jesus was a prophet sent by God to show people how to live righteously. They reject most traditional Christian doctrines, such as the Trinity and the divinity of Christ.

amish and shakers people

All the Amish people believe that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin birth, died on the cross for our sins, and rose again from the grave three days later.  They also believe He will return one day to judge everyone who has lived. Those who accept Him into their hearts will go to Heaven, while those who reject Him will go to Hell.

The belief that baptism should be performed only on adult believers has Anabaptist Amish origins. Like the Dunkards, Amish people believe in fully immersing believers during baptism. One is immersed in water three times in line with the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit.

Marriage and Family Life

The Amish are monogamous and don’t marry outside their religion or culture. The Amish marry young and have large families, usually five or more children, which helps keep their population strong. 

It also helps to keep their traditions intact and prevents genetic diseases from spreading through interbreeding with other groups. It's common for older Amish women to pass down their traditions to the young girls when they are weaving Easter baskets

amish vs shakers people

The Shakers believe in celibacy and live together in communal households called "families." At the helm of each family is an eldress who oversees daily life. She's also in charge of spiritual matters such as worship services and confessions by individuals within each family unit.

However, both groups are against divorce, so if couples don’t get along, they will separate from each other but remain married until they die.


The Shakers settled in America in the 18th century, but they began to die out after World War II. This is because they don't practice marriage and believe sex is the root of all evil. 

For this reason, their numbers have greatly reduced, and the only way they could add new members was through adoption, conversion, or indenture. 

Today, only one active Shaker community is left in the world, the Sabbathday Lake Village in Maine. All the other Shaker communities have been closed and converted into private residences or museums.

The Amish brethren have a much larger population than the Shakers do today. More than 360,000 Amish people live in America, and another 200,000 live overseas. The largest Amish population is in Pennsylvania, where over 50% of all Amish people live.

Gender Roles and Equality

The Amish living system is patriarchal and hierarchical, with men holding authority over women. Women are expected to be submissive wives and mothers. 

shakers and amish

They do not work outside the home but perform domestic tasks such as child-rearing, cooking, sewing basket, and cleaning.

Like the Amish, Seventh-day Adventist society also believes that a woman's primary role is to serve her husband and children. You will likely find Amish women carrying picnic baskets on their way to the market.

In contrast, Shaker society prioritizes equality between men and women at all levels of its organization. Leadership positions are open to both genders, and religious services include participation by both sexes. Moreover, couples live together without marriage, and labor is divided equally between men.

amish and shakers


The Amish speak Pennsylvania Dutch, also known as Pennsylvania German. On the other hand, Shakers speak a form of English unique to their sect. It's similar to standard English but has unique features such as "thou" instead of "you."

Clothing and Appearance

The Amish wear plain clothes made from natural fibers such as cotton or wool. They avoid fine fabrics and don't use buttons on their clothing because they believe they're too fancy. The men wear long beards and long hair. Women wear long dresses with bonnets that cover their hair completely.

The Shakers dress similarly to other Christians in their community or area. However, they typically do not use buttons or lace on their clothing. Men don't grow beards but may grow mustaches or sideburns. 

Women may wear hats or bonnets that cover all their heads except the forehead. They also tend to avoid bright colors in favor of darker ones like black or brown.

Way of Life

The Amish live in rural areas and don’t believe in using modern technology. They typically have no electricity or running water in their homes. Comparing Amish vs. Mennonite buggies for transportation, they work and function similarly. 

They make their clothing, grow their food and store them in small storage baskets for shelves. They live in small communities and avoid contact with others outside their faith.

shakers and amish people

Unlike the Amish, the Shakers have generally been more accepting of modern technology, such as television and other forms of entertainment. 

Shakers tend to be more tolerant of outsiders than many other religious groups. This is because they believe that it’s important to spread their beliefs by sharing them with others who may not be familiar with them.


The Shakers are talented craftspeople, and their furniture designs are popular in America. The Shaker furniture style usually has simple lines and straight edges, giving it a clean look. They were so popular that they inspired many other furniture makers to copy their styles. 

Amish furniture is usually simple but well-made with no fancy details like carving or painting. It's often made with solid wood pieces sanded down until smooth. Therefore, no knots or rough spots can catch on clothing or skin during use.


While Amish and Shakers still live in their closed communities today, the time of these religious sects is slowly fading. However, that doesn't mean that we can't learn from them and the way they have chosen to live. Their dedication to other people, traditions, and peaceful life have left behind a legacy that still influences modern-day America.

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