Amish History and their place in society (details problems they face- also makes references to the film witness)

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The Amish


During the Reformation in 16th Century Europe, Luther and Calvin promoted the concepts of individual freedom and the priesthood of all believers. In what has been called "the radical reformation", some religious reformers took these beliefs to a logical conclusion; they preached that the believer should separate themselves from all secular activities. One of the largest groups (the Anabaptists) promoted:

* Baptism during adulthood after confession of faith, instead of during infancy,

* The total separation of religion from and state,

* Worship services in the home rather than at church.

The religious movements that they founded are called "free churches" as contrasted to the state churches, which were normal for the time. Their groups were simple associations of adult Christians. Most groups were wiped out in wars or programs of genocide, which were organised by various governments, and both the main line Protestant and Roman Catholic churches.

The Mennonites are named after Menno Simons (1496-1561), a Dutch Anabaptist leader. They were severely persecuted and fled to Switzerland and other more remote areas of Europe. The Amish began as a split-off sect of the Swiss Mennonites during the late 17th century. Their founder was Jacob Amman, who based his beliefs and practices on the writings of Simons and on the 1632 Mennonite Dordrecht Confession of Faith. The split with the Mennonites was mainly over the practices of foot washing and avoidance. The latter practice is based on the discipline of fellow believers as described in Matthew 18:15-17:

"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and tell him alone...But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more...And if he shall neglect to hear them, then tell it onto the church: but if he...