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Difference Between Quakers and Amish

Quakers vs Amish

When we hear the words ‘Amish’ and ‘Quaker’, a mental image often springs to mind and we usually picture the Quaker Oats man from the famous cereal brand, with his big hat and white hair. This shows how little we actually know about them. If we actually look at these two religious groups more closely, we will see that they have very distinct beliefs and practices. Though they may share some similarities, they are still very different from each other.

The Amish are characterized by their reluctance to adapt to the changes brought about by advances in modern technology. This continuing struggle against modernity can be traced back to their belief that one should live life in a simple manner. To better understand why this is so, one must understand the basic concepts of Amish belief. First is their belief in the rejection of Hochmut, which translates into what we call pride and arrogance. Secondly they give great importance to Gelassenheit and Demut. The former refers to submission and the latter pertains to humility. Gelassenheit is an expression of one’s reluctance to assert oneself and is a manifestation of the anti-individualist belief held by the Amish. This anti-individualism is a primary reason for the rejection of labor-saving technology by the Amish as to embrace new technology would make one less dependent on the community.

The Quakers, on the other hand, do not share this view, as they have a different set of beliefs. The Amish are among the most conservative religious groups out there, as can be seen by their banning of electricity, birth control, women wearing pants, and higher education. The Quakers are just the opposite, as most of them are liberals. The Quakers, also known as the Religious Society of Friends, believe that everyone has a direct connection with God. Most of them reject sacraments and religious symbolism. This belief also eliminates the need for clergy, as everyone is directly connected to God. They believe firmly in religious tolerance and they do not use the word ‘convert’; they prefer the word ‘convince’, since this eliminates the use of coercion that is implied by the former. They do not try to ‘save’ anyone. They believe that it is not enough for one to read scripture in order to be spiritual; one has to practise it.

Both these groups, though they differ in some key aspects, are united in their belief in non-violence. They both believe that Jesus himself advocated this. They adhere to an attitude of non-resistance when they themselves are faced with violent confrontation. Even on the national level, these churches believe that any form of violence, including war, is going against Christian morality. Both groups are part of the Peace Churches.

1. Amish is a belief based on simplicity and strict living, unlike the Quakers who typically are liberals.

2. The Amish religion has priests, while Quakers believe that as everyone has a connection with God they don’t need a priest to preside over any ceremony.

3. The Amish believe in maintaining the ways of the past and don’t consider using modern amenities.

4. Though their beliefs lead to different lifestyles, both believe in God and in peace.


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2 Comments

  1. A very interesting topic. As an African-American interested in anarchism, intentional communities and utopian societies I find the Amish fascinating. Aside from their religious conservativism, (a problem I have with the Nation of Islam too) I share their desire for a simple life where technology is at least kept in its place and not made so necessary that you can’t do without it. The idea of being separate from main stream society appeals to me too but seems hard to practicer unless one has social reinforcement of some kind. On the other hand, the freedom to come and go as on pleases is a hard tradeoff to accept. Perhaps that’s the point of having such a clear cut attitude and dividing line between us and them…if the community is kept isolated from the larger society then their own values will be intensified as they are passed on to the youth and subsequent generations. I suppose as long as the elders of the community are kept in touch with the outside world and can serve as interpreters to various ideas…

  2. As is typical with religious groups, there is a divergence between the stated belief that Jesus advocated non-violence and the literal belief in biblical accounts that Jesus ran heretics from the temple. One must assume that Jesus did not ‘speak persuasively’ and convince them to leave, nor did he ‘set a good example’ by leaving himself and thus inspire them to leave. No, no…me thinks his character must have physically removed them using such means as might be considered violent.

    If Jesus could create from nothing enough bread and fish to feed the masses, could he not have simply ‘disappeared’ them? The fact that the plot goes as it does is evidence to support the notion that religion is a human artifact.

    Nevertheless, such groups as described here, have my respect for at least not being suckered into the fantasy that all technology is good.

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