Are the Amish Allowed to Use Electricity?
The question, "Do the Amish people use electricity?" often receives the response, "No, the Amish are not allowed to use electricity." However, this answer is not entirely accurate.
The correct answer is: "A few Amish groups use electricity, but the majority do not."
It's important to note that there are significant differences among Amish groups. What holds true for the Amish in one area may not apply to those in another. And while most Amish communities do not use public electricity, there are a few groups that have chosen to do so.
Why Do the Amish Not Use Electricity?
So putting aside the fact that a few Amish groups use electricity, we will begin by addressing why most Amish don't.
There are many times when an Amish person is questioned about their rules that they really don't have a good answer. And sometimes the only answer they can come up with is simply, "Because that's just the way we've always done things."
Traditions are very important to Amish people. It's essential to keep the traditions of their forefathers. Now obviously, we know that even the general public did not have electricity when Amish groups first began.
So, even though it wasn't an option for their forefathers, they figure that whatever was good for their forefathers is good enough for them.
The Amish people are slow to adopt new modern conveniences, realizing that with those conveniences come a lot of other changes. And they feel that the only way to preserve the family unit and their faith is by rejecting change.
They fear that if they have the convenience of electricity, it will bring with it the temptation for other things, such as having a phone, computer, TV, radio, etc.
And the truth is, the world has many distractions that the Amish are trying to keep out of their homes. Hence the reason for not allowing the modern conveniences that they feel would pull the family apart instead of bringing them together.
Which Amish Groups Use Electricity?
Some of the New Order and more liberal Amish communities are allowed to access the public power grid.
To clarify, when I mention the Amish, I am specifically referring to those who travel by horse and buggy. I do not include the Beachy Amish/Mennonites in this discussion, as they are considered conservative Mennonites.
I grew up in Honey Brook, PA (Lancaster area) as part of the New Order Amish. In our community, we had electricity connected to the public grid. This decision was made when our group separated from the Old Order Amish. Additionally, several other New Order churches also allow electricity.
However, the largest percentage of New Order Amish are in Holmes County, Ohio. And most of them are not permitted to have public electricity, although many utilize alternative sources of power.
What Types of Electricity Do Amish Use?
Most Amish homes are not connected to a public power grid, but many still use some form of electricity in their homes.
In some areas, it is common to see battery lamps installed on the walls throughout the home. They have a few electrical outlets where they can plug in a toaster, mixer, vacuum, or even a cell phone, etc.
Some of the Amish are more lenient with this. And although they don't use their electrical power as freely as many of us do, they still have the convenience of some electricity in their home.
Some of them run a generator to charge batteries. Others have the convenience of solar power or even wind power.
I have a brother who is a member of the New Order Amish community in Holmes County, Ohio. And while their home may not be as brightly lit as ours, they have battery-powered lamps throughout the house that can be easily turned on by pulling a little chain. His father-in-law used to work as a solar panel installer, so their home is powered by solar.
Do The Amish Think It's a Sin to Use Electricity?
No, most of the Amish don't consider using electricity wrong, nor do they see it as sinful. But they opt not to have it at home to avoid temptations.
They willingly forgo convenience to protect their way of life and prevent worldly influences from affecting their community.
So, they aren't hypocritical for banning electricity, cars, and modern conveniences while still using them to some extent. They don't believe using these things is a sin.
Instead, they avoid these conveniences in their homes and community to steer clear of unnecessary temptations that could distract them from what truly matters.
Living by these rules is what preserves their way of life.
Do All Amish Use Some Type of Electrical Power?
No. As stated, there are many differences in Amish groups. Some of them do not allow any form of motors or battery power.
The Swartzentruber Amish are some of the most conservative. And they don't have any kind of electrical power source in their homes.
While many other Amish groups use natural gas-powered appliances and battery lamps, you won't find any modern appliances or battery-powered lamps, etc. in the most conservative Amish homes. Many of them still cook on woodstoves, use ice to keep things cool, use kerosene lamps for lighting, etc.
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Types of Lights the Amish Use
In Amish communities, you'll come across a variety of lighting options, ranging from candles and kerosene lamps to ceiling or wall-mounted natural gas lamps, propane lamps, battery-powered lamps, and more. The specific type of lighting used usually depends on the level of strictness within the Amish group.
Erik, on his Amish America website, has a post on this topic (that I am linking to) where he has photos of various types of lighting in Amish homes.
Having been inside lots of Old Order Amish homes in Lancaster County, I was used to seeing the first two options that he talks about (Propane or natural gas lighting fixtures and rolling propane tank lights). Although, I am guessing that today you might find some battery-type lamps in many of their homes as well.
While some Amish groups don't use any electrical power at all, and a few are connected to the public grid, there are a significant number of Amish individuals who choose to use electricity selectively. They do not depend on the public power grid. Instead, they utilize batteries, inverters, and generators.
The primary reason behind their decision to avoid grid electricity is rooted in their belief that such reliance connects them more strongly to the worldly aspects of life, potentially diverting their focus from God and family.
The Amish approach to electricity reflects their dedication to simplicity and plain living. They intentionally limit technological advancements, prioritizing essential aspects of life and cultivating an appreciation for nature and traditional skills. Hard work and quality time with family rank high on their list of priorities.
This shared emphasis on simplicity contributes to a unique cultural identity that sets the Amish apart from mainstream society.
Sidenote: Sometimes it scares me how dependent we have become on electricity. When the power goes out, everything shuts down. But guess who isn't affected by it? 🙂 I sure don't want to give up my conveniences though.