Amish vs. Mennonite: Understanding the Differences and Similarities

amish vs mennonite

The Amish and Mennonite communities have subtle differences. The former emphasizes traditionalism, while the latter is open to modernity. Pacifism, simplicity, and modesty are important to both communities. They share religious beliefs but interpret them differently. Dress codes, use of technology, and transportation are the key differences.

The Mennonite community was founded by theologian Menno Simons in Zurich, Switzerland in the 16th century. Anabaptists and Mennonites have different views – one group avoids electricity, and the other avoids the Kardashians!

Differences Between Amish and Mennonite Communities

To understand the differences between the communities, this section with historical origins, religious beliefs, and practices, dress code, use of modern technology, education, and relationships with non-members as a solution briefly introduces the sub-sections. By examining each sub-section, you can develop a comprehensive understanding of the distinct customs and lifestyles that define these two religious groups.

Historical Origins

amish history
Source: pbs.org

The Amish and Mennonites trace their roots back to the 16th-century Protestant Reformation. Jakob Ammann, a Swiss Anabaptist, founded the Amish with traditional practices at its core. The Mennonites, on the other hand, follow the teachings of Menno Simons, a Dutch minister with a focus on pacifism.

Migration to North America widened the gap between the two groups. The Amish live a simple life, avoiding modern technology like electricity and cars, whereas the Mennonites tend to be more integrated into mainstream society and embrace modern devices. Even within each group, there are numerous subgroups with a variety of beliefs and customs.

Despite these differences, both hold community ties and a commitment to simplicity very dear. This was demonstrated in 2006 when a school shooting occurred in an Amish community. The neighboring Mennonites rallied together to provide support and aid to the victims’ families.

It’s clear that Amish and Mennonites share more than just a love of simple living: they have mutual respect.

Religious Beliefs and Practices

amish vs mennonite religious
Source: businessyab.com

The Amish and Mennonites have strong beliefs and special worship practices that are essential to their way of life. These faiths promote nonviolence, pacifism, and a simple lifestyle. Both groups view the Bible as the word of God.

Amish people keep away from worldly culture, refusing many technologies and sticking to traditional clothing, language, and gender roles. They often live off the land and take care of themselves.

 Mennonites are more open to the modern world. They value education and use technology, while still holding on to their Christian values.

The two communities differ in their interpretations of religious doctrine. Amish groups stick to the literal Scriptural meanings, while Mennonites focus more on global Anabaptist ideas and peace-building work.

Throughout history, both groups have been persecuted for their beliefs. Amish people fled Europe due to political restrictions on religious freedom. Meanwhile, Mennonites left Switzerland for Pennsylvania, seeking places where they could practice their faith freely. Despite these struggles, both groups have kept their values alive for generations.

Dress Code

The clothing style of both Communities is unique. It portrays modesty and simplicity and follows their religious beliefs. They wear clothing made from plain, dark-colored materials. Covering bodies from neck to ankle is an imperative part of their dress code.

Women wear long dresses or skirts with loose-fitting blouses that have long sleeves. An apron is sometimes worn over the bodice for structure. Jewelry is not worn, except for a wedding band signifying marriage.

Men wear hats, suspenders, simple shirts, and slacks or jeans.

Each community may have different dress codes. This can be due to social-economic conditions, education level, or even personal preferences.

Visitors wearing skimpy clothes while seeking employment or vacationing with them can irritate both communities. They understand that dressing reveals one’s choice of lifestyle and worldview, and can influence other people’s life choices.

The Amish may reject modern technology, but the Mennonites are still trying to figure out how to operate their smartphones.

Use of Modern Technology

amish technology
Source: theguardian.com

The Amish and Mennonites have varying uses of modern technology. The Amish use only what is necessary for daily living, such as no TV, cars, or electricity from the grid. In contrast, Mennonites may use certain technologies for work or convenience but still focus on simplicity.

However, exceptions exist in both communities. For instance, Amish may allow generators and cell phones for emergencies. And some Mennonite professions need computers or machinery.

Despite technological differences, both groups prioritize human connection, like community, faith, and family. Amish families often gather for meals or activities. And Mennonites attend church services.

An example of resourcefulness and teamwork is when an Amish house was burned down due to a lightning strike. The family could not use grid electricity, so they used solar panels and car batteries for lighting. They got through the challenge without violating their values.

Amish education ends at eighth grade while Mennonites go to university, making them the “Ivy League” of the barn-raising group.


amish school
Source: youtube.com

Communities have varied approaches to learning. Both prioritize experiential education, yet Mennonites prioritize formal schooling more than the Amish.

Mennonite children usually attend public or private schools until graduating high school, and may even pursue higher education. The Amish, however, only go up to 8th grade. They focus on practical skills such as farming, carpentry, and homemaking.

Amish schools are unique as they use one-room schoolhouses. This allows for multiple age groups to be taught at once and creates a communal learning environment.

In some states such as Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, where large Amish populations live, some laws exempt them from compulsory schooling from 8th grade onwards due to religious beliefs.

Finally, they differ in their interactions with non-members: the Amish shun them, while the Mennonites politely decline their advances, just like a vegan at a steakhouse.

  • Interestingly, the approach to education among these communities also reflects the broader societal context in which they exist, such as the safety and crime rates in their respective regions, which you can explore in our article about the most dangerous cities in Ohio.

Relationship with Non-Members

Communities have very different approaches when it comes to interacting with those outside of their group.

Mennonites are usually more open. They help with charity and outreach, create relationships through business or education and participate in social activities.

The Amish, on the other hand, keep to themselves and are focused on preserving their traditions.

It’s important to remember that while the Amish are strict – they don’t dislike outsiders. This is because of their history of persecution in Europe. So, they are very protective of their identity and customs.

Despite their similar looks, they have much more than that in common.

Similarities Between Amish and Mennonite Communities

To understand the similarities between Amish and Mennonite communities, delve into the sub-sections – pacifism, community life, and emphasis on agriculture. These similarities have brought these communities together, despite the minor differences in their beliefs and practices.


They embrace pacifism – the idea that violence should always be avoided. They follow Jesus Christ’s teachings of love, forgiveness, and non-violence.

Pacifism also involves reducing verbal aggression, bullying, and harassment. Conflicts should be peacefully resolved through dialogue and mediation.

In the Amish community, shunning is seen as a punishment for those who do not follow their religious beliefs or community norms. This is done by ignoring or avoiding the person who has been deemed to have broken the rules.

These communities also seek exemptions from military service and do not take part in wars or other conflicts. Some choose to serve their country with alternate forms of national service.

In line with their pacifist values, members actively volunteer in humanitarian efforts around the world during times of crisis.

Community Life

amish community

Community life is an important part of Amish and Mennonite societies. They value simplicity, humility, and obedience to God’s will. Their social ties are built around shared beliefs, family, and farming.

The two communities are close-knit, helping each other out. They also practice nonviolence and reject worldly pleasures. They have similar worship practices and come together for collective prayers and hymns without music. This sense of community is seen in their day-to-day activities, too.

The Amish are known for their rejection of modern technology. They stick to manual labor rather than using electricity-powered machines or cars. Mennonites, on the other hand, are more open to technology adoption. And they may be willing to make some changes to their religion over time.

For example, when one Amish family had trouble harvesting before the rain, the other family stopped their work to help. They came over and put up corn silage that day.

Community life is a key part of both these groups’ social systems. It provides a supportive environment for spiritual and emotional growth, while also helping them survive external challenges. 

Emphasis on Agriculture

Both give great importance to agricultural practices. It is a lifestyle that brings them a sense of identity and self-sufficiency.

Though they share many agricultural practices, there are still some differences.

These communities’ devotion to sustainable agriculture can be an inspiration to us all. We must learn from their efforts and prioritize sustainability or else risk being alone in a world that solely relies on technology.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between the Amish and the Mennonites? 

The Amish and Mennonites are both Anabaptist groups that originated in Switzerland. However, they differ in their practices and beliefs. The Amish are known for their traditional clothing, rejection of modern technology, and strict adherence to religious rules. The Mennonites, on the other hand, are generally more progressive and accepting of modern technology, while still maintaining a strong commitment to their faith.

Are the Amish and Mennonites related?

Yes, the Amish and Mennonites are both members of the larger Anabaptist movement, which originated in Switzerland in the 16th century. The Amish are a more conservative branch of the Anabaptist movement, while the Mennonites are more moderate.

Are Amish practices and beliefs the same everywhere?

No, the Amish are a highly decentralized group, with each church community having some autonomy to set its own rules and practices. As a result, there can be significant differences in how Amish communities live and worship, even within the same geographical area.

Can Mennonites marry Amish?

Yes, Mennonites and Amish can marry, although such marriages are relatively rare. In general, both groups tend to prefer to marry within their communities.

How do the Amish and Mennonites view education?

Both the Amish and Mennonites place a high value on education, but their approaches differ. The Amish typically only provide education up to the 8th grade, after which children are expected to join the workforce and contribute to the family farm or business. The Mennonites, in contrast, tend to place more emphasis on higher education and career opportunities.

What is a common misconception about the Amish and Mennonites?

A common misconception is that the Amish and Mennonites are opposed to all forms of modern technology. While the Amish do reject many modern conveniences, such as television and cars, they do use some tools and equipment, particularly those related to farming. Similarly, while the Mennonites tend to be more accepting of technology, they still cherish their traditional way of life and values.


They both follow conservative Anabaptist traditions. But, their Bible interpretation, worship, and lifestyle guidelines differ. Amish are more secluded and stick to traditional customs more than Mennonites. They share similar faith ideals despite the contrasts. Plus, both groups have contributed positively to society through charity and community spirit.

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