Saloma Miller Furlong's Blog
At the Intersection of Two Cultures
I became familiar with the ways of the Amish in Huevelton, New York, when Anna lived with us. So when I read the report about legislators attempting to force the Amish to display the orange triangle on their buggies. I groaned inwardly becasue I knew that this strategy will not work. So I wrote up my thoughts on the subject and submitted it to the Watertown Daily Times. It was published today.
Contrary to a common belief, the Amish are quite diverse in their church Ordnung (set of church rules) from one community to another. Because there is no overarching authority, like the pope in Roman Catholicism, each bishop has some autonomy and therefore a slightly different emphasis on what is important to stress in the Ordnung.
In Northern New York, there is a large contingent of the most conservative Swartzentruber Amish. There have been many splits within this group, so there are now six or seven variations among them.
The more conservative Schwartzentruber Amish need exemptions from secular laws to maintain their Ordnung because they determine every aspect of a person's life, including the size of windows in their houses, the use of phones only in emergencies (and then they ask the neighbors to talk for them), and they eschew any bright symbols on their buggies. In recent years there have been issues around building codes, electronic filing of taxes, and refusing to display the orange slow-moving vehicle emblem on their buggies.
Often when the Amish cannot get exemptions in one state, they will move to a different one. But the problem is that the Swartzentruber Amish are running out of places to move to that will give them all the exemptions they need to maintain their Ordnung. They are essentially boxing themselves into a corner.
I hope you will read my proposed solution to this problem and leave your thoughts in the comments section. Also, if you feel so moved, please share this on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media.