DUE in part to their opposition to modern birth control and the value they place on fertility, the Amish are one of the fastest growing populations in the world – and new research indicates that in 215 years, their numbers could be greater than the current population of the United States (327.2 million).
According to data from Elizabethtown College, over the past 100 years, the Amish population has doubled every 19.63 years on average.
The combination of rampant fertility and modern health care, which is generally accepted by the Amish, results in exponential population growth. They have grown in number from 6,300 in 1901 to 324,900 in 2018.
The Amish have Swiss-German-Anabaptist origins and live in communities centered around church and family relationships, and are located across the United States and Canada, with heavy concentrations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. The majority of Amish are descended from about 200 families who immigrated to the United States in the 1700s. They reject much of modern technology in a effort to live in accordance with their interpretation of scripture, and are frequently seen using horse-drawn buggies instead of cars.
On average, the Amish have families larger than the typical American family, which has 1.9 children. Demographers estimate the Amish have an average of 6-7 children per family, according to Amish America. Some more conservative Amish settlements have even higher fertility rates. The Swiss Amish settlement in Adams County, Indiana, has an average of nine children per family, according to Thomas J Meyers and Steven M Nolt’s book An Amish Patchwork.
Said Ohio State researcher Joseph Donnermeyer:
They’re doubling their population about every 21 to 22 years, primarily because they produce large families and the vast majority of daughters and sons remain in the community as adults baptized into the faith, starting their own families and sustaining their religious beliefs and practices.
The Amish have kept their growth rate for over 100 years, and little evidence shows this growth rate changing. If the trend continues by 2303, 332 million Amish people will be living in the US.
One thing certain for the Amish is that young people are not abandoning their faith. Young Amish adults must choose whether or not to be baptised following their teenage years, and almost 90 percent of them choose to stay with their community, according to PBS. The Amish retention rate of 85 to 90 percent is significantly larger than the 37 percent retention rate for millennial mainline Protestants, according to the Pew Research Center.
The Amish brand of Christianity insists that its followers live in separation from the world, so as to avoid being corrupted by its influence. Ordung, the rule of the Amish church, has proscriptions on clothing, electricity, cars and telephones, and must be observed by all members of the community. Those who stray risk excommunication, or even shunning. The Amish avoid electric power lines as they believe they make them “conformed to the world”, and they do not keep photographs because they believe these serve only to cultivate their vanity.
The Amish rarely make headlines, but in 2011 they found themselves in the spotlight when prosecutors brought hate-crime and obstruction charges against 16 members of a breakaway Amish group who orchestrated a series of beard-cutting attacks against other “mainstream” Amish. The attacks were carried out at the behest of Bishop Samuel Mullet, above, against the bishop’s” enemies”. Witnesses portrayed him as a fire-and-brimstone preacher who imposed strict, and often bizarre, discipline on his flock. He his currently serving a 10-year jail sentence.