The Amish are a denomination of Anabaptists and Mennonites, many of whom are most noted for their avoidance of modern devices such as automobiles and electricity. The avoidance of these items is largely misunderstood. The Amish do not view technology as evil. Technologies can be petitioned for acceptance into the Amish lifestyle. Twice a year the church leaders meet to review items for admittance.
Electricity, for instance, is viewed as a connection to the "English" or the outside world. The use of electricity also could lead to the use of household appliances that would complicate the Amish tradition of a simple life. However, in certain Amish groups electricity can be used in very specific situations. In some groups for example it has to be produced without access to outside power lines. Twelve-volt batteries are acceptable. Electric generators can only be used for welding, recharging batteries, and powering milk stirs. The reasoning behind the twelve volt system is that it limits what an individual can do with the electricity and acts as a preventive measure against potential abuses. Worldly modern appliances such as televisions, light bulbs, and hair dryers often use 110 volt electricity, and will not operate under twelve volt current.
Dress code for some groups includes that buttons are not allowed, and only pins are used to keep clothing closed.
The Amish do not believe that a child can be meaningfully baptized. Amish children are expected to follow the will of their parents in all issues, but at the age of sixteen they come of age and may lead a lifestyle of their own choice. In fact they are encouraged to try out the "English" lifestyle of the outside world for a few years, so that they can make an informed choice to be baptized and join the church for life. Some 10% choose not to join the church but live the rest of their lives in the society at large.
The Amish reside in close-knit communities in 22 states of the United States as well as Ontario, Canada. The largest concentrations of Amish in the United States are in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and Holmes County, Ohio.
The Amish are noted for the quality of their quilts. The strictest Amish groups are the Nebraska Amish and the Swartzendruber Amish. The language used in all Old Order Amish homes and in many Beachy Amish homes is Pennsylvania German, also called Pennsylvania Dutch. English is used with the outside world.