As you are no doubt aware, the Amish are known for rejecting modern culture and society and focusing on their own communities. To that end, they don’t vote, they don’t serve in the military, and don’t serve on juries, as doing so would represent participation in modern society. Similarly, the Christian group largely eschews modern technology, which is why you generally see them in plain and simple clothes, and farming their fields with horses and plows rather than John Deere tractors.
However, as Amish America notes, if you were to drive through a part of the country with a significant Amish population, you may very well see an Amish person using a cell phone. So is that person conveniently looking the other way at the rules and praying you don’t notice while he orders from Grubhub or places a bet on his favorite team? As it turns out, the Amish are allowed to use cell phones, under certain conditions.
Cell phones are everywhere in Amish communities, whether the elders like it or not
To understand the relationship between the Amish and cell phones, it’s first necessary to take a look at the relationship between the Amish and telephones — you know, the old-fashioned kind, with wires and such. According to Amish America, back when telephones started becoming ubiquitous around the turn of the 20th century, the Christian group was faced with a problem. On the one hand, the telephone helped with getting into contact with distant relatives, and more importantly, it was a vital tool in carrying out business (yes, many Amish own and operate businesses). On the other hand, phones represented plugging into modern society in the most literal possible sense, and facilitated gossip, and as such, were seen as a bad thing. In the end, the communities developed various workarounds that allowed them to use phones while at the same time making sure they were used “properly” (by Amish standards).
The cell phone, unlike its predecessor, does not use wires and, in a practical sense, isn’t physically connected to the grid the way landline phones are. Similarly, as a communications and business tool, the cell phone is almost indispensable, something many Amish have realized. As such, they’re just about everywhere in some Amish communities. Further, so ubiquitous are cell phones that church leaders may, at this point, feel powerless to speak out against them. That means that cell phones are here to stay in the Amish community.
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