America is a Car Culture – Where do the Amish Fit In?

The Old Order Amish of Lancaster County don’t own or drive cars.  Well, technically that statement needs a qualifier.  Amish here who own a business might own trucks and vans necessary to operate the business, but they would employ English (non-Amish) to actually drive them.  In a pinch, to move the truck around the job site, many Amish could probably hop behind the wheel and maneuver the vehicle.  The reason?  Before baptism (prior to being a member of the Amish church and vowing to uphold the rules thereof) some Amish boys get their driver’s license and drive a car.  

So how do the Amish view cars?  You can’t paint any culture with a broad brush, as if the whole of the community feels one way or another about something.  But while many Amish boys might have cars during “Rumspringa” – not all of the girls would find that to be a plus.  

An Amish girl wrote a letter to an Amish magazine, “Young Companion” from Pathway Publishers in Canada, and expressed her thoughts to such young men…

To the boy who’d like a car:

How will a car help you?  To get a date with a girl who said she won’t go with you in a buggy?  Do you realize what kind of wife she would make?  You say you want it so you can be away from home?  You can go across the world and back again and never find a home like you left.  You want to prove Dad and Mom can’t keep you from getting a car if you want to?  No, maybe they can’t.  But neither can they keep you from going to a fire which burns forever.  You can’t expect your parents to make it right for you if you get killed in an auto crash.  But you’re just planning on having your car a couple of years?  Remember, a car will take you farther and farther from home.  What if you get so involved you can’t come back to your home?  If you do come back, marry, and have a pleasant home, what will you tell your children when they want a car, too? —A girl with an aching heart 

Clinton Martin