Amish Ordinance Letter
By David Yoder
February 21, 2015
Parts of the Schwartzentruber Amish Ordinance Letter
Written by David Yoder
An enormous amount of time could be spend writing out the guidelines set by the Amish church, but the goal is to give you the basics of the Amish Ordinance. If you were to read the actual Ordinance Letter you could very easily take a couple of hours.
The clothes the women wear are to be made of all dark colors, such as dark blue, dark green dark red and dark gray and black. The material shall be made of Dacron, broadcloth, rayon or polyester. The seams on the dress shall be narrow, no more than 5/8 of an inch wide. The pleats that are sewed in the back of the dress shall be no more than ¾ inch wide, and shall be ironed but not to the bottom of the dress. The dress length shall reach the shoe tops. The shoes shall cover their ankles. The apron shall have a ¾ inch tie strap around the top section and shall be four inches shorter than the dress. Three pleats shall be sewn to the bottom of the dress and shall not be narrower than ½ inch and no wider than a ¾ inch.
The cape that goes with the dress shall be pinned in the center of the lower back by the apron strap. At that point it shall be a V and gradually brought out as it comes up over the shoulder. The cape shall be cut in two sections as it comes over the shoulder to make it fit better around the neck. The cape is only allowed to cover the very edge of the shoulder. There is one pleat in the back of the middle of the cape and two small pleats on each side. The front of the cape is neatly folded and pinned down below the chest.
The socks have to be either black or dark blue, they cannot come above their knees nor can they be ankle socks. Nor can they have rubber, elastic, sewed in the top of the socks.
Their shoes have to be black with black laces. The shoe sole cannot be solid or wedged type, it has to have a small heel.
The underwear has to be home made. No elastic is allowed in the underwear. They must close them with buttons.
The prayer caps are made of either black or white cloth. This cap is also made by strict guidelines. The pleats in the back of the cap have to meet specific guidelines. The bow in the bottom of the back of the cap has to be a ½ wide. There is even a guideline how they tie their cap. The black caps can only be worn at home while you are going to school. The married must wear white caps all the time. The girls who are no longer going to school also wear white caps at home during the week.
The Ordinance also strictly regulates the bonnets. The shawls have to be made of certain material. They have to be a certain length and have to be black.
It is against the Ordinance to use a scissor or a razor on any part of the woman’s body. They are not allowed to cut their hair, shave their legs or underarms. Nor are they allowed to use any type of birth control
The Ordinances for the men is somewhat easier. Their pants and shirts have to be of dark colors, and the type of cloth is also regulated, which is usually of blue or black. Their pants must have buttons across the front (no zippers are allowed). Two small pleats are in the back of the pants. The belt on top of the pants must be 1¼ inch in width. They are not allowed to have any lay down collars on their shirts and only two buttons in the front of their shirts.
Their vest has to reach the pants. They can only use hooks and eyes to close them. The jackets shall cover a couple inches of the pants, they also close them with hooks and eyes and have no collar.
The hat has to be either a black felt or straw hat. The brim of the boy’s hat is 3 ½ inches wide. The band that goes around the hat is ¾ inch wide. The straw hats are only to be worn in the summer months and the felt hat in the winter months. Exception to this Ordinance is if you are a teenager you may wear a black felt hat every Sunday. The married men’s brim on their hat must be four inches wide, and the band on their hat is ¾ inch wide. The Bishops and the Preachers’ brims on their hats are 4½ inches wide. Men are allowed to wear any color of store bought gloves during the week.
The men are allowed to smoke tobacco, such as cigars and pipes. They are not allowed to have fancy smoke pipe, just a regular pipe. The cigars have to be regular size such as Swisher Sweets. Cigarettes are against the Ordinance. Chewing tobacco is allowed such as Mail Pouch, Beechnut and Redman. Rubbing snuff or dipping Copenhagen is against the Ordinance.
It’s against the Ordinance for the men to wear underwear, or have any type of pajamas. Their socks have to be of the dark colors such as gray, blue or black. The color gray can only be worn during the week. Two-piece store bought long johns are acceptable if you remove the elastic from the pants and replace it with buttons. The top part of the pajamas also has to be altered with two buttons placed in front of the shirt, the same way as the outside shirt.
Their hair cuts must be at least an inch above the eyebrows on the forehead. After you pass the sides of your eyebrows an inch you are to stop and make a straight corner downwards. This is to ensure that their ears stay covered at all times. Then they cut the hair in the front just below the earlobe and go straight back. The Ordinance letter clearly states that your ears must be covered at all times and the haircut must be straight. The men are not allowed to use any type of aftershave lotion or deodorant.
Parent and Child Relationship
The Ordinance states that a husband and wife are to bring their children up by harsh discipline. The Ordinance states the woman’s place is in the house cooking, cleaning, canning, making clothes, and helping her husband raise their children. The man’s place is out in the barn and fields providing for his family.
Husband and Wife Relationship
The Ordinance on sex between married couples is as follows: It is against the Ordinance to have sex on fasting holidays (this includes January 6th – known as Old Christmas; Good Friday; the Sunday between the Ordinance and the communion service in the spring and again in the fall; Thanksgiving.
On fasting days members of the church are not permitted to eat breakfast. They are to spend the forenoon together with their family in their house by reading the Scriptures. In the afternoon, after lunch has been served they are allowed to go visit.
Farming and Tools
The hardware that is on their horse harnesses, such as buckles and other metal parts cannot be nickel plated, if they are, they are to be painted black. The entire color of the harness is to be black. They may not use a chain saw, drive a tractor, bulldozer, riding lawn mower, push lawn mower that is motor operated, drive a motor vehicle of any kind or operate any motor driven boat.
They may also not operate any type of portable electrical tools. They may own stationary motors to do their thrashing, grind feed, run the sawmill, shop tools or washing machine. The rest of the motors have to start by pulling a rope or a crank. None of their tools can be operated by air or electric. It is against the Ordinance to own a factory belt sander. If they own a belt sander it has to be homemade.
The may not have any type of battery lights on their buggies or drum brakes. Nor are they allowed to have a triangle on the back of their buggies that indicates slow moving vehicle. It is against the Ordinance to have the buggy axle bowed up. They have to be either straight or bowed down. The buckboard has to be 17 ½ inches tall. The back of the seat cannot be over 7 ½ inches in width. The buggy length and width has to meet their stiff guidelines. The rear buggy wheels have to be larger than the front. The fiberglass buggy whip has to be of dark colors. The buggy blankets have to be of dark colors.
It is against the Ordinance to press charges or to file a complaint against any of their members with the local legal system, no matter how serious the issue is. It is also against the Ordinance to vote on political issues or positions of any kind.
Furniture and the Home
The furniture in the home is also regulated by ridged guidelines. According to the Ordinance Letter they must follow all the specific measurements. It has to be stained in a dark color. You cannot use anything to try to bring the grains out on the wood to make it look fancier. No fancy trim is allowed. It must look very plain.
According to the Ordinance Letter the inside house walls must be painted white. The Ordinance also specifies how wide your window facing or how wide your door casings can be, and what color they are allowed to paint them. In most of the Swartzentruber Amish homes the woodwork downstairs is painted a dark gray; the upstairs woodwork is painted a dark blue. The Ordinance also states that they are only allowed to hang dark blue or black curtains over their windows.
The Ordinance Letter only allows plain silverware. They are also supposed to buy all their dishes as plain as possible. A flower here or there on the plate is acceptable. But no “Love You Mom” or “Love You Dad” coffee mugs are acceptable.
The bed sheets, pillowcases and the comforter have to meet the Ordinance guidelines.
Church Leadership & Discipline
The Bishop is the leader of the church and he has the final say. The two preachers in his church are his first servants who will take turns with the Bishop to preach in the church. The Deacon is the Bishop’s second servant, who will not preach in church except read scripture out of the New Testament.
Should any complaint come against a member, the Bishop is the one who will send two of his servants to investigate, either two of his preachers or one preacher and a deacon. They will bring their findings to the Bishop and the Bishop will have the final say on what punishment should be applied to the member who has fallen in violation to the Ordinance. If the allegations against the member are serious enough, yet they do not have direct evidence to pass judgment they hold preacher meetings until either the member confesses, or in some cases where they are confident that he or she is guilty than they will pass judgment whether he or she confesses to the violations or not.
If the violation is serious enough the member will be give the opportunity to excommunicate him or herself from church, which means he or she automatically, becomes shunned from the flock.
This usually means they are only excommunicated for six weeks, should no other complaints come against them. Should they decide to fight the Bishop and the preachers ruling they will then take it up with the church, and if the church agrees with the Bishops and the preachers’ findings they will then be forcefully excommunicated from the church. The Bishops, Preacher and Deacon will say in their Ordinance that the members are free to speak on these issues when ask. But most of the time it is unwise to go against the Bishop and his servants, as they are apt to find the member in violation of the Ordinance.
Mission to Amish People was given permission by David Yoder to repost this.comments powered by Disqus« Back to Articles