LaGRANGE COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – Amish people are known for their non-conformist lifestyle. WANE 15 spoke with an Amish expert to gain better insight into how the community has dealt with this past year’s events.
LaGrange County is home to the largest population of Amish people in the state at nearly 6,000 Amish residents.
Erik Wesner, founder and editor of AmishAmerica.com, has spent over a decade studying the Amish and has multiple publications on the subject. He lived, worked and traded with the Amish across the country and even lived in LaGrange for a brief time.
Wesner explained that the Amish as a whole in the United States are not a monolithic group—meaning that different populations fall on a wide spectrum on their way of life.
In LaGrange County itself, there are about 200 churches that follow different rules. Depending on which church a family belongs to, they might dress slightly differently, use electricity and interact with others outside their community.
Wesner said that a common misconception about the Amish and the pandemic is that it hasn’t affected them. Even though the Amish tend to stick with their inner circle, which limits their exposure, waves of the virus have impacted their communities.
How they respond to the virus lies within the core of their beliefs. Wesner explained that illness and resulting death are interpreted as “God’s will.”
In terms of the COVID-19 vaccine, Wesner said that if Amish populations believe that they had already been exposed or infected, they might not see the need to get vaccinated. Amish people might also be skeptical of the virus, depending on where and how they get their information. Some Amish business owners who work with non-Amish individuals might be more mindful about following COVID-19 protection measures, such as wearing masks, to protect their communities.
Wesner said that while Amish people are finding ways to continue their way of life safely, they are generally respectful of the state’s restrictions because they’re aware of how their actions affect others in their county.