LaGrange County and it's neighboring community, Elkhart County, is home to one of the largest Amish settlements in the world. Worldwide, Anabaptists number around 1,200,000 in 63 different countries. LaGrange County has an approximately 44% Amish population, numbering somewhere around 15,000 individuals. The Amish population in LaGrange County is growing as well.
The Anabaptist movement began in Zurich, Switzerland on January 21, 1525 when a group of individuals baptized adults who professed voluntarily their faith. The word Anabaptist refers to the practice by this group of "re-baptizing" adults who may already have been baptized - at the time, Christian authorities required baptism's of infants, while the Anabaptists held that candidates for their denomination needed to make their own confessions of faith.
While no means inclusive, the Amish generally share a few beliefs:
Salvation is a gift from God through unmerited grace
Belief that the Sermon on the Mount is practical and should be taken and obeyed literally, honestly, and sacrificially
The Bible's authors were inspired by God and inerrant.
Belief in the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Birth, sinless life, crucifixion, resurrection ascension, and the atonement of Jesus Christ.
The Amish generally avoid some common practices in society, such as political voting and military service. Additionally, in an effort to not be subservient to connections to the outside world, the Amish generally are not connected to the electrial grid. Most Amish in LaGrange County do not earn their living from agriculture - only about 3% - 5% earn their living from agriculture, while the majority work in the available factory jobs or own an entrepreneurial business. Amish owned businesses have a failure rate of only about 5%, whereas the non-Amish business failure rate across the United States is closer to 50%. It is a common misconception that the Amish do not pay taxes - in fact, they pay the same as everyone else with the exception of Social Security, as many choose to not pay into the Social Security fund and do not receive any benefits from it or Medicare. While the Amish generally all speak English, most also speak a version of "Pennsylvania Dutch" which has its origins in southern Germany.
For more information on Amish Culture, please visit Menno-hof, the Amish and Mennonite Cultural Center located in Shipshewana in LaGrange County, or visit http://www.mennohof.com/.
*** Collated from Various Sources ***