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June 13, 2007



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Plain people

The plain people is a generic term used to refer to Amish, Old Order, Conservative and Old Colony Mennonites, Old German Baptist Brethren and Old Order River Brethren in Pennsylvania. Historically it referred also to plain Quakers, Dunkards and perhaps Moravians.

The term originally came from sources external to the Amish or Mennonite groups in reference to their plain appearance and life style. The original dictates for a plain and simple life were to counter what they saw as the abomination of Roman Catholic Church liturgy and ritual and the lifestyle the Catholic clergy maintained prior to the Counter Reformation. While Martin Luther began the Reformation, many felt that he had not done enough to separate himself from the Roman Catholic Church. This separation led to many customs the groups still maintain to some degree. Among these are included:

Plain clothes, usually in solid, normally dark colors.
Plain church buildings, or no church buildings whatsoever.
A utilitarian view of technology, similar to the precautionary principle of technology in that unknowns should be avoided, but the emphasis was on the results in the eyes of God. If they were unsure how God would look upon a technology, the leaders of the church would determine whether it was to be avoided or not. This applied to all technology, explaining why their clothing often consisted of hook and loop instead of buttons. The degree to which this principle was supported varied among the congregations, but in general, the Amish people believed that the Mennonites had not done enough to separate themselves from the rest of the world.

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