The Amish & Mennonites are cultural fixtures of Lancaster, PA. They’ve been in the Pennsylvania area for longer than the United States has been a country, and they’re known throughout the country for their tradition, conservative lifestyle, and ideological differences from the world at large.
But even with how disconnected they may seem from the rest of the world, many people want to know — do the Amish & Mennonites drink alcohol?
After all, alcohol is a ubiquitous part of nearly any culture. Throughout the world, different nationalities have their special type of alcohol whether it’s Kentucky bourbon, Russian vodka, or German hefeweizen.
So what about the Amish? And what about Mennonites?
We’ll answer both of these questions in the blog post below.
T-Shirt: My Other Last Name Is Amish
Do the Amish Drink Alcohol?
In short, yes, the Amish typically drink alcohol.
This may come as a shock to many who know the Amish primarily as a reclusive group of ethno-religious people who do their best to keep to themselves.
This is true — but as time progresses, the Amish are in greater and closer contact with the rest of the world out of necessity. Tourism in particular is a driver of merging Amish & non-Amish cultures in places like Lancaster, while more rural Amish denominations may be more removed from American culture at large.
Still, this means the Amish in Lancaster do, in fact, drink alcohol.
However, there’s no such thing as an “Amish bar” or an “Amish club.”
Alcohol is typically something that’s enjoyed in small groups, away from others who may judge someone for drinking.
This is because alcohol isn’t endorsed as something that the Amish should or can do — it’s just not necessarily punished with something severe like the meidung.
Punishment for drinking can include social consequences like parental intervention or pressure to never do it again — but drinking still happens.
So where does it happen? Is it possible to see an Amish person out drinking and having a night on the town?
Generally speaking, Amish drink with one another. Part of this is because their social circles exist of mostly other Amish people, especially when it comes to spending leisure time together (which the Amish don’t have very often).
This can happen privately, such as in someone’s home or elsewhere on their property.
You may also encounter Amish people drinking at a bar or restaurant. This doesn’t happen too often in the “touristy” areas of Lancaster (like Lincoln Highway). More often, it’s seen in places like Lancaster City (on occasion) and in smaller-town restaurants like those around New Holland and Ephrata.
In these areas, it’s more common to see Amish people having a drink or two at a bar. These are the “towny” areas where it’s possible that an Amish person may know a non-Amish person because of work or other social relations.
So, in a nutshell, do the Amish drink? Yes.
Is drinking endorsed by the community? Not necessarily.
But do they do it anyway?
Do Mennonites Drink Alcohol?
Since the Amish are generally more conservative than Mennonites, it would make sense to think that Mennonites are also allowed to drink alcohol, just like the Amish.
However, this isn’t necessarily the case.
There are a few reasons for this.
First, there are more Mennonites in the world than there are Amish. This means the individual beliefs of denomination members will be more varied than the Amish.
In addition, Mennonites are a multinational faith that spans every continent except Antarctica (unless someone baptized a penguin). This means that there are inherent cultural differences among Mennonites and Mennonite denominations that will view alcohol differently.
So if you’re wondering whether Mennonites are able to drink because of their belief system, the answer is both yes and no.
This is true in smaller areas like Lancaster as well.
In Lancaster, there are probably more than a dozen different Mennonite denominations, each of which may have its own interpretation of Biblical law, ideology, and values.
Some of these Mennonite denominations are going to be more lax with social pastimes like drinking. They may even take an active role in programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous as part of their community outreach programs, which some churches choose to run.
Other Mennonite denominations are the polar opposite. They see alcohol as an absolute violation of Christian values, and it’s explicitly forbidden in all forms except rubbing alcohol.
This belief is so prolific that the more conservative religious businesses of Lancaster County go so far as to make their employees sign morality clauses, which prohibit them from drinking or participating in other behavior that is deemed “un-Christian.”
Whether someone wants to sign this clause is exclusively up to them. But it’s a very real part of working for some of these companies, such as Lancaster Bible College, that draw a hard line against drinking.
So do Mennonites drink? Yes and no.
It depends on who you ask.
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One thought on “Do Amish & Mennonites Drink Alcohol?”
Chris, I always enjoy your posts. Having lived much of my life in Central and Eastern Pennsylvania, and having had a number of Mennonite friends over the years, it’s been fascinating to follow your “deeper dive” into the cultures.