Synopsis by Nathan Southern
Of all of the subcultures present in the contemporary United States, arguably none have persisted or thrived as much as the Amish. A group of Christian church fellowships that adhere to mainstream Protestant doctrine, the Amish nevertheless encourage a degree of separatism from the secular world and shun modern technology and dress. They first formed in the 1690s, as a Dutch-German offshoot of the Mennonites, under the leadership of Jakob Amman. Now, several centuries later, the number of Amish individuals in the United States has grown exponentially - from 5,000 at the outset of the 20th century, to over 200,000 at the dawn of the 21st. And yet, despite the stereotype of the Amish as farmers, less than five percent actually ply this trade; most are involved in other occupations. As an episode of public television's acclaimed American Experience series, this program intercuts contemporary footage of Amish Americans with a historical survey of their past, to provide a uniquely intimate look into their world and paradigm.