The Mennonite People

About twice a year my in-laws take my family and I to a Mennonite restaurant outside Versailles, MO. All in all it is really good home cooked food, and to top it off, it’s all you can eat.  And as soon as you think you couldn’t eat any more, it’s time for pie.

Two Amish girls in traditional attire, Lancaster County

Two girls in traditional attire, Lancaster County

That’s all well and good, you can eat great food and get fat at a Mennonite restaurant, but who are the Mennonites? I always wondered, there must be more to the story than they just didn’t want to believe in zippers and liked riding at the tail end of a horse. There must be a good reason to wear old time clothes and not own a computer. And if I’m wrong, well, I’m sure they’ve never even heard of a blog before so I have no worries about them leaving nasty comments. (It was a joke people, relax!)

The Mennonites are a group of pacifist Christians that were persecuted by both the Roman Catholics and Protestants for differences in beliefs. Editors notes: ‘I can understand the Catholics persecuting, it’s in their blood, but the Protestants left the Catholics because of belief differences, only to become what they fought to leave.’

A Brief History

Find the full story with out my personal opinion on Wikipedia

After the being persecuted for hundreds of years the Mennonites finally found safety in the state church of Switzerland. This was one of the main reasons that caused the first big split, which eventually developed the Amish religion. The persecution would continue on and off for the Mennonites in Europe through the 18th century, while the Mennonites in the Colonial Americas were enjoying a large degree of religious freedoms.

In 1683 the first Mennonite settlers came to the New World and settled in Germantown, Pennsylvania. This early group of Mennonites wrote the first formal protest against slavery in the United States.

During this Colonial period, the Mennonites differed from the other colonists in three major ways. They opposed the American Revolutionary War, disagreed with public education and disapproval of religious revivalism.  Along with these disagreements, other contributions the Mennonites gave during this period was the idea of separation of church and state and the opposition to slavery.

The Plain People

Photograph of an old order Mennonite, horse and carriage in Oxford County, Ontario Canada at Pignam and Ebenezer Road.

Some Mennonites, as well as many other religions, wear ‘Plain’ cloths, not for religious reasons but for cultural. The Bishop of each group creates the rules that others willingly follow. Some orders may decide that cars are OK, but others may decide nothing more sophisticated than a button may be used.

Editors notes: ‘This is one thing I’ve never understood.  Humans developed things to make our lives easier. They did it back with the ‘Plain People’ were in style. Humans had to develop the technology to get to the point in history to allow for the ‘Plain People’, but why stop there. And if you wanted to be true to the Earth or something, why not go back to caveman times and wear nothing but what you can catch or find.’

After doing a little research, I found most websites that talk about the plain clothing directed towards women. I’m not sure I really understand why a culture would want to cover their women, or why the women would allow it to happen. But I’m not a member of that culture, and I’m sure they wouldn’t take me anyway, so it’s not mine to understand.

So I guess I really haven’t cleared anything up. Most likely I’ve just offended people, which was not my intention. But what I have learned in my research is that the Mennonite people are pacifists who would rather die for their beliefs then hurt others. While very noble, not very productive to high membership numbers. I’ve also learned that not all Mennonites wear the Plain Clothes, but I’m still foggy on why someone would/should wear them.

Nevertheless, I will continue eating at the Mennonite restaurant for the simple fact that they cook and serve good food.  And next time your driving down a rural road and see an Amish or Mennonite horse and buggy, don’t honk your horn, just pass them peacefully and respect what they believe.



You didn't even mention the difference between Amish people and Mennonites...

That all Amish people are Mennonites, but not all Mennonites are Amish. Amish people are more fundamentalist than your everyday Mennonite that can use batteries, and drive cars. Amish people are totally against all technologies... They just recently to accept roller skates and razorblades use.

Mennonites are the older group while the Amish are a newer fundamental group that shun anything modern like electronics, gas power...And zippers??

John Nemec's picture

The article wasn't about the differences between the Mennonites and the Amish, it's about what I could learn of hundreds of years worth of the culture and history of the Mennonite people in a few hours. I did mention that the Amish came from the Mennonites, but no I didn't mention anything about why the Mennonite's can use batteries or other things and the Amish can not, again, about the Mennonites not the Amish.

Unfortunately, I didn't learn nearly enough about the Mennonite people as I would have liked too. But as always my research continues, even if I don't blog about it in the future.

Oh, by the way, thanks for reading!

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