It turns out that much of the conventional wisdom surrounding the Amish are urban myths. For instance, many use electricity, Amish kids aren't "turned loose" when they reach 16, and the actors in the Amish Mafia are not actually Amish (there's a surprise). These topics and more are the subject of a recent Research on Religion podcast ("Donald Kraybill on The Amish and Old Order Mennonites"), which features sociologist Don Kraybill, probably the foremost Amish scholar. Here's a brief description of the podcast:
One of the most distinctive and recognizable Christian groups in the United States are the Amish. But how much do we really know about this group? Prof. Don Kraybill, a noted scholar on Old Order Mennonites and Anabaptists, provides us with a historical background of the Amish and the related “horse and buggy” Mennonites. We also discuss their theology, ethnic/cultural practices, demographics, and economics. Along the way, we explode many of the myths and stereotypes in this wonderfully comprehensive interview.The podcast can be downloaded from iTunes or you can listen to it at the Research on Religion website ("Donald Kraybill on The Amish and Old Order Mennonites").