More Latinos Than Amish In Amish Country

Here’s a statistic I didn’t see coming. According to a report in Latinos have surpassed the Amish in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, which is considered the geographic center of the US Amish culture.

First, some context from

These (Amish) people trace their heritage back hundreds of years, and yet, despite all the time that has passed and the many changes that have taken place in society, they still live and work much as their forefathers did. Their families and their farms are their top priorities, second only to God.
The Amish are very devout in their faith. They believe in the literal interpretation and application of Scripture as the Word of God. They take seriously the Biblical commands to separate themselves from the things of the world. They believe worldliness can keep them from being close to God, and can introduce influences that could be destructive to their communities and to their way of life.

According to Elizabethtown College there are 30,000 Amish in Lancaster County, where the bulk of the Amish make their home. Here’s what makes this story difficult to track down: The US Census does not track the Amish in Lancaster County. But an Amish Studies center at Elizabethtown College does.

The Census did count Latinos in Lancaster County and came up with a total of 45,000; a 68% increase in the past 10 years.

The county boasts two Spanish-language radio stations and a newspaper. Stop at a nearby fast-food joint, and the staff that waits on you is bound to be completely Latino.
Latinos have established businesses and cultural networks, securing positions on City Council and leadership of the school district. The Lancaster General Hospital website offers Spanish translation, and the city is home to the only officially Latino-designated Catholic parish in the Harrisburg Diocese.

In Lancaster City, the report says, 2 out of every 5  residents identify themselves as Latino, and they are quickly becoming an integral part of the fabric of the community.

“Gradually, more Hispanics are finding their place in roles throughout the community, in the police and fire department, hospitals,” said (San Juan Bautista Church pastor Rev. Allan) Wolfe, who has been at San Juan Bautista since 1997. “It’s a gradual growing into the various components of our society.”

What I find extremely interesting about this story is how easily it seems that Latinos have been able to integrate themselves into the general society and culture. But it makes sense, because that part of the country is used to accepting the presence of a cultural group that differs from their own. I think there’s a lesson of tolerance to be learned here.

Lancaster City Mayor Rick Gray said the Latino community has unwittingly contributed to the discourse on tolerance.
“I once had a guy say, ‘Why do these people come here and dress their own way and speak their own language and don’t mix in with the rest of us?’” Gray said. “I said, ‘Hey, take it easy on the Pennsylvania Dutch. They’ve been here a long time.’”
Wolfe said that unlike the cloistered Amish, Latinos are actively engaged in the community and can at times buck up against biases and prejudices.

Follow Victor Landa on Twitter: @vlanda

[Photo by johnny_appleseed1774]


Subscribe today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Must Read

Why the Latino sleeping giant will never awaken. And why that’s a good thing.

Victor Landa December 10, 2018

Somewhere deep in the bowels of Donald Trump’s political salt mines (This, of course, is pure conjecture. I don’t know that Trump has political salt mines or if they have […]

Denver Public Schools threatened to report striking teachers to immigration

Victor Landa January 25, 2019

DENVER — Denver Public Schools apologized Thursday for telling teachers working on immigration visas that they would be reported to immigration officials if they went on strike. The letter to […]

NBC calls Tom Brokaw’s assimilation comments ‘inaccurate and inappropriate’

Victor Landa January 29, 2019

New York (CNN Business) – NBC News, facing mounting backlash stemming from former “NBC Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw‘s comments that Hispanics should “work harder at assimilation” into American culture, distanced […]

In Julián Castro’s presidential bid, Latinos see one of their own, defying stereotypes

Victor Landa January 28, 2019

SAN ANTONIO — Musician Juan Tejeda sees something very familiar in Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro. “He is very indigenous and Chicano,” said Tejeda, a conjuntoaccordionist who has roots in the […]

Kushner floats deal of permanent protections for 1.8 million dreamers, LULAC chief says

Victor Landa January 25, 2019

WASHINGTON – Top White House adviser Jared Kushner told members of Latino advocacy organizations on Thursday that President Donald Trump was willing to give 1.8 million Dreamers permanent protections from deportation […]

Trump citizenship question on 2020 census blocked by court

Victor Landa January 15, 2019

A federal judge Tuesday blocked the Trump administration’s plan to put a citizenship question on the 2020 census, which will help determine U.S. elections, congressional seats and federal funding decisions […]

NewsTaco Rundown – January 25, 2019

Victor Landa January 25, 2019

Lawsuits Allege ‘Grave Harm’ To Immigrant Children In Detention – CNN The Trump administration’s treatment of more than 10,000 immigrant children held in custody at shelters across the nation is […]

Judges Say Trump’s Government Shutdown Broke Immigration System for Years

Victor Landa January 30, 2019

President Donald Trump may be over, (for now), but immigration judges and attorneys worry that the record government shutdown ’s disastrous effects on the immigration court system will last for years. […]