(Photo: Reuters/Frank Polich)
While many religious traditions are seeing their numbers dwindle, the Amish are reportedly doing well. The group's Midwest population is allegedly booming, and is actually one of the fastest growing religious groups in North America.
A study released by Ohio State University has shown that nearly 250,000 Amish live in the United States, and a new community emerges every three and a half weeks. If the trend continues the Amish population will exceed 1 million by 2050.
"This place has grown," Daniel Miller told the Huffington Post. He has spent his entire life in an Amish community. "It's because of all the kids," he explained.
The Amish encourage the growth of large families in order to help with the work of running a farm or small business. Any and all children are seen as blessings from God and added to the group's overall numbers.
According to the Ohio State study, the Amish double in population every 22 years. One particular group has settled in Ohio, and with 60,000 Amish residents, the state is the most Amish-populated in the nation. Pennsylvania comes in second with a population of 50,000 and Indiana follows with 45,000 Amish members.
"Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania comprise America's 'Amish Heartland.' Roughly 65 percent of the total Amish population is found in these three states," says AmishAmerica.com.
Why those particular areas? The land offers a bounty of opportunity for planting and harvest. "You can't be too rural," explained Joseph Donnermeyer, the Ohio State professor who led the study on the Amish. "You have to be close enough to a town with the necessities, like a bank, hospital, etc. I think Ohio is the perfect mix."
The Amish are a unique religious group, often preferring to remain in their own private communities. The group formed after a rebellion in 1693 by Jakob Ammann, who left the Alsatian Anabaptists that year. Those who chose to follow Ammann took on the title of Amish.