Do you think of the Amish as leading an "endangered" lifestyle? Maybe it's that we associate them with being old-fashioned, so to speak, but I confess that when I have considered them -- whether when teaching my kids about the impact of Wisconsin v. Yoder or buying preserves from a farm stand -- it has been with a sort of wistfulness. Surely they won't be able to hold out forever against the encroachment of the wider world around them.
Not so: in fact the Amish are one of the fastest-growing religious groups in the country, according to an Ohio State University census:
The study, released July 27 at the annual meeting of the Rural Sociological Society, suggests a new community sprouting every three and a half weeks.
Nearly 250,000 Amish live in the U.S. and Canada, and the population is expected to exceed 1 million around 2050.
The growth may not be visible outside Amish country, but the rural settlements definitely see the boom.
"This place has grown," said Daniel Miller, 52, who has spent his life on an Amish settlement here. "It's because all of the kids."
...The Amish double their population about every 22 years, said Joseph Donnermeyer, the Ohio State professor who led the census project as part of the recent 2010 U.S. Religion Census.