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Old Order Amish Previous | Next
To be updated!



Their mythology or creation story

Amish are not much concerned with how the world was created. They tend to have a vague familiarity with the origin stories of the Old Testament, but since their culture and social codes are primarily oral, they do not actively study or follow scripture. They oppose the theory of evolution, not because they are "creationist", but because they see science itself, the maker of weapons of mass destruction, as an evil force in the world.

Unlike scientists, who have unconsciously inherited the Judeo-Christian anthropocentrism of their Anglo-European culture, and who lead in the wholesale transformation of natural habitat into a machine for meeting human needs, the Amish attribute creation to a mysterious higher power, remaining humble and submissive to the forces of nature.


Evolution of the society

"The year was 1525 and marked the beginning of the Anabaptist movement, a term meaning "rebaptized....In the years that followed, Anabaptist leaders were beaten, tortured, drowned, burned at the stake, and killed by the sword....In Holland, a former Roman Catholic priest named Menno Simons left the Church to become one of those hunted and persecuted for their Anabaptist preaching....One principal source of disagreement was interpretation of the Meidung....The Mennonites interpreted this to mean...the member...was to be subjected to Meidung only at communion. But Jakob Ammann, a young bishop of the Swiss Brethren in Bern, insisted that the Meidung had more far-reaching implications. Not only must the person under the ban be excluded from the communion table, but he should also be shunned at every other occasion; even his own family should refuse to speak to him or eat with him or have anything whatever to do with him until he had repented and had been forgiven....His followers, known as the Amish, were as stubborn and inflexible as Ammann himself, and they became characterized by their unwillingness to change." Amish People: Plain Living in a Complex World, Carolyn Meyer

"Distinctive Amish and Mennonite agricultural practices began when the Anabaptists were disenfranchised politically in their homelands and were forced to devise new farming methods in previously unproductive regions and climates. In the seventeenth century they practiced rotation of crops, the stable feeding of cattle, meadow irrigation, used natural fertilizers, and raised clover and alfalfa as a means of restoring soil fertility. Instead of "mining the soil" and moving away when fertility declined, they devised ways of restoring productivity." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"Having been denied the ownership of land, the Anabaptists combined animal husbandry with intensive cultivation on the farms they rented. The family occupied a farm, and the entire household worked there....The parents would retire early and help their children financially, spending their later years assisting the young couple to take over. In this manner all the generations of a farming family were integrated by agricultural labor." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler


Habitat & Ecosystem

Habitat & Ecosystems

Surrounding Landscape, Occupied Landscape, Climate, Ecosystems & Natural Resources

Originating in Central Europe, the Amish migrated to the temperate zone of North America, where they took over worn-out farmland that had already been cleared by non-Amish. Continuing this strategy, they have since spread to similar habitat throughout the continent.

"When the first Amish arrived in Pennsylvania, they were pleased to find black walnut trees that meant fertile land and blue stones streaked with white that indicated limestone soil. They took over land that had been abandoned by less diligent farmers who thought it easier to clear new land as the old soil wore out. The Amish know well the importance of crop rotation." Amish People: Plain Living in a Complex World, Carolyn Meyer


Adjacent Societies

From the beginning, Amish have lived among, and been surrounded by, non-Amish farm families. From the dominant society's viewpoint, Amish are a subculture or cult within the larger society, citizens of the nation but with a special dispensation, similar to Native Americans on their reservations.

Land Use

Settlement Patterns & Technology, Mobility

"Amish communities may be found in various geographic locations but not as discrete villages, counties, or compounds. In any region where there are Amish farmers, their families live on either side of the highway, around small rural towns, and they are interspersed among "English" farm families." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

Old Order Amish use horse-drawn buggies and are not allowed to own or drive automobiles, but they may accept rides from non-Amish, and sometimes travel in groups by train, for example on aid missions or visits to urban zoos.

Ecological Interactions

Subsistence & Other Technologies

"The Amish are required by doctrine to be farmers or to work in farm-related occupations. Working the soil keeps one close to God; hard physical labor is good in itself. Farming helps to hold the family together, living and working as a unit in a way that would not be possible if the members worked away from home. And it keeps the temptations of the world at bay." Amish People: Plain Living in a Complex World, Carolyn Meyer

"The charter of Amish life requires members to limit their occupation to farming or closely associated activities such as operating a saw mill, carpentry, or masonry." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"Soil has for the Amish a spiritual significance....Man has limited dominion....To damage the earth is to disregard one's offspring." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"Amish farmers today, as in earlier periods, prefer general farming or a diversity of crops....Where possible, their farms incorporate woodlands and pasture lands....The Amish farm typically maintains livestock of various kinds....A diversified vegetable garden and the production of milk and cheese, fruit, cereals, and meat have aided the Amish in maintaining a high degree of self-sufficiency." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"What the Amish understood is that use of modern farm equipment does not increase acreage yield; it cuts down the number of hours the farmer and his family must spend in the field. The general trend in the nation has been to increasingly larger farms, increasingly mechanized. For the large commercial farmers, it is an endless cycle: the more land, the more machinery needed, the more expense, the bigger crops needed to generate more money, the more land required, and so on, around and around. Amish farms, meanwhile, have remained the same: fifty acres is about average." Amish People: Plain Living in a Complex World, Carolyn Meyer

"Clusters of men often go hunting and deep sea fishing together. In addition to local small game hunting, many go deer hunting for several days in central or northern Pennsylvania....Fishing in Chesapeake Bay as well as deep sea fishing are also favorite sports." The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald B. Kraybill

"With the increasing cost of farmland, the diminishing availability of good farmland, decreasing farm profits, and the increase in costs of farm machinery and supplies, the occupational pattern has changed....The proliferation of nonfarming employment occured very rapidly after 1960....A large proportion of the nonfarming Amish work in shops and trades within the Amish community....Now that the Amish can buy and sell to members of their own faith and community, they are less dependent on the outside world for their survival." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler


Overall Structure & Institutions

Overall structure of the entire society, overall management, institutions, population control

"Worshiping in homes is a prudent way of limiting the size of Amish congregations. The physical size of houses controls the numerical size of church districts. This practice serves two important roles: it keeps the organizational structure of the settlement simple, and it guarantees that each individual has a social home in a small congregation....People are known by first names. Birthdays are remembered, and illness is public knowledge." The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald B. Kraybill

"The Amish realize that larger things bring specialization, hierarchy, and elite subgroups that remove average people from power....Ironically, this commitment to small-scale units makes individuals "big" psychologically in that they are known intimately by a small, stable group." The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald B. Kraybill

Internal Connectivity

Internal Communication, Travel, Trade

Amish communicate between settlements (church districts) by U.S. mail. "…most Amish settlements communicate with one another through correspondence newspapers, listing ministry names in an Amish-published annual almanac, or assembling church directories….The national edition of The Budget, a weekly correspondence newspaper published in Sugarcreek, Ohio, carries columns from Amish and conservative Mennonite "scribes" across the country. Scribes detail who visited their settlement and who traveled elsewhere, marriages, births, and deaths, along with the weather, humorous anecdotes, and general observations on life….Raber's New American Almanac, published in Baltic, Ohio, is a privately published annual that facilitates churchly connection and correspondence….Since 1960, many Amish settlements, large and small, have begun to issue church directories. Updated every five to ten years, these volumes are compendia of information on church districts and leaders, area Amish schools, and data on families in the settlement. Compiling the directories (without the aid of computer data bases) is a large undertaking, carried out only because the directories are, in most places, very popular with Amish families who want ready access to addresses, birthdays, and anniversary dates for friends and relatives across the settlement or in other settlements." Plain Diversity: Amish Cultures and Identities, Steven M. Nolt & Thomas J. Meyers

"Telephoning reduces visiting....Although quicker and handier, the phone threatened to erode the core of Amish culture: face-to-face conversations....The Amish do not consider the phone a moral evil....They have a good grasp of the social consequences of the phone for family life–gossip, individuation (multiple phones), and continual interruptions. A ringing phone would spoil the natural flow of family rhythms....Phones not only permit unwanted visitors to intrude into the privacy of a home at any moment, but they also impose a technological structure on the natural flow of face-to-face interaction." The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald B. Kraybill

Old Order Amish use horse-drawn buggies and are not allowed to own or drive automobiles, but they may accept rides from non-Amish, and sometimes travel in groups by train, for example on aid missions or visits to urban zoos.

Life Cycle

Birth, Parenting & Childhood, Adult Providers, Mating, Elders, Death

"The Amish are committed to the assumption that learning should be practical, related to life, and should lead to social responsibility....Amish education emphasizes cooperation, responsibility, and humility." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"Teaching the child to work and accept responsibility is considered of utmost importance. The child begins to assist his parents at the age of four and is given limited responsibility at the age of six....Some parents give a pig, a sheep, or calf to each child with the stipulation that he or she tend the animal and take care of it. In this way the child is motivated to take an interest in the farm....The child as owner learns the consequences of feeding, neglect, growth, birth, sterility, disease, or death." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"School children are motivated primarily by concern for other people and not for fear of punishment. Rewards are used to develop the attitudes of humility, forgiveness, admission of error, sympathy, responsibility, and appreciation of work." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"The Amish school aids the child to become a part of his community and to remain within his community. The school emphasizes shared knowledge...and thereby helps the community to remain of one mind....Amish schools...do not attempt to interpret or teach religion in the classroom....Amish religion tends to be ritualistic and nontheological. Christianity is to be lived and not talked about....Teaching is by example." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"During [adolescence] the young person must come to terms with two great decisions: whether he will join the Amish church, and whom he will marry. To make these decisions, the individual must establish a certain degree of independence from his family and his community. The family relaxes some of its control. The church has no direct control over the young person who has not voluntarily become a member. Sampling the world and testing the boundaries may take the form of owning a radio or camera, attending movies, wearing non-Amish clothes, having a driver's license or owning an automobile–all more or less in secret. If these deviations are managed discreetly, they may be ignored by the parents and community. The young person is thereby allowed some freedom to taste the outside world he is voluntarily expected to reject when he becomes a church member." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"Flirting with the world serves as a form of social immunization. Teenage mischief provides a minimal dosage of worldliness that strengthens resistance in adulthood." The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald B. Kraybill

"Higher education–indeed the very phrase 'high school'–is symbolic of self-advancement....It typifies forsaking the lowly path of humility and faithful service to the community....Book learning...is held in suspicion. How to plow a straight furrow is more important to the Amish boy than knowledge of the spatial relationships of geometry. Practical knowledge is acquired in the most effective way known to man, by means of an apprentice-like system that permits learning by participation in the rewards of work and in the goals of the society. The attitudes that are of utmost importance in Amish society–cooperation with other human beings and learning to like work–are acquired informally by working with others in the family and community, not by attending school." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"...to the Amishman, "worldly education" leads to sinfulness, manipulative powers, and moral corruption. To the Amishman, the grossest distortions of educations are perpetrated by the scientists, who have invented the theory of evolution and who have made bombs to destroy the world." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"The occasion that provides the best opportunity for young people to meet is the Sunday evening singing....The youth from several districts usually combine for the singing. This occasion provides interaction among young people on a much broader base than is possible in the single district." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"Among the Amish, as in many agrarian societies, it has been the custom to marry after the crops are harvested....Weddings are accomodated into the community's schedule most suitably after the summer's work is over, from October to December." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"An Amish marriage is a very practical affair....They do not marry for "love" or "romance" but out of mutual respect and the need for a partner in the kind of life they are expected to live: the farmer needs a wife, and they both need children. Marriage is important to the Amish community. It is a sign that the young people have truly joined the group, the climax of the rite of passage that began with baptism, the signal of the arrival of adulthood and sober responsibility." Amish People: Plain Living in a Complex World, Carolyn Meyer

"It is the custom for Amish parents to retire while they are still relatively young, especially if they have a son who needs a farm. For the first few years, until the babies start to come....Reuben and Hannah will live in the Groeszdawdi Haus, grandfather's house, a section of the farmhouse built to accomodate a second generation. Later when the family has increased and when Reuben has assumed full responsibility for the farm, he and Hannah and their children will move into the larger part of the house, and his parents will go to live in the Groeszdawdi Haus." Amish People: Plain Living in a Complex World, Carolyn Meyer

"Social power increases with age. In a rural society where children follow the occupations of parents, the elderly provide valuable advice....In a slowly changing society, the seasoned judgements of elders is esteemed, unlike fast-paced societies where children teach new technologies to their parents." The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald B. Kraybill

"Death is a sober occasion. In some respects, however, it is taken as a matter of course, as the Amish person lives his life in the shadow of death and in conscious submission to the forces of nature." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"When death overtakes a family member, few decisions need to be made for which tradition has not provided. Neighbors and non-relatives relieve the bereaved family of all work responsibility. The family is not confronted with the numerous decisions faced by the typical American family at such a time." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"In death the deepest emotions of community are engendered. The act of dying, which is the most private act that any person can experience, is transformed into a community event....The reasons for death are understood within the context of the meaning of life....The custom of sharing a meal following the burial is one that helps the mourners resume their normal roles and responsibilities....The family is quickly reintegrated into the community, in sharp contrast to the typical American family, where even close neighbors often do not know of a death, and where sympathies are expressed over long periods of time in awkward and anonymous contacts." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

Behavior Management

Social Codes, Religion, Knowledge & Wisdom, Leadership & Decisionmaking, Conflict Prevention & Resolution

"The solution to the riddle of Amish culture is embedded in the German word Gelassenheit....Roughly translated, Gelassenheit means 'submitting, yielding to a higher authority.'...Members are asked to 'give up' things and to 'give themselves under' the authority of the church. One member said 'to give yourself under the church means to yield, to submit.'...Gelassenheit stands in sharp contrast to the bold, aggressive individualism of modern culture." The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald B. Kraybill

"The nonresistant stance of Gelassenheit forbids the use of force in human relations. Thus the Amish avoid serving in the military, holding political office, filing lawsuits, serving on juries, working as police officers, and engaging in ruthless competition." The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald B. Kraybill

"Amish attempts to harness selfishness, pride, and power are not based on the premise that the material world or pleasure itself is evil....Sexual relations within marriage are enjoyed. Good food is savored. Recreation, humor, and play, in the proper time and place, are welcomed. Evil, the Amish believe, is found in human desires for self-exaltation, not in the material world itself." The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald B. Kraybill

"On the preaching Sunday before each communion, members endure a day-long service of preparation in which the Ordnung is once again brought into sharp focus. Taboos are reviewed and each member must express acceptance of the rules by which they all must live–rules that govern every aspect of life: farming techniques, building styles, dress, home furnishings, transportation, entertainment." Amish People: Plain Living in a Complex World, Carolyn Meyer

"Communion binds the Amish members within a district together with sacred ties. Communion symbolizes the unity of the church....Each member is asked whether he is in agreement with the Ordnung, whether he is at peace with the brotherhood, and whether anything "stands in the way" of his entering into the communion service. Faults must be confessed and adjustments made between members who have differences to settle." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"For Amish persons, singing evokes the deepest emotions of the human spirit and is thus a source of social unification and group catharsis. No other ritual has such a sustained emotional appeal as does the blending of the individual voice with that of the spiritual community." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"Intense interaction in the little homogenous community makes members feel responsible for each other's welfare....Perhaps the most dramatic form of mutual aid is the barn-raising. But there are many additional neighborly associations that result in an exchange of services. They include sawing and cutting wood, erecting milk houses or remodeling buildings, painting, fencing, and butchering. Among the women there are quiltings, sewings, and housecleaning activities....In the case of an unexpected death, illness, or accident, the community comes to the rescue by taking care of the farm chores, harvesting the crops, or caring for the children....The care of the aged has never been a problem with the Amish. Old people retire on the farm....The Amish have been successful in repelling the trends that characterize the modern American rural community–migration to the cities, consolidation of schools, greater dependence on government, urban recreation, general secularization, and urban associations. They have diverted these trends not only by means of the substitutionary forms of intense sharing but also by meeting the social needs of the individual." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"The ultimate control exerted by the Amish to keep the members in strict adherence to the Ordnung is the Meidung: shunning. No one will speak to the person or eat with him or conduct business with him or have anything whatever to do with him while he is under the ban. It can last for a lifetime unless, the sinner mends his ways, begs for forgiveness, and is re-admitted to fellowship by a unanimous vote of the congregation. It is terrible." Amish People: Plain Living in a Complex World, Carolyn Meyer

"Among the Amish–who have rejected coercive powers as wordly, and who cultivate humility, obedience, and simplicity–the selection of leaders is a delicate process. One who is chosen to lead must not seek either authority or power, but in reality he is placed in a position where he must exercise both. In selecting candidates for office, members look for humility and evidence of good farm and family management." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"Good management is an important differentiating quality in Amish life. By "good management" the Amishman means...willingness to start the day early, working cooperatively within the family, knowing how to include children in family work, maintaining punctuality and orderliness, having equipment and tools in place and in good repair, maintaining good livestock and horses, working the soil and harvesting at times when the weather is right and the labor is available, learning to preserve food and conserve material supplies and energy, and not shrinking from the demands of hard work. When the members nominate persons for church leadership...they invariably choose farmers rather than laborers and business persons." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"The ordination of leaders is the emotional high point in the ritual life of the community....The personal lifestyle of candidates is valued far above training or competence....It is considered haughty and arrogant to aspire for the office. Ministers are called by the congregation in a biblical procedure known as "the casting of lots," in which they yield to the mysteries of divine selection....The lot "falls" on the new minister without warning....Like a bolt of lightning, the lot strikes the new minister's family with the stunning realization that he is about to assume a high and heavy calling for the rest of his life....tears, silence, sympathy, and quiet words of support are extended to the new leader and his family." The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald B. Kraybill

Resource Distribution

Economy & Sharing

"An Amish farmer...summarized the assumptions about mutual responsibility this way: 'When I am plowing in the spring, I can often see five or six other teams in nearby fields, and I know if I was sick they would all be here plowing my field.'" The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald B. Kraybill

"In contrast to some Moderns who hate their jobs but love to shop, the Amish enjoy their work and despise conspicuous consumption. Theirs is an economy of production, not consumption. Although mischief, play, and leisure flourish in Amish life, work dominates. Often hard and dirty, it is good and meaningful work that for the most part builds community....Housework, shop work, and fieldwork are offerings that contribute to a family's welfare....Work is not pitted against the other spheres of life as often happens elsewhere....A great deal of work is done in small groups, where it blends effort and play in a celebration of togetherness." The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald B. Kraybill

"In all communities the Amish have formulated agreements covering the sharing of losses by fire, lightning, and storm....Two other types of insurance, liability and hospitalization, have been formed in recent years by the Amish people themselves." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler


How they care for each other's mental, emotional & physical health

Amish oral culture includes a rich legacy of traditional natural healing practices, but Amish families may make selective use of Western medicine, subject to community approval.

Neighbor Relationships

External Travel, Trade, Intermarriage, Conflict, etc.

"One of the most important tenets of the Amish faith is non-conformity: separation from the world. Non-conformity to the Amish does not mean "doing your own thing"; instead, it means refusal to follow standards set by a world they consider inherently evil." Amish People: Plain Living in a Complex World, Carolyn Meyer

"Because they are separate from the world, are in fact a "chosen people," the Amish believe they must guard against any alliances that would join them with the world." Amish People: Plain Living in a Complex World, Carolyn Meyer

"The Amish refuse to bear arms, but during times of national emergency and war they have been drafted into some form of alternate service. They think of themselves as "defenseless Christians," and when they are confronted with hostility from their non-Amish neighbors or local authorities, they prefer to pull up stakes and move on rather than to stay and defend their rights." Amish People: Plain Living in a Complex World, Carolyn Meyer

"Amish culture provides a highly selective screen between itself and the outside world. The flow of information into the Amish community is highly selective. Furthermore, the Amish are keenly aware of their own screening process....This screening protects members, and their nervous systems, from information overload." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"Almost every Amish family knows and interacts with English friends on a long-standing basis. These meetings occur at random. They are cherished by the Amish as well as by the English." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

Amish observe a strict rule against proselytizing or attempting to recruit others to their society and culture, but they do accept converts.

Crisis Management

How they respond to & resolve crises that affect the entire community

"In modern industrial society there is an irresistable trend, dictated by technological thinking, for units of production to become larger and larger. The Amish have responded by adapting to a technology that is appropriate to their scale....Today there is a thriving enterprise of small shops and industry in the Amish community....The development of a technology that is suited to the scale and thinking of the Amish has enriched their culture and their social arrangements. Labor-intensive activities are performed best by small groups on or near the Amish farm homes. These decentralized industries have rendered the Amish more self-sufficient and less dependent on the outside world for services and manufactured goods." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"The logic of expanded technology points toward infinite industrial growth and infinite energy consumption. The energy crisis is for the Amish a crisis not of supply but of use, not of technology but of morality. By carefully restricting the use of machine-developed energy, the Amish "have become the only true masters of technology."...By holding technology at a distance, by exercising restraint and moderation, and by accepting limitations and living within them, the Amish have maintained the integrity of their family and community life." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

"Technological advances rejected by the Amish are...not considered immoral, and few of them are forbidden by Scripture....The evil lies in where a new invention might lead. The Amish ask: What will come next? Will other changes be triggered by this one? How will a new practice affect the welfare of the community over the years?" The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald B. Kraybill

"Cultural minorities use a variety of strategies to protect their way of life. When things get too bad, groups may migrate in search of a more serene setting....Resistance and negotiation are the two primary strategies that the Amish have used to protect their identity and preserve their community in the face of modernization." The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald B. Kraybill

"The Amish and the Mennonites have always been willing to migrate, moving in groups so that they can create cultural "islands" with a common language and philosophy." Amish People: Plain Living in a Complex World, Carolyn Meyer

"When the nuclear reactor accident occurred near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1979, most Amish were unaware of the event or the danger until they were approached by reporters. Similarly, when the end of the world comes, the Amish hope to be found doing their normal duties faithfully." Amish Society, John A. Hostetler

Summary Observations


Values, Behaviors & Institutions that contribute to their social & ecological health

"Although the cultural norms of Amish life circumscribe personal freedom, they also lift the burden of choice from the back of the individual. They liberate the individual from the incessant need to decide. In Amish culture, the burden for success and failure leans on the community; in the modern world, the weight of success and failure rests on the individual, who may lack the support of a durable group." The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald B. Kraybill

"The wisdom distilled in Amish culture suggests that some limits on individualism may, in the long run, serve the deeper needs of the individual better than an unbridled pursuit of self-gratification. In other words, the Amish contend that individuals may not always understand or pursue the things that lead to happiness." The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald B. Kraybill


Values, Behaviors & Institutions that undermine their social & ecological health

If they think about the Amish at all, the dominant society perceives two potential weaknesses: hereditary disorders resulting from lack of genetic diversity, and overpopulation resulting from high reproductive rate.

Amish are very aware of genetic diversity, and actively seek to improve their genetic health by reaching out beyond their local communities for mates. As long as their population increases, the number and geographic spread of church districts likewise increases, inevitably improving their genetic health.

Regarding overpopulation, Amish population expands in response to the availability of habitat. Since Amish take advantage of land abandoned or unwanted by the dominant society, and the dominant society increasingly damages and abandons productive habitat as it grows and develops, Amish population has plenty of room to grow. Likewise, when the dominant society collapses, Amish will have even more opportunity to expand. Since Amish have much stronger social control than the dominant society, and since as a subsistence society they are much more ecologically aware, it is likely that if they ever reach their limits, they will take action to control population at the community (church district) level.

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