The Amish are an interesting group. Since we've been thinking of living in the Lancaster PA area, I looked into our possible future neighbors, and I liked what I learned.
They are members of a proscriptive religion, but one that's different from other similar religions in important ways. Put simply, they aren't about imposing their ways on other people. Their rules are only for themselves, just as it should be.
Even if you are born into an Amish family, you must make an active decision to be baptized and be a part of the Amish religion. And Amish-born people who do not choose the religion are not hated, killed as infidels, consigned to hell (just a different kind of infidel death) or any other foolishness. They remain a part of their family, and are treated as family. Again, just as it should be. The Amish impose their rules on people who want to live as Amish, and are reasonable toward those who don't. That's sensible, because the Amish life is hard, and not for most people.
Compare the Amish with other fundamentalist religious groups: fundamentalist Islam, and fundamentalist Christianity. I'll call them collectively IslamoChristianity a la Frank Gaffney's rantings about "Islamofascists". Gaffney is a well educated right wing crank who ought to, and probably does know better than what he espouses.
Look at the war between fundamentalist Christianity and fundamentalist Islam, called the global war on terror by the Bush administration. Certainly, America opposing and thwarting terrorists has been going on long before the Bush administration fabricated reasons to invade Iraq, and before the 9/11 attack, but Bush's was the first fundamentalist Christian-led U.S. administration to act on their religious beliefs as a matter of public policy. Occupying Iraq with no thinking was a stupid recipe for constant war. Islam has their "death to infidels" policy which is a pretty straightforward call to constant war - there are a lot of infidels and it will take time to kill them all.
Amish are pacifists.
Question: Who doesn't want constant war?
Answer: The Amish
Rightheadedness Score: Amish 1, IslamoChristianity 0.
This "war" started as a simple argument between two extremist sects, both of whom wish to impose their views on morality on the rest of us. The both of them ignored, and continue to ignore the fact that most people aren't extremists, and are utterly opposed to living under religious tyranny.
Amish don't want to tell anyone what to do who didn't ask to be told. IslamoChristians wish to tell EVERYONE what to do, and kill the ones who won't comply..
Question: Who doesn't want to tell you how to live?
Answer: The Amish
Rightheadedness Score: Amish 2, IslamoChristians 0.
The details of their rules aren't important; the willingness of the IslamoChristians to commit large scale, ongoing acts of violence in ongoing attempts to bend us to their respective visions of how to live is important. The 9/11 attack, and the invasion of Iraq, are two examples of utter stupidity. 9/11 just pissed off a reactionary US Executive branch, and occupying Iraq cost so much it probably will doom the US to second class economic status (or worse) forever.
Question: Who is not stupid?
Answer: The Amish
Rightheadedness Score: Amish 3, IslamoChristians 0.
You can see how this is going. The trend isn't going to change.
The Amish, by necessity, live among people who don't live as they do, believe as they do, or act as they do. They are among us, but apart in ways that are important to them, by choice. They live with grace, tolerance, dignity, and they do it without imposing on anyone.
The IslamoChristians are thugs who are willing to kill innocent people to further their aims. They could learn a thing or two about how to behave in a civilized world from the Amish.