Growing up, I was curious about the Mennonites’ religion. I was intrigued by their way of life and dress code. Therefore, when I joined theology school, I took an interest in learning the Mennonites’ religion. In particular, I researched the Mennonites’ beliefs and practices. At one time, I decided to have a week-long visit to a Mennonites community in Ethiopia to learn more about their religion first-hand. Last weekend, during the weekly forum I moderate, we discussed the Mennonite’s view on electricity. There were differing views on the subject from the members. Given that I had conducted first-hand research and had knowledge of theology, I was able to share valuable information on the topic. So, do Mennonites use electricity?
These days, Mennonites allow their members to use electricity. Before, their religion limited them from using items that would link with the world. Over the years, Mennonites started embracing the use of electricity. However, sub-denominations within the Mennonites, such as Old Order Mennonites, do not use electricity.
I invite you to join me in the article below as we look at Mennonite’s view on electricity. I have highlighted some intriguing issues, including how the Mennonites light their homes. Also, find out whether Mennonites use technology, social media, and electronic devices. Read on to learn more about Mennonites’ beliefs.
What is the Mennonites’ view on electricity?
Modern Mennonites have an open mind on the use of electricity. There are different groups of Mennonites; progressive, conservative, old, and new. Each group differs in terms of beliefs, practices, and identities. Modern Mennonites embrace the use of electricity. On the other hand, some members of the religion feel differently.
Traditional Mennonites hold nonconforming beliefs to mainstream societal visions, including electricity. They view electricity as a connection to the world, which goes against their faith. As for modern Mennonites, they mostly use electricity for their businesses rather than their homesteads. The two perceptions are slowly changing as electricity is slowly becoming a necessity.
How do Mennonites light their homes?
As mentioned, there are different groups within the Mennonite group; each has its way of lighting homes. Modern Mennonites are open to using electricity which provides light for their homes. They also incorporate traditional and modern forms of lighting such as solar panels, lamps, candles, or electricity-powered sources.
In comparison, the Traditional Mennonites use natural lights such as the sky, gas-generated lights, candles, kerosene lamps, or battery-powered lights. The traditional Mennonites are keen on preserving their tradition. Most of the traditional Mennonites live in off-grid places. Therefore, they are not able to use electricity to light their homes.
Do Mennonites use technology?
Most Mennonites use technology. However, there are those within the group who are against it. Hence, tension exists within the group on technology use between those who agree with its usage and those against it. The line between the form and level of technology the group accepts is changing.
Unlike the Amish, the Mennonites use technology in the form of electricity, motor vehicles, and digital information devices such as smartphones. Some perks come with technology that Mennonites accept, such as social media and contemporary dressing. Despite their faith allowing modern conformation, there are those who practice traditional methods of life, excluding technology. Traditional Mennonites regulate useful technology from entertainment, such as mobile phones, television, and radio.
What do Mennonites believe about technology?
The Mennonites’ beliefs depend on the specific sub-group within the religion. Unlike what people think, Mennonites do not view technology as evil but as a means of assimilation into new traditions. Some of these Mennonites are against the assimilation into new traditions. Traditional Mennonites feel technology may affect their culture, therefore, fear conforming to digitalization. They reject specific technologies such as the internet, radio, and television. Old Order Mennonites orient themselves to a disciplined community rather than individual personal faith beliefs.
Modern Mennonites are not resistant to technology; Rather, they accept civilization. There have been divisions within the religion in coming to terms with technology. For instance, in a Mennonites meeting discussing digital culture, one of the participants argued on mindful use of digital culture. They argued that digital culture is a reality and that they should practice controlled use before it becomes overwhelming. Also, they argued digital culture, which includes technology, will help with ministry work through caring for the world.
Do Mennonites use social media?
Contrary to people’s perception of Mennonites, they do use social media. Most of them have embraced technology which provides a platform for use, such as social media. They use computers, tablets, and mobile phones, which expose them to social media. Some are deeply rooted in their traditional beliefs, therefore, maintain an isolated lifestyle away from social media.
A journal on Amish and Plain Anabaptist by Kira Turner mentions of Mennonites group who have a server, which they use to control their members’ internet access. Given that the world is oriented towards technology, it is difficult for Mennonites to escape this trend.
Most Mennonites own cell phones which they communicate with or use social media. They use social media platforms such as Facebook for texting. Referring to Kira Turner’s research, a teacher based in the Mennonites community admitted that 85% of her students own cell phones. Interestingly, a good number of the students lack Wi-Fi in their homes.
It shows that although they allow the use of social media, they limit its access. Back then, there was no social media. Therefore, the Old Mennonites did not have access. As generations keep evolving, technology does too, which creates a possibility of the Mennonites fully assimilating to using social media.
Why don’t Mennonites use technology?
There are Mennonites who use technology, whereas there are those who are against it. People refer to Mennonites who don’t use technology as horse and buggy people. These groups maintain traditional practices and beliefs that don’t conform to the mainstream.
Old Order Mennonites, who are more skeptical towards the use of technology, feel that it may assimilate them into new traditions. These subgroups share similar practices with Amish people with a traditional Mennonite lifestyle.
Unlike Modern Mennonites, Old Order Mennonites don’t own vehicles. They have steel-wheeled tractors, which they use on their farms, and they use horses as a mode of transportation. However, when emergencies occur, such as a health emergency, they may opt to use a vehicle.
Some of the Mennonites may fear the repercussions of going against their beliefs. They include excommunication, shunning, or separation from the world. Therefore, they refrain from using technology.
Do Mennonites use electronic devices?
Given that Mennonites have embraced technology, they can use electronic devices. However, some of them regulate the type of electronic device they use and where it’s used. Most restrict uses in their homes. For instance, they mainly allow the use of computers in their homes for their businesses. Since many services have been digitized, owning a computer goes a long way. It is because Mennonites need computers to help in filing taxes, finding employment, learning, banking, and working jobs.
Traditional Mennonites separate useful electronic devices from those meant for entertainment. Therefore, they negotiate which are acceptable electronic tools. For instance, they may be against using a laptop that is easy to move around and used in business and entertainment. When it comes to cell phones, traditional Mennonites may not own phones and hence opt to use the neighbors when needed.
Why do Mennonites shy away from some electronic devices?
Some Mennonites may shy away from electronic devices as they feel these devices may wash away their traditions. They believe it may bring foreign values into their faith, especially devices such as mobile phones, which expose them to social media. The limitation on using specific electronic devices tames the assimilation of new traditions into the Mennonite religion.
Some Mennonites comply with their beliefs deeper than others. Therefore, it is not right to generalize the whole group. Those who reject the use of electronic devices imply technology would affect their community which they consider essential over self-interest.
Instead of using these electronic devices for entertainment, they opt for different past times, such as chatting, reading, and writing, which strays away from the mainstream. Mennonites are more open to electronic devices than Amish, who are against their use. They consider this a stray from their tradition.
How do Mennonites use electricity in their daily lives?
There are different ways Mennonites use electricity in their daily lives. To start with, they use electricity as a means to provide power for lighting. On the other hand, Traditional Mennonites use gas, generators, solar panels, or natural sources to light their homes.
Secondly, Modern Mennonites use mobile phones, tablets, and computers to communicate. These devices use electricity to get charged.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.