Can You Become Amish If You Have Tattoos? Between Ink and Simplicity

Picture this: a bustling world filled with noise, technology, and the constant hum of modernity. Now, imagine feeling the gentle tug of curiosity about a simpler, quieter life among the Amish.

The Amish faith places great emphasis on modesty, plainness, and abstaining from pride and vanity.

This has led many to wonder – can you become Amish if you have tattoos? While not an outright ban, tattoos are generally discouraged and looked down upon among Amish communities.

Those with existing tattoos face additional scrutiny and barriers when trying to join the Amish church. However, it is possible in some cases with certain considerations.


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Amish Principles Regarding Tattoos and Body Modification

The Amish opposition to tattoos stems from several key tenets of their Christian faith:

Simplicity and Plainness

Amish teachings emphasize living simply, avoiding conspicuous consumption, and rejecting lavish self-decoration. Tattoos violate this by adorning the body for vanity rather than necessity.

Separation from the World

Amish seek to live separate from mainstream society and its influences. They view tattoos as tied to rebellious subcultures and promoting worldly self-expression over faith.

Purity and Modesty

Baring skin or drawing attention to the body through tattoos is seen as sensual and immodest. Tattoos also carry an association with impulsive behavior and moral corruption.

Upholding Tradition and Order

The Amish adhere to established doctrines and traditional ways passed down over generations. Adopting modern practices like tattoos seems worldly and threatens their customs.

Avoiding Pride and Arrogance

Tattoos are considered a self-indulgent form of attention-seeking and projecting status. Amish teachings warn against personal pride and arrogance before God.


Requirements to Join the Amish Church

To be baptized and accepted into an Amish congregation, candidates must meet several religious prerequisites:

Commitment to the Amish Lifestyle

Candidates must embrace Amish teachings and pledge to uphold their doctrines, traditions, and way of life. This signals complete devotion to the faith over outside influences.

Personal Humility and Repentance

Baptism requires demonstrating utmost humility, confessing sins, and repenting through prayer. Candidates must cast off pride and ego.

Acceptance by the Church

After a 6-8 week instruction period, the church reviews baptism requests. A unanimous vote approves acceptance of contrite, committed candidates into the congregation.

Adult Baptism

Baptism occurs around ages 18-22 when individuals are ready to make an adult commitment. Infant baptism is forbidden – members must choose the Amish path for themselves.

No Marriage to Non-Members

Those who marry a non-Amish spouse cannot be baptized. Marrying only baptized members preserves Amish identity and faith.

In light of these prerequisites, tattoos can present major obstacles for potential converts seeking acceptance into the Amish church and way of life.

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Challenges Faced By Candidates With Tattoos

Candidates who already have tattoos face added scrutiny and questions about their commitment when petitioning to join Amish congregations. Specific concerns include:

Signals of Pride and Vanity

Tattoos suggest previous arrogance, impulsive behavior, and fixation on self-image – all violations of Amish humility. The church questions whether pride has truly been cast away.

Lack of Regret Over Worldly Ways

Candidates have typically parted with worldly possessions and past unsanctified behaviors. Existing tattoos may indicate residual attachment to old lifestyles and unwillingness to fully embrace simplicity.

Doubts Over Repentance

Seeking something as taboo as tattoos raises doubts as to whether repentance is genuine and complete. Tattoos mark the retention of some modern attitudes and influences.

Violation of Modesty Standards

Revealing tattooed skin seems immodest. Tattoos force attention onto the body which Amish teachings emphatically avoid.

Mixed Signals On Separation from the World

Being tattooed before conversion implies lingering worldly self-interests and mindsets. The church necessitates clear separation from such influences before baptism.

Apprehensions Over Lifestyle Commitment

Tattoos represent deep ties to aspects of mainstream life that must be relinquished when joining the Amish. The church requires confidence in candidates’ readiness to abandon worldly preferences.


Concerns Over Traditional Appearance

Tattoos make it difficult to maintain the classic plain, simple Amish presentation and avoid standing out. Blending in helps separate members from the world.

These factors mean petitioners with tattoos must overcome heavier skepticism and work harder to demonstrate sincere repentance, commitment to Amish ways, and the deservedness of church membership.


Requests for Baptism and Church Membership

Candidates who wish to join the Amish church must follow formal procedures laid out by each congregation:

Attend Worship Services

Prospective converts first establish contact by attending Amish worship services for months. This introduces them to the community and allows scrutiny of their motives.

Meet with Leaders

Serious aspirants then discuss baptism privately with the bishop and deacon to convey their desire to join and be reviewed as candidates.

Enter Formal Instruction

Approved seekers enter a 6-8 week period of intensive instruction in Amish beliefs and traditions culminating in a decision to baptize or not.

Confess Sins Publicly

On the Sunday before baptism, candidates confess transgressions and pledge obedience and loyalty to the church before the congregation.

Receive Final Approval

Following confession, the church members vote to accept or reject the baptism petition based on the credibility and sincerity demonstrated.

Get Baptized into the Congregation

Those approved make their baptism vows and officially join the church as new members during a special worship ceremony.

During each phase of interaction with leadership and the congregation, tattoos can complicate acceptance that is already highly rigorous.

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Factors That Improve Candidates’ Chances Despite Tattoos

Baptism into the Amish church remains a possibility for those with tattoos depending on their unique circumstances:

Tattoos Are Minimal or Discreet

Small, hidden tattoos indicate less attachment and are less jarringly contradictory to Amish values of modesty and plainness. The likelihood of acceptance improves.

Demonstrated Commitment to Amish Lifestyle

Immersing oneself in Amish customs for an extended period before baptism appeals to the church despite tattoos. Total lifestyle embrace overrides appearances.

Genuine Contrition

Heartfelt remorse rather than just regretting consequences or inconvenience goes far. Admitting tattoos as grave sins helps credibility.

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Tattoos Pre-Date Religious Conversion

Tattooing before discovering Amish beliefs is viewed more favorably than those obtained after. It shows an aspirant’s spiritual journey.

Candidates Are Younger

Youthful mistakes appeal more to Amish forgiveness and guidance. Tattoos may get more leeway for young, still-maturing petitioners.

Female Candidates

Women face somewhat less pressure about tattoos in consideration of their general modesty and obedience to patriarchal Amish culture.

Supportive References

Baptism sponsors vouching for a candidate’s character and sincere conversion bolsters their case despite tattoos.

Time and Perseverance

Continuously attending services and reapplying if initially denied demonstrates deep dedication that may eventually override tattoos.

These mitigating circumstances and strategies allow some candidates with tattoos to demonstrate their priorities now align with Amish principles and way of life.


Practices to Remove/Cover Tattoos

Candidates for baptism may take steps to remove or conceal pre-existing tattoos to avoid conflict with Amish standards and improve their prospects:

Laser Tattoo Removal

Seeking laser removal shows a concrete rejection of past worldly behaviors. Partial fading also shows an effort to comply with expectations.

Tattoo Cover-Ups

Adding artistic overlays to transform tattoos into something plainer and more discreet proves a willingness to abandon ornamental displays.

Tattoo Covering Makeup

Concealer makeup offers a temporary measure of modesty while awaiting removal procedures. But tattoos cannot stay hidden forever.

Avoiding Revealing Clothing

Wearing long sleeves and pants keeps tattoos out of view and signifies compliance with Amish modesty. But this only goes so far.

Requesting Alternative Baptism Clothing

Standard white baptismal clothing tends to be lower cut. Asking for more coverage accommodates modesty and avoids flaunting tattoos.

Committing to Home Remedies

Pledging to use Natural tattoo removal methods like lemon juice, salt abrasion or chemical peels shows intent to comply with Amish expectations.

Accepting Consequences

Acknowledging tattoos as permanent reminders of past transgressions and willingness to bear shame over them appeals to Amish emphasis on repentance.

These proactive efforts combined with consistent humble, contrite behavior aid candidates with tattoos seeking baptism and integration into Amish life.

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Amish Perspectives on Tattoo Removal

When candidates do seek to have tattoos removed, the Amish respond favorably but remain circumspect:

A Step Toward Contrition

The church approves of tattoo removal as a positive sign of regret and attempts to align with Amish modesty standards. But it is only one factor.

Insufficient On Its Own

While tattoo removal demonstrates a willingness to change, it does not guarantee acceptance. Baptism still hinges on the church’s evaluation of an overall commitment to Amish ways.

Unnecessary if Commitment is Clear

Strong demonstrations of faith, repentance, and assimilation into the Amish community may supersede tattoos. Removal is not mandatory if devotion is unquestionable.

Laser Removal Still Worldly

Seeking laser tattoo removal relies on modern medicine which Amish try to avoid. Yet the symbolic break from the past it represents outweighs this reservation.

Efficacy Varies

Laser removal is often incomplete, leaving faded traces. But a visible effort to diminish tattoos through available means positively signals to conform to Amish values.

A Lengthy Process

Given the slow tattoo removal progress, the Amish may baptize candidates in the process if they meet other criteria. But progress must continue.

While welcomed, tattoo removal alone does not guarantee Amish baptism and membership. But combined with a sincere embrace of the Amish way of life, it can aid candidacy.


Life After Baptism for Amish Converts With Tattoos

For candidates with tattoos who achieve baptism into the Amish church, remnants of their past continue to have ramifications:

Ongoing Scrutiny

Fellow members keep watch for any signs of slipping into worldly behaviors or pride given tattoos still marking the body. Transgressions by converts face harsh judgment.

Clothing Limitations

Covering up tattoos remains necessary which limits options for comfort and mobility. Long sleeves and pants are required even in warmer weather.

Difficulty Finding Spouse

Modesty limits and lingering perceptions of worldliness may hamper matchmaking efforts among the devout. Prospective spouses question past choices.

Exclusion from Leadership

While forgiven, tattooed church members are very unlikely to be considered for any positions of leadership or authority. The unsuccessful erasure of past worldly ways lingers.

Reminders to Children

Amish children see visible evidence of parents’ unchaste youth. Parental warnings hold less weight given their tattoos. Kids may justify similar rebellion.

Ongoing Removal Efforts

Faded tattoos must still be treated and removed to the greatest extent possible using home treatments and natural methods permitted within Amish life.

Feelings of Regret and Shame

While forgiven by the church, members may still feel shame when tattoos draw attention or must be hidden. Past errors made permanent are humbling.

Baptized converts with tattoos often remain under stricter judgment and bear nagging consequences from their worldly past within Amish communities. Yet they now enjoy the blessings and salvation of the faithful.

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Exceptions Among Amish Youth

While adult baptism candidates with tattoos confront extensive obstacles, unbaptized Amish youth get more leeway to go through adolescent rumspringa rebellion without jeopardizing future membership:

Rumspringa Experimentation

Teenagers during this “running around period” explore outside influences like tattoos with fewer repercussions before baptism commitments.

Parental Prohibitions Still Apply

Amish parents forbid tattoos for kids under 18. But English friends or visits to cities can enable secret tattooing.

Later Regret Expected

Youthful indulgence in tattoos and otherworldly behaviors is anticipated to be outgrown. Teens are welcomed back if they repent.

Time to Reverse Course

The years between rumspringa and desired baptism allow young people time to reform their behavior, possibly have tattoos removed, and prove themselves.

Forgiveness Over Punishment

While still disciplined at home, youth are forgiven for temporarily straying during rumspringa once they return to Amish ways.

So rumspringa tattoos present less of an obstacle for those wishing to return to Amish communities after their teenage years of exploration and sowing wild oats.


Rare Exceptions Among Baptized Members

Very rarely, already baptized Amish may acquire tattoos, typically due to:

Military Service

Enlistment is allowed but uncommon. Tattoos obtained discreetly during service might escape church notice and discipline.


Criminal activity is rare but occurs. Prison tattooing may then result which is difficult to prevent.

Fading Faith/Defection

A few members, usually young adults, stray from the church and adopt worldly behaviors like tattooing. They often leave the community.

Mental Health Issues

Serious disorders very occasionally manifest in erratic behaviors like tattooing despite Amish cultural taboos. Compassion applies.

But these fringe cases do not reflect a softening of the overall Amish stance – baptized members remain under the strict prohibition against tattoos to maintain purity, piety, and separation from the outside world.



Candidates seeking Amish baptism and church membership face substantial hurdles and scrutiny if they enter the process with pre-existing tattoos.

The answer to “Can you become Amish if you have tattoos?” becomes a resounding affirmation.

However, it remains possible in some circumstances depending on the individual’s ability to demonstrate true contrition, commitment to the Amish way of life, and break from worldly influences.

While acceptance may still be difficult even with tattoo removal and other efforts to conform to Amish standards, the door is not completely closed to willing candidates regardless of appearance.


FAQs on Amish Tattoo Beliefs


Do the Amish allow any tattoos at all?

No, the Amish oppose tattoos entirely based on religious teachings. But they may show some leniency towards repenting youth who got tattoos during rumspringa before baptism.

Can you hide tattoos and secretly join the Amish?

Deception is strongly discouraged and will likely be discovered. Honest confession gives the best chance for baptism, even with tattoos. The church wants to bring humility.

Will tattoo removal allow someone to become Amish?

Not necessarily. While it aids acceptance, laser removal alone does not guarantee approval for baptism if doubts remain about someone’s commitment to Amish ways.

Can an Amish person ever get a tattoo after baptism?

It is exceedingly rare and forbidden. Baptized members who got tattoos would face harsh discipline. Exceptions exist only in fringe cases like mental illness or military service.

Do Amish object to all body modifications?

Yes, piercings, plastic surgery, and other alterations are all prohibited. Tattoos garner particular objection as permanent displays of pride and worldliness. But any modification violates Amish teachings of plainness.

Are religious tattoos more acceptable to the Amish church?

No, religious imagery would still be viewed as graven images or idolatry. Amish shun iconography and ostentatious symbols of faith. Only modest living represents true devotion.

Can Amish get tattoos removed in hospitals?

No, hospital care is only allowed in emergencies. Tattoo removal is considered elective, so home remedies are used instead. But the symbolic intent still matters.

Are tattoos less controversial among more progressive Amish groups?

Somewhat. New Order Amish are slightly more lenient overall but still discourage tattoos strongly. Candidates would need to make a very convincing case for baptism.

Can an Amish person get a tattoo after leaving the church?

Yes. Those who defect from the Amish church often embrace tattoos and otherworldly behaviors they were restricted from. But getting tattooed after leaving bars them from rejoining.

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