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What do the Amish believe happens after death?

The Amish have very specific beliefs about what happens after death that are rooted in their Christian faith. Here is an overview of the key things the Amish believe about life after death:

Heaven and Hell

The Amish believe in the existence of heaven and hell. Heaven is viewed as a place of eternal peace and rest with God, while hell is a place of punishment and suffering for those who reject God’s word.

Amish teach that whether a person goes to heaven or hell is determined by if they have sincerely repented of their sins and trusted in Jesus Christ as their savior. Good works and following religious rules is not enough to get into heaven. Salvation comes through God’s grace.


Most Amish reject the Catholic concept of purgatory, the belief that imperfect souls must undergo purification before entering heaven. The Amish take a more direct view – after death a person’s soul either goes immediately to heaven or hell based on their spiritual state.

No contact between the living and dead

The Amish do not believe that the spirits of the dead can contact or communicate with the living in any way. There are no ghost stories in Amish culture. They believe firmly that after someone dies their soul resides in the afterlife only.

The Amish thus do not believe in or practice speaking to the dead through mediums or psychic readings. Any attempt to communicate with spirits of the deceased would be seen as occult activity and strictly forbidden.

Funeral and burial rituals

Amish funerals and burials have several distinctive features that tie into their beliefs about life after death:

  • Simple wooden coffins are used to show humility and equality in death.
  • Bodies are dressed in plain white clothes that they provide in life to symbolize purity entering heaven.
  • Gravestones are simple, with no images or elaborate engravings.
  • Burial normally takes place within a few days to emphasize returning the body to the earth.
  • The Amish believe cremation is wrong because it devalues the body God created.

These practices reflect Amish values of simplicity, modesty, and separation from the world’s vanities as they prepare one’s body for the transition into eternal life.

Judgment Day and the Afterlife

The Amish believe that after death each person’s soul waits in a dormant state until Judgment Day, the end times prophesied in the Bible. On Judgment Day the souls of both the living and dead will be reunited with their bodies and face judgment before God.

Those judged as saved in Christ will spend eternity with God in heaven. The unsaved will be cast into hell. The Amish thus see earthly life as a time of preparation and repentance before facing their eternal destiny after Judgment Day.

Why the Amish are reluctant to talk about the afterlife

Despite their specific views on life after death, the Amish tend to avoid extensive discussions or speculation about the afterlife. There are a few reasons for this:

  • They want to focus on living well and righteously in their earthly life instead of becoming preoccupied with the next world.
  • They believe God’s judgments are beyond human understanding so the details of heaven and hell cannot be known until the afterlife.
  • Speaking concretely about the afterlife can lead to spiritual pride if one thinks they have “figured out” God’s truths.

So while the Amish have firm beliefs about heaven, hell and eternity, they guard against too much curiosity or dogmatic claims about the metaphysical aspects of salvation and the world to come.

Do the Amish believe they will go to heaven?

The Amish believe and hope they are destined for heaven. But they do not presume automatic or easy access to salvation. The Amish are wary of spiritual arrogance and believe one’s eternal destination depends on:

  • God’s mercy and grace.
  • Having a repentant heart and living a Christian life.
  • Not becoming complacent or entitled about one’s salvation.

So while heaven is their goal, the Amish are hesitant to make definitive claims about who will or won’t enter heaven. They instead live focused on faithfulness and obedience each day, trusting God for the final outcome after death.

How do the Amish grieve death?

Despite their hope in eternal life, the Amish still deeply feel the pain and loss of death. They grieve the departure of loved ones much like any family would:

  • Tears and sorrow are expressed leading up to and during Amish funerals.
  • Black is worn by the spouse, children and parents of the deceased as a sign of mourning.
  • Funeral services emphasize resurrection hope while also allowing time for emotional grieving.
  • Community members provide meals and help with chores for the grieving family.
  • Grief takes time, but the Amish encourage each other to look to the future with courage and faith.

The Amish balance the mourning typical of death with their Christian hope in reuniting one day in heaven. This brings comfort during the pain of loss.

How do Amish teachings on the afterlife shape their communities?

The Amish beliefs about salvation, judgment and eternity exert a strong influence on how they live life in their communities:

  • It motivates moral uprightness, repentance and spiritual humility.
  • Their focus is on faithfulness each day more than the afterlife specifically.
  • The comparative silence about heaven encourages living well now instead of later.
  • It fosters an attitude of trust in God’s grace rather than human wisdom about the afterlife.
  • There is less fear of death itself knowing eternal life awaits.
  • It supports enduring hardship and simplicity, as life on earth is temporary.

In these ways the Amish afterlife beliefs shape their devotion to family, community, and spiritual life in the present world.

Key similarities and differences with other Christian views

The Amish beliefs about the afterlife align with mainstream Christianity in many ways. For example:

  • Belief in heaven as eternal life with God for the saved.
  • Belief in hell as the destination for those who reject Christ.
  • Emphasis on salvation by grace rather than good works.
  • View of life on earth as preparation for eternity.

However, there are some differences as well:

  • Most Christian groups believe in an immortal soul, while Amish believe the soul “sleeps” between death and Judgment Day.
  • Many Christians actively seek to understand heaven and hell, while the Amish avoid speculation.
  • The Amish take a firmer stance against cremation and speaking to the dead through mediums.
  • Amish focus less on sharing the specifics of salvation with outsiders.

So Amish beliefs have much in common with Christians from other denominations but maintain some distinct emphases and practices.


The Amish have well-defined teachings about the afterlife grounded in their Christian faith. They believe in heaven and hell, dismiss purgatory, avoid contact with the dead, maintain simple burial practices, and see life as preparation for eternity after Judgment Day. While the Amish hope in heaven and express grief at death, they focus much more on faithful living each day on earth. Their views on eternity exert an important influence on Amish spirituality, ethics and community life.