I don't know if this sect has been discussed here very much, but it is not an uncommon thing in my area of Pennsylvania to see an Amish farm, or Amish horse and buggy along side a public road.
There is an awful lot that could be discussed, but I'm only going to start the conversation with a brief summery and a few of my thoughts relating to them.
The Amish consider the Bible a trustworthy guide for living but do not quote it excessively. To do so would be considered a sinful showing of pride. Separation from the rest of society is based on being a "chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people"(1 Peter 2:9), not being "conformed to this world" (Romans 12:2), avoiding the "love [of] the world or the things in the world" (1 John 2:15) and the belief that "friendship with the world is enmity with God" (James 4:4).
These are a group of religious people who are completely secluded from the rest of the world for the most part. So much so that they sometimes marry members within their own family. Most modern technology is shunned unless it is used in an emergency or if they can find a way to use it without connecting themselves to the outside world. This group of people refuse medical treatment, Don't pay taxes and take the status of conscientious objector in war time.
Now, I said "for the most part" because certain groups in this religious sect still retain the tax exclusion status even though they DO use modern technology, public services and get Social Security benefits.
They often have small businesses that are tax exempt, even though they use public services such as telephones, roads, transportation and etc.
Speaking of roads, route 45 in my area is a popular route that you will see Amish horse and buggy's traveling. This road is actually badly grooved from the metal wheels of these buggies.
Another problem with these beliefs are the many heath problems relating to inbreeding. Children are often abused and are not able to live normal lives.
Amish populations have higher incidences of particular genetic disorders, including dwarfism (Ellis-van Creveld syndrome), various metabolic disorders, and unusual distribution of blood-types. Amish represent a collection of different demes or genetically closed communities. Since almost all Amish descend from about 200 18th century founders, genetic disorders from inbreeding exist in more isolated districts (an example of the founder effect). Some of these disorders are quite rare, or unique, and are serious enough to increase the mortality rate among Amish children. The majority of Amish accept these as "Gottes Wille" (God's will); they reject use of preventive genetic tests prior to marriage and genetic testing of unborn children to discover genetic disorder. Amish are willing to participate in studies of genetic diseases. Their extensive family histories are useful to researchers investigating diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and muscular degeneration.
These groups also haven't been effected by child labor laws or other human rights movements.
Because Amish bishops mete out punishment for sins (generally in the form of shunning), they keep discipline within the authority of the church; thus, abuse may be less often reported to law enforcement. Since men dominate their society, women and children who have been mistreated have little recourse. They themselves may be shunned for seeking outside help.
So..Thoughts? Opinions? Should Amish be tax exempt? Why would anyone want to be THAT secluded from society?
Read a lot more! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amish