There is a story making the rounds on the Associated Press wire today about an “Amish family” in Idaho (my fellow Amish-researcher colleague Erik Wesner was talking about this on Facebook page…only so many Amish stories to discuss so we do overlap topics on occasion:). But, sheesh, I’d say the reporter pulled like taffy the definition of “Amish” to it’s absolute limit. The article is about the Miller family who felt the westward pull and moved to Libby, Montana. I’ve been to Libby and it’s sort of the last sizable settlement before a yawning “no man’s land” in the Koocanusa region of the Canadian border and NW Montana hinterlands. While we didn’t visit any of the plain people in Libby, I did ask about them in Rexford and the Old Order Amish there said they didn’t consider the Libby settlement to be Amish. “Oh those are Mennonites down there,” is what one told me. Although the Associated Press article makes it sound like it’s a group that perhaps was Old Order at one time but – as some Amish churches do – evolved in their religious thinking to become a progressive plain church instead. I think the Millers sound like a fine family and I think what they are trying to do is admirable, but I think calling them Amish is kind of stretching it…maybe? I’m not sure that the family ever referred to themselves as “Amish” or whether the newspaper did that to sort of draw interest (I can almost assure you if this story didn’t have the “Amish angle” the Associated Press would not put it on their wire). Because of the loose church structure it can be difficult to define Amish. I sort of use “home worship”, adherence to plainness, use of horse and buggy, non usage of electricity among other factors to formulate whether someone is Amish. But that’s just me. The church in Bergholz, Ohio, in my opinion, has abandoned their Amish faith because they lashed out violently with the beard cutting attacks. Pacifism is a pillar of the Amish faith. I’m not sure whether, in my opinion, the Millers fit the definition of Amish. What do you think? Does it even matter? Click here to read about the Miller family.